On Monday, July 4, the World War 2 Guys were back at our favorite 4th of July Parade in Omaha's Historic Field Club Neighborhood. This year we decided to go big and reenact the famous Iwo Jima flag raising! Our flag raisers for the day were Joe as Cpl. Harlon Block, Cody as Cpl. Harold "Pie" Keller, Matt as Pfc. Franklin Sousley, Eric as Pfc. Harold Henry Schultz, and Will as Sgt. Michael Strank. As the parade began, every 30-40 yards we called out, "Put it up Marines!" and raised the flag, holding it for a few seconds in the now-famous pose seen in Joe Rosenthal's photograph. The patriotic parade goers loved it and cheered us as they saw Old Glory go up. After the parade ended, we found out that our group won First Place in the reenactment category. Our group was definitely excited to finally win a ribbon for our efforts.
I was fortunate to spend the weekend of June 10-11 in the picturesque small town of Brooklyn, Iowa which is the home of Corporal Harold "Pie" Keller, one of the Iwo Jima flag raisers in the famous Joe Rosenthal photograph. Pie Keller was finally identified by Brent "Westy" Westemeyer and formally recognized by the U.S. Marine Corps in 2019 as the latest misidentified flag raiser. In 2014, I was the first person to correctly identify that Pfc. Harold Henry Schultz was in the Number 5 position always thought to be Franklin Sousley. The Marine Corps recognized Schultz as an official flag raiser in June 2016. I spent Friday night just taking in all the sights and sounds of Brooklyn which is a charming little town. I ate dinner and had a slice of pie at The Classic Deli and Ice Cream Shoppe which was delicious. I saw the boyhood home of John Wayne and a couple of neat old fashioned gas stations. Saturday morning after some coffee and breakfast at the Classic Deli I met Westy for the first time. We marched in the Brooklyn Festival of Flags Parade which was a great parade for a small town! It rained off and on throughout the morning but it couldn't damped the spirits of Brooklyn and its parade goers. Afterwards was the formal dedication ceremony for the Harold "Pie" Keller statue. Pie's family was in attendance and got to help in revealing the bronze statue and four informational bronze signs about Pie and the Iwo Jima campaign. There was a luncheon following the ceremony which was a lot of fun to attend as well. The whole weekend was just top notch and I was so happy to be a part of such a momentous event for the town and for the Keller family!
On Sunday, September 12, the World War 2 Guys were invited to celebrate the 20th Anniversary re-dedication of the Andrew Jackson Higgins Memorial in Columbus, Nebraska. Our participants for the day were Mark representing the "Big Red One" of the 1st Infantry Division on D-Day, Cody representing the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II, and Eric representing the 1st Cavalry Division in the Korean War. The park and memorial in Columbus were beautiful and the public interaction was great as well. It was very rewarding to show off the uniforms, weapons and equipment of our soldiers and marines who rode Higgins Boats to the battlefield in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
On Saturday, March 27 the World War 2 Guys got back in the field for our first event of 2021. With 2020 being such a tough year on events, we were all itching to get back out as a group. For our March event we decided to honor the men of the 1st Marines and the 1st Marine Division on Okinawa. The initial landings were on April 1, 1945 with the 1st Marine Division on the northern end of Okinawa positioned between the 6th Marine Division and the U.S. Army's 7th Infantry Division. With us for this event were the Sarge, Will, Matt, Conner and Mike. We have all been working on improving our USMC impressions and everyone looked great as a group. The event was held in the Loess Hills State Forest and between the hills and pine trees there were quite a few visual cues that made it feel like we might have been in Okinawa. We patrolled for most of the day looking for the elusive enemy but came up shorthanded. We took some really great photos after our patrol that were inspired by some of the most famous Marine Corps photos from the Okinawa campaign. It was a great day and a promising start to our exciting 2021 season!
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, July 4, the World War 2 Guys celebrated Independence Day back at our favorite neighborhood parade for Field Cub's reverse parade or EDARAP as they called it. The plan was for neighborhood residents and visitors to either drive or walk a pre-planned parade route to see all of the cool front yard displays and patriotic spirit throughout the historic neighborhood. For our group we had Will and Conner representing WWII, Cody representing the Marines in the Korean War, and Eric representing the Vietnam War. It was nice to be back out on the 4th of July in our hometown and nice to see so many smiling faces and waves from passers by!
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.
Read all about the great events that the World War 2 Guys take part in throughout the year.