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National World War II Museum opens latest pavilion

Courtesy National World War II Museum

NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, the newest exhibit at the National World War II Museum, opened on Jan. 14.

The pavilion features exhibits and interactive experiences that tell the story of how the United States mobilized for the war from the viewpoint of those who answered the call of service and those who supported the fighting forces by producing planes, ships, tanks and other vital machinery.

The large pavilion includes several restored iconic warplanes, including the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-25 Mitchell, the P-51 Mustang, the B-24 Liberator, the FAU Corsair and the TBM Avenger.

The Vehicles of War exhibit features equipment that was vital to daily life during the war, such as an ambulance, a Sherman tank and a M3 half-track.

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, a World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient who recently died, introduces a section of interactive touchscreens that profile veterans of the war who went on to become presidents, vice presidents, Supreme Court justices and congressmen and senators.

The Laborde Services Gallery honors the 16 million men and women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II with exhibits about major campaigns and the 464 recipients of the Medal of Honor and oral histories of men and women who fought in the war.

In the interactive exhibit “Final Mission: The USS Tang Experience,” 27 people at a time take part in the final mission of the submarine, which was sunk in the Pacific in October 1944 after a surface attack on Japanese ships.

Visitors are given a “watch bill” representing a specific Tang crew member, and many are assigned specific tasks to perform during the battle. At the end, they find out the fate of their crew member, who was either lost at sea or captured and tortured by the Japanese.