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 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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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, 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!
The World War 2 Guys assembled once again for the 55th Annual Ralston Independence Day Parade on Saturday, July 4th. This event broke our all-time record with 14 unit members in attendance. Dave, Jeff, Will, Matt, Eric, Kevin, Tyler, Avery, Eli, Bob, Cody, Alexander, Kelly and Rasion all donned different uniforms worn by the 2nd Infantry Division throughout its World War II history. Joining us for their very first event were Kelly and Rasion who both did a great job and looked outstanding! As always, our group was near the start of the parade so we completed the route fairly quickly. Immediately following the parade we had an unexpected photo opportunity with U.S. Senator, Deb Fischer, which was an honor! Once we were all packed-up, several of the guys had a little "after action" time at Don & Millie's over Cokes and burgers. Truly the only thing nicer than the weather was seeing so many World War 2 Guys come together!
Read all about the great events that the World War 2 Guys take part in throughout the year.