The night of Saturday, October 9 saw a few of the World War 2 Guys participating in one of the most epic reenactments of all time! The scenario involved a small group of 101st Airborne paratroopers making a river crossing under the cloak of darkness to rescue four stranded British Paras from the 1st Parachute Battalion. At the prescribed meet-up time of 1900 hours, the four Brits who had escaped weeks of grueling battle at Arnhem made their way down toward the river's north shore. As darkness quickly fell upon the scene, and with every ear listening for signs of a rescue, suddenly the scraping sounds of boats upon rock could be heard to the east. With hearts racing and a few more minutes of silence, the sound of paddling oars could be heard approaching from upstream. Suddenly two small boats pulled up on the shoreline and the American paratroopers disembarked. Beams of light from an American flashlight shot toward the British lines, followed by red flashes from a British torch. A Sergeant from the British group rendezvoused with the Americans and quickly the rest of the Brits appeared from the woods beyond. A British Brigadier from the 1st Battalion was a high value asset to the Allied effort and his rescue was of top priority! The two boats loaded with the Brits then paddled furiously back upstream to safety. About halfway across the river the sound of three sharp whistle blows unleashed a fury of machine gun fire from the American lines as well as two red flares being shot into the night sky. The surreal imagery of the rippling river's current highlighted with an eerie red glow and muzzle flashes beyond, will forever be engrained in our memories. Upon reaching the south shore the heavy little boats were pulled into hiding and the troopers all quickly assembled for instruction. The combined group then made their way south, marching through the darkness back to the friendly American lines. Once there, the tired British troopers were given numerous handshakes and congratulatory pats on the back, as well as some warm blankets and a place to rest. The rest of the night was filled with laughter and bottle of liquor as the Americans and Brits celebrated their successful rescue mission, one that will never be forgotten by any of those who were there.
On Saturday, September 5, the World War 2 Guys took part in our 6th annual Ft. Atkinson Timeline Day. This year we had Matt portraying an airman of the 10th Air Force, Nate portraying a WWII US Marine, Jeff portraying a US Army infantryman, Cody portraying a member of No. 3 Commando, and Eric portraying a Green Beret from the 5th Special Forces Group. The morning weather was really nice and we had quite a few visitors to our display. But by the afternoon temps got pretty toasty and it was a little uncomfortable. Nevertheless, it was a great day to get out and interact with the public during a year when we haven't had as many chances.
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 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.
On Saturday, September 3, the World War 2 Guys took part in the 2nd Annual Timeline Day at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park. We arrived at the fort early in the morning and spent our first hour setting up our encampment. Afterwards we were well fed by our friends at the fort with a delicious breakfast and a pot of hot coffee. For this event, Jon was representing the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment with a shelter half and a display of typical Airborne equipment. Cody was representing the men of the Hampshire Regiment with an extensive display of World War II British equipment and weapons. Eric was representing the 101st Airborne during the Vietnam War with a shelter tent made from two ponchos along with an equipment display. We were also joined by our buddy, Eli, who came as a German Luftwaffe soldier from World War II. Throughout the day we had a lot of instructional interaction with visitors to the fort and spoke about our various impressions and our displays. In the afternoon we got to speak to a large crowd about each of our time periods and what made our uniforms and equipment unique. We followed that up with a blank fire demonstration of our rifles. It was a great event and once again we were very thankful for our association with Ft. Atkinson and the opportunities they provide us.
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.
Read all about the great events that the World War 2 Guys take part in throughout the year.