HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – On June 6, 1944, thousands of allies stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, marking the “beginning of the end” of World War II. Operation Overlord, or D-Day would go down in history as the largest seaborne invasion in history.

79 years later the bravery and sacrifice of those soldiers, including some local heroes, is honored in a permanent display at the U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum in Huntsville.

“Hundreds of local Huntsville, Tennessee Valley folks participated in D-day and WWII,” shared the Museum’s Director of archives Scott Thompson. “That’s something that we should all be proud of.”

At the U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum, volunteers like Thompson work to restore and preserve WWII artifacts. A series of ships, boats, tanks, and aircraft were all used on D-Day to help carry equipment to complete the mission.

Nearly 160,000 Allied troops landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944, stormed the beaches of the French town and began the liberation of German-occupied Western Europe.

U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum Director of Exhibits, Larry Bayer explains how troops navigated WACO CG-4A Gliders during WWII.

Thompson said the top secret operation was no easy mission.

“Really one of the amazing facts about it was the risk that we took. The risk of failure was absolutely huge. (It’s) Probably one of the most important military operations that the US military participated in in history.

If you take a visit to the museum you might recognize one of the M4 Sherman Tanks from the annual Veterans Day Parade in downtown Huntsville. The collection of tanks, similar to the ones used on D-Day, was recovered and restored by the museum, allowing them to be still operational.

Next to the tanks sits a “Hometown Heroes” display of WWII Veterans that live across the Tennessee Valley. Thompson said displays like this will share “the sacrifices made by the soldiers, sailors, marines of that era.”

Learn more about the U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum here.