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 Independence Day, the World War 2 Guys were invited to take part in the Grand Opening of the new 4-D interactive "From Cornrow to Hedgerow" exhibit at the Nebraska National Guard Museum in Seward. In attendance were Eric, Will, and Cody all representing the brave men of Nebraska's own 134th Infantry Regiment. Throughout the day we were situated in and around the museum's new Normandy hedgerow exhibit which features authentically uniformed mannequins in poses depicted in the National Guard Heritage Series painting done by Keith Rocco. We met and spoke with Ted Neill, the author of "Finding St.Lo" which is a biography of Gordon Cross and Bob Fowler. Bob was a longtime friend of our unit and remains one of the inspirations for why we honor our nations World War II veterans year after year. There were some excellent Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill impresonators at the museum for the big celebration and hundreds and hundreds of visitors through the doors all day long. It was an excellent way to spend the 4th honoring some of our state's most courageous men.
Read all about the great events that the World War 2 Guys take part in throughout the year.