On Saturday, November 13, the World War 2 Guys were back in action for an event we called the "Push to Luxembourg." Our scenario for the day was set in January 1945 when the 17th Airborne Division was pushing from Belgium into Luxembourg. Joining up for the day were Matt, Will, Mike, Eric and Joe, doing his first ever World War II field event. We used our Loess Hill site for this event and had to deal with a pretty cold and windy day, but with some nice sun early on. We made our way through open fields and up to our hilltop trench where we removed quite a bit of brush and re-fortified our line. We spent quite a bit of time just cleaning up the trench line and extending it a little more to the east. There was hot coffee and some hot chow thanks to Will and Joe and their small fires. Later in the day, Matt, Eric and Joe patrolled another hilltop and some wooded areas which we plan on using in 2022 for another immersion event. With rain starting to spit down on us, we called it a day and made our way back to the vehicles. But it was a great little outing and some fun time with friends in the field!
The night of Saturday, October 9 saw a few of the World War 2 Guys participating in one of the most epic reenactments of all time! The scenario involved a small group of 101st Airborne paratroopers making a river crossing under the cloak of darkness to rescue four stranded British Paras from the 1st Parachute Battalion. At the prescribed meet-up time of 1900 hours, the four Brits who had escaped weeks of grueling battle at Arnhem made their way down toward the river's north shore. As darkness quickly fell upon the scene, and with every ear listening for signs of a rescue, suddenly the scraping sounds of boats upon rock could be heard to the east. With hearts racing and a few more minutes of silence, the sound of paddling oars could be heard approaching from upstream. Suddenly two small boats pulled up on the shoreline and the American paratroopers disembarked. Beams of light from an American flashlight shot toward the British lines, followed by red flashes from a British torch. A Sergeant from the British group rendezvoused with the Americans and quickly the rest of the Brits appeared from the woods beyond. A British Brigadier from the 1st Battalion was a high value asset to the Allied effort and his rescue was of top priority! The two boats loaded with the Brits then paddled furiously back upstream to safety. About halfway across the river the sound of three sharp whistle blows unleashed a fury of machine gun fire from the American lines as well as two red flares being shot into the night sky. The surreal imagery of the rippling river's current highlighted with an eerie red glow and muzzle flashes beyond, will forever be engrained in our memories. Upon reaching the south shore the heavy little boats were pulled into hiding and the troopers all quickly assembled for instruction. The combined group then made their way south, marching through the darkness back to the friendly American lines. Once there, the tired British troopers were given numerous handshakes and congratulatory pats on the back, as well as some warm blankets and a place to rest. The rest of the night was filled with laughter and bottle of liquor as the Americans and Brits celebrated their successful rescue mission, one that will never be forgotten by any of those who were there.
On Saturday, October 10, the World War 2 Guys were back in the field representing the "Blue Devils" of the 88th Infantry Division in Italy. Our understrength squad for the event was SSgt. Krelle, Sgt. Green, Cpl. Hazard, Pfc. Williams, and Pvt. Mason. We began our day winding our way through cornfields and humping it up the Loess Hills which served as Italy for the day. The men spent time clearing out our old hilltop trench while keeping a keen eye out for any Kraut activity in our sector. We got in a few quick firefights with a small German patrol located in a grove of trees below our position. After Sgt. Green had a weapons malfunction, SSgt. Krelle quickly stepped-in and neutralized the enemy patrol with a little back-up from Pvt. Mason. After the fireworks, the squad spent the sunset hour eating some rations and some cooked Spam provided by Pfc. Williams. Everyone agreed that the hot chow was delicious! After securing our positions for the night the men looked up in awe of the star-filled night sky above. Thankfully, there was no enemy activity during the night which remained relatively warm for an October evening. The squad was up with the sun, scrounging up some rations and some hot coffee from Sgt. Green. We packed up and left our hilltop position, pushing to the south to keep the pressure on the Germans. It was quite an event highlighted by some spectacular weather and some amazing fall colors.
On Saturday, June 6, the World War 2 Guys held a field immersion exercise in recognition of the 76th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion. This time we visited the Loess Hills State Forest near Little Sioux, Iowa which served as our Normandy for the day. Our patrol consisted of Eric, Matt, Cody, Conner, and our newest member Mike. We encountered some really neat sunken roads that in places closely resembled the ancient hedgerows of Normandy. We also marched through wooded hills and valleys taking in some breathtaking scenery along the way. We stopped off for some rations and a unit admin meeting and then continued our advance back to our starting point. The very end of our march got pretty hot and our water supply was running low so we called it a day. It was excellent to see Mike out in the field with us for the first time and it was very special to all get together on D-Day. Until next month...
The World War 2 Guys headed down to Camp Clark, Missouri for the 2020 Battle of the Bulge hosted by the HRS's 137th Infantry Regiment. In attendance this year were Eric, Will, Matt, Cody, and our new recruit Conner. Although there was plenty of severe winter weather on Friday, we all safely made it down to the event. Eric, Cody, and Conner even got out to see 1917 on Friday afternoon before event check-in. Friday night, our group had a lively dinner at Iguana Azul, a hoppin' Mexican restaurant in downtown Nevada. Afterwards, Eric and Cody went to the commanders' meeting to get the new plans for this year's tactical. Saturday morning began with the traditional pre-battle coffee and donuts breakfast. All of the participants gathered on the parade ground at 0830 for a safety and authenticity check and a briefing on the day's overall gameplan. This year our unit fell in with the "legs" from G Company, 137th Infantry and a few Russian troops. Our first scenario had us fighting for the bridge at Stavelot. Our squad Bazooka team led by Will and Matt made effective use of our new anti-vehicle weapon by neutralizing multiple German vehicles throughout the day. We fought through wooded areas, unsuccessfully attacked the town of Recht, and stopped for some rations in the field by 1230. Our afternoon scenarios had us guarding roads against German advances and finally attacking through a marshy swamp area into the teeth of the German defenses. The five proud members of H/507 marched together back to the barracks at the end of the day. We all hit the hot showers and got dressed in our Class A's for the evening's dinner. As always we were served up heaping piles of spaghetti with meat sauce, green beans, fresh bread, cookies, and the famous "hot" pickles. It's seriously one of the best and most memorable meals I eat all year long, right up there with Thanksgiving. A few of us wound the night down by watching "Battle of the Bulge" which is laughably bad but fun to watch among buddies. It was another great experience and by the ride home our minds were already racing with new ideas of how to make it even better next year.
On Saturday, October 19, the World War II Guys time travelled back to 1951 to recreate a day in the Korean War. We decided to portray a squad from the 7th Cavalry Regiment "Garry Owen" of the First Cavalry Division. In attendance were Eric, Cody, Jon, and our newest recruit Conner. We went back to our old stomping ground up in the Loess Hills near Mondamin, Iowa. It was a beautiful fall day with lots of warm fall colors and really nice temperatures. Once our patrol reached the summit of our favorite hill we cleared out a lot of overgrowth and debris from our old trench line. We spent some time eating rations and firing our weapons from the trench. We ran a patrol to the next hill to the east which is actually a bit higher in elevation. Future plans include setting up another Observation Post (OP) on the second hill to build our network of fighting positions. We are also planning on buying a set of BC-611 Handie Talkies so we can have communication between the two OPs. Eventually we headed back down to our vehicle and headed home but it was a great way to spend a day among friends in some beautiful scenery!
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!!!
Read all about the great events that the World War 2 Guys take part in throughout the year.