On Tuesday, July 4, the World War 2 Guys were back in action at our favorite Independence Day Parade in the historic Field Club Neighborhood. Our unit impression was open this year so in attendance we had Joe as a 2nd Armored Division infantryman, Jacob as a 101st Airborne paratrooper, Eric as a B-29 Superfortress pilot in the Pacific, and Will as a street sweepin' US Army soldier in his denim work fatigues. The weather was perfect for the 4th of July and we had a great time being together as always!
On Saturday, May 27, the World War 2 Guys participated in the 3rd Annual Memorial Weekend Parade which is an event put on by Patriotic Productions. This year the parade was bigger and better than ever with more entries and a longer parade route which ran west on Jackson, east on Howard, and then back up Farnam ending at the newly renovated Gene Leahy Mall. The historical segments of the parade were broken into decades with banners marching in front of each group. For World War II we had Will representing early war US Army and Jacob representing the 101st Airborne in Normandy. For the Korean War we had Cody representing the US Army and Eric the US Marine Corps. Joe was our Vietnam War representative and Mark was our Desert Storm guy. It was a great parade with huge crowds and excellent weather so everyone had a great time!
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.
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!
Read all about the great events that the World War 2 Guys take part in throughout the year.