Dover Air Force Base announces D-Day anniversary event and return of ‘Thunder over Dover’

Two paratroopers who jumped from the AMC Museum C-47 “Turf and Sport Special” will be on hand for the D-Day observance. (Submitted photo)

DOVER — Dover Air Force Base will pay tribute to a landmark D-Day anniversary and will also honor today’s Air Force as it welcomes the public for a pair of free separate and significant events this year.

First, a commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, hosted by the 436th Airlift Wing and the Air Mobility Command Museum, will take place on Saturday, May 4, at the AMC Museum from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Base officials also announced that the “Thunder Over Dover Air Show and Open House” will return on Sept. 14-15 after a successful program two years ago that was headlined by an aerial performance by the United States Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team.

This September’s air show will feature a F-22 Raptor Demo Team from Air Combat Command. Further details regarding other “Thunder Over Dover” activities have yet to be released.

There’s no doubt that on May 4 a wide variety of activities will take place to pay tribute to the Allied forces who invaded Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944, and led what became known as the largest seaborne invasion in history.

“Were super excited about it,” said Michael Hurlburt, operations manager at the AMC Museum. “It’s going to be a huge event for us. It’s the 75th anniversary of D-Day, so that’s a big deal.

“We have a lot of ties to D-Day (at the museum) with some of our artifacts that were either flown or used throughout the war.”

George Shenkle, a paratrooper during World War II, visited the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base in April 2015. (Delaware State News/Andrew West)

May 4 promises to be a busy day in Dover as the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Dover International Speedway and the Dover Days celebration downtown are also scheduled to take place that Saturday.

“We’re well aware of that,” Mr. Hurlburt said. “It was not optimal because of those reasons, but we were very limited on finding the right date. We got in contact with the Commemorative Air Force in Texas and they have restored the historic ‘That’s all, Brother’ C-47 that led more than 800 aircraft into Nazi-occupied France. That aircraft will be traveling around the East Coast before June, when it is set to return to Normandy for the actual 75th anniversary.

“We know that having the D-Day Anniversary on May 4th is not optimal for Dover, but we’re hoping some of the out-of-towners hear about the AMC Museum’s commemoration and come out and see what we have to offer that Saturday.”

The 75th Anniversary of D-Day will feature up to 200 military members parachuting from modern military C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules aircraft, as well as the historic “That’s All, Brother” C-47 Skytrain airplane that dropped two American airborne divisions into France.

Of course, “That’s All, Brother” will be leading the flyover at Dover in formation with modern aircraft that will be filled with paratroopers.

Another significant highlight of the Dover D-Day commemoration includes the planned presence of a pair of paratroopers, including George Shenkle, who returned to his D-Day jump seat in the C-47 “Turf and Sport Special” at the AMC Museum six years ago.

Event-goers that Saturday will also have the opportunity to listen to historical briefings on the D-Day operation and attend an evening of music and dance. The event will also feature a free kid zone ensuring the commemoration will be fun for all ages. Those interested in attending, can expect to see additional activities and details announced closer to the event.

There will be many historical presentations and re-enactors on the D-Day operations throughout the day, and a swing dance with 1940’s music performed by the “Smooth Sound Big Band” from Milford following the days exciting ground and air events.

Gates will open for the event at 9 a.m. Unique D-Day and museum items will be available in the AMC Museum gift store for the event. More details will be published as they become available.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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