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
|About The Drop Zone
Since our inception, The Drop Zone has pioneered oral history on the internet by creating
a new paradigm for how oral and "e-histories"
Bridge Between Generations
|The Drop Zone Virtual Museum, the first
On-line WWII Museum, exists to preserve and share the legacies of Americas WWII
Airborne and Ranger veterans.
Paratroopers, Glidermen and Rangers, Marine Raiders and the OSS were
America's elite. They
spearheaded World War IIs most crucial battles. They have left us a compelling
legacy of honor, courage, valor, sacrifice and dedication.
The Drop Zone Oral History Project does not exist to glorify war or to satisfy military
romantics. It is designed to emphasize the contribution of an elite group of men from a
generation that experienced the greatest challenges of the twentieth century.
The objective of this website is to create a mosaic of oral histories and photos that when
looked upon in totality is representative of the airborne, Ranger and
Marine experience during
a New Paradigm
|The Drop Zone uses the power of the
Internet. Some of these stories were gathered from
veterans through e-mail. We use an email-based discussion group called The Virtual Reunion
that provides veterans with an on-line forum to share their recollections and personal
stories. These stories are archived, indexed and form an important tool for verifying
|Todays young people have a limited
understanding of WWII history. The experiences of individuals are often lost in a
curriculum that stresses the larger-than-life issues that caused the war. Now, from right
within the classroom, teachers can use the Drop Zone as an interactive teaching tool.
Harry Akune (far right) a
Japanese-American who jumped on "the Rock" as an interrogator. Akune gathered valuable
intelligence that saved lives and shortened the battle.
|We understand the importance of
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, as well as other primary and secondary source material at our disposal.
|Over time, we intend to expand the scope
of the Drop Zone to include the voices of the men who fought along side the airborne i.e.
French Resistance, Filipino Scouts as well as the Axis forces that fought against them.
Bradley Biggs,the first commissioned
African-American paratrooper officer, with his fellow Triple Nickles at Fort Bragg, 1943.
A WORLD WAR II VIRTUAL MONUMENT
Read about our concept of a World War II
Virtual Monument. In August the Drop Zone met with the American Battle Monuments
Commission to discuss our idea of a World War II Virtual Monument. As an on-line
"Living Monument" it will capture and preserve the testimonies, oral histories,
and photos of Americas World War II veterans before they are lost to the ages.
Members of the 509 Parachute Infantry
|The Drop Zone Virtual Museum
is run by volunteers. Combat historian Patrick K.
O'Donnell has authored seven critically acclaimed books which recount the epic stories of
America's troops in World War II, the Korean War, and the current conflict in Iraq. His
bestseller Beyond Valor, which tells the gripping tales of U.S. WWII Ranger and Airborne
veterans, won the William E. Colby Award for Outstanding Military History. His other books
include Into the Rising Sun; Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs; We Were One: Shoulder to
Shoulder With the Marines Who Took Fallujah; The Brenner Assignment: The Untold Story of the
Most Daring Spy Mission of WWII; They Dared Return; and Give Me Tomorrow: The Korean War’s
Greatest Untold Story – The Epic Stand Of The Marines Of George Company, which is his most
Reviewers from media outlets as diverse as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Jerusalem Post,
the Los Angeles Times, CNN, C-SPAN, and National Public Radio (NPR) have hailed his publications.
In addition, his books have been Main or Alternate selections of the Book-of-the-Month, History,
and Military History Book-Clubs.
O'Donnell has appeared as a guest on countless television and radio shows on CNN, MSNBC, FOX,
and other networks. He served as a war correspondent for Men's Journal and Fox News,
reporting on the conflict in Iraq from the perspective of the Marines on the ground. He has
also written for Military History Quarterly (MHQ) and WWII Magazine and is a frequent
contributor to a variety of nationally recognized blogs.
An expert on WWII espionage, special operations, and counter-insurgency on the modern battlefield,
the historian has helped with production or writing for numerous documentaries produced by the BBC,
the History Channel, and Fox News.
He also provided historical consulting for DreamWorks' award-winning miniseries Band of Brothers,
as well as for the billion-dollar Medal of Honor game franchise.
His skills have even been tapped by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).
For the agency, the historian worked on modern weapons systems for urban warfare, looked at
historical counter-insurgency, and researched and analyzed German technology from WWII and how it
can be applied to the modern battlefield.
Dedicated to preserving the stories of combat veterans for generations to come, O'Donnell founded
The Drop Zone. The award-winning web site contains many of
the 4,000 oral history interviews O’Donnell has personally conducted over the past twenty years with
American combat veterans and their adversaries.
O'Donnell not only writes about combat—he's experienced it firsthand. He served as the only civilian
combat historian to spend three months in Iraq documenting the experiences of troops in battle. He
literally fought with a Marine rifle platoon in Fallujah, surviving several ambushes and once
dragging a mortally wounded Marine from battle (We Were One).
Because he believes in experiencing the places and people he writes about firsthand,
O'Donnell has travelled to nearly all of the battlefields of North America and many of the WWII
battlefields in Northern Europe. In addition, each one of his books contains scores, if not hundreds,
of oral history interviews he has personally conducted, combined with years of archival research
(The Brenner Assignment, for instance, took 10,000 documents to produce.)
He is currently a resident of the Lone Star state, but considers the entire United States his
office. He finds inspiration in the country's history and natural beauty and frequently works
on his books while traveling across its wide expanses.
|The site and books have been
in scores of national television, radio and newspaper articles.
However, our greatest achievement is the respect and praise we've
received from the veterans who were there.