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!!!
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!
Read all about the great events that the World War 2 Guys take part in throughout the year.