On Saturday, March 16, the World War 2 Guys helped out with the SAC Aerospace Museum's Aircraft Adventures Day focused on the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. Eric and Jeff set up a small table display dedicated to U.S. Army Air Force equipment, uniforms, manuals, and personal items. Jeff wore his HBT Coveralls and an A3 Mechanic's Cap to portray a B-17 mechanic and Eric dressed in an A-4 Flight Suit, Mae West, and Service Cap to honor the B-17 aircrews. The morning started with an excellent presentation by a SAC Museum curator covering the history and role of the B-17 in World War II. Then visitors were allowed to get close up views of the B-17 at it's nose, front hatch, bomb bay, and rear waist door. Jeff and I took turns hanging out on the bomb bay catwalk talking with visitors as they passed underneath us. It was a great day and an amazing chance to get inside one of the most iconic airplanes of all time.
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 Saturday, June 9, the World War 2 Guys celebrated D-Day at the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum with a D-Day themed display. Joining us for his first event was Chris and his retired service dog, Ravi, along with regulars Jeff, Will, Matt and Eric. Our display was focused on the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment showcasing uniforms, equipment, weapons, and personal items used during the Normandy campaign. The event was well attended by the public with lots of visitors to our tables and demonstrations by the museum's restored Douglas C-47 Skytrain. It was an excellent event and a great way to give the public a little glimpse of what it was like to be a World War II paratrooper. Airborne all the way!!!
On Saturday, April 7 the World War 2 Guys took part in our first ever B-29 Living History Crew at the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum. In attendance were our pilot, Matt, our Bombardier, Will, our Navigator, Eric, our Flight Engineer, Jeff, our Side Gunners, Chris and Jon, and our Tail Gunner, Cody. We had an excellent display of U.S. Army Air Force uniforms, flight equipment, books, manuals, and personal effects. We had great interactions with lots of interested museum visitors, many of whom praised our efforts and the quality of our display. The highlight of our day was undoubtedly meeting Lt. Wesley "Bob" Reisser, a B-17 pilot from the 8th Air Force's 452nd Bomb Group. Bob flew 28 missions from January 15 through April 16, 1945 along with three food drop missions on May 2, 3, and 6. Bob is 96 years old but spoke with a youthful exuberance about his flying days in World War II. As always, it's an incredible honor to speak with a World War II veteran like Bob. Our group will return to the SAC Museum on June 9 for a D-Day Airborne themed exhibit and then bring our Living History Crew back to the museum next year.
On Saturday, September 2, the World War 2 Guys took part in our 3rd Annual Ft. Atkinson Timeline Event. In attendance were Will representing a 2nd ID soldier during stateside training, Jeff representing a 2nd ID soldier from 1944, Jon representing a 507th paratrooper, and Eric representing a 7th Cavalry trooper from 1965. We started the day meeting-up near the Council House on the north end of the fort. We set-up our shelters and displays and then joined some of the fort's living historians for a nice hot cup of coffee. After scouting out some of the other displays around the fort, we decided to move our entire display down near the fort's main entrance so we packed it all up and made it happen. Our group got lots of foot traffic throughout the day and really enjoyed interacting with curious visitors. Jon and Will had a little time for a game of catch and we were treated to a delicious hot lunch cooked up by one of the Jeep owners. In the afternoon we took part in a firepower demonstration that saw 1820s muskets and rifles fired alongside a BAR, Jeff's Thompson, Will's 1903 Springfield, Jon's M1 Garand, and Eric's M16A1, although I couldn't get it to cycle any blanks once again. We were welcome to take part in the daily liquor ration at the end of our stay and then ended up taking a few more great individual photos. There's nothing better than watching Will charge across an open field screaming at the top of his lungs with a fixed bayonet. Simply priceless! This was once again one of my favorite events of the year and we'll hopefully all be back in 2018 for an even bigger and better show.
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 Saturday, September 3, the World War 2 Guys took part in the 2nd Annual Timeline Day at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park. We arrived at the fort early in the morning and spent our first hour setting up our encampment. Afterwards we were well fed by our friends at the fort with a delicious breakfast and a pot of hot coffee. For this event, Jon was representing the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment with a shelter half and a display of typical Airborne equipment. Cody was representing the men of the Hampshire Regiment with an extensive display of World War II British equipment and weapons. Eric was representing the 101st Airborne during the Vietnam War with a shelter tent made from two ponchos along with an equipment display. We were also joined by our buddy, Eli, who came as a German Luftwaffe soldier from World War II. Throughout the day we had a lot of instructional interaction with visitors to the fort and spoke about our various impressions and our displays. In the afternoon we got to speak to a large crowd about each of our time periods and what made our uniforms and equipment unique. We followed that up with a blank fire demonstration of our rifles. It was a great event and once again we were very thankful for our association with Ft. Atkinson and the opportunities they provide us.
The World War 2 Guys took part in our second annual Christ Community Church concert display on the evening of Sunday, June 26. Present at the display were Matt honoring a sergeant of the 7th Infantry Division, Jeff honoring a U.S. Navy sailor, Luke honoring a 507th paratrooper, Cody honoring a 5th Infantry Division medic, Jon honoring a Navy Corpsman, and Eric honoring a soldier of the 103rd Infantry Division. We got to take part in the ice cream social and were able to interact with hundreds of concert-goers at the event. After we were all packed up there was a great fireworks display outside the church which lit up the night. We all had a great time once again at this family-friendly summer tradition!
On Saturday, May 21, I presented a Vietnam themed display at the annual Cabela's Armed Forces Day event. The day began with a flag raising ceremony and a presentation by the ladies of the Quilts of Valor Foundation to eight local veterans. All of the veterans were very appreciative of the quilts that had been uniquely designed and hand-stitched for them. For my display this year I chose to represent the men of Alpha Company, 4/47th Infantry of the 9th Division. My display was dedicated to Sergeant Daniel Joseph Sandstedt of Omaha who was with A Co. when he was killed in action on June 19, 1967. I got to speak with a Vietnam vet who actually knew Dan Sandstedt which was quite a treat. The men of the 2nd Infantry Division Living History Association put on a fine World War II display and Erik Muttersbough did an excellent early WWII cavalry display with his horse, Sunny. It was another wonderful event at Cabela's with a lot of visitors to our displays and some truly spectacular weather.
A few of the World War 2 Guys put on a display at the Papillion, Nebraska Chick-fil-A on Saturday, March 19. The event was organized by Eli in conjunction with Chick-fil-A's Veterans Appreciation Day. Eli, Jon, Eric and Jeff manned a small display table from 11:00AM to 2:00PM. We got to meet a few folks and talk about some World War II equipment and personal items. The highlight of the day was definitely high-fiving the Chick-fil-A cow and snapping a quick photo of Eli with the cow. It was a nice little event and a chance to get in front of the public for a few hours.
Read all about the great events that the World War 2 Guys take part in throughout the year.