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 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 held our first ever Korean War reenactment on Saturday, June 24 in the Loess Hills just north of Mondamin, Iowa. In attendance were Eric, Matt and Jon representing the Marines of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade and Will representing a soldier of the U.S. Army. For our uniform and equipment, we chose the Pusan Perimeter battles in the summer of 1950 as our time period. We arrived on site in the late afternoon and immediately set to finding our outpost location and digging in. The weather was actually gorgeous for late June with afternoon highs in the 70's and a nice strong breeze cooling us down. The position we dug was a long trench about 20 feet long with a sandbagged front wall. We were situated on one of the highest hills overlooking the entire area and the views were pretty amazing! We stopped for an early supper and then made our way back down the hill to bring up extra supplies. Thank God for Jiffy Mart in Mondamin! We got back to our outpost just before sunset which was spectacular. It was then time to collect the firewood so Will could cook our second dinner. As with most reenactments, story time soon followed as we sat back and took it all in. Most of us dozed off to sleep around midnight under a sky full of stars. Temperatures dipped into the 40's by morning so Highneck Sweaters and M43 Field Jackets became a necessity. Right around 0430, a nearby pack of coyotes made there presence known so we got the fire going again. It felt good to warm up and Will's hot coffee is always a welcome treat. We packed up our gear and made our way back down the hill by 0600. It was a great event and a fitting way to honor the beginning of the Korean War which started on June 25, 1950. Korea has often been referred to as the "Forgotten War", but 36,574 dead, 103,284 wounded, 7,926 missing in action, and 4,714 POWs is nothing to forget about.
On Saturday, May 20, the World War 2 Guys put on another great display at the La Vista Cabela's annual Armed Force Day celebration. The festivities kicked off with the Quilts of Valor Foundation presenting their custom designed and hand-stitched quilts to eight local veterans. The quilts were amazing this year and the veterans were very appreciative. For our military display, Jeff presented an assortment of U.S. Navy and U.S. Army uniforms and equipment. Jon was our 507th Parachute Infantry representative and primarily presented a medical and Airborne display. Eric was representing the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War. A special sign was created to honor Pfc. Edward "Babe" Gomez from Omaha who was killed in action on September 14, 1951 and posthumously received the Medal of Honor. In addition, Eric also created a sign to remember the 69 men from Omaha, Nebraska who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the Korean War. Cabela's was once again a wonderful host and we were so appreciative to get the chance to interact and teach dozens of visitors throughout the day.
Eli and Eric represented the World War 2 Guys at the first annual Heritage Days Timeline Event at Ft. Atkinson on Saturday, September 5. Eli was portraying a soldier of the 2nd Infantry Division in World War II and Eric was representing a U.S. Marine from the Korean War. We set up a small encampment early in the morning near the Council House. We were treated wonderfully by our hosts at Ft. Atkinson who offered us coffee and breakfast as soon as we arrived. My Korean War display had an assortment of U.S. Army field gear and uniform items under a half shelter and I also had a Marine Corps shelter tent I named the "Korea Hilton Hotel". Eli set up an early WWII style shelter tent filled with typical WWII U.S. Army gear. After squaring away our camp we made our way down to the fort where we spoke with a few of the 1820's reenactors as well as members of the public. We met an amazing gentleman named Charlie Money, a 1st Cavalry Division veteran of the Vietnam War. He spoke to us for nearly half an hour recounting story after story from his time in country. After speaking with Charlie, we downed some grub back at our base camp and later took part in a weapons demonstration. Along with our 1820's counterparts, we demonstrated the differences between firing techniques and loading speeds from the 19th century to the 20th century. At the end of the day we were also honored to take part in the flag lowering ceremony for the fort. Eli and I were feed some really good rice and beans for dinner and then we packed up our gear and headed home for the night. It was a great experience and one I know we're both excited to take part in next year.
The World War 2 Guys were given the privilege of taking part in Christ Community Church's "America" celebration the evening of Sunday, June 28. We had great unit participation for the event with Will honoring the US Army Air Corps, Matt the 8th Infantry Division, Bob and Luke the 101st Airborne Division, Eli the 2nd Infantry Division, Cody the US Army Medics, Jeff the US Navy, and Eric the US Marine Corps. Turnout for the event was impressive with hundreds of visitors talking with us about our World War II themed display. The night kicked-off with a patriotic concert honoring our nation's veterans both past and present, followed by an ice cream social and an awesome fireworks display. The highlight of the night was when Technical Sergeant Paul Andreas stopped by our tables. A veteran of the 28th Infantry Division and the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest, Paul was a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient who was captured by the Germans as a POW. He's quite a guy and it was great to have him talk with us for a few minutes. This was a great summertime event and one we'll hopefully be back for next year!
The World War 2 Guys hit the field on Saturday night, August 2 to recreate the Battle of Guam just south of Ft. Calhoun, Nebraska. Our band of four Marines were Casey, Will, Matt and myself. We had been doing research on the Guam campaign and the 3rd Marine Division for a few weeks prior to our event. I was pretty impressed with our overall impressions considering that it was everyone's first Marine Corps reenactment. We met up around 1900 hours and were out in the field within the hour. We circled around the perimeter of a large open field and then made our way into the jungle. Will and I selected a nice flat piece of ground surrounded by trees to set up an observation post while Matt and Casey selected another little ridgeline for a second post. Everyone worked quickly to get foxholes dug in before nightfall. However, as is pretty much standard routine, Will's stomach took priority over digging and he got a small fire going to heat up some rations. Now we are well aware that Marines on Guam probably didn't start cooking fires for fear of being shot at by the Japanese. So we made a few concessions to comfort during the course of the evening. The four of us headed back out on patrol around 2300 hours seeking out Japanese positions to the north. After a quick break we made our way back to our observation posts by 2400 hours...
And that's exactly when the night's activities took a rather unexpected turn. A severe thunderstorm with heavy lightning rapidly blew into eastern Nebraska along with the potential for flash flooding. The four of us hunkered down in our muddy foxholes and spent the next two hours experiencing a true taste of what every Marine in the Pacific endured. Torrential rains with heavy thunder and lighting pounded our little patch of woods mercilessly. It was quite honestly the most realistic two hours I have ever spent at a reenactment in my 14 years in the hobby. No squad of enemy reenactors or blank rifle fire can ever match the raw power and electricity of nature's mighty dominance over man. It was during this time that several of us realized that next to the M1 Rifle, the Camouflaged Poncho is the most valuable piece of equipment a Marine can carry. We watched as the water level in the bottom of our foxholes gradually rose. It also became near impossible to climb the hills up out of the woods we were situated in. So after two hours of heavy storms and, um, a wife's uncompromising text massages, the four of us begrudgingly marched back to our base camp and headed home. I was extremely disappointed that we were unable to finish our planned overnight event. I am even more upset that I didn't get to take as many photos of our individual uniforms as I had planned. Typically it's the photos taken the following morning that truly show how successful the reenactment was. So we will have to find another Pacific island to assault sometime next year in order to live out all of our Marine dreams.
Read all about the great events that the World War 2 Guys take part in throughout the year.