The aircraft flown by a famous Nevadan will be the centerpiece of an extension of a museum dedicated to the memory of the paratroopers who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944, as part of the D-Day invasion.
Minden resident Nancy Downey, the daughter of U.S. Sen. Howard Cannon, whose C-47 cargo plane “Stoy Hora” delivered paratroops as part of the invasion, were on hand at the Friday event at the D-Day Paratroopers Historical Center in Saint-Come-du-Mont, Normandy.
Both Downey and the daughter of pilot Col. Frank Krebs will attend the ceremony, along with the grandson of Lt. Col. Robert Wolverton, who jumped from the plane on D-Day and was killed before he hit the ground.
The aircraft in the museum is a replica of the original flown by Krebs and Cannon on D-Day. Krebs was the commander of the 440th Troop Carrier Group, which flew the 101st Airborne to France the night before the invasion.
“They reconstructed the plane,” Downey said. “They have a re-creation of what it would be like to have flown that day. They have the whole experience. It commemorates the contributions of Americans in liberating France.”
The museum features a C-47 Airborne restored to resemble the original “Stoy Hora.” The aircraft was purchased by Michel de Trez from Steven Spielberg, who used it in “Band of Brothers.” The aircraft has been mounted on a device, and 25 people can ride in it as it simulates the June 5 flight, according to the museum’s Facebook page.
On May 14, Rep. Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, offered a tribute to the senator on the House Floor.
Titus said she served as a faculty intern for Cannon in 1982. She sits at his desk in her Congressional office.
“This is a real honor for me to go to see my dad’s legacy preserved like this,” Downey said. “I don’t want people to forget my dad, especially with aviation. They called him Mr. Aviation in the Senate. He used to fly the planes that were coming up for review for purchase before he would recommend them. He was still flying right up until his last days in the Senate.”
Cannon was born in Utah in 1912 and was admitted to the Utah Bar in 1937. He served as a pilot during World War II participating in the D-Day Invasion. He was shot down over Holland on Sept. 17, 1944, and was able to return to allied lines 42 days later with the help of Dutch Resistance fighters.
When he returned to the United States after the war, he married Dorothy Pace Cannon. He was elected to the Senate in 1958 and served until 1983. During his time in the Senate he piloted the SR-71 Blackbird, the F-15 and F-16, achieving the rank of Air Force Reserve major general.
He died in 2002 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Downey’s youngest son, Douglas High School graduate Tyler Cannon Downey is following in his grandfather’s footsteps, serving in the U.S. Army.
His mother said he is stationed in Alaska.