Pilot Bryan Douglass of Missoula’s own ‘Miss Montana’ is letting it all sink in on this June 6, 2019, exactly 75 years after the mightiest armada of planes ships and soldiers in history crossed the English Channel to begin the liberation of Europe.

At the airfield in Normandy, Douglass spoke of the months of preparation in the hangar with hundreds of volunteers all contributing to getting the vintage C-47 ready for the D-Day 75th anniversary.

“It’s a culmination of all the work that I and tons of other people put in,” said Douglass. “A lot of people said we couldn’t do it, but we were able to pull it off. It’s going to be awhile before we can soak it all in. We’re kind of the center stage here representing Montana and we’re kind of the darling of the squadron because everybody’s really amazed that we’re here, so it’s just a great experience.”

Douglass described the schedule of the D-Day activities.

“Well, there’s a whole lot of sitting around and then a big slash of activity at about noon,” he said. “As near as I can tell, we’re going to be flying about a dozen C-47’s on our side, and then there’s a flight of C-130’s, a flight of F-15’s, a couple flights of French fighter jets. They’ll all be coming in from different directions just off the Omaha Beach Cemetery.”

Douglass remarked that there are fewer and fewer of the veterans still alive that participated in D-Day, but that the interest of young people is encouraging, signaling that the lessons of history won’t be lost on continuing generations.

“I think they’re getting it,” he said. “At the Duxford Air Show yesterday it was packed. You can see in the videos that they were packed at the fence with flashes going off and lots and lots of kids, so I think they get it, I know mine do. It’s our job to teach the kids about the history that was created here.”

Douglass made a point of the involvement of women in the success of the Miss Montana project.

“Oh, it’s great, there are so many angles to that,” he said. “The Rosie the Riveter party was more than just a party. We had dozens of women working on the airplane for months in Missoula. Then, I was looking at our jumpers yesterday and I think we had five women on board for our jump, and only three other women in the whole list of jumpers, so it was particularly appropriate that we had a good representation of the fairer gender on our plane and on our team representing all the woman who worked on our team and on our plane. They all just did such great work.”

Douglass said plans are in the works sometime in the near future for a community-wide ‘watch party’ at the airport for Missoulians to come see the videos and photos of the whole experience, once the Miss Montana and her crew come home for a well deserved rest, after representing Missoula and Montana with honor.

To us, they will always be ‘the darling if the squadron’.

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