By 2nd Lt. Alex Juan
159th Fighter Wing Deputy Public Affairs Officer
NEW ORLEANS— Members of the Louisiana Air National Guard, along with World War II veterans, were honored during the grand opening webcast of Experience the Victory at The National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Nov. 6.
The live webcast included celebrity guest speakers: Patricia D. Clakson, Tom Hanks and Tom Brokaw.
When referencing the World War II veterans, Brokaw said, "It's the greatest generation ... that's my story and I'm sticking with it," alluding to his popular and well-received book.
Alan Raphael, marketing manager for the museum, said that Louisiana Guardsmen were "part of about 150 active-duty military personnel that were recognized, along with 350 World War II veterans from 32 states across America."
Col. Roy Qualls, 159th Fighter Wing commander, said, "We are here to show our support for our veterans, to honor their service and to represent the Louisiana Air National Guard."
The Museum debuted three new venues: The Solomon Victory Theatre, The Stage Door Canteen and The American Sector, a Chef John Besh restaurant serving New Orleans cuisine.
The event included: a continental breakfast at the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion, a red carpet procession including past and present military members, a luncheon for service members, served by celebrity guests, and a movie premiere.
The 4-D movie "Beyond All Boundaries" brings viewers through a World War II journey and highlights the qualities and resolve of a past generation.
Mary K. Lore, who entertained the troops for three years during World War II, was in the crowd and was taken aback during the movie premiere. "I lived through it," she said. "The movie was too real."
Today, the museum houses over 16 exhibits and is the only museum in the United States to address all of the amphibious invasions of World War II. Last year, it drew in more than 200,000 visitors.
The significance of the event was not lost on the Guardsmen present.
Staff Sgt. Kevin C. Goodlet, a member of the 159th FW Security Forces Squadron, said, "I am honored to be a part of this moment in history."
Maj. Ignacio A. Assaf, 159th Maintenance Squadron commander, said the event was "an outstanding opportunity for forces of today to interact with forces of yesterday."