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Normandy landing honored with display at Franks Museum

HOBART - An exhibit to honor the men who fought in one of the United States' most famous World War II battles is now on display in the General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute and Museum.

On June 6, 1944, the largest armada ever assembled set off from England for the French coast. An estimated 160,000 allied troops, supported by 700 warships and carried by 2,500 landing craft, assaulted a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast in an effort to push the Nazis out of occupied France and begin to drive into Germany. It was the second phase of a coordinated assault that began with thousands of paratroopers landing behind enemy lines to disrupt the Nazis and protect the flanks. 

D-Day, as it is known, was the beginning of an allied advance that would help end World War II in Europe less than a year later. Seventy-two years later, the museum is paying tribute with an extensive exhibit, "Return to Normandy," that features items used in the battle alongside maps, graphics and other items that give visitors a better understanding of the invasion.

"Everything you see in here is real and came from that time period," said Scott Cumm, museum director. "A lot of these items came to us from the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum. It's all authentic."

"Return to Normandy" is set up in the traveling exhibit room at the museum. When visitors walk in, they'll see uniforms worn by soldiers who fought on Omaha and Utah beaches and those worn by the paratroopers of the 101st Airborne and 82nd Airborne divisions, who dropped in behind enemy lines. A map of Normandy is laid out on a table in the middle of the exhibit and shows Normandy, where the allies landed, German emplacements and how the Allies moved forward after six days of heavy fighting. 

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