LOGAN, Utah (ABC4) – Today marks the 78th anniversary of the D-Day operation.
On June 6, 1944, Allied forces stormed the Normandy beaches in Nazi-occupied France. Nearly 80 years later, countries across the world remember D-Day as the day the tides in favor of the Allies.
On this anniversary, two of the most iconic warplanes touched down in Logan where they will be open for public tours during the week. It’s part of the Fly Legends of Victory Tour which helps keep WWII history alive.
On Monday morning the ear-piercing sound of propeller engines roared across the tarmac at the Logan-Cache Airport.
“I’ve been doing this going on 12 years now and it never gets old,” Mike Mueller told ABC4. Mueller is the rides program director for The Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum.
According to the museum, its purpose is “for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations of Americans, our fleet of historic aircraft recreate, remind, and reinforce the lessons learned from the defining moments in American military aviation history.”
“I just spent two-and-a-half hours up at 10,500 feet and it’s cold in that airplane because it’s not heated, it’s not pressurized, and it’s still fun,” Mueller said. A B-17 and B-25 are part of the flying museum. The two planes flew into Logan, Utah after spending a few days in Colorado.
During WWII, both planes played a crucial role for the United States in the Pacific as well as for the Allies in Europe. During the war, the U.S. produced more than 12,000 B-17 aircrafts and around 10,000 B-25 planes.
However, only a handful are still flying today. “And we need not forget what they did,” Mueller stated.
The Flying Legends of Victory Tour is calling Logan home for the week. During that time the public can visit the airport where they can look at the planes, tour the interior and even take a flight. This is something the tour offers to different cities every summer.
“We do this to honor the men and women who flew these airplanes and built these airplanes.” Both planes have signatures of the people who built them, flew them, and maintained them during the war. They also have the signatures of WWII veterans who have visited the flying museum.
The generation of Americans who were alive during the war is often referred to as “The Greatest Generation.”
Mueller told ABC4 that Ukrainians living through the Russian invasion may soon be remembered as the greatest generation of their country as well.
He said looking at that conflict is a good reminder of the role the museum plays for Americans today. “It’s important to remember so things don’t happen again,” he added.
Being able to see, hear and touch the two warplanes makes one think about the great courage it took to fight in WWII whether that fighting took place at home or abroad, in a factory or on the battlefield, in the form of giving up one’s son to the join the ranks of millions of other soldiers or working as a nurse to help heal the wounded.
Being physically connected to the history of the two warplanes really does make one reflect on all the lives that were forever changed less than 80 years ago.
“Over 75 million people were killed during WWII,” Mueller stated. “Over 70,000 airmen died during WWII (he said while pointing behind him the enormous aircraft) in these kinds of bombers.”
Utah played many important roles in the war effort. From an army supply base to a naval supply base to Hill Air Force Base, the Beehive State undoubtedly helped fuel the industrial locomotive that was the United States.
However, one of its most important contributions may have been the manpower it provided. According to Utah History Encyclopedia, more than 21,000 Utahns saw military service during the war.