DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – On the 74th anniversary of D-Day, visitors to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force had the opportunity to interact with witnesses, veterans, pilots and experts.
As part of the museum’s “Plane Talks” program, guest speakers were stationed in front of aircraft in the World War II exhibit.
92-year-old WWII veteran Gaylord “Red” Ketcham was dressed in the uniform the Air Force issued him in 1944.
“It’s just a pleasure to be here to tell my story: facts, not fiction,” Ketcham said.
Soon after graduating high school, 18-year-old Ketcham signed up to become a pilot. D-Day occurred several weeks into his basic training and his superiors ordered him to begin training as a gunner instead.
“That changed everything,” Ketcham recalled of June 6th, 1944.
Alexandra Moore spoke to museum visitors in front of a C-47 aircraft, the same bomber that lead the formation of Allied forces into Normandy, France on D-Day.
Moore was a young child living in the coastal city and home of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth, England, during World War II. Some of her earliest memories included Nazi bombers decimating homes and landmarks in the city.
“I didn’t take much notice until the bombs started falling and then you had to run to the shelters and do the best you could,” Moore said.
She recalled serving tea and sandwiches to displaced residents and Allies preparing to invade Normandy on D-Day.
“I just remember seeing, as far as the eye can see… all of these men and vehicles all along the beaches,” she said.
Visitors to the museum Wednesday head accounts like Moore’s and listened to pilots explain the war machines that led to victory.
The veterans speaking said sharing the stories puts things in perspective for future generations.
Retired Major Jack Kunz, a C-47 pilot during the Vietnam War said, “Seeing these planes in here and understanding they went through and the people who went through their activities with (the planes) should be a lesson to everybody that we stay free in this country because of that strength.”