WWII Weekend at Eisenhower NHS
Contact: Carol Hegeman, 717-338-9114 Ext. 4411
(UPDATED) On September 21 and 22, 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 40 organizations will portray military personnel from the European Theater in 1944.
Living history volunteers will 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 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 and several authors of books on World War II. Speakers are:
10:00 a.m.Saturday: Guy Whidden is a D-Day veteran of the 502nd Parachute Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. He was severely wounded in Holland during OPERATION MARKET-GARDEN. Throughout the war, Guy wrote letters home to his mother. Those became the basis for his book Between the Lines and Beyond: Letters of a 101st Airborne Paratrooper.
11:00 a.m.Saturday: Bill Guarnere was a combat infantryman with Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101stAirborne 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 friend Edward “Babe” Heffron, he authored a book about their experiences entitled Brothers in Battle-Best of Friends.
12:00 Noon Saturday: Jack Womer fought as a member of the demolitions team assigned to Headquarters Company, 506th Parachute Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. It was a unit that included the group known as “The Filthy Thirteen.” Stephen DeVito, author of the book Fighting With the Filthy Thirteen,will join Womer in presenting the story. Learn about Womer’s experiences serving alongside these notorious soldiers who bucked Army regulations, never got up at reveille, dressed shabbily, and wore Mohawk haircuts and war paint on D-Day, yet often exceeded their assigned combat missions from D-Day to the German Surrender.
1:00 p.m. Saturday: George Winkler joined the U.S. Navy on his 17th birthday in 1942. He served as a gunner aboard four fleet and six merchant ships. When serving on the SS Gulf Prince, an enemy submarine torpedoed the ship.
2:00 p.m.Saturday: (UPDATED) Col. Richard Camp, historian at the Marine Corps Museum, presents a power point presentation on the invasion of Peleliu in September, 1944.
3:00 p.m. Saturday: Gene Strine, a World War II naval aviator, tells the story of his salvage of a P-61 Black Widow airplane from a mountainside in New Guinea and the current efforts to restore it to flying condition.
10:00 a.m. Sunday: Kenneth Weiler will share stories from his most recent book entitled The European Theater Anthology of World War II.
11:00 a.m. Sunday: John Alosi is the author of War Birds: A History of the 282nd Signal Pigeon Company. His father served in this unit. In World War II, battlefield communications sometimes had to be done using homing pigeons to carry important messages.
12:00 noon Sunday: Harold Billow served in the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion during the Battle of the Bulge. He is a survivor of the infamous Malmedy Massacre in which Nazi SS troops murdered over 80 American prisoners of war.
1:00 p.m. Sunday: Thomas Hoke was a medic with the rank of staff sergeant in Company C, 312th Medical Battalion, and was assigned to the 347th Infantry Regiment, 87th Infantry Division, Third U.S. Army. The 87thDivision is credited by some with lifting the siege of Bastogne.
2:00 p.m. Sunday: Abner Rainbow flew 105 combat missions in Europe as a P-47 fighter pilot in the 391st Squadron, 366th Fighter Group, 9th U.S. Army Air Force.The 391st supported the American ground forces in Normandy, at St. Lo, the Falaise Pocket, in the Hurtgen Forest, and the Battle of the Bulge.
3:00 p.m. Sunday: Patricia Chapman Meder is the author ofThe True Story of Catch-22: The Real Men and Missions of Joseph Heller’s 340thBomb Group in World War II. Catch-22 was a best-selling novel by Joseph Heller based on his World War II experiences.
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.
The Eisenhower bookstore will host several book signings. On Saturday the book signings include Guy Whidden, Between the Lines: Letters of a 101stAirborne Paratrooper; Bill Guarnere, Brothers in Battle- Best of Friends; Stephen DeVito and Jack Womer, Fighting With the Filthy Thirteen and Emmett Lang, Always A Soldier But Never G.I.: The Personal Journey of a World War II Soldier.
On Sunday the book signings include Kenneth Weiler,The European Theater Anthology of World War II; John Alosi, War Birds: A History of the 282nd Signal Pigeon Company, and Patricia Chapman Meder,The True Story of Catch-22: The Real Men and Missions of Joseph Heller’s 340thBomb Group in World War II. On both Saturday and Sunday authors Sharon Wells-Wagner and Steve Wagner will autograph copies of their books, Ordinary Heroes, Forgotten Widow, and Red Wells.
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. The 1 p.m. tour will focus on the airmen of WWII while the other tours will provide stories of the soldiers, sailors and airmen. Visitors should park in the National Cemetery parking lot on Taneytown Road. The tour begins inside the Taneytown Road cemetery gate.
Sunday at 10 a.m. a Protestant Army Chaplain Worship Service will be held in the 26th Division’s camp.
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: Check out the WWII WEEKEND PROGRAM SCHEDULE. (Note: the Saturday 1940s fashion show has been cancelled.)
Did You Know?
General Dwight D. Eisenhower would have been a sailor if born a year later. He applied to the Naval Academy in 1911, but did not meet the age requirements – he was too old. He was accepted to his second choice, the US Military Academy at West Point.