On Wednesday we visited the National Archives II up in College Park, Maryland where the bulk of the holdings are for the 20th century. It is a beautiful facility that is five-stories tall in a residential area carefully constructed to never rise above the tree line. The building is the second largest federal building in the United States (second only to the Pentagon) and quite an impressive facility. They issued researcher cards to all of us and gave us the grand tour.
One of the most interesting rooms we researched in at the Archives was the map room where the staff pulled numerous maps for us to review. There were also numerous photographs to review as Matti is examining in the PHOTO BELOW. White cotton gloves were a necessity to preserve these historic images.
When we reviewed the documents portion of the Archives the staff were very helpful. They pulled documents ahead of time for us (PHOTO ABOVE) so that we could maximize the hour we had in the documents room. For our soldier, Virgil Tangborn, we didn't find any specifics about him but we were able to learn more about the 90th that we didn't know before. The good (and bad) news is that Matti and I did so much solid research beforehand that we didn't learn much here (good because it reaffirmed our solid research skills but bad because we were hoping to find more). The document below shows a close-up of the movements his 359th division made on the day he died.
We invite you to click on the above map and bring yourself into a specific part of the Normandy region. This is the area where our soldier Virgil Tangborn spent the final days of his life, where he earned the Silver Star for his valor and where he was buried. Look for the town of Amfreville (just west of Ste. Mere Eglise) which, according to the records, is where Virgil Tangborn died while helping rescue a truck driver during a German barrage. In the photo to the left,, you see the plot map for a temporary cemetery in Ste. Mere Eglise where Virgil Tangborn was buried before being moved to the American Cemetery near Omaha Beach.
The rest of the night on Wednesday was reserved for final preparations and celebrations in our final night in D.C.. On Thursday we have a morning lecture, then a tour of the Dulles Air and Space Museum, before boarding the plane. With luck, the next blog will come from the Dulles Airport as we await boarding for Paris and a safe landing at Charles DeGaulle Airport.