On Friday, January 26, the World War 2 Guys headed back down to Camp Clark near Nevada, Missouri for the annual Battle of the Bulge tactical hosted by the 137th Infantry. Cody and Eric made it down to Nevada around 15:00 and settled into Room 3 of the main National Guard barracks building. Time was spent unloading gear, making beds, and loading weapons magazines. We made our annual pilgimage to the Nevada Wal-Mart to gather last minute supplies and later had dinner at Pizza Hut. Will joined us around 21:30 and then all three of us attended the commanders meeting. The night ended with some of the Canadians and 29th Division soldiers making impomptu land mines out of paper plates, staples, and black spray paint. Lights were out around 24:00. The sounds of Reveille filled our tired ears at 06:00, kicking-off a swarm of activity in the barracks. A traditional breakfast of donuts and coffee was served at 07:00 and we were all out on the parade ground by 08:30. The legendary Dave Hruska conducted the morning safety and authenticity speech and we were marching out into the field by 09:00. Our threesome from H/507th was joined by members of G/513th PIR, A/116th Infantry, and B Co. of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. Our first scenario had us moving through some lightly wooded terrain to attack the small village of Recht. Our platoon was successful in traversing a deep ravine and stream and making it through the woods, but our attack stalled out as soon as we hit the village. German defenses were just too difficult to overcome with our small fighting force. Our second scenario had us defending some elevated ground to the south of the village. This time we used the terrain to our advantage and held our ground from oncoming German advances. It was our platoon's proudest moment of the day! No matter what they threw at us, our line held! We were then ordered to fall back to the village and help members of G/137th Infantry halt another German advance headed toward the village. We did our best once again, but house to house fighting is tough stuff and we lost a lot of men once again. After the fighting died down, men of our combined platoon had some K-Rations and took a brief break from the fighting. The weather was gorgeous all day with sunny skies and temps topping out in the low 50's. Our first afternoon scenario sent us off to attack the bridge! Before reaching our objective, the men of A/116th Infantry left our platoon despite repeated attempts from Sergeant Green to persuade them to stay and fight. Sadly, with our dwindling man power we were unable to successfully capture the bridge intact. Our final scenario of the day had us once again defending against an onslaught of German vehicles and men. Sergeants Krelle and Green along with Tech 5 Williams wiped out nearly a squad of advancing Germans from the cover of some downed trees. Krelle and Green were both valiantly killed in action but Tech 5 Williams escaped the overwhelming German firepower to fight another day. Our combined Airborne platoon was driven back to the barracks in a Weapons Carrier to end our day in the field. After some hot showers and a change into our Class A uniforms it was off to the highly anticipated spaghetti dinner served by the men of G/137th Infantry. Everyone was exhausted from an amazing day of combat as we dozed off to sleep before 21:00. We were up bright and early and back to Omaha around 11:30 on Sunday. It was a wonderful weekend and one of our best Bulge events in years!
The World War 2 Guys arrived at Midway Village in Rockford, Illinois on Friday evening, September 22 as darkness was setting in. Immediately it became a challenge to locate our group's camp site. After going back to the drawing board, we found our correct location which wasn't initially communicated correctly. But it's the Army, so what do you expect? As it turned out, our camp site was in a nice, centralized location in the village. The men of the 507th pitched shelter halves under the light of street lamps on well-kept grass. We even had a picnic table at our disposal. The next day we all attended Safety Check, which was somewhat disorganized as we could barely hear the announcements. Our group then all attended the Commanders Meeting. Temperatures rose throughout the day and with it brought the struggles of overheating, dehydration, and sunburn, but we overcame. The battle itself wasn't quite what we had expected. The command leadership had good intentions, but ultimately dry conditions and pyrotechnics with flames do not mix. The first battle was cut short due to two separate grass fires and the second battle was cancelled all together. Casualties were also mounting for the men of the 507th. Jeff went down with boot and feet issues which were exasperated by the heat. After defensive fighting, Jon succumbed to symptoms of heat stroke. Cody then hopped into action as a real life medic by providing relief and assistance. Cody was also our vocal leader having been to Rockford before. With these afternoon struggles, we decided to pack it up and head home early that evening. All was not lost with the event however. With the help of Casey Sill, we formed a good relationship with several members of the 502nd PIR from Minnesota. Casey and Matt Hanson were a very welcoming presence. We also enjoyed the use of Jon's family van which provided ample room for both men and gear. If allowed, the 507th would benefit from its use again. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to bust out the ball gloves and Jeff's bat, but no doubt we'll get another crack at it in the future!
On Saturday, July 22, the World War 2 Guys ventured to the picturesque hills of Italy for our first ever Mediterranean Theater of Operations event. Eric and Cody were representing a World War II Iowa National Guard unit, the 168th Infantry Regiment, which was a part of the 34th "Red Bull" Division. Jon was representing the fighting men of the 3rd Infantry Division along with Reed and Jacob, two new friends of ours from Kansas. The event was co-hosted by our good friend, Eli Morgan, and the turnout was excellent! There were 20 reenactors from all over the Midwest with 11 Germans and 9 Allied soldiers. But even with the awesome participation, the weather turned out to be the story of the day. Temperatures climbed quickly in the morning which teamed up with exceptionally high humidity to make the day very uncomfortable. With most of the reenactors wearing wool uniforms along with their helmets, gear and rifles, it made patrolling through the hills and woods of the WMA site pretty awful. We did get into some good fire fights but we were just no match for the exhaustion that comes along with the high temps and humidity. We called it a day rather early but had a great time meeting lots of new friends in our hobby! Italy, we'll be back someday!!!
The World War 2 Guys held our first ever Korean War reenactment on Saturday, June 24 in the Loess Hills just north of Mondamin, Iowa. In attendance were Eric, Matt and Jon representing the Marines of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade and Will representing a soldier of the U.S. Army. For our uniform and equipment, we chose the Pusan Perimeter battles in the summer of 1950 as our time period. We arrived on site in the late afternoon and immediately set to finding our outpost location and digging in. The weather was actually gorgeous for late June with afternoon highs in the 70's and a nice strong breeze cooling us down. The position we dug was a long trench about 20 feet long with a sandbagged front wall. We were situated on one of the highest hills overlooking the entire area and the views were pretty amazing! We stopped for an early supper and then made our way back down the hill to bring up extra supplies. Thank God for Jiffy Mart in Mondamin! We got back to our outpost just before sunset which was spectacular. It was then time to collect the firewood so Will could cook our second dinner. As with most reenactments, story time soon followed as we sat back and took it all in. Most of us dozed off to sleep around midnight under a sky full of stars. Temperatures dipped into the 40's by morning so Highneck Sweaters and M43 Field Jackets became a necessity. Right around 0430, a nearby pack of coyotes made there presence known so we got the fire going again. It felt good to warm up and Will's hot coffee is always a welcome treat. We packed up our gear and made our way back down the hill by 0600. It was a great event and a fitting way to honor the beginning of the Korean War which started on June 25, 1950. Korea has often been referred to as the "Forgotten War", but 36,574 dead, 103,284 wounded, 7,926 missing in action, and 4,714 POWs is nothing to forget about.
The evening of Saturday, June 4, the boys of B Company, 507th Parachute Infantry dropped into Normandy, France near the established 507th objective on Drop Zone T. The men of the company were scattered over a wide area due to heavy German flak as well as poorly marked drop zones. Fortunately, some of the troopers were able to find each other and form a small squad led by Staff Sergeant Krelle. No officers were found in the immediate area. After reconnoitering near a German radar station, our small band pushed to the west toward our main objective, a battery of German 88s which had been discovered by recent arial photo reconnaissance. Upon reaching the location hidden in a grove of cedar trees, we found that the guns had been moved out before our arrival. Our squad decided to hold up for a few hours to see if more lost paratroopers would arrive. We then pushed to the south and found a defensible position where we dug in for the night. Intermittent German gunfire was heard in the distance so Cpl. Hazard, Pvt. Paul, and SSgt. Krelle scouted the area to see what we could find. We engaged a small band of German troops near a ridge line to the northeast of our position and then headed back to our lines. We caught a few hours of shut eye before the sun's first rays rose to greet us. We then grabbed our gear and pushed to the north in search of the rest of the 507th. A short while later, we encountered another group of Germans who we captured and searched for intelligence. They didn't have much on them but we did enjoy liberating a pretty nice flag of theirs as a war trophy.
The boys from Company B of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion headed down to Camp Clark for the 2016 Battle of the Bulge. This was the 10 year anniversary for this event which has consistently drawn 150 to 200 reenactors every year. Eric and Cody from the World War 2 Guys joined up with Paul, Sean, Kris, Jacob, Nathan, Mike, and Willis for the fun filled weekend. Our Friday night dinner was held at the local Pizza Hut in Nevada, Missouri followed by a trip to the local Wal-Mart for some last minute supplies. Once we got back to the barracks it was a night full of rifle drill and preparations for the battle to come. Morning reveille was at 0600 with a quick coffee and donuts breakfast at 0700. But 0830 we were out on the parade ground going through Safety & Authenticity. We marched off to our first scenario by 0900. And believe me, we did a lot of marching throughout the course of the day - over 6 miles to be exact. Within our first 20 minutes, we captured a downed Luftwaffe pilot spotted by Kris. We then battled it out with the Germans attacking the town of Recht and then quickly moved to our next objective defending the bridge. After a spirited battle we were eventually overrun by advancing German forces but not before we blew the bridge. We made a heroic last stand at the rock pile and then paused for some tea and rations. Later, we ambushed a Kraut truck and stole a wooden crate filled with Nazi gold which we quickly confiscated back to our lines. We battled our way into a German held town where we eliminated several enemy soldiers with our highly effective Mills grenades. Our final scenario of the day had us battling it out with some pockets of German resistance in a wooded area. We hitched a ride back to the barracks in a German truck around 1600. The traditional spaghetti dinner was served at 1700 with green beans, bread and butter, lemonade, cookies, and the "insanely hot" Russian pickles. The night was spent winding down with stories and cleaning up. It was another wonderful event hosted by our friends from the HRS's 137th Infantry Regiment. I'm already looking forward to next year!
The World War 2 Guys joined up for a fall battle on Sunday, October 25 south of Plattsmouth, Nebraska. In attendance were Will, Jeff, Matt, Scott, Bob and Eric representing the Indianheads of the 2nd Infantry Division and Cody, Alex and Eli representing our German opposition. The weather was excellent with temperatures in the 50s and 60s and sunny skies throughout the day. We ran a morning scenario where the G.I. force was tasked with running a patrol to locate the German lines. Well, when Staff Sergeant Green is in charge a "patrol" takes on an entirely new meaning. The old Sarge had us marching over hills and dales, through woods and ravines and all over hell and back to find those Germans! And 1.5 miles later we made contact and blasted it out in the woods of Kriegwald, After an enjoyable break munching on K-Rations and other canned foods, we were back in action. For the afternoon scenario the G.I.s held a strategic intersection in anticipation of a German counterattack. The Germans didn't disappoint and moved quickly on our positions. Fortunately for the Americans, we outnumbered our opponents and outgunned them with our trusty M-1 Rifles. It was such a great day to get out in the field and enjoy the gorgeous October colors and spend some time with each other!
Eli and Eric represented the World War 2 Guys at the first annual Heritage Days Timeline Event at Ft. Atkinson on Saturday, September 5. Eli was portraying a soldier of the 2nd Infantry Division in World War II and Eric was representing a U.S. Marine from the Korean War. We set up a small encampment early in the morning near the Council House. We were treated wonderfully by our hosts at Ft. Atkinson who offered us coffee and breakfast as soon as we arrived. My Korean War display had an assortment of U.S. Army field gear and uniform items under a half shelter and I also had a Marine Corps shelter tent I named the "Korea Hilton Hotel". Eli set up an early WWII style shelter tent filled with typical WWII U.S. Army gear. After squaring away our camp we made our way down to the fort where we spoke with a few of the 1820's reenactors as well as members of the public. We met an amazing gentleman named Charlie Money, a 1st Cavalry Division veteran of the Vietnam War. He spoke to us for nearly half an hour recounting story after story from his time in country. After speaking with Charlie, we downed some grub back at our base camp and later took part in a weapons demonstration. Along with our 1820's counterparts, we demonstrated the differences between firing techniques and loading speeds from the 19th century to the 20th century. At the end of the day we were also honored to take part in the flag lowering ceremony for the fort. Eli and I were feed some really good rice and beans for dinner and then we packed up our gear and headed home for the night. It was a great experience and one I know we're both excited to take part in next year.
The weekend of January 16-18, I joined up with the men of B Company of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. We drove down to Camp Clark outside of Nevada, Missouri for the 137th Infantry Regiment's annual Battle of the Bulge tactical. This was my sixth time attending this battle and I was glad to be getting back to it. We got down around 1630 on Friday and got squared away in the barracks. Then it was off to the town of Nevada for some chow. We spent the remainder of the night preparing our gear and doing some rifle drilling. It was lights on at 0600 to get our Saturday started. After a quick breakfast, the 1st Canadians were out in the field drilling and doing rifle inspections. Our first battle kicked off at 0900 as we pushed through some dense brush and wooded areas. After what seemed like an eternity we finally made contact with German forces who were defending a small town. After sweeping the town, we moved on to clear another patch of woods, routing out some well concealed Germans. After a convoy ride to our next point of departure we downed some rations in the field... it was sardines for me! We crossed plenty of open country before coming upon our next objective which was the town of Recht. After sneaking up on the town from the southwest, we encountered heavy German resistance and had to sweep the enemy out in a series of deadly house to house raids. Our Mills grenades were very effective in helping us accomplish our task. Our last objective of the day was to capture an intact bridge, however, by the time we reached the bridge it had already been blown by the Kraut defenders. The tactical portion of the day ended sooner than in years past and we were back at the barracks by 1500. After some hot showers and a quick rest, it was off to a hearty dinner of spaghetti, green beans, bread, cookies and lemonade. Our last night was filled with storytelling and some more cleaning and organizing. We headed back to Omaha before sunrise on Sunday morning. It was another great reenacting weekend and I felt very fortunate to fall in with the men of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion.
Read all about the great events that the World War 2 Guys take part in throughout the year.