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World War II 'Duck' that landed on D-Day coming to Wilmington

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A vintage World War II DUKW amphibious truck, nicknamed a “Duck,” that supported Allied landings in Normandy, France, on D-Day will be exhibited at the WII USO big-band dance and USO show on Nov. 22 at the Hannah Block Historic USO/Community Arts Center, at 120 South Second Street in Wilmington.

The “Duck,” owned by local antique vehicle collector Jim Knowles and in pristine wartime condition with military markings, will greet attendees at the front entrance from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.

The Duke Ladd Orchestra will provide music for the dance beginning at 6:30 p.m. A USO show titled “Swingtime Canteen,” produced by the Thalian Association’s Tom Briggs, will go on at intermission. Forties-era attire is suggested.

The event is free and the public is welcome. A $10 donation is requested. Beverages and snacks will be available. Sponsors are the World War II Wilmington Home Front Heritage Coalition, the Thalian Association, and the Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County.

This vehicle was among 200 U.S.-produced DUKW’s assigned to Canadian forces which landed on Juno Beach in the British Commonwealth Sector of Normandy on June 6, 1944, and is the only survivor. These trucks carried troops, supplies, and equipment ashore and inland.

Knowles, who rents vehicles to the film industry, purchased the vehicle in the Netherlands and has provenance for its wartime service through Germany until the war’s end. Restoration took seven years. Knowles will display a photo of the D-Day driver in this vehicle.

The event is in conjunction with the nationwide Big Read project of the National Endowment of the Arts and the Arts Midwest. This year’s military theme features Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam War novel, The Things They Carried.

For information contact Wilbur Jones at (910)793-6393, or JonesWD@ec.rr.com and TheBigReadWilmington.com.

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