On Sunday, July 13, Casey, Matt and I headed out in the fields near Ft. Calhoun, Nebraska to pay homage to the men of the 134th Infantry Regiment. A Nebraska National Guard unit before the war, the 134th Infantry entered combat on Sunday, July 15, 1944 in the hedgerow country of Normandy. The Cornhuskers' first assignment was to take Hill 122 which was a key objective in the eventual capture of St. Lo. In taking the hill, the 134th suffered 102 men killed, 589 wounded and 102 missing. In doing so they lived up to their Spanish-American War battle cry, "All Hell Can't Stop Us!" The 1st Battalion was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for their monumental effort in the attack.
The key to this impression is the relatively sparse use of equipment - wearing just the basics for an attack and nothing extra. Most members of the 134th wore only their cartridge belts with canteens, shovels and first aid kits attached. The men also wore lots of ammunition bandoleers as the fighting was pretty heavy and the men needed all the ammunition they could carry. The July temperatures in Normandy can get warm during the day but cool down considerably at night. Most of the men striped down to their wool shirt during the day and wore their field jackets at night. Another important element of this photo shoot was finding the right terrain that would effectively simulate the fields and hedgerow country of Normandy. Fortunately for us, there are some amazing pieces of land that closely resemble northern France right here in eastern Nebraska! Casey has one particular tree line near his home that looks just like a Norman hedgerow. It's pretty impressive!
It was a great feeling to once again go on patrol through grassy fields wearing the "wagon wheel" patch of the 35th "Santa Fe" Division. For Mr. Hazard and myself, this was the unit that we first represented when we got into reenacting and it has always held a special place in our hearts. The men of the 134th lived by the Pawnee indian words, "Lah We Lah His" which translated means "The Strong, the Brave." We are grateful for the sacrifices of those brave Nebraskans and we honor their service by keeping their memory alive.
My April Uniform of the Month is a tribute to the brave Marines and U.S. Army soldiers who fought in the last great battle of World War II on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Will and Casey and I headed out on a rainy morning to try to capture the essence of what being wet is all about. The temperatures were around 50° with a steady rainfall that got quite heavy at times. Casey and I were representing the Marines of the 1st Marine Division and Will was representing the Army's 77th Infantry Division.
The Battle of Okinawa, codenamed Operation Iceberg, was fought on the Ryukyu Islands of Okinawa and was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific War. The 82-day-long battle lasted from early April until mid-June 1945. After a long campaign of island hopping, the Allies were approaching Japan, and planned to use Okinawa, a large island only 340 mi (550 km) away from mainland Japan, as a base for air operations on the planned invasion of Japanese mainland (coded Operation Downfall). Four divisions of the U.S. 10th Army, the 7th, 27th, 77th, and 96th Infantry Divisions and two Marine Divisions, the 1st and 6th, fought on the island. Their invasion was supported by naval, amphibious, and tactical air forces.
The battle has been referred to as the "typhoon of steel" in English, and tetsu no ame ("rain of steel") or tetsu no bōfū ("violent wind of steel") in Japanese. The nicknames refer to the ferocity of the fighting, the intensity of kamikaze attacks from the Japanese defenders, and to the sheer numbers of Allied ships and armored vehicles that assaulted the island. The battle resulted in the highest number of casualties in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Based on Okinawan government sources, mainland Japan lost 77,166 soldiers, who were either killed or committed suicide, and the Allies suffered 14,009 deaths (with an estimated total of more than 65,000 casualties of all kinds). Simultaneously, 42,000 to 150,000 local civilians were killed or committed suicide, a significant proportion of the local population. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki together with the Soviet invasion of Manchuria caused Japan to surrender less than two months after the end of the fighting on Okinawa.
This month's uniform is a further examination of the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment which was featured in September 2013. The 507th was activated on July 20, 1942 at Fort Benning, Georgia. Lieutenant Colonel George V. Millett Jr. was given command of the regiment. After jump training at Fort Benning the regiment moved to Alabama for 22 weeks of advanced training. The 507th took part in maneuvers at Barksdale Air Base in Shreveport, Louisiana on March 7, 1943 and then they headed west. Their train arrived at Alliance, Nebraska on March 20, 1943 where the 507th was to be stationed at the Alliance Army Air Base as part of the 1st Airborne Brigade. On Sunday, April 4, the 507th performed a tactical jump and paraded before 20,000 spectators in Alliance. It was considered by many local citizens to be the largest gathering ever to take place in the city. The 507th was stationed at Alliance from March through October 1943 making demonstration jumps at Denver, Omaha and the Black Hills of South Dakota. Many period photos from their time at Alliance show that the men of the 507th wore the one-piece HBT Overalls just about as often as they wore their M-42 Jumpsuits. This uniform is intended to depict what they would have typically worn on a training day out on the open prairie. Look for more featured 507th uniforms to come in June and July 2014.
UNIFORM OF THE MONTH
I love deciding which unique uniform impression I want to put together each month. Follow me right here to see what's next!