World War II history runs deep in the Wilmington community

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY)–United States President Donald Trump is expected to visit the Cape Fear on Wednesday to name Wilmington a World War II Heritage City and commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of the war. The City of Wilmington has a long history of helping with war efforts.

During the 1940’s Wilmington would become known as the “Defense Capital of the State”. The North Carolina Shipbuilding Company built 243 cargo vessels for the war starting in 1941, but the history doesn’t stop there.

“We had German prisoner war camps here, we had two Medal of Honor recipients from New Hanover High School,”says World War II Wilmington Home Front Heritage Coalition Chairman Wilbur Jones. “All five of the armed services were here, defense industries, the Atlantic Coastline Railroad headquarters was here. We were booming and the German submarines were operating right off of our coast sinking ships.”

The Cape Fear’s rich war history will be recognized on Wednesday. Wilmington is set to be declared the first American World War II Heritage City by President Trump. This is in part to a bill that was signed into a law back in 2019, that allowed for cities involved in the war to receive notoriety.

Wilbur Jones, who is a Retired Navy Captain, has been working on this project for nearly 13 years. Now, he has the chance to see the community of Wilmington at the fore front of history.

“We now have a national program of history preservation for cities that want to apply,”Jones says. “Nothing like it had ever been done or established in the United States. So, little ol’ Wilmington got this ball rolling and got it to this point.”

Wilbur says this distinction is something that the Cape Fear community should be proud of for years to come.

“It certainly means pride, pride in community, pride in our city, our county, our region.” 

The time-frame for President Trumps arrival is still unknown, but White House officials say he plans to tour the U.S.S. North Carolina while in Wilmington.

Categories: Local, New Hanover, News

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