Wes O'Donnell


Every year, the LST-393 Veterans Museum in Muskegon, Michigan holds a celebration to honor those who lost their lives on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The LST 393 is an LST-1-class tank landing ship built for the United States Navy during World War II. She is one of only two LSTs to survive in original configuration; 1,051 were built. She is now a museum ship.

On this particular day, Saturday, June 5, 2021, I took my family to the LST to watch reenactors respond to an air raid on deck. If you ignore the fact that the attacking World War II aircraft have U.S. markings, it was an amazing performance with some world-class reenactors taking part.

I shot the attached video with a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. RAW Film profile/ 60p. SLR Magic Microprime 21mm lens and a PolarPro Basecamp matte box. I color graded the footage to look more like film out of the 1940s and added 35mm film grain to the video. The challenge with today’s digital cameras is that they are just too sharp!

As a veteran, I love seeing our history come alive. As a teaching experience, my kids were amazed at the realism.

Support your local museum ships.

The heroes that I served with wouldn’t want another wreath-laying ceremony. Sure, they would certainly want to be remembered, but why not celebrate everything America is about: Our shared value system, our fierce desire for individual freedom and, of course, hamburgers on the grill.

From the days of soldier-turned-actor Audie Murphy, one of the most decorated World War II combat soldiers of all time, to Jennifer Marshall, Post 9/11 Navy veteran-turned film and TV star, influencing public opinion and military service go hand in hand.