The World War 2 Guys headed down to Camp Clark, Missouri for the 2020 Battle of the Bulge hosted by the HRS's 137th Infantry Regiment. In attendance this year were Eric, Will, Matt, Cody, and our new recruit Conner. Although there was plenty of severe winter weather on Friday, we all safely made it down to the event. Eric, Cody, and Conner even got out to see 1917 on Friday afternoon before event check-in. Friday night, our group had a lively dinner at Iguana Azul, a hoppin' Mexican restaurant in downtown Nevada. Afterwards, Eric and Cody went to the commanders' meeting to get the new plans for this year's tactical. Saturday morning began with the traditional pre-battle coffee and donuts breakfast. All of the participants gathered on the parade ground at 0830 for a safety and authenticity check and a briefing on the day's overall gameplan. This year our unit fell in with the "legs" from G Company, 137th Infantry and a few Russian troops. Our first scenario had us fighting for the bridge at Stavelot. Our squad Bazooka team led by Will and Matt made effective use of our new anti-vehicle weapon by neutralizing multiple German vehicles throughout the day. We fought through wooded areas, unsuccessfully attacked the town of Recht, and stopped for some rations in the field by 1230. Our afternoon scenarios had us guarding roads against German advances and finally attacking through a marshy swamp area into the teeth of the German defenses. The five proud members of H/507 marched together back to the barracks at the end of the day. We all hit the hot showers and got dressed in our Class A's for the evening's dinner. As always we were served up heaping piles of spaghetti with meat sauce, green beans, fresh bread, cookies, and the famous "hot" pickles. It's seriously one of the best and most memorable meals I eat all year long, right up there with Thanksgiving. A few of us wound the night down by watching "Battle of the Bulge" which is laughably bad but fun to watch among buddies. It was another great experience and by the ride home our minds were already racing with new ideas of how to make it even better next year.
On Saturday, June 8, the World War 2 Guys came together to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion with a display at the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum. In attendance were Will representing the 82nd Airborne Division, Cody representing the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, Jon representing the French Resistance, Jeff representing the 2nd Armored Division, Matt representing the 1st Infantry Division, and Eric representing the 4th Infantry Division. Our display tables drew a steady and enthusiastic crowd throughout the morning and early afternoon as our team talked through various pieces of equipment, weapons, and uniforms. Eric's two sons joined our group for the day and enjoyed all the great aircraft at the museum as well. It was another fun chance to get together and spend some a few hours honoring all the brave heroes of D-Day!
On Memorial Day, Eric and Jon visited St. Mary's Cemetery for our annual cleaning of the Furmanski brothers' gravesites. It's truly amazing how overgrown a headstone can get in one year's time. This year at St. Mary's we thoroughly cleaned and trimmed around headstones for Privates First Class Floyd and Aloysius Furmanski, Flight Officer Martin P. Schmitt, Jr. and Staff Sergeant Joseph B. Labanowski. Afterwards we went to Omaha Central and laid a wreath at the Central High School Vietnam Memorial. Eric later went to Forest Lawn Cemetery and placed flowers at the markers for two Omaha men killed in Vietnam, Specialist 4 Donald Steven Waite of the 101st Airborne Division and Corporal William Warner Utts of the Americal Division.
On Saturday, April 20, a few of the World War 2 Guys hit the field for a little spring training. Jon, Fisk and Eric headed up to Ft. Atkinson for some morning fun. The uniform of the day was HBT Coveralls, Helmets, and Jump Boots replicating the look of the typical 507th trooper at Alliance Army Air Field in April 1943. We started the day by giving Fisk a tour of the fort and it's buildings and attractions. We did some field marching and held a little unit meeting under a grand old tree. We then covered unit hand signals and discussed upcoming events. We finished the day back up on the parade ground throwing around the baseball a little. We didn't have enough guys to do much but it was still great to get outside and take in the beautiful spring weather.
On Sunday, January 20, the World War 2 Guys hit the frozen fields of eastern Nebraska in hopes of recreating some scenes from the Battle of the Bulge. The day could not have been more perfect! Frigid temperatures combined with a biting wind, plenty of snow on the ground, and active snowfall throughout the morning made for an ideal day. We made our way over snow covered hills until we got to an intersection in a hollow where we set up an outpost. A few our our 507th troopers worked on digging a foxhole while Sergeant Green worked on building a small fire. A short while later, hot coffee was passed around the men which was much appreciated. We were able to fire the new squad Bazooka for the first time and our M1s and Thompson were chirping as well. After a satisfying morning, we finally made our way back from the front and headed home. It was definitely one of the best winter immersion events we've ever done! BRRRRR!!!
On Saturday, June 9, the World War 2 Guys celebrated D-Day at the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum with a D-Day themed display. Joining us for his first event was Chris and his retired service dog, Ravi, along with regulars Jeff, Will, Matt and Eric. Our display was focused on the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment showcasing uniforms, equipment, weapons, and personal items used during the Normandy campaign. The event was well attended by the public with lots of visitors to our tables and demonstrations by the museum's restored Douglas C-47 Skytrain. It was an excellent event and a great way to give the public a little glimpse of what it was like to be a World War II paratrooper. Airborne all the way!!!
On Friday, January 26, the World War 2 Guys headed back down to Camp Clark near Nevada, Missouri for the annual Battle of the Bulge tactical hosted by the 137th Infantry. Cody and Eric made it down to Nevada around 15:00 and settled into Room 3 of the main National Guard barracks building. Time was spent unloading gear, making beds, and loading weapons magazines. We made our annual pilgimage to the Nevada Wal-Mart to gather last minute supplies and later had dinner at Pizza Hut. Will joined us around 21:30 and then all three of us attended the commanders meeting. The night ended with some of the Canadians and 29th Division soldiers making impomptu land mines out of paper plates, staples, and black spray paint. Lights were out around 24:00. The sounds of Reveille filled our tired ears at 06:00, kicking-off a swarm of activity in the barracks. A traditional breakfast of donuts and coffee was served at 07:00 and we were all out on the parade ground by 08:30. The legendary Dave Hruska conducted the morning safety and authenticity speech and we were marching out into the field by 09:00. Our threesome from H/507th was joined by members of G/513th PIR, A/116th Infantry, and B Co. of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. Our first scenario had us moving through some lightly wooded terrain to attack the small village of Recht. Our platoon was successful in traversing a deep ravine and stream and making it through the woods, but our attack stalled out as soon as we hit the village. German defenses were just too difficult to overcome with our small fighting force. Our second scenario had us defending some elevated ground to the south of the village. This time we used the terrain to our advantage and held our ground from oncoming German advances. It was our platoon's proudest moment of the day! No matter what they threw at us, our line held! We were then ordered to fall back to the village and help members of G/137th Infantry halt another German advance headed toward the village. We did our best once again, but house to house fighting is tough stuff and we lost a lot of men once again. After the fighting died down, men of our combined platoon had some K-Rations and took a brief break from the fighting. The weather was gorgeous all day with sunny skies and temps topping out in the low 50's. Our first afternoon scenario sent us off to attack the bridge! Before reaching our objective, the men of A/116th Infantry left our platoon despite repeated attempts from Sergeant Green to persuade them to stay and fight. Sadly, with our dwindling man power we were unable to successfully capture the bridge intact. Our final scenario of the day had us once again defending against an onslaught of German vehicles and men. Sergeants Krelle and Green along with Tech 5 Williams wiped out nearly a squad of advancing Germans from the cover of some downed trees. Krelle and Green were both valiantly killed in action but Tech 5 Williams escaped the overwhelming German firepower to fight another day. Our combined Airborne platoon was driven back to the barracks in a Weapons Carrier to end our day in the field. After some hot showers and a change into our Class A uniforms it was off to the highly anticipated spaghetti dinner served by the men of G/137th Infantry. Everyone was exhausted from an amazing day of combat as we dozed off to sleep before 21:00. We were up bright and early and back to Omaha around 11:30 on Sunday. It was a wonderful weekend and one of our best Bulge events in years!
The World War 2 Guys arrived at Midway Village in Rockford, Illinois on Friday evening, September 22 as darkness was setting in. Immediately it became a challenge to locate our group's camp site. After going back to the drawing board, we found our correct location which wasn't initially communicated correctly. But it's the Army, so what do you expect? As it turned out, our camp site was in a nice, centralized location in the village. The men of the 507th pitched shelter halves under the light of street lamps on well-kept grass. We even had a picnic table at our disposal. The next day we all attended Safety Check, which was somewhat disorganized as we could barely hear the announcements. Our group then all attended the Commanders Meeting. Temperatures rose throughout the day and with it brought the struggles of overheating, dehydration, and sunburn, but we overcame. The battle itself wasn't quite what we had expected. The command leadership had good intentions, but ultimately dry conditions and pyrotechnics with flames do not mix. The first battle was cut short due to two separate grass fires and the second battle was cancelled all together. Casualties were also mounting for the men of the 507th. Jeff went down with boot and feet issues which were exasperated by the heat. After defensive fighting, Jon succumbed to symptoms of heat stroke. Cody then hopped into action as a real life medic by providing relief and assistance. Cody was also our vocal leader having been to Rockford before. With these afternoon struggles, we decided to pack it up and head home early that evening. All was not lost with the event however. With the help of Casey Sill, we formed a good relationship with several members of the 502nd PIR from Minnesota. Casey and Matt Hanson were a very welcoming presence. We also enjoyed the use of Jon's family van which provided ample room for both men and gear. If allowed, the 507th would benefit from its use again. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to bust out the ball gloves and Jeff's bat, but no doubt we'll get another crack at it in the future!
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!
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.
Read all about the great events that the World War 2 Guys take part in throughout the year.