The highlight of my Memorial Day was finding and cleaning the gravesite of Lt. Col. Alfred Thomsen of Omaha. He was the 3rd Battalion commander of the 134th Infantry Regiment, a Nebraska National Guard unit that made the Cornhusker state proud during World War II. The 134th took Hill 122 on July 15 and was "officially" the first unit to enter St. Lo. Thomsen was wounded by German artillery on July 30 and died a few weeks later when a blog clot reached his brain. The Big Colonel or "Tommy" as he was known was a larger than life personality and a legend in Nebraska's military ranks. He's buried in Westlawn-Hillcrest cemetery, and surprisingly he's only 50 yards or so away from my parents' burial site! His marker is right at base of an ancient tree and near the Westlawn Singing Tower which has watched over him for many, many years. I read aloud excerpts from 'Biography of a Battalion' and some of author James A. Huston's recollections of his friend and the leader of so many Nebraska boys. Lt. Col. Thomsen has been a hero of mine for over 20 years now when I first started learning actual WWII stories from WWII veterans, so it was nice to finally slow down, sit with him, and share some French Calvados at long last.
On Saturday, May 29 the fellas were back in action at a monuments re-dedication ceremony at Omaha's beautiful Memorial Park. It was a gorgeous, sunny day with Eric and Cody representing H/507, Will representing F/502 and Joe representing the 101st Airborne in Vietnam. There were parachute jumpers and a nice presentation by various speakers including our 2nd District Representative Don Bacon. Afterwards we had lots of photos taken at the Airborne Memorial which was one of the monuments being formally re-dedicated after it's move from Heartland of America Park. It was a great chance to remember and honor all of our Airborne veterans throughout our nation's history.
On Friday evening, May 28, the World War 2 Guys marched in a Memorial Day kick-off parade through downtown Omaha in honor of our nation's fallen. This event was organized by Bill and Yvonne Williams of Patriotic Productions with loads of other local sponsors chipping in. In attendance for our group were Jeff honoring World War II, Eric honoring the Korean War, a new member Joe who honored the Vietnam War, and Cody honoring Operation Desert Storm. All of our guys looked great and it was really neat to see us showing the progression of the American soldier through the 20th century. The parade kicked off at 12th and Farnam St. and headed east to 10th St. and then up the hill to the Durham Museum. We have never seen crowds as big as this in downtown Omaha. It was simply spectacular and very awe-inspiring! The organizers would like this to be an annual event going forward so we will definitely be back in 2022.
Read all about the great events that the World War 2 Guys take part in throughout the year.