The Drop Zone Virtual Museum
Oral History Project
Lost Legacies...

Lost Legacies . . .
Pennsylvania. State Archives

Described as a "transcendental experience," Civil War Veterans meet at Gettysburg in 1913. Tragically, few historians were present to record their personal stories. In contrast to the loss of this precious history, The Drop Zone captures the voices of WWII veterans by preserving and sharing this important history through an on-line medium.
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The Drop Zone Virtual Museum exists to preserve and share the legacies of America’s WWII Airborne and Ranger veterans.

Paratroopers, Glidermen and Rangers were the war’s elite combat troops. They spearheaded World War II’s most crucial battles. They have left us a compelling legacy of honor, courage, valor, sacrifice and dedication.

Through the Internet, we can now hear history as told by the men who lived it. Their stories relate the events of places like Anzio and Arnhem, Normandy and Noemfoor, Corregidor and Vierville, Bastogne and Sicily.

The Drop Zone captures the "voices" of the participants through these compelling stories, collecting memories before they are lost to the ages and bridging the gap between the computer age and America’s proudest generation. The Drop Zone also houses a substantial archive of unpublished photos that add a human face to the drama of these stories.

The Drop Zone Oral History Project does
not exist to glorify war or to satisfy military  romantics. The goal of this project is  to give back to veterans themselves, who made and experienced this history, through their own words, a central place.

Our objective is to capture the voices of veterans from every WWII American Airborne, Ranger and Glider Infantry unit.  We hope to one day  expand this effort to include the Axis forces that fought against America's airborne forces.
A New Paradigm
The Drop Zone leverages the power of the Internet. Some of these stories were gathered from veterans through e-mail. The Virtual Reunion

is an email-based discussion group that provides veterans with an on-line forum to share their recollections and personal stories. Hundreds of WWII Airborne veterans make up the Virtual Reunion. The Virtual Reunion awakens memories that in many cases have been forgotten for decades. These stories are then archived, indexed and form an important tool for verifying events, sharing facts or opinions and helping nurture and expand our community.
Community
Since our inception, the Drop Zone has been a gathering place for WWII veterans. More than just a static web site, the Drop Zone is a dynamic, living museum that consists of a large virtual community of veterans, family members, professional and amateur historian and students.

Education
Today’s young people have a limited understanding of WWII history. The experiences of individuals are often lost in a curriculum that stresses the important events that occurred on a global scale, the larger-than-life issues that caused the war and the importance it had on the late twentieth century. Now, using the power of Internet technology, teachers can use the Drop Zone as an interactive teaching tool. E-mail allows students to interact directly with the men who fought the war, to ask questions about the sacrifices of an earlier age and to listen and learn from the men who fought and lived through a world war.
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Harry Akune (far right) a Japanese-American who jumped on Corregidor as an interrogator. Akune gathered valuable intelligence that saved lives and shortened the battle.
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We understand the importance of  disseminating historically accurate information. We help veterans validate and verify all information before it is published on the Drop Zone. We make use of an assortment of unit journals, morning reports, other primary and secondary source material at our disposal.

Bradley Biggs,the first commissioned African-American paratrooper officer, with his fellow Triple Nickles at Fort Bragg, 1943. (Biggs)

509th Members

Members of the 509 Parachute Infantry Battalion.

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Over time, The Drop Zone Oral History Project intends to expand it's scope to include the voices of Korean and Vietnam War airborne veterans.
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The Drop Zone Virtual Museum is comprised entirely of volunteers, in keeping with the spirit of it's subject. Patrick O’Donnell, is our historian and the founder of the Drop Zone. He has personally interviewed over 400 WWII Airborne veterans, attended dozens of reunions and is an expert on the independant Airborne units as well as Airborne history in general. Our Webmaster Peter Bostrom, Manager of Interactive Technology at the Morino Institute and a former member of the U.S.Army's elite 75th Ranger Regiment's First Battalion. Several other volunteers include Shawn Faherty, an active-duty U.S. Army Major, Quentin Fairchild, Sgt. John Peterson, US Army, and Carl Fornaris, Esq. and Gant Asbary. Without these individuals the Drop Zone Oral History Project would not exist. They welcome your feedback.

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The Drop Zone has appeared in over a dozen major publications including major newspapers all across the U.S. and in USA Today, The Stars & Stripes, and nearly every Airborne publication in existence.

If you want, you can view this page in  Adobe Acrobat™ format, just click here. (You must first download and install the Acrobat Reader.)

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The Drop Zone
On-line WWII Oral History Project
P.O. Box 7351
Fairfax Station, VA 22039
(703) 690-2613


historian@thedropzone.org

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The Drop Zone Virtual Museum
Copyright 1996-1999 By Patrick O'Donnell