On Saturday, October 22, Matt, Eric and Cody headed up to Ft. Atkinson for an early morning photo shoot focused on our growing U.S. Army Air Force impressions. We got some fantastic lighting from a beautiful sunrise and were happy about the cooler temperatures which is favorable when wearing layers of wool and leather jackets. Matt and Eric started the morning with their B-17 bomber impressions with Matt as a pilot and Eric as a navigator. Cody is building an excellent crew chief impression so it was fun to have him join in the fun! Later on, we went up the the Sutler cabin at the fort and took some photos of Matt in his later war uniform consisting of a B-10 Jacket with A-10 Trousers. Eric introduced his P-47 fighter pilot uniform complete with 1936 RAF Flying Boots and a RAF Life Preserver. It was a quick little photo shoot but we all had a great time with our imaginations in the clouds.
On Saturday, October 15, Eric and Joe headed out to the beautiful outdoors for a quick Vietnam photo shoot. The focus for this event was the 173rd Airborne Brigade in the fall of 1965. This was around the time of Operation Hump which began on November 5, 1965. Staff Sergeant Krelle was wearing the classic OG-107 Utility Uniform with Corcoran black leather jump boots. SP4 Quinn was wearing the 1st Pattern Jungle Fatigues with 2nd Pattern Jungle Boots. It was a gorgeous day with all of the fall colors in their full majesty.
On the weekend of September 3-4, the World War 2 Guys were back in action for one of our favorite events of the year. The 8th Annual Timeline Weekend at Fort Atkinson has become one of the best events we do to display a huge variety of time periods and impression. Joe, Will, and Jeff were at the fort on Saturday displaying lots of great pieces from the Civil War up through Vietnam. The fort once again hosted a much-appreciated picnic dinner Saturday night for all of the reenactors which is always a great time. Then later Saturday evening, several of us sat and talked over drinks and music out in front of our unit's new U.S. Small Wall Tent. It was a really fun night and it felt so great to be among so many friends. Sunday morning there was hot coffee and donuts provided by Eric and Matt who were portraying two B-24 bomber crewmen from the 93rd Bomb Group. There were a lot of visitors throughout the weekend and the weather was exceptionally nice for this time of year in Nebraska. We are already eagerly awaiting our return to this event next year!
On Monday, July 4, the World War 2 Guys were back at our favorite 4th of July Parade in Omaha's Historic Field Club Neighborhood. This year we decided to go big and reenact the famous Iwo Jima flag raising! Our flag raisers for the day were Joe as Cpl. Harlon Block, Cody as Cpl. Harold "Pie" Keller, Matt as Pfc. Franklin Sousley, Eric as Pfc. Harold Henry Schultz, and Will as Sgt. Michael Strank. As the parade began, every 30-40 yards we called out, "Put it up Marines!" and raised the flag, holding it for a few seconds in the now-famous pose seen in Joe Rosenthal's photograph. The patriotic parade goers loved it and cheered us as they saw Old Glory go up. After the parade ended, we found out that our group won First Place in the reenactment category. Our group was definitely excited to finally win a ribbon for our efforts.
I was fortunate to spend the weekend of June 10-11 in the picturesque small town of Brooklyn, Iowa which is the home of Corporal Harold "Pie" Keller, one of the Iwo Jima flag raisers in the famous Joe Rosenthal photograph. Pie Keller was finally identified by Brent "Westy" Westemeyer and formally recognized by the U.S. Marine Corps in 2019 as the latest misidentified flag raiser. In 2014, I was the first person to correctly identify that Pfc. Harold Henry Schultz was in the Number 5 position always thought to be Franklin Sousley. The Marine Corps recognized Schultz as an official flag raiser in June 2016. I spent Friday night just taking in all the sights and sounds of Brooklyn which is a charming little town. I ate dinner and had a slice of pie at The Classic Deli and Ice Cream Shoppe which was delicious. I saw the boyhood home of John Wayne and a couple of neat old fashioned gas stations. Saturday morning after some coffee and breakfast at the Classic Deli I met Westy for the first time. We marched in the Brooklyn Festival of Flags Parade which was a great parade for a small town! It rained off and on throughout the morning but it couldn't damped the spirits of Brooklyn and its parade goers. Afterwards was the formal dedication ceremony for the Harold "Pie" Keller statue. Pie's family was in attendance and got to help in revealing the bronze statue and four informational bronze signs about Pie and the Iwo Jima campaign. There was a luncheon following the ceremony which was a lot of fun to attend as well. The whole weekend was just top notch and I was so happy to be a part of such a momentous event for the town and for the Keller family!
On Saturday, May 28, the World War 2 Guys marched in Omaha's 2nd Annual Memorial Weekend Parade through downtown Omaha. After tossing around a few other ideas, we decided to go with a timeline walk again this year. Our representative soldiers were Will for World War II, Cody for the Korean War, Eric for the Vietnam War, and Mark for Desert Storm. The crowds were huge once again and the weather was about as nice as you could get for a Saturday morning parade! We'll certainly be back again next year.
On Saturday, April 23, the World War 2 Guys were excited and honored to be a part of a ceremony remembering the 51 members of the 73rd Cavalry Regiment who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the Global War on Terror. The event took place at Omaha's beautiful Memorial Park near the Airborne Memorial. 51 new bricks were unveiled directly behind the Airborne trooper statue in a moving ceremony. To assist with the unveiling were Jerrimy representing a World War II paratrooper of the 82nd Airborne Division, Eric representing an 82nd trooper from 1965 in the Dominican Republic, and Joe representing an 82nd trooper from 1983 in Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada. It was a great event to be associated with and a pleasure to help recognize and remember those who have given their lives in the service of our country.
On Saturday, April 9, the boys of H Company gathered for our annual Spring Training event at Fort Atkinson. In attendance were Eric, Will, Matt, Mike, Joe, and Jerrimy. The day started off with rifle drill and some basic marching on the parade ground. Jerrimy did an excellent job guiding us through this phase of our training! Next up was some familiarization time with the 17th Airborne uniform, equipment, and weapons used in Operation Varsity. That was followed by everyone's favorite time of day - chow time! Jerrimy showed off his new 5 in 1 Rations project that he's diligently been working on. Everyone was impressed with the quality and attention to detail that he's been putting into his WWII rations research. We did some refresher course work on our hand signals and field formations work from last month followed by a little field march. We got some great photos of a few troopers doing a mock house clearing which was fun. The day ended with some good old fashioned baseball time with a few of the guys getting some nice hits. Hazard's head almost got taken off by a line drive but he survived! It was a great day and another top notch event for the World War 2 Guys!
On Tuesday, March 29, Eric and Joe attended the official groundbreaking ceremony for the new Nebraska Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the Sumtur Amphitheater in Papillion, Nebraska. Eric was representing a US Marine from 1965 in his OG-107 utility uniform and Joe was representing a US Army soldier for the late war period in his ERDL jungle fatigues. In attendance were hundreds of local Vietnam veterans accompanied by their loved ones. It was truly impressive seeing so many Vietnam veterans gathered together at one time! Nebraska Governor, Pete Ricketts, gave an inspired opening speech and then former US Senator and former US Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, gave the keynote address. Hagel and his brother, Tom, served together in the 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam. The future memorial will sit atop the hill which overlooks the Sumtur Amphitheater. If all goes as planned, the memorial will be dedicated on March 29, 2023 which is designated as National Vietnam War Veterans Day across the nation.
On Saturday, February 26, the boys of H Company, 507th PIR kicked off our exciting 2022 season with a winter training event at the Loess Hills State Forest. This was the first of two training events leading up to our Operation Varsity event in May. In attendance were Privates Mason, Quinn, Patzke and Yurgil along with Pfc. Williams, Sgt. Hazard and SSgt. Krelle. The morning started with a vigorous field march up and down the picturesque hills of our training site. Sgt. Hazard led the way in an action that sets our unit apart from many others in the field. We then began some classroom training led by SSgt. Krelle who covered squad hand signals, squad structure, and movement in the field. The whole squad enjoyed a test run of new C-Rations created by Pvt. Patzke which tasted excellent and looked extremely authentic as well. Our unit now has a reliable source of period correct rations for future events. We then spent time as a squad moving in the field using various formations such as open and closed squad columns, skirmish lines, a wedge formation, and the diamond formation. As a final exercise, we assaulted a group of unsuspecting German armored vehicles using a base of fire and maneuver team with much success. We ended our day discussing our 2022 events schedule and plans for the year ahead. It was a great first event and a pleasure to see our group together in action once again!
Read all about the great events that the World War 2 Guys take part in throughout the year.