On Memorial Day, Eric and Jon visited St. Mary's Cemetery for our annual cleaning of the Furmanski brothers' gravesites. It's truly amazing how overgrown a headstone can get in one year's time. This year at St. Mary's we thoroughly cleaned and trimmed around headstones for Privates First Class Floyd and Aloysius Furmanski, Flight Officer Martin P. Schmitt, Jr. and Staff Sergeant Joseph B. Labanowski. Afterwards we went to Omaha Central and laid a wreath at the Central High School Vietnam Memorial. Eric later went to Forest Lawn Cemetery and placed flowers at the markers for two Omaha men killed in Vietnam, Specialist 4 Donald Steven Waite of the 101st Airborne Division and Corporal William Warner Utts of the Americal Division.
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 Sunday, May 20, the World War 2 Guys held an open photo shoot day up in Ft. Calhoun. The concept was that each member could wear any uniform or time period of their choosing and we would take lots of great photos to document each impression. The weather was unseasonably cooler with overcast skies with a slight drizzle from time to time. Jeff was portraying an infantryman from the 82nd Airborne Division in Normandy circa 1944. Jon was portraying a U.S. Navy Corpsman from the 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal circa 1942. Cody was portraying a British infantryman from the Hampshire Regiment circa 1944. And Eric was portraying a line infantryman from the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam circa 1969. The photo shoot went even better than expected and we got tons and tons of great photos, and then later that night Eric's phone, with all of the photos on it, went wacko and died. Everything was lost. Fortunately, Jeff was taking some photos as well so this is all that we have from the shoot. Thanks Jeff for saving the day and capturing some of the great moments. We'll certainly have to try this again another time.
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, 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.
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.
The men of the 2nd I.D. gathered for our 10th Annual Armed Forces Day exhibit at Cabela's LaVista on Saturday, May 17. The weather was sunny and gorgeous but a little cold in the morning - I wore long johns under my jungle fatigues. Jeff, Dave, Will and I displayed a wide variety of uniforms, weapons and equipment from early World War II up through Vietnam. My primary focus this year was portraying a 1970 Marine in Vietnam, so this technically qualifies as my Uniform of the Month for May. It was a great day and my wife and kids even got to come up and hang out for a while. We're all looking forward to our next event which will be D-Day at the Durham Museum on June 8.
Read all about the great events that the World War 2 Guys take part in throughout the year.