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 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!
On Saturday, January 14, the World War 2 Guys ventured out for a winter patrol event. In attendance were the Sarge, Doc, Haz, Bird, and Abner. The weather was actually really nice for a mid-January morning with sunny skies and temperatures climbing into the 30's. Representing the 17th Airborne Division in January 1945, our squad was dressed in the M43 Field Uniform with a few troopers wearing the heavy wool overcoat. We started the day with a vigorous squad movement up and down hilly fields looking for a defensible area. Once we settled in, we began digging foxholes using a Pick Mattock and Folding Shovels. After about 20 minutes of very little progress, we decided that foxhole digging could wait for another day. Our patrol moved on until we found a nice little clearing in the woods where we stopped for some K-Rations and a unit meeting. During the meeting we decided that we would officially change our company designation to H Company in honor of Private First Class Aloysius V. Furmanski of Omaha who was killed on June 23, 1944 in Normandy. We later pushed to the south until we found some old abandoned foxhole positions. Suddenly, contact was made with a German sniper, but our M1s quickly silenced the threat. During the brief encounter, the sniper did manage to knick Private Paul in the leg. Not wanting to get pulled from the fight, the gutsy private kept firing away with his Colt .45 until he ran out of ammo. Our trusty "Doc" Williams then patched him up and prepped him for evacuated to an aid station. The squad performed well in the field and as always we enjoyed getting out and spending time together.
On Sunday, January 8, the World War 2 Guys kicked off the New Year with an afternoon visit to Omaha's Memorial Park. Haz, Doc, Abner and the Sarge all bundled up in several layers of Uncle Sam's wooly finest for a chilly outdoor gathering. We talked over plans for our upcoming winter battle and did an authenticity check for our winter gear and unforms. Afterwards we walked up to the World War II Memorial and spent some time in front of each of the bronze markers. As of now, we know of at least two 507th men from Omaha whose names are on the memorial. The first is Corporal Aloysius V. Furmanski from Company H who was killed in action on June 23, 1944 in Normandy, France. The second was Captain Gordon S. Shotwell from HQ Company, 2nd Battalion who was killed in action on March 24, 1945 in Wesel, Germany. Everything we do as a group is dedicated to honoring these men and all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.
The boys from Company B of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion headed down to Camp Clark for the 2016 Battle of the Bulge. This was the 10 year anniversary for this event which has consistently drawn 150 to 200 reenactors every year. Eric and Cody from the World War 2 Guys joined up with Paul, Sean, Kris, Jacob, Nathan, Mike, and Willis for the fun filled weekend. Our Friday night dinner was held at the local Pizza Hut in Nevada, Missouri followed by a trip to the local Wal-Mart for some last minute supplies. Once we got back to the barracks it was a night full of rifle drill and preparations for the battle to come. Morning reveille was at 0600 with a quick coffee and donuts breakfast at 0700. But 0830 we were out on the parade ground going through Safety & Authenticity. We marched off to our first scenario by 0900. And believe me, we did a lot of marching throughout the course of the day - over 6 miles to be exact. Within our first 20 minutes, we captured a downed Luftwaffe pilot spotted by Kris. We then battled it out with the Germans attacking the town of Recht and then quickly moved to our next objective defending the bridge. After a spirited battle we were eventually overrun by advancing German forces but not before we blew the bridge. We made a heroic last stand at the rock pile and then paused for some tea and rations. Later, we ambushed a Kraut truck and stole a wooden crate filled with Nazi gold which we quickly confiscated back to our lines. We battled our way into a German held town where we eliminated several enemy soldiers with our highly effective Mills grenades. Our final scenario of the day had us battling it out with some pockets of German resistance in a wooded area. We hitched a ride back to the barracks in a German truck around 1600. The traditional spaghetti dinner was served at 1700 with green beans, bread and butter, lemonade, cookies, and the "insanely hot" Russian pickles. The night was spent winding down with stories and cleaning up. It was another wonderful event hosted by our friends from the HRS's 137th Infantry Regiment. I'm already looking forward to next year!
The weekend of January 16-18, I joined up with the men of B Company of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. We drove down to Camp Clark outside of Nevada, Missouri for the 137th Infantry Regiment's annual Battle of the Bulge tactical. This was my sixth time attending this battle and I was glad to be getting back to it. We got down around 1630 on Friday and got squared away in the barracks. Then it was off to the town of Nevada for some chow. We spent the remainder of the night preparing our gear and doing some rifle drilling. It was lights on at 0600 to get our Saturday started. After a quick breakfast, the 1st Canadians were out in the field drilling and doing rifle inspections. Our first battle kicked off at 0900 as we pushed through some dense brush and wooded areas. After what seemed like an eternity we finally made contact with German forces who were defending a small town. After sweeping the town, we moved on to clear another patch of woods, routing out some well concealed Germans. After a convoy ride to our next point of departure we downed some rations in the field... it was sardines for me! We crossed plenty of open country before coming upon our next objective which was the town of Recht. After sneaking up on the town from the southwest, we encountered heavy German resistance and had to sweep the enemy out in a series of deadly house to house raids. Our Mills grenades were very effective in helping us accomplish our task. Our last objective of the day was to capture an intact bridge, however, by the time we reached the bridge it had already been blown by the Kraut defenders. The tactical portion of the day ended sooner than in years past and we were back at the barracks by 1500. After some hot showers and a quick rest, it was off to a hearty dinner of spaghetti, green beans, bread, cookies and lemonade. Our last night was filled with storytelling and some more cleaning and organizing. We headed back to Omaha before sunrise on Sunday morning. It was another great reenacting weekend and I felt very fortunate to fall in with the men of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion.
The World War 2 Guys held our 2nd Annual overnight foxhole event on Friday, December 26 just outside Ft. Calhoun, Nebraska. In attendance were Matt, Eric, Casey, and his brother Dan. For the event we portrayed the men of Fox Company, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. Our scenario was the defense of the town of Longchamps where 2/502 set up a defensive perimeter northwest of Bastogne. Matt and I were dropped by truck into the field around 1600 and quickly set about to finding a defensible position. Together we dug a two man foxhole which we later realized should have been about a foot longer and a foot deeper. We met up with Casey and Dan at about 1730 before they established their CP on a ridgeline to the east of our position. The four of us did a combined patrol in the early evening probing for the German lines without success. Then around 2000 the snow began to fall. Winds were steady around 14 mph the rest of the night with wind chills dropping into the mid-teens. It was cold and it was miserable - a perfect winter reenactment! Matt and I ran numerous patrols throughout the remainder of the night mostly to keep warm. The morning dawned around 0700 and the four of us packed up and moved to our rendezvous point to the west. This was the kind of event that really enhances your appreciation for what our guys went through at the Battle of the Bulge. It's hard to imagine living like this for weeks on end but they did it!
Read all about the great events that the World War 2 Guys take part in throughout the year.