TERRE HAUTE —
The Veterans Memorial Museum of Terre Haute, which honors all American veterans, holds some memorabilia of those who served on D-Day during World War II.
One unique piece is a set of military uniforms provided by Bill and Betty Dodson of Terre Haute, who both served during World War II.
“This is a landing forces patch,” said museum owner Brian Mundell, pointing to a red patch on the sleeve of Dodson’s naval uniform. “He [Bill Dodson] actually brought British troops ashore on Gold Beach, which was a British landing beach. It wasn’t one of the American beaches that we went in on,” Mundell said.
“He was in D-Day. I didn’t even know that we brought British troops ashore until he told me that,” Mundell said. “He was on an LST.”
LST stands for Landing Ship, Tank. It was a craft the Navy used during World War II to support amphibious operations, carrying vehicles, including tanks, and cargo and landing troops onto shore.
Also on display are military awards of another Terre Haute resident who served during the D-Day invasion.
Second Lt. Alfred H. Conrad of Terre Haute received the Purple Heart and Silver Star while serving in the 82nd Airborne. He took part in the D-Day invasion, Mundell said, “but was killed in Holland on Sept. 19, 1944.”
“The 82nd and 101st Airborne were the first units to drop in” on D-Day, Mundell said. “[Conrad] was an engineer,” he said.
The museum’s collection features a large, rare patch from the “307 Airborne,” with a parachute and wings coming out of a castle, an emblem designating engineers, Mundell said.
There’s also a letter from President Franklin Roosevelt sent to Conrad’s relative.
“He stands in the unbroken line of patriots,” FDR writes, “who have dared to die, that freedom might live and grow and increase its blessings. Freedom lives and through it, he lives, in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men.”
Another D-Day veteran whose items are on display is U.S. Army Private Sidney Felton of Jackson, Michigan. “He actually waded ashore on D-Day,” Mundell said. “His boat got hit by a German shell and they had to basically swim ashore.” The event is documented in a newspaper article enclosed in a display case at the museum.
A Kapaok life jacket, like those used during D-Day, is also on display.
“I had a second one and put it on eBay, and a museum in Normandy bought it. That is how rare those are,” he said.
A third of the museum has World War II items on display, largely on the east side of the museum, located at 1129 Wabash Ave. The museum is open for tours Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or firstname.lastname@example.org.