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.
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" 
A Bridge Between Generations
The Drop Zone Virtual Museum, the first On-line WWII Museum, exists to preserve and share the legacies of America’s WWII Airborne and Ranger veterans.

Paratroopers, Glidermen and Rangers, Marine Raiders and the OSS were America's elite. They spearheaded World War II’s 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 WWII.
Creating 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 events.

Today’s 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.
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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.
Future Projects
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. (Biggs)



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 America’s World War II veterans before they are lost to the ages.  




509th Members
Members of the 509 Parachute Infantry Battalion.
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 recent work.

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.  

The Drop Zone
On-line WWII Oral History Project