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, October 19, the World War II Guys time travelled back to 1951 to recreate a day in the Korean War. We decided to portray a squad from the 7th Cavalry Regiment "Garry Owen" of the First Cavalry Division. In attendance were Eric, Cody, Jon, and our newest recruit Conner. We went back to our old stomping ground up in the Loess Hills near Mondamin, Iowa. It was a beautiful fall day with lots of warm fall colors and really nice temperatures. Once our patrol reached the summit of our favorite hill we cleared out a lot of overgrowth and debris from our old trench line. We spent some time eating rations and firing our weapons from the trench. We ran a patrol to the next hill to the east which is actually a bit higher in elevation. Future plans include setting up another Observation Post (OP) on the second hill to build our network of fighting positions. We are also planning on buying a set of BC-611 Handie Talkies so we can have communication between the two OPs. Eventually we headed back down to our vehicle and headed home but it was a great way to spend a day among friends in some beautiful scenery!
Historic Ft. Atkinson held it's annual Time Line weekend August 31 - September 1. With sunny skies and mild temperatures, this year we had much better weather than 2018. Representing our group were Eric portraying a Vietnam-era U.S. Navy fighter pilot from VF-162 aboard the USS Oriskany, Jeff portraying a paratrooper of the 507th PIR in World War II, and our friend Alex representing a World War II U.S. Marine. As always there are a ton of fun things to see and do at the fort on their living history weekends. My wife brought my three kids out to see us and we had a great time visiting all of the different reenactors and areas of the fort. Once again I took part in the afternoon whiskey ration, and boy is that stuff STRONG!!! It was a great day and remains one of my favorite events of the year!
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.
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, 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!!!
Read all about the great events that the World War 2 Guys take part in throughout the year.