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New Display at Bong Center Depicts D-Day Paratrooper

Baihly Warfield
Updated: June 06, 2019 07:09 PM

SUPERIOR, Wis. - Just in time for the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center finished a new display, which depicts a paratrooper parachuting down to the beaches of Normandy. 

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The life-size replica includes as many period-specific details as they could add. The mannequin was custom-made in Maine and can move its arms and even its fingers. The parachute on his back is custom too.

The display was an idea a volunteer brought to Executive Director Hayes Scriven and others about a year and a half ago. 

"I really wanted it to be a specific Northland veteran because that's what we're here to do is tell those Northland hero stories," Scriven said.

After a few days of research, they found Chester Brooks, who served with the 101st paratroop infantry regiment. He got on a plane June 5 and jumped out June 6 to land in Normandy.

Scriven said Brooks wrote about his experience, which was particularly harrowing, in his diary.

"The plane was jostling around a little bit, and the red light was up, and they were waiting to go. The plane banked one way, went the other way, and everybody in the plane went out all at once," Scriven recounted. "So it was just kind of mass confusion, nobody gave the order to go."

Eventually, there will be exhibits that include Brooks' writing and artifacts from his service to complement the suspended paratrooper. Included in the collection are two photos: one of Brooks' battalion before D-Day and the same photo but with faces cut out for the ones who didn't make it home from World War II. 

LHB Architects and Jamar helped the Bong figure out how to suspend the paratrooper from the ceiling. 

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Baihly Warfield

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