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June 6, 2021: 77th Anniversary of D-Day, local museum honors heroes, including a local one

Posted at 9:01 AM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 10:01:59-04

COLLEGE STATION, TX — June 6th, 1944, is a day etched in time, many who reflect on this day are taken back to the beaches of Normandy, where the historic invasion began.

D-Day is being remembered locally, including at the Museum of the American G.I.

The Museum of the American G.I. is known for bringing history to life and on the 77th Anniversary of D-Day, they did just that and showcased weapons, clothing, and vehicles used on D-Day and throughout World War II.

"People hear the name 'D-Day' and they think was a single day, but people don't realize that that actual invasion was just the start of the invasion of France and the Normandy campaign occurred over several weeks and months before we actually liberated the Normandy coast and then the rest of France," Leisha Mullins, the museum's director shared with 25 News KRHD.

The Doss family, Sunday, couldn't have chosen a better day to scope out the Museum of the American G.I. for the very first time.

"Look at them... They are climbing up these ladders while they are getting shot at... Isn't that crazy? They were so brave," Matt Doss said to his children as he talks over a picture at the Museum.

The Museum hosted a Hands-On History Event over the weekend, with an emphasis on remembering heroes from D-Day, the largest amphibious invasion.

"So it was the start of that pushing of the Germans out of where they were at in France and pushing them all the way back to Germany. It was the first chance the Allies really had to make a dent into the advance the Germans had made," Leisha Mullins, the director of the museum said.

Mullins says the United States played a critical role in the planning and implementation of D-Day, something the Doss kids loved learning about.

"Army tanks.. they shoot out.. they have a lot of stuff on the top... I had a good time with my dad... I wanted to come here and learn about Army stuff," Paul Doss explained.

"It's awesome... I'd invite anyone out here to see this and see all the great memorabilia and equipment that's very well preserved," his Father, Matt Doss said.

Mullins says for this event, they opened up their vault. Along with weapons and vehicles, members from the Battleship Texas Foundation also came out.

"The U.S.S Texas is the only remaining battleship from WW1 and WW2. Its significance to D-Day is that it was out in the channel firing and bombarding the shore to make it easier for the landings to occur. In fact, it was pointed towards Pointe du Hoc where General Rudder landed," Mullins added.

General Rudder, Mullins says, was a true hero and she's thrilled they are able to showcase someone who has made an impact far and wide, especially in College Station. Mullins said it's wonderful to have a hero like Earl Rudder from town.

"What he did.. predated to all of his things with A&M. He was a brave solider. He created the Rangers and went up to Pointe du Hoc, not knowing what they were going to find there," Mullins added.

According to Texas A&M University, on this day, back in 1944, "A young Lt. Col. named James Earl Rudder led a company of 225 Army Rangers on what seemed like an impossible task: scaling 90-foot vertical cliffs that were defended by German troops on the Normandy beaches. General Rudder was a member of the Texas A&M class of 1932 and "had a key assignment - capture and secure the cliffs known as Pointe du Hoc. The strategic landmark hid huge German cannons that could devastate Allied troops on ships as far as 14 miles away as they attempted their beach landing. It was a task that took almost two full days before Rudder and his men successfully made it to the top," According to a Texas A&M Today release.

General James E. Rudder went on to become Texas A&M's 16th President. He laid out many influential changes in the University during his time, including allowing women to enroll.

General Rudder was also presented with the Distinguished Service Medal in 1967, by then-President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Taking what is now only in a textbook, all in, Josie is ready for what the museum has next. "yes....yes....yes... I want to come back every single day," Josie Doss said.

Mullins says the whole purpose of the Museum of the American G.I is to preserve, honor, and educate.

She says there will also be other opportunities for their Hands-On history throughout the summer, including in July, with exhibits related to Vietnam.

The Museum is open 5 days a week, Wednesday through Sunday.