The World War II D-Day Landing and French Village Exhibits at the Armed Forces History Museum allows visitors to view a full-sized diorama of soldiers on the beach. The voice of Colonel Leonard T. Schroeder, the first man to step foot on Utah Beach, can be heard as visitors enter this area of the museum. In his oral history, Colonel Schroeder recalls those last fateful hours just prior to the invasion.
Alongside this diorama is a display case dedicated to Colonel Schroeder who lived in the Largo, FL area prior to his passing in 2009. Schroeder, a 25-year old captain at the time of the invasion, donated a number of personal items to the museum including the actual uniform, boots and personal items he carried that early morning in June of 1944. A number of photographs and other personal items of the Colonels are also on display.
Flanking the D-Day Landing, visitors walk the war-torn cobblestone streets of a recreated, battered French Village and a small replica of the Sainte-Mère-Église church. The museum also honors the heroic action of the paratroopers that were a part of the Normandy invasion with Paratrooper Private Steele hanging from the church steeple as he did for two hours that morning to escape certain death.
Additional display cases in this area house rarely seen memorabilia such as a WWII Army Tanker standard issue helmet with radio plug and goggles, a US Army landmine, WWII Coax telescope for a tank destroyer and a field radio receiver. Visitors can also view a number of personal items carried by the WWII Army soldier such as a war alarm clock, a French dictionary and an artillery compass with leather case. A Sherman Tank (which is realistically portrayed as exciting off an amphibious vehicle), M3A1 Halftrack, an M16 Halftrack and a 1942 Harley Davidson Motorcycle are also part of the D-Day Exhibit. These vehicles, like all those throughout the museum, were restored in house and are maintained in operational condition.
As visitors leave the D-Day/Normandy Exhibit area, French soldiers are heard in the distance as shots are fired from the upcoming German Farmhouse Exhibit.
Read about the other outstanding exhibits at the Armed Forces History Museum by clicking on the links below:
- Salute to Service Exhibit
- Firearms/Ordnance and Mines/Grenades Exhibit
- World War I Trench Exhibit
- World War II Pearl Harbor Exhibit
- USMC South Pacific Exhibit
- WWII US Navy Exhibit
- WWII Normandy and French Village Exhibit
- WWII German Farmhouse Exhibit
- WWII Communications Room Exhibit
- Korean War Inchon Landing Exhibit
- Korean War MASH Unit Exhibit
- POW/MIA Exhibit
- Rosie’s Bar Exhibit
- Korean War Frozen Chosin Exhibit
- Vietnam Ho Chi Minh Trail Exhibit
- Vietnam Firebase Exhibit
- Saddam Hussein and Gulf War Exhibit
- Additional Exhibits
- Outdoor Exhibits