World War II Weekend at Eisenhower NHS, September 15 and 16

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Date: August 22, 2012
Contact: Carol Hegeman, 717-338-9114 Ext. 4411

On September 15 and 16, the National Park Service will sponsor a World War II living history weekend at the Eisenhower National Historic Site.  See authentic recreations of Allied and German army camps, complete with original World War II vehicles.  Several hundred living history enthusiasts from over forty organizations will portray military personnel from the European Theater in 1944.

Watch living history volunteers present programs on World War II medical services, weapons and equipment, communications, military vehicles, and the life of the common soldier.  See dozens of World War II jeeps and trucks displayed and participate in a mock Army Air Force bomber squadron mission briefing. Listen to the stories of civilians from the Home Front of World War II.  

Guest speakers for the event include nine World War II veterans, a retired National Park Service historian, and the widow of a veteran.  Speakers are:

10:00 a.m. Saturday: Dave Demechei served as a radio operator and machine gunner on a B-24 Liberator Bomber crew with the 38 th  Squadron, 30 th  Bomb Group, 7 th  U.S. Air Force in the Pacific.

11:00 a.m. Saturday:   Bill Guarnere was a combat infantryman with Easy Company, 506 th  Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101 st  Airborne Division.  A veteran of D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge, in January 1945, he was severely wounded at Bastogne, Belgium.  His story was portrayed in the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers.   Together with his good friend Edward "Babe" Heffron, he authored a book about their experiences entitled Brothers in Battle/Best of Friends .

12:00 Noon Saturday:  Joseph De Lucia was stationed at a U.S. Army air field at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attack took place December 7, 1941.  De Lucia, a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, helped salvage a bomber from a hanger that got hit during the attack.  Later, he was a B-17 pilot with the 11 th  Bomb Group in the Pacific Theater.

1:00 p.m. Saturday: Author and historian Don Markle will speak on Code Breaking in World War II.  His most recent book is Intelligence Was My Line: Inside Eisenhower's Other Command .

 2:00 p.m. Saturday:   Wallace Mellot was a U.S. Marine Corps radar operator who served in the Pacific Theater.  He was on the Philippine island of Mindanao during General MacArthur's campaign to liberate it from the occupying Japanese forces.

11:00 a.m. Sunday:  Calvin Summers served as a truck driver in Italy with the 5 th  U.S. Army.  He is a recipient of the Bronze Star.  On one assignment Summers was in a convoy of five trucks that was ambushed by the German Army.  Of the ten men who were in that convoy only two survived.

12:00 noon Sunday:   Salvador Castro served as a combat infantryman in a rifle squad that was part of the 32 nd  U.S. Infantry Division.  His unit fought in the Pacific Theater and was heavily engaged in fighting the Japanese forces in New Guinea and the Philippines.

1:00 p.m. Sunday: Bill Wagaman was a combat infantryman with the 36 th  U.S. Infantry Division and took part in the fighting both at Anzio, Italy, and the Allied invasion of Southern France in 1944.  He was wounded and captured near Grenoble, France, and was held as a prisoner of war until the spring of 1945.

2:00 p.m. Sunday: Harry Butowsky, a retired National Park Service historian, and Sandra O'Connell together authored a book entitled An American Family in World War II .  The book tells the story about Captain Ralph Minker who was a B-17 pilot with the 109 th  Squadron, 447 th  Bomb Group, 8 th  U.S. Army Air Force, and survived 37 combat missions in Europe.  Sandra O'Connell is Minker's widow.

3:00 p.m. Sunday: Jack Goodrich was a U. S. Army Air Force C-47 pilot based in Myitkyina who flew 88 crossings of  the  mountainous "Hump" supply route in the China/Burma/India Theater.  

Both days author Don Markle and retired National Security Agency employee Rick Henderson will be on hand to demonstrate a captured German Enigma Code Machine and visitors may purchase lunch courtesy of the Heidlersburg Volunteer Fire Company.  

Saturday at 4 p.m. an Army Chaplain's Roman Catholic Mass will be held in the 110 th  Regiment's camp.

The Eisenhower bookstore will host several book signings.  Saturday morning veteran Bill Guarnere will be on hand to sign copies of his book Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends .  On Saturday afternoon historian Don Markle will sign his book Intelligence Was My Line: Inside Eisenhower's Other Command  and veteran Joe De Lucia will be available to sign books about the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Following his talk at noon on Sunday, Salvador Castro will be available to sign copies of The Ghost Mountain Boys: Their Epic and Terrifying Battle for New Guinea -The Forgotten War of the South Pacific by James Campbell, which tells the story of the 32 nd  Division.  Sunday afternoon both authors Harry Butowsky and Sandra O'Connell will be available to sign copies of An American Family in World War II, the story of Captain Ralph Minker.   Both Saturday and Sunday authors Sharon Wells-Wagner and Steve Wagner will autograph copies of their book, Ordinary Heroes .  

Licensed Battlefield Guide Ralph Siegel will present free guided walks about the World War II dead buried in the Soldiers' National Cemetery. Though well known for Civil War burials, the National Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 400 soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen who died between 1941 and 1945. The interments include men who fell at Pearl Harbor and on D-Day in Normandy. These hour-long guided walks are offered Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.  Visitors should park in the National Cemetery parking lot on Taneytown Road. The tour begins inside the Taneytown Road cemetery gate.

Saturday night a World War II style "USO" dance will be held at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., featuring 1940s music by the Gettysburg Big Band.  Open to the public, tickets will be sold at the door for $10.00.  A cash bar will be available.  

The encampment will be open Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Admission to the Eisenhower National Historic Site is by shuttle bus.  Buses depart from the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center located at 1195 Baltimore Pike.  Weather permitting, on-site parking for cars only  will also be available in a farm field accessible off of Emmitsburg Road, Business Route 15.  Bus groups and visitors using wheelchairs should plan to use the shuttle system.  For reservations, call 1-877-874-2478.  Fees to enter the site either by shuttle bus or by parking in the field are adults, $7.50; children 6-12, $5.00; children age 6 and under are admitted free.

For more information contact the Eisenhower National Historic Site at 717/ 338-9114.

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