Medal of Honor
Private Carlton Barrett
On 6 June 1944 near St. Laurent-sur-Mer, Private Barrett of the 18th Infantry, from
Fulton, New York, landed amid the chaos of Omaha Beach. Despite heavy German
fire, he repeatedly returned to neck-deep water to pull half drowned members of the
assault force from the pounding surf onto the beach. Still under fire, he assisted
wounded men to the evacuation boat and carried dispatches along the length of the
beach. Barrett was credited with saving many lives that D-Day morning. His coolness
and dauntless daring courage earned him the Medal of Honor.
Distinguished Service Cross
Brigadier General Willard G. Wyman
Upon landing on Omaha Beach on 6 June 1944, Brigadier General Wyman took cover
long enough to assess the situation. With absolute disregard for his own life he stood
up exposing himself to enemy fire and began moving lost units to their proper
positions, organizing leadership for leaderless troops. With his steadying influence the
tide began to turn and troops began to move off the beach. Wyman helped organize
attacks on enemy strong points and diverted units from their original missions to
support hard-pressed units, thus giving the attack cohesion and the ability to continue
the drive inland.
This "cricket" was used by American paratroopers as a communication device during the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. In the early morning hours of D-Day, paratroopers were dropped far behind enemy lines and used these crickets to communicate with their comrades. In the chaos and confusion of the invasion, crickets helped soldiers identify who was friend or foe.
Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.'s Cane
Theodore Roosevelt Jr. used this wooden cane to walk due to his chronic ailments. Along with heart problems, Roosevelt suffered from arthritis gained from prior military service. His name is engraved on the cane in black.
Theodore Roosevelt Jr. fought with the 26th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division in World War I and was given command of the unit in World War II. He helped lead the division in the North African campaign under Major General Terry Allen, and was the only general in the first wave of attacks in Normandy on June 6, 1944. He landed on Utah beach as leader of the 4th Infantry Division. His actions on D-Day earned him the Medal of Honor. He died in July of 1944 from a heart attack.
M1945 M3 Half Track
Manufactured by White Motor Company
The Half Track was a popular vehicle due to its versatility and ability to cover very difficult terrain. It earned its name from the fact that it has tank-like tracks in back and conventional steering wheels in front. This vehicle could be seen in many different configurations on the battlefield. It was used to transport a squad of ten soldiers, as a communication vehicle, as an anti-aircraft weapons mount, and for towing artillery.
This particular vehicle represents a typical 81mm mortar carrier. The entire body consists of 1/4 inch steel plate and weighs over 17, 850 pounds. It evolved from its predecessor, the M3A1 Scout Car.
Mother's Service Flag
Service banners hung in house windows to indicate that a family member was serving in the Armed Forces. Blue stars symbolize an active duty soldier and gold stars symbolize a loss. This particular banner was hung in John E. Sweeny's house in Oak Park, IL during World War II. Sweeney served in the First Infantry Division, 16th Infantry, Company L, and was in the first waves to storm Omaha Beach in the D-Day invasion.
German 9mm Parabellum Pistole Model 1908 (P.08)
The 9mm Luger is one of the most famous and recognizable guns in the world. It was used by German officers in World War I and World War II but its high quality precision design was expensive and time consuming to manufacture. It was eventually replaced by the Walther P38 which was more ideally suited to rugged combat conditions. The Luger was one of the most highly prized souvenirs by American soldiers.
M-1926 Life Preserver Belt
This life preserver belt was recovered from Omaha Beach in 2006. These belts were issued to soldiers participating in amphibious operations. Once ashore they were abandoned.
M-1926 Life Preservers such as this would quickly be inflated with two CO2 cylinders located near the front buckle closure. Two rubber tubes with metal valve allow for mouth inflation.
H. Charles McBarron
H. Charles McBarron's oil on canvas painting depicts the Battle of the Bulge during the winter of 1944. McBarron is famous for his military illustrations which focus mainly on uniforms and battles. This work is one of several created by him in our collection.
M1 Helmet with Bullet Hole
This helmet was worn by Captain John Finke of F Company 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. Captain Finke was wearing this helmet during the Battle for Troina, 3 August 1943, when a bullet pierced it. Although wounded, he stayed with his men all day, refusing medical evacuation until late in the afternoon. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his action.
Handmade American Flag
Yolande Bernard, a 21-year old woman in August 1944, sewed this flag in her home town of Remouchamps, Belgium. She made it as a token of gratitude to the Americans who were about to liberate her town from the Germans. The stars were shaped from cardboard and covered with tin foil. It was very dangerous to make the flag because if it were discovered by the Germans, the punishment could be death. When the Americans liberated Remouchamps, they immediately saw the flag flying from the Bernard house.
Earl Gibbs donated this flag. His platoon from the 745th Tank Battalion, 1st Division, was taken in for a week at the Hubin family home, which neighbored the Bernard home. Gibbs and his Belgian caretakers remained close after the war. In 1996 Yolande gave the flag to Gibbs, asking him to give it to one of the GI's who liberated Remouchamps. Although he could not locate any of the soldiers, he donated the flag to the First Division Museum at Cantigny, as the division liberated several Belgian towns in 1944.