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 Monday, May 28, the World War 2 Guys gathered for our annual Memorial Day visit to St. Mary's Cemetery in South Omaha to once again honor Floyd and Aloysius Furmanski. Cody, Jon, Eric and Grant spent time cleaning the grave markers of the two brothers both killed in the summer of 1944. We held a silent vigil and played Taps to honor the incredible sevice and sacrifice of Floyd and Aloysius and all of our fallen military heroes. Afterwards, we visited Omaha's Central High School and laid flowers at their Vietnam War Memorial erected to honor the Central High students who gave their lives for their comrades and their country in Vietnam. It was a great day to get out and honor those who gave all so that we could have today.
On the evening of Saturday, January 6, the World War 2 Guys got together for a nice winter dinner and unit meeting. This was our largest gathering to date with Cody, Jeff, Jon, Matt, Luke, Will, Eric and Casey in attendance. We chose Gerda's German Restaurant & Bakery, a local Omaha favorite and pretty much the only place in town serving authentic German food. Once we had all arrived, an unexpected highlight of the night was an actual Battle of the Bulge veteran briefly stopping by our table to say hello and admire our uniforms. You hardly ever see World War II veterans anymore so just seeing this gentleman was a special moment for all of us. We started off the night with some yummy Oktoberfest and Wheat Beers followed by platefuls of Schnitzels, Sauerbraten, Red Cabbage, Potato Salad, Spaetzle and Goulash. Our unit discussion was focused on upcoming winter and spring events with lots of laughs in between. Eric, Jeff and Cody dressed in 507th uniforms with Will, Matt and Jon dressing in some fancy 1940s attire. It was a fun night with great friends and just another example of why we're such an amazing group!
The World War 2 Guys took part in our 2nd Annual Field Club Neighborhood Parade on Tuesday, July 4. Once again we celebrated Independence Day by portraying the men of the 507th PIR in our D-Day uniforms. This year our parade crew was comprised of Eric, Will, Cody and Jon. The morning temperatures weren't terrible but the humidity was really high so the M42 Jumpsuits loaded down with gear got a little uncomfortable. But it was a great parade with a lot of neighborhood enthusiasm and a good time was had by all!
On Monday, May 29, the men of Company H gathered at Saint Mary's Catholic Cemetery in South Omaha to honor our fallen on Memorial Day. Matt, Cody, Jon, Eric and his son, Grant, met near the final resting place of Medal of Honor recipient, Private First Class Edward "Babe" Gomez. Our group then marched a short ways to the gravesites of Private First Class Aloysius V. Furmanski and Private First Class Floyd F. Furmanski, two brothers both killed in World War II. Anyone who has been following us for a while knows that Aloysius is our inspiration for representing Company H of the 507th Parachute Infantry. We spent some time cleaning the grave markers by cutting back the overgrown grass, scrubbing the graves and washing them off. They both looked markedly better once we were finished cleaning them. Staff Sergeant Krelle then read a short speech honoring the legacy of Aloysius "Ali" Furmanski and his service to our nation. We then listened to a soft and stirring rendition of "Taps" and then observed a moment of silence. We finished our day with a few group photos. It was a wonderful and fitting way to spend Memorial Day together as a group and a great way to start passing our mission on to the next generation.
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.
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.
On Sunday, August 14, a few of the guys were able to make it out to the Bohemian Cafe for a big Czech style dinner. The Bohemian Cafe has been a favorite meeting place for our group since 2002. Opened in 1924, it's one of Omaha's oldest restaurants and pretty much the only spot in town that serves up platefuls of kraut, dumplings, sausages and schnitzels. Sadly, the owners of the Bohemian Cafe have decided they will be closing their doors for good in September 2016. So it was time to share one last frosty mug of Pilsner Urquell with the fellas.
On Monday, July 4, 2016, our boys of the 507th PIR recreated a little piece of history as we marched through the streets of Omaha's Historic Field Club Neighborhood. 73 years ago on May 23, 1943, sixteen 507th troopers and their mascot dog, Geronimo, jumped for 25,000 spectators in Omaha. The jump was done in conjunction with the Field Club Neighborhood Dog Show. For this occasion we chose to represent the men of the 507th as they would have looked in the towns and fields of Normandy following their D-Day jump. We wore our M42 jump suits with full field gear and even blackened our faces. We did two loops around the crowded parade route directly behind the 1820's reenactors from Fort Atkinson State Historical Park. We took some really great photos in front of the Westminster Presbyterian Church which we all thought resembled an old church somewhere in Normandy. We were happy that all six of us were able to be a part of this special event and hopefully we can do it again next year!
Read all about the great events that the World War 2 Guys take part in throughout the year.