The weekend of September 2-3 was the much anticipated 9th Annual Timeline Weekend at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park. After enjoying a few weeks of pleasant late August weather, we were finally hit with some more extreme temps throughout the weekend which might have impacted crowd attendance. Joe was once again sporting his top notch 5th Special Forces Group impression and hooch display. Steve Cox was representing the U.S. Marine Corps in the Vietnam War once again with his extensive display layout. Jeff was out on Saturday in a World War II infantryman kit. And Eric represented the U.S. Navy pilots of Task Force 77 in the Korean War. We all enjoyed a great picnic dinner for the participating reenactors on Saturday night, which was followed by a fun night of hanging out until after sunset. Sunday warmed-up quickly and visitors to the park were sadly pretty sparse. We headed out a bit earlier than expected, but it was great to be back at the fort and rekindle a lot of great friendships with fellow living historians.
A special event was held at Omaha's Memorial Park on Saturday, July 29 to remember and honor the 70th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice. The event was planned and organized by Bill Williams and Patriotic Productions which has put on some amazing events to honor our Nebraska war veterans throughout the years, most notably several big Honor Flights for our World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans. This event was actually held on the exact anniversary of the end of the Korean War on July 29, 1953. Patriotic Productions brought in a half sizes replica of the Korean War Memorial which is a traveling exhibit that goes around the country. Our small part of this special event was to set-up a camp area with tents and equipment displays right along Dodge Street. Will represented the US Army with an excellent gear layout with a shelter tent. Joe represented the United States Marine Corps with a camo Marine shelter tent and gear layout. And Eric represented the US Navy with a small Task Force 77 carrier pilot display. The public along with dozens of Korean War veterans enjoyed seeing our display and sharing their stories with us. This was truly a once in a lifetime event and one that we were particularly honored to be a part of.
On Tuesday, July 4, the World War 2 Guys were back in action at our favorite Independence Day Parade in the historic Field Club Neighborhood. Our unit impression was open this year so in attendance we had Joe as a 2nd Armored Division infantryman, Jacob as a 101st Airborne paratrooper, Eric as a B-29 Superfortress pilot in the Pacific, and Will as a street sweepin' US Army soldier in his denim work fatigues. The weather was perfect for the 4th of July and we had a great time being together as always!
On Tuesday, June 6, Eric was invited to set-up a D-Day themed display at the Omaha Golden K Kiwanis Club weekly meeting. First Sergeant Dan Falcon, who is a big deal in the local Airborne community and a strong supporter of our group, invited me to be a part of his presentation. Dan has been an 82nd Airborne paratrooper since the 1970s and is a tremendous leader both with JROTC and with Airborne veterans. The morning provided another great chance to show off some of the uniforms, equipment, and weapons that the brave men of the 82nd and 101st Airborne took into battle 79 years ago in Normandy.
On Sunday, June 4, the World War 2 Guys were happy to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Omaha's Memorial Park dedication. On hand for the day were Will representing a Bombardier of the 20th Air Force, Eric was a U.S. Marine on Iwo Jima, Deqlan was a 507th trooper from Alliance Army Air Base, Jacob was a 101st Airborne trooper in Normandy, and Joe was a 101st trooper in the Vietnam War. We had our WWII Small Wall Tent, a WWII Shelter Tent, and a Vietnam War poncho hooch all set up for our display layouts. We had lots of visitors throughout the day and some thunder and heavy rain as well. It was a fun chance to interact with the public in one of Omaha's greatest settings.
On Saturday, May 27, the World War 2 Guys participated in the 3rd Annual Memorial Weekend Parade which is an event put on by Patriotic Productions. This year the parade was bigger and better than ever with more entries and a longer parade route which ran west on Jackson, east on Howard, and then back up Farnam ending at the newly renovated Gene Leahy Mall. The historical segments of the parade were broken into decades with banners marching in front of each group. For World War II we had Will representing early war US Army and Jacob representing the 101st Airborne in Normandy. For the Korean War we had Cody representing the US Army and Eric the US Marine Corps. Joe was our Vietnam War representative and Mark was our Desert Storm guy. It was a great parade with huge crowds and excellent weather so everyone had a great time!
On Saturday, April 29, the World War 2 Guys gathered for our annual Spring Training event. We held our event at historic Fort Atkinson which stood in for Alliance Army Air Base in far western Nebraska. The time period for the weekend was the spring of 1943 wearing HBT Coveralls with Jump Boots, M-1941 Field Jackets, and typical web gear. We had seven enthusiastic troopers in attendance making this one of our larger training events. Leading quite a bit of the training was our top-notch Sergeant Patzke, who did an excellent job keeping us educated, on schedule, and out of trouble. Some of the afternoon highlights were a uniform and equipment class led by Corporal Green, rifle drill and marching on the parade ground, and even a little recreational baseball time. For supper, Sarge cooked us up a delicious meal of beef stew with bread, tea, and apple pie for dessert. Following dining room clean-up, we did a spirited unit field march and practiced our hand signals and squad field formations. We even took out a pesky sniper hidden in the Powder Magazine! This was followed by a nighttime showing of the 1949 Van Johnson film "Battleground" right on the west wall of the fort. This was a really neat activity out under the starry sky, imagining what it must have been like in the Army long ago. Our overnight stay in the fort's barracks was fairly comfortable in our 1820's era bunks. In the morning there were donuts and coffee as well as some light unit calisthenics. As the weekend came to a close, we all realized that this was quite possibly the best training event we've ever done as a unit. We're already tossing around some ideas for 2024 and ways to make this event even better!
On Saturday, March 11, the World War 2 Guys kicked off their 2023 season at the 144th Annual Omaha St. Patrick's Day Parade organized by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Our line-up for the day included Jerrimy, Will, Eric, Matt, Cody, and Jacob who was joining us for the first time. The story of the day was the weather which was typically nasty for March in Nebraska. Temps were hovering in the low 30s with continuous rain for the whole parade. Thanks to Uncle Sam, our M1943 uniforms incorporating the layering principle kept us pretty warm, however our toes and fingers still got a little numb. Our uniform for the day was focused on the 17th Airborne Division at Operation Varsity in late March 1945. Two of the notable features of this uniform are the American Flag worn on the right sleeve and the Parachute First Aid Packet tied to the front of the helmet net. The parade itself was quick and enjoyable with hundreds of enthusiastic spectators braving the cold, wet morning to support a favorite Omaha tradition. Afterwards our group tried to get into the Dubliner for a pint, but they were overcrowded so we had to find another venue. So the boys from H Company headed west and snuggled into a nice Party Room table at The Brazenhead. With Guinness all around, some Reubens, and some cold Bangers and Mash our squad spent an enjoyable lunch hour together talkin' Army stuff and events to come.
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.
Read all about the great events that the World War 2 Guys take part in throughout the year.