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, April 14, Eric set up a WWII Marine Corps themed display and gave a presentation at the Nebraska State Historical Society's monthly "Second Sunday" speaker series. The topic for the presentation was Eric's history-changing research on the true identities of the six Iwo Jima flag raisers in the iconic Joe Rosenthal photograph. Over 100 visitors came to hear the hour long presentation which was follwed by a lively 30 minute question and answer period. It was a great chance to give a detailed account of all that went into identifiying Pfc. Harold Henry Schultz as the previously unnamed flag raiser in the famous photo. Schultz was formally recognized by the United States Marine Corps as one of the official six "second" flag raisers on June 23, 2016.
On Saturday, March 16, the World War 2 Guys helped out with the SAC Aerospace Museum's Aircraft Adventures Day focused on the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. Eric and Jeff set up a small table display dedicated to U.S. Army Air Force equipment, uniforms, manuals, and personal items. Jeff wore his HBT Coveralls and an A3 Mechanic's Cap to portray a B-17 mechanic and Eric dressed in an A-4 Flight Suit, Mae West, and Service Cap to honor the B-17 aircrews. The morning started with an excellent presentation by a SAC Museum curator covering the history and role of the B-17 in World War II. Then visitors were allowed to get close up views of the B-17 at it's nose, front hatch, bomb bay, and rear waist door. Jeff and I took turns hanging out on the bomb bay catwalk talking with visitors as they passed underneath us. It was a great day and an amazing chance to get inside one of the most iconic airplanes of all time.
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, September 1, the World War 2 Guys participated in our 4th Annual Ft. Atkinson Timeline Living History Weekend. In attendance this year were Matt as a Marine on Saipan, Jeff as a Infantryman, Jon as a Maquis French Resistance Fighter, and Eric as a US Army LRRP (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol) team member in Vietnam. We set up a small row of shelter halves and a Vietnam poncho shelter next to Steve Cox's impressive Korean War display. New this year was a visit from the Omaha Police Helicopter, food trucks, and more reenactors from various time periods. The weather was ungodly humid and mixed with no wind and high temperatures, it made for a very uncomfortable day to be outside. Our group took part in a noon firing display and we were invited to the daily whiskey ration distribution at 15:30. It was another great event at the fort and one that we will definitely continue to attend.
On Wednesday, July 4, the World War 2 Guys took part in our third annual Field Club Neighborhood 4th of July Parade. This year we went with a World War II Pacific theme representing the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy. Eric was a Marine lieutenant with his Tommy Gun, Cody was an M1 carrying Marine infantryman, and Jon was a Navy Corpsman. We all looked great and got lots of shout outs from the crowd. The highlight of the parade was when one of the parade onlookers passed out right as we were marching toward him. Jon and Cody immediately lept into action and administered help to the man suffering from heat stroke and dehydration. They both performed admirably in an unexpected emergency sitauation. There's no greater feeling than knowing the guys in front of you and behind you can help with any emergency at any given moment. Great job Jon and Cody and Semper Fi!
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 Monday, May 28, the World War 2 Guys gathered for our annual Memorial Day visit to St. Mary's Cemetery in South Omaha to once again honor Floyd and Aloysius Furmanski. Cody, Jon, Eric and Grant spent time cleaning the grave markers of the two brothers both killed in the summer of 1944. We held a silent vigil and played Taps to honor the incredible sevice and sacrifice of Floyd and Aloysius and all of our fallen military heroes. Afterwards, we visited Omaha's Central High School and laid flowers at their Vietnam War Memorial erected to honor the Central High students who gave their lives for their comrades and their country in Vietnam. It was a great day to get out and honor those who gave all so that we could have today.
On Sunday, May 20, the World War 2 Guys held an open photo shoot day up in Ft. Calhoun. The concept was that each member could wear any uniform or time period of their choosing and we would take lots of great photos to document each impression. The weather was unseasonably cooler with overcast skies with a slight drizzle from time to time. Jeff was portraying an infantryman from the 82nd Airborne Division in Normandy circa 1944. Jon was portraying a U.S. Navy Corpsman from the 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal circa 1942. Cody was portraying a British infantryman from the Hampshire Regiment circa 1944. And Eric was portraying a line infantryman from the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam circa 1969. The photo shoot went even better than expected and we got tons and tons of great photos, and then later that night Eric's phone, with all of the photos on it, went wacko and died. Everything was lost. Fortunately, Jeff was taking some photos as well so this is all that we have from the shoot. Thanks Jeff for saving the day and capturing some of the great moments. We'll certainly have to try this again another time.
The World War 2 Guys met up at Ft. Atkinson on Sunday, April 29 for our annual Spring Training and baseball game. We had a lighter attendance for this event with Casey, Jon, Matt, and Eric taking part. We started the morning with some much appreciated donuts and coffee supplied by Casey followed by some rifle drill and marching on the parade ground. We held a short administrative meeting covering upcoming events and other important unit topics. The four of us then geared-up and made our way down to the lower river plain for some patrol time. Casey led us on a somewhat lengthy patrol through the trees and grasses on this beautiful sunny morning. We stopped off for a breather and to shoot a few rounds through Staff Sergeant Krelle's new Thompson. Then it was back to the parade ground for some good old fashioned baseball! We knocked-off the rust by warming up our arms first with a few spirited games of catch. Then it was home run derby time with each trooper taking several turns at bat. Corporal Hazard had the longest shot of the day, but the true headline moment was when SSgt. Krelle actually hit the leather cover off a baseball! Seems that he's a regular Roy Hobbs at the plate! It was a really fun event which we will hold again next year for certain.
Read all about the great events that the World War 2 Guys take part in throughout the year.