(U.S. Air Force via Wikimedia Commons)

It arrived overnight and disappeared just as fast.

That's how historians have described North Carolina's Laurinburg-Maxton air base, a hub for military training during World War II. The vast majority of the United States' glider pilots were trained there, including the forces who played an unsung role in the D-Day invasion 75 years ago.

About 500 glider planes were used in the invasion, and 312 of those were from the United States. Of this number, almost all of them trained at Laurinburg-Maxton, about 90 miles east of Charlotte, said Frank Blazich, lead curator of military history at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

But despite the important role gliders played in transporting men and equipment, the base's contributions have been largely forgotten.

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