New Orleans: National World War II Museum Opens New Pavilion

The National World War II Museum of New Orleans is opening a new pavilion set with a new exhibit to the public starting this coming December 13.

The exhibit “Road to Berlin” will the first of the two displays featured in the new Campaigns of Courage Pavilion in the National World War II Museum. Meanwhile, the second one, the “Road to Tokyo” exhibit, is set to open up next year.

The “Road to Berlin” exhibit takes visitors to a journey through the battles the Americans did just to defeat the Nazis. The exhibit, which will be in full array inside the 32,000-square-foot pavilion of the national World War II Museum, will include simulated experiences brought about by digital maps and animated fighter planes as well as oral histories, personal memorabilia from donors, real film footage and recreations.

These all will give viewers an immersive experience as to what really happened during the years of the war in terms of fighting against the Nazis.

But as what Gordon “Nick” Mueller, the CEO and president of the National World War II Museum, pointed out, the happenings associated with the “Road to Berlin” were not all good. As an example, he recounted how the Germans lambasted the American troops in North Africa. He also conveyed how the Allies had to battle their way into Sicily and, eventually, up to the mountains of Italy.

Artifacts on display in the new pavilion of the National World War II Museum include a suspended German war plane which can be seen at the ceiling of the atrium. There is also a typewriter and a radio receiver handmade and used by a young French girl in intercepting and transcribing wartime broadcasts in those times. Additionally, the museum also have a Opel German staff car on display in their Battle of the Bulge gallery.

Sands from Normandy beaches are also in exhibit. Covered in glass, the sands feature actual items which were washed ashore after the D-Day invasion in June 6, 1944 — items that range from personal things like cigarette boxes and toothbrushes to helmets and weapons.

Personal Experience

Visitors visiting the new pavilion of the National World War II Museum will be “paired” off with a real WWII soldier allowing the former to follow on the latter’s war experience. A digital dog tag will be given to guests when they enter the museum. These dog tags can be sued to access personal WWII stories.

Not all accounts are Europe-based, though. Some come from locals who got to serve in the war.

Take for example the brother Lorraine Taix McCaslin.

Louis Marcel Taix from New Orleans was drafted during the Second World War and served as a Merchant Marine. It was on May 15, in 1942, while he was on board a US ship heading home, when the Germans torpedoed them while they were off the coast of the Bahamas.

The crew headed for the lifeboats but Taix, who was assigned as the chief radio operator of the vessel SS Nicarao, decided to stay behind so he could call for SOS and radio in the coordinates of the ship.

Help came but at the expense of his life.

Taix was trapped inside the sinking ship when the radio shack collapsed. However, out of the 39 crewmen, 31 were able to survive and were rescued by a tanker the following day.

Lorraine, now 90, was just a teenager when her brother died. But even until this day, she still feels proud for the gallant act her brother did that time. And now, she feels happy and honored that the National World War II Museum included her brother’s story in their new and incoming exhibit.

I am glad to share an important part of my family’s history to everyone, she said.

Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE