Kentucky Historical Society
KHS Unveils Willis P. McKee Collection in Honor of D-Day
FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 3, 2011) — The Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) commemorates D-Day on Monday, June 6 with the unveiling of the Willis P. McKee collection on the online catalog, accessible at www.history.ky.gov/objects.
Allied forces launched the invasion on the beaches of Normandy, France on June 6, 1944, the day that would later become known as D-Day. Allied gliders helped lead the assault, and among them was the Fighting Falcon, a CG-4A glider carrying Brig. Gen. Don F. Pratt. Tragically, slippery conditions caused the Fighting Falcon to crash on landing, killing Pratt and making him the highest-ranking Allied officer killed on D-Day. Co-pilot Lt. John L. May was also killed, while the pilot and the general’s aide sustained injuries. The crash was so significant that it was featured in a scene in the movie “Saving Private Ryan.” Few pieces of the Fighting Falcon are known to exist today.
Dr. Willis P. McKee of the 101st Airborne’s 326th Airborne Medical Company was among the paratroopers to jump into occupied France that day. Upon landing, McKee quickly established a field hospital to treat those wounded in the invasion. He acquired a piece of the now famous Fighting Falcon. The family of Dr. McKee donated the piece and several other related items to the Kentucky Historical Society in 2010.
This collection and much of the KHS Objects Catalog is available online to history enthusiasts at www.history.ky.gov/objects. New entries are added weekly.