Just outside downtown Dunn, N.C., a historic antebellum-style house honors Maj. Gen. William C. Lee, a hometown hero often described as the father of the U.S. Army’s airborne infantry. The World War II veteran served as the first commanding general for the 101st Airborne Division, nicknamed the “Screaming Eagles,” and helped plan the Allied forces’ D-Day invasion of Normandy.
He’s a widely respected, if somewhat obscure, military figure — which is why, after anonymous vandals attempted to torch a statue of him last week, museum officials concluded it had been a case of mistaken identity. They suspect that the perpetrators thought they were burning a memorial to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
“This is not a Civil War museum and this is not Robert E. Lee,” Mark Johnson, the curator for the Maj. Gen. William C. Lee Airborne Museum, told WNCN on Tuesday. “This is General William C. Lee from United States Army Airborne from World War II.”