World War II Museum exhibit Road to Tokyo: Pacific Theater Galleries tells how US won the war
ORLEANS - The National World War II Museum on Saturday opens "Road to Tokyo: Pacific Theater Galleries," its newest permanent exhibit explaining how the war was won by the American-led Allied forces.
Dr. Gordon H. Mueller, President and CEO of The National World War II Museum, said the opening of "Road to Tokyo" will complete Campaigns of Courage: European and Pacific Theaters, a pavilion that goes to the heart of the museum's mission.
"The opening of the Road to Tokyo, the Merchant Marine Gallery and the American Spirit Bridge represents a large step toward completion of America's National WWII Museum," Mueller said.
"Road to Tokyo" retraces the path of war that led from the Japanese surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on through the Pacific engagements to Tokyo Bay and the atomic bombs in Japan. More than 400 artifacts are showcased, including a shark-faced P-40 Warhawk aircraft, interactive oral-history kiosks, serialized Dog Tag profiles, short films and recreations of wartime environments.
The exhibit explores the evolving American strategy for fighting relentless Japanese forces in Asia and the Pacific. It also examines the cultural differences of the combatants, logistical challenges and the extreme conditions confronted by American forces in Asia and the Pacific.
One gallery shows what it was like to live aboard a Navy warship or to fight in the "Green Hell" of mosquito-plagued Guadacanal, a strategic Pacific Island. Others explore fighting in the Philippines and elsewhere, "island hopping" by American forces gaining airstrips as B-29 bombers pulled within range of Japan, even a gallery on the atomic bombs called "Downfall: Endgame Against Japan."
"The new 'Road to Tokyo' exhibit is fabulous. When I saw it for the first time, it was like I was reliving it all," said Forrest Villarrubia, a Marine veteran of WWII. "I was truly amazed by it. I felt like I was right back there in the Pacific, fighting for our nation's freedom."
Villarrubi, who just turned 90, was stationed in the Philippines. He now volunteers at the museum.
The museum's growth is not nearly over. A new exhibit will open later this month honouring the US Merchant Marine. The LTJG Ralph E. Crump Merchant Marine Gallery is a stand-alone gallery that honours the mariners who risked their lives transporting weapons, men and materiel to distant warfronts, museum officials said. Features include a video, artifacts, a model of the low-cost Liberty cargo ships hastily built for the war effort and an engaging array of personal narratives.
"These newest galleries take the museum experience to a new level, and address a central piece of our mission - explaining how the war was won," Mueller said. "Anyone who tours them should come away with a deeper appreciation for the millions of Americans - most of them very young - who risked everything to defend our country and its values."
The museum also plans to further its expansion with two addition pavilions, one of which will honour the home front during the war. "We also have plans to build a parking garage and hotel," said Michelle Moore, public relations manager.
The National World War II Museum, in New Orleans' warehouse district, is open seven days a week.