2016 World War II Weekend at Eisenhower National Historic Site

2016 World War II Weekend

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News Release Date: August 25, 2016

Contact: Ahna Wilson, 717-338-4411

On September 17 and 18, 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.

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, and participate in a mock Army Air Force transport squadron D-Day mission briefing in support of paratrooper operations.  Listen to the stories of civilians from the Home Front of World War II. 

The weekend also features many book signings, special guided walks about World War II burial sites in the Soldiers' National Cemetery, and a World War II style "USO" dance. 

UPDATED Guest speakers for the event include seven World War II veterans and several authors of books on World War II. Speakers are:

10:00 a.m. Saturday – Colonel Dick Camp, long time historian at the U.S. Marine Corps Museum and a Vietnam veteran, is the author of several books. He will talk at this time about the 1945 battle fought between the U.S. Marines and the Japanese for control of Iwo Jima, a strategically important island in the Pacific.

11:00 a.m. Saturday – Bill Wagaman served in Company A, 143rd Regiment, 36th Infantry Division in both Italy and France and took part in the Battle of Monte-Casino, the Liberation of Rome, and the invasion of Southern France. In August, 1944, he was wounded and captured and held as a POW until April 1945. 

Noon Saturday – Ed Buffman served as a U.S. Navy gunners mate, second class, as a crew member of the famous Battleship USS Missouri. He experienced surviving Kamikaze attacks and witnessed the Japanese surrender on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 14, 1945. 

1:00 p.m. Saturday – Clem Leone was a radio man and gunner on a B-24 bomber crew in the 8th U.S, Army Air Force's 445th Bomb Group, 700th Squadron. Actor Jimmy Stewart was in the same bomber group but in a different squadron. On February 24,1944, Clem's plane exploded during a mission over Holland. After parachuting down, he spent several months hidden by civilians, then was captured by the Germans.

2:00 p.m. Saturday - Art Staymates was an infantry soldier in the 26th Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, and landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day.After the war in Europe ended he served as an MP at the Nuremberg Nazi War Crimes Trials guarding the prisoners, one of whom was the infamous Hermann Goering.

3:00 p.m. Saturday – Catherine Ladnier has written a play, Letters to Eva, based on the life of a Jewish soldier in the U.S. Army, Corporal Herbert Rosencrans, and the letters he sent home to his mother. Herb did not survive the war. His mother would become a dress designer whose clients included Mamie Eisenhower. 

4:00 p.m. Saturday – Nancy Fuentes has authored the book Two Brothers, One War: As Told Through The Letters of Roman and Edward Bartz. It is the story of the war written by two sons, one a navy sailor, the other an Army soldier, to their mother back home in Buffalo, New York. 10:00 a.m. Sunday – Kenneth Weiler, author of several books on World War II, will give a talk entitled American Goes To War: The  Home Front 1941-1945

10:00 a.m. Sunday –Kenneth Weiler, author of several books on World War II, will give his talk entitled America Goes To War: The Home Front 1941-1945

11:00 a.m. Sunday – Terry Shima, who is of Japanese ancestry, was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1944 and was sent as a replacement to the famed Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team. He arrived at the front in Italy just as the war in Europe was ending. He was assigned to the unit's Public Relations Office. 

Noon Sunday – Colonel Dick Camp, long time historian at the U.S. Marine Corps Museum and a Vietnam veteran, is the author of several books. At this time he will be speaking about the September 1944 battle fought between the U.S. Marines and Japanese forces for control of the island of Peleliu. 

1:00 p.m. Sunday – Jack Myers served in Europe as a member of the 692nd Tank Destroyer Battalion, at times attached to the 104th and 63rd U.S. Infantry Divisions. The unit used a variety of anti-tank vehicles including towed artillery, self-propelled guns, and M36 Tank Destroyers with 90 MM cannon. 

2:00 p.m. Sunday – Wally Clarke participated in a costly attack on Hill 310 in Lorraine, France in October 1944. On December 1, 1944, he was wounded by artillery. He returned to the front in January 1945 during the Battle of the Bulge. He is the author of the book George S. Patton's Typical Soldier: A Memoir of Thomas W. (Wally) Clarke,Company D,1001st infantry, 26th Division, Third Army.  

3:00 p.m. Sunday - James Rada, author of Clay Soldiers: One Marine's Story of War, Art, & Atomic Energy. Mr. Rada will be speaking about World War II veteran and Gettysburg resident Chuck Caldwell who served with the Marines in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

Both days visitors may purchase lunch at the site courtesy of the Heidlersburg Volunteer Fire Company. The fire company's food service will be situated near the southwest corner of the living history camp.

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 free 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 temporary parking lot on Taneytown Road. The tour begins inside the Taneytown Road cemetery gate.

Both days retired National Security Agency employee Rick Henderson will be on hand to demonstrate a captured German Enigma Code Machine. The Enigma device was what the Germans used to transmit important messages. What they didn't know was that the Allies had cracked their code and could decipher intercepted communications.

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 with buses departing from the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center located at 1195 Baltimore Pike. Weather permitting, for this weekend only, on-site parking for cars only will also be available in a farm field accessible off of Emmitsburg Road, Business Route 15. There is no fee for parking on site.  Fees to enter the site by shuttle bus are: adults, $7.50; children 6-12, $5.00; children age 6 and under are admitted free. For shuttle bus reservations, call 1-877-874-2478.

Last updated: September 15, 2016

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