St. Patrick's Day parade 2023
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 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.
Memorial Weekend PArade 2022
On Saturday, May 28, the World War 2 Guys marched in Omaha's 2nd Annual Memorial Weekend Parade through downtown Omaha. After tossing around a few other ideas, we decided to go with a timeline walk again this year. Our representative soldiers were Will for World War II, Cody for the Korean War, Eric for the Vietnam War, and Mark for Desert Storm. The crowds were huge once again and the weather was about as nice as you could get for a Saturday morning parade! We'll certainly be back again next year.
73rd Cavalry regiment Memorial
On Saturday, April 23, the World War 2 Guys were excited and honored to be a part of a ceremony remembering the 51 members of the 73rd Cavalry Regiment who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the Global War on Terror. The event took place at Omaha's beautiful Memorial Park near the Airborne Memorial. 51 new bricks were unveiled directly behind the Airborne trooper statue in a moving ceremony. To assist with the unveiling were Jerrimy representing a World War II paratrooper of the 82nd Airborne Division, Eric representing an 82nd trooper from 1965 in the Dominican Republic, and Joe representing an 82nd trooper from 1983 in Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada. It was a great event to be associated with and a pleasure to help recognize and remember those who have given their lives in the service of our country.
Field Club Parade 2021
On Saturday, July 3 the boys were back in action at the 39th Annual Field Club Independence Day Parade. It was an amazing feeling to be back out among a spirited crowd at one of Omaha's best neighborhood parades. This year we had Joe representing a LRRP from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, Conner representing an infantryman from the 34th "Red Bull" Division, Jeff representing a US Army infantryman in HBTs, Matt representing a paratrooper of the 101st Airborne Division, and Eric representing a Captain from the 2nd Ranger Battalion. We had a great time seeing each other again and we're already scheming up something special for 2022 and the parade's 40th Anniversary.
Lt. Col Alfred Thomsen
The highlight of my Memorial Day was finding and cleaning the gravesite of Lt. Col. Alfred Thomsen of Omaha. He was the 3rd Battalion commander of the 134th Infantry Regiment, a Nebraska National Guard unit that made the Cornhusker state proud during World War II. The 134th took Hill 122 on July 15 and was "officially" the first unit to enter St. Lo. Thomsen was wounded by German artillery on July 30 and died a few weeks later when a blog clot reached his brain. The Big Colonel or "Tommy" as he was known was a larger than life personality and a legend in Nebraska's military ranks. He's buried in Westlawn-Hillcrest cemetery, and surprisingly he's only 50 yards or so away from my parents' burial site! His marker is right at base of an ancient tree and near the Westlawn Singing Tower which has watched over him for many, many years. I read aloud excerpts from 'Biography of a Battalion' and some of author James A. Huston's recollections of his friend and the leader of so many Nebraska boys. Lt. Col. Thomsen has been a hero of mine for over 20 years now when I first started learning actual WWII stories from WWII veterans, so it was nice to finally slow down, sit with him, and share some French Calvados at long last.
On Saturday, May 29 the fellas were back in action at a monuments re-dedication ceremony at Omaha's beautiful Memorial Park. It was a gorgeous, sunny day with Eric and Cody representing H/507, Will representing F/502 and Joe representing the 101st Airborne in Vietnam. There were parachute jumpers and a nice presentation by various speakers including our 2nd District Representative Don Bacon. Afterwards we had lots of photos taken at the Airborne Memorial which was one of the monuments being formally re-dedicated after it's move from Heartland of America Park. It was a great chance to remember and honor all of our Airborne veterans throughout our nation's history.
PATRIOTIC PRODUCTIONS parade
On Friday evening, May 28, the World War 2 Guys marched in a Memorial Day kick-off parade through downtown Omaha in honor of our nation's fallen. This event was organized by Bill and Yvonne Williams of Patriotic Productions with loads of other local sponsors chipping in. In attendance for our group were Jeff honoring World War II, Eric honoring the Korean War, a new member Joe who honored the Vietnam War, and Cody honoring Operation Desert Storm. All of our guys looked great and it was really neat to see us showing the progression of the American soldier through the 20th century. The parade kicked off at 12th and Farnam St. and headed east to 10th St. and then up the hill to the Durham Museum. We have never seen crowds as big as this in downtown Omaha. It was simply spectacular and very awe-inspiring! The organizers would like this to be an annual event going forward so we will definitely be back in 2022.
Field Club For the 4th
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!
MEMORIAL DAY 2020
On May 25, the World War 2 Guys visited St. Mary's Cemetery for our annual cleaning of the Furmanski brothers' gravesites. It's always amazing at how overgrown a headstone can get in one year's time. This year at St. Mary's we thoroughly cleaned and trimmed around headstones for Privates First Class Floyd and Aloysius Furmanski, Flight Officer Martin P. Schmitt, Jr. and Sergeant James P. McNeil. Afterwards we went to Omaha Central and laid flowers at the Central High School Vietnam Memorial. We then went on to spend some time at Omaha's Memorial Park where we were able to see the relocated Airborne Memorial and the Victory '95 Memorial which both looked outstanding in their new home.
Read all about the great events that the World War 2 Guys take part in throughout the year.