On Saturday, July 22, the World War 2 Guys ventured to the picturesque hills of Italy for our first ever Mediterranean Theater of Operations event. Eric and Cody were representing a World War II Iowa National Guard unit, the 168th Infantry Regiment, which was a part of the 34th "Red Bull" Division. Jon was representing the fighting men of the 3rd Infantry Division along with Reed and Jacob, two new friends of ours from Kansas. The event was co-hosted by our good friend, Eli Morgan, and the turnout was excellent! There were 20 reenactors from all over the Midwest with 11 Germans and 9 Allied soldiers. But even with the awesome participation, the weather turned out to be the story of the day. Temperatures climbed quickly in the morning which teamed up with exceptionally high humidity to make the day very uncomfortable. With most of the reenactors wearing wool uniforms along with their helmets, gear and rifles, it made patrolling through the hills and woods of the WMA site pretty awful. We did get into some good fire fights but we were just no match for the exhaustion that comes along with the high temps and humidity. We called it a day rather early but had a great time meeting lots of new friends in our hobby! Italy, we'll be back someday!!!
The World War 2 Guys took part in our 2nd Annual Field Club Neighborhood Parade on Tuesday, July 4. Once again we celebrated Independence Day by portraying the men of the 507th PIR in our D-Day uniforms. This year our parade crew was comprised of Eric, Will, Cody and Jon. The morning temperatures weren't terrible but the humidity was really high so the M42 Jumpsuits loaded down with gear got a little uncomfortable. But it was a great parade with a lot of neighborhood enthusiasm and a good time was had by all!
The World War 2 Guys held our first ever Korean War reenactment on Saturday, June 24 in the Loess Hills just north of Mondamin, Iowa. In attendance were Eric, Matt and Jon representing the Marines of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade and Will representing a soldier of the U.S. Army. For our uniform and equipment, we chose the Pusan Perimeter battles in the summer of 1950 as our time period. We arrived on site in the late afternoon and immediately set to finding our outpost location and digging in. The weather was actually gorgeous for late June with afternoon highs in the 70's and a nice strong breeze cooling us down. The position we dug was a long trench about 20 feet long with a sandbagged front wall. We were situated on one of the highest hills overlooking the entire area and the views were pretty amazing! We stopped for an early supper and then made our way back down the hill to bring up extra supplies. Thank God for Jiffy Mart in Mondamin! We got back to our outpost just before sunset which was spectacular. It was then time to collect the firewood so Will could cook our second dinner. As with most reenactments, story time soon followed as we sat back and took it all in. Most of us dozed off to sleep around midnight under a sky full of stars. Temperatures dipped into the 40's by morning so Highneck Sweaters and M43 Field Jackets became a necessity. Right around 0430, a nearby pack of coyotes made there presence known so we got the fire going again. It felt good to warm up and Will's hot coffee is always a welcome treat. We packed up our gear and made our way back down the hill by 0600. It was a great event and a fitting way to honor the beginning of the Korean War which started on June 25, 1950. Korea has often been referred to as the "Forgotten War", but 36,574 dead, 103,284 wounded, 7,926 missing in action, and 4,714 POWs is nothing to forget about.
On Monday, May 29, the men of Company H gathered at Saint Mary's Catholic Cemetery in South Omaha to honor our fallen on Memorial Day. Matt, Cody, Jon, Eric and his son, Grant, met near the final resting place of Medal of Honor recipient, Private First Class Edward "Babe" Gomez. Our group then marched a short ways to the gravesites of Private First Class Aloysius V. Furmanski and Private First Class Floyd F. Furmanski, two brothers both killed in World War II. Anyone who has been following us for a while knows that Aloysius is our inspiration for representing Company H of the 507th Parachute Infantry. We spent some time cleaning the grave markers by cutting back the overgrown grass, scrubbing the graves and washing them off. They both looked markedly better once we were finished cleaning them. Staff Sergeant Krelle then read a short speech honoring the legacy of Aloysius "Ali" Furmanski and his service to our nation. We then listened to a soft and stirring rendition of "Taps" and then observed a moment of silence. We finished our day with a few group photos. It was a wonderful and fitting way to spend Memorial Day together as a group and a great way to start passing our mission on to the next generation.
On Saturday, May 20, the World War 2 Guys put on another great display at the La Vista Cabela's annual Armed Force Day celebration. The festivities kicked off with the Quilts of Valor Foundation presenting their custom designed and hand-stitched quilts to eight local veterans. The quilts were amazing this year and the veterans were very appreciative. For our military display, Jeff presented an assortment of U.S. Navy and U.S. Army uniforms and equipment. Jon was our 507th Parachute Infantry representative and primarily presented a medical and Airborne display. Eric was representing the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War. A special sign was created to honor Pfc. Edward "Babe" Gomez from Omaha who was killed in action on September 14, 1951 and posthumously received the Medal of Honor. In addition, Eric also created a sign to remember the 69 men from Omaha, Nebraska who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the Korean War. Cabela's was once again a wonderful host and we were so appreciative to get the chance to interact and teach dozens of visitors throughout the day.
On Sunday, April 23, the World War 2 Guys visited the Loess Hills near Mondamin, Iowa for some much needed field time. Will, Jeff and Eric came dressed in a mix of Pacific Theater uniforms with Will wearing an early war Camouflage Coveralls ensemble compete with the transitional M1917A1 helmet, and Jeff and Eric wearing the later style HBT uniform. We started the day with some field maneuvers through the picturesque fields and Loess Hills of western Iowa. We made it to the top of some of the highest hills in the area where the views of the Missouri River valley are breathtaking! The three of us took a break to refuel on some K-Rations and share some good old war stories. Then it was on to some live fire time where we pulled out quite a few goodies. Among our arsenal of weapons were a 1903 Springfield, an 1897 Trench Shotgun, an M1 Garand, an M1A1 Carbine, and a replica M16A1 from the Vietnam War era. From 100 yards, our old Direct TV dish made for a nice target. We finished the day with Will modeling for us in his summer khakis which is always a treat! During our time up in the hills, we came up with a great idea to do a Korean War reenactment at this site sometime in 2017. So we're all looking forward to that!
On Sunday, March 19, the men of Company H met for our annual Spring Training event at Fort Atkinson, Nebraska. In attendance were the Sarge, Haz, Cody, Luke, Jon, Jeff, and our new recruit, Tyler. This was the first official event with our new Company H guidon and our new 507th "Jumping Spider" wood sign. We started the day with some WWII style calisthenics followed by some rifle drill and marching. The Sarge unveiled some clever new 507th cadences which had the boys smiling! Next up we covered some important administrative topics to keep the group moving forward in the right direction. Private Paul then gave the squad a rather difficult quiz on World War II history, followed by Corporal Hazard administering a quiz and lecture on the trusty ole' M1911. "Doc" Williams gave an excellent refresher course on real life medical emergencies, including how to spot them an what to do in certain scenarios. We then downed a few K Rations during a quick lunchtime break. After that the gloves, bats and balls came out as we held our first annual baseball day. We all had a unit game of catch and then actually started playing some ball. Cpl. Hazard and Pfc. Hinz were the big hitters both having a few long balls but everyone had a few nice hits. It was so much fun to run around the imaginary bases on the old fort's parade ground! The weather was absolutely wonderful with sunny skies and temps hitting the upper 60's. We followed up the baseball game with a little unit song time and a hearty rendition of 'Blood Upon the Risers'. Our final course was on platoon movements and formations in the field. It was a memorable day for the unit and a really strong way to kick off the 2017 reenacting season!
On Saturday, January 14, the World War 2 Guys ventured out for a winter patrol event. In attendance were the Sarge, Doc, Haz, Bird, and Abner. The weather was actually really nice for a mid-January morning with sunny skies and temperatures climbing into the 30's. Representing the 17th Airborne Division in January 1945, our squad was dressed in the M43 Field Uniform with a few troopers wearing the heavy wool overcoat. We started the day with a vigorous squad movement up and down hilly fields looking for a defensible area. Once we settled in, we began digging foxholes using a Pick Mattock and Folding Shovels. After about 20 minutes of very little progress, we decided that foxhole digging could wait for another day. Our patrol moved on until we found a nice little clearing in the woods where we stopped for some K-Rations and a unit meeting. During the meeting we decided that we would officially change our company designation to H Company in honor of Private First Class Aloysius V. Furmanski of Omaha who was killed on June 23, 1944 in Normandy. We later pushed to the south until we found some old abandoned foxhole positions. Suddenly, contact was made with a German sniper, but our M1s quickly silenced the threat. During the brief encounter, the sniper did manage to knick Private Paul in the leg. Not wanting to get pulled from the fight, the gutsy private kept firing away with his Colt .45 until he ran out of ammo. Our trusty "Doc" Williams then patched him up and prepped him for evacuated to an aid station. The squad performed well in the field and as always we enjoyed getting out and spending time together.
On Sunday, January 8, the World War 2 Guys kicked off the New Year with an afternoon visit to Omaha's Memorial Park. Haz, Doc, Abner and the Sarge all bundled up in several layers of Uncle Sam's wooly finest for a chilly outdoor gathering. We talked over plans for our upcoming winter battle and did an authenticity check for our winter gear and unforms. Afterwards we walked up to the World War II Memorial and spent some time in front of each of the bronze markers. As of now, we know of at least two 507th men from Omaha whose names are on the memorial. The first is Corporal Aloysius V. Furmanski from Company H who was killed in action on June 23, 1944 in Normandy, France. The second was Captain Gordon S. Shotwell from HQ Company, 2nd Battalion who was killed in action on March 24, 1945 in Wesel, Germany. Everything we do as a group is dedicated to honoring these men and all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.
On Saturday, September 3, the World War 2 Guys took part in the 2nd Annual Timeline Day at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park. We arrived at the fort early in the morning and spent our first hour setting up our encampment. Afterwards we were well fed by our friends at the fort with a delicious breakfast and a pot of hot coffee. For this event, Jon was representing the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment with a shelter half and a display of typical Airborne equipment. Cody was representing the men of the Hampshire Regiment with an extensive display of World War II British equipment and weapons. Eric was representing the 101st Airborne during the Vietnam War with a shelter tent made from two ponchos along with an equipment display. We were also joined by our buddy, Eli, who came as a German Luftwaffe soldier from World War II. Throughout the day we had a lot of instructional interaction with visitors to the fort and spoke about our various impressions and our displays. In the afternoon we got to speak to a large crowd about each of our time periods and what made our uniforms and equipment unique. We followed that up with a blank fire demonstration of our rifles. It was a great event and once again we were very thankful for our association with Ft. Atkinson and the opportunities they provide us.
Read all about the great events that the World War 2 Guys take part in throughout the year.