75 years ago, the Normandy Invasion (D-Day) turned the tide and paved the way for the Allies’ victory. It remains a powerful memory for WWII veterans and their families. In 2019, we honor their legacy with a 75th anniversary flight to Normandy with a restored C-53D Skytrooper.
While it’s unclear if the aircraft had a name during its years in service, the aircraft is now known as the “D-Day Doll”. The entire journey will span 7 weeks and 12,000 miles. PacMin is honored to be a sponsor of the Doll’s historic flight to Normandy.
The D-Day Doll’s first week has been filled with numerous events.
The Doll departed from the Riverside Municipal Airport in Southern California on Wednesday, May 8. Fred Ouweleen, PacMin CEO, joined as a crewmember on several flight segments of the first week.
Her first stop was Tucson, Arizona where crowds were eagerly waiting to see the WWII vet.
At each stop along the way, WWII veterans were invited to sign a commemorative “Come Along to Normandy” board so they could travel along in spirit.
“The most exciting thing about it is the history behind it,” said William Prosser the Wing Leader of the Inland Empire Wing. “When you walk in and out of that door you realize an 18-year-old kid 75 years ago went out that door and into harm’s way. That’s what really brings it home.”
From there, the Doll continued eastward to Kansas City, Missouri for an evening event with sponsor National VFW. The next stop was Louisville, Kentucky.
The D-Day Doll landed in Louisville just in time for a weekend-long appreciation event with tours of the war bird. WWII veterans came to greet the D-Day Doll as she flew in. Below is a video of several veterans aboard the Doll.
Among the crowd were Eugene Haupt and David Obernuefenann, two WWII vets who were at the Siege of Bastogne but had never met. On May 10, they were reunited and were able to ride the D-Day Doll together.
After 4 days of flying, the D-Day Doll crew touched own at Grimes Field in Urbana, Ohio on Sunday, May 12. Al Pepper, a 97 year-old veteran C-47 pilot was in the crowd.
Pepper later flew onboard the Doll from Grimes Field to its next stop in Columbus, Ohio. In Columbus, the crew was warmly welcomed by NetJets, another corporate sponsor. PacMin and the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) delivered a 1/24 scale replica of the D-Day Doll to NetJets as a thank you for their sponsorship of the Doll’s journey.
D-Day Doll continues her historic flight this week. Tuesday afternoon, the crew makes its way to Oxford, Connecticut and then Bangor, Maine and Goose Bay, Labrador before crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
The D-Day Doll will make an appearance at the Paris Air Show later in June and return to the US in time for EAA AirVenture in July.
Follow along as the D-Day Doll makes her journey across the Atlantic. Visit the Inland Empire CAF for flight updates and events. PacMin will also be posting updates on our website at www.pacmin.com/tag/d-day-doll/.
To support this historic flight or for more information about the CAF, visit www.inlandempirecaf.com/.