Williamsport, MD WWII Event 2009

October 18, 2009 - 3 Comments

by Jim Barnes

Williamsport 2009 005

Another report from our indefatigable correspondents -  Bill and Linda Donegan:

When Kim Bowers invited us to attend the ww2 living history event at Williamsport Md. We had no idea how much fun we would have.

This is the second year for this event. Organizers Kim Bowers (RationingBoard@aol.com), Greg Henesy (G.henesy@airborne506.org), Joan Knode (joaneknode@msn.com), and Phil Mayhue (Navyboy924@aol.com), did an excellent job of recruiting all the best WW2 reenactors and ww2 veterans this side of the Ohio for this year’s event.

Richard Falvey, 101 Airborne Division, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, blessed us all with his experiences of the war in Europe. He was the featured speaker. Herb Fleming, author of “From Hitler Youth to American Soldier” held a book signing at the Town Museum, which was full of WW2 memorabilia.

There was a ww2 mess kitchen, parade, concert, recognition ceremony, USO dance, worship service, and displays from all allied and axis powers, and much more.

The venue was Byron Park near the Springfield barn complex. The barn is an old hundred plus year old building and was the focal point of the event, with all the crowd activities centered there (Dance, speakers, church services, meeting point etc). On one side of the barn the Allied camps were set up, with the Axis camps being on the opposite side. There was one military vendor set up near the German camp, Phil’s Militaria (I have misplaced his e-mail address, but it is easy to Google). Phil took all of my twenty dollar bills.

I should mention “The Lunch Box” which is a new sandwich shop located at 22 N Conococheague Street. Owned by Bill and Diana Church 301-223-7723. Excellent food! This is walking distance from the barn. There is also an antique shop across the street, which has some ww2 collectibles! For example a German helmet shell for $100.00! I didn’t buy it as I had forgotten my wallet! Besides I have enough in my collection. At least that’s what Linda keeps telling me.

When Kim asked me to attend this event, I asked him if I should come as a German or a GI. He said, “Why not come as FDR?” I said ok. Kim then told me that he would arrange for a period car for me to ride in for the parade. Kim also told me that he would have secret service protection for me. The man who was organizing the parade, Jewell, owner of Jewells Appliances, 5 N Conococheague St. 301-223-5433, told me that he had found a dog for me to take along in the car. The dog turned out to be a bit larger than expected. Then I met a ww2 female veteran, who had worked for Lord Louis Mountbatten in India and South Pacific during the war, who was doing her impression of Eleanor Roosevelt. She and I got along great so I insisted that she ride in the car with me. My wife Linda then became Lucy Mercer, my secretary. The car turned out to be a Ford model T, which was too small to accommodate my large entourage, so we had to lose the dog. A woman who knew the dog’s owner took the dog away (At least I hope she knew the dog’s owner).

As the photos will show, we four fit well into the convertible. The parade was a lot of fun. FRD was in the second car. In the lead car there was a Major General of the 82nd Airborne Division, who actually walked back to my car and apologized for having been put in the lead car. I told him it was ok since he was a real general and I was a fake president. Our friends Ron and Bonnie, who were dressed as Army Colonel and Captain, and who were riding with Keith and Libby Rocco in the Rocco’s restored cab, got out and saluted me before the parade started.

Following the parade, which was witnessed by the entire town, we went back to the park and were greeted by the press and political friends wishing that I was really running for president.

Linda and I went back to our digs for a spruce up before the dance. I changed into a US War Correspondent uniform, but people still referred to me as “Mr. President”.

I should mention that there is a Red Roof Inn about three miles away from the Park on Rt. 11, where most of the out of town guests were billeted. For those wishing to spend a little more money, and be waited on like royalty, there is a bed and breakfast, “The Candle Light Inn” located on Conococheague Street.

The USO Dance was a lot of fun, with a lot of period civilian dressed dancers in attendance.

The following morning I dressed in a German Privates uniform, and was still addressed as “Mr. President”. I visited the 24th Infantry Division, 31st Regiment, where Pete and Kate Gentry kidded me as being someone whom they would vote for following their capture and naturalization as US citizens.

Linda and I were reacquainted with Frank Fanning of the Gross Deutschland Infantry Regiment, and Brad and Kami Wenger, whom we had met at Great War Militaria in Chambersburg, Pa. The Wengers have started a ww2 uniform business, springing off his parents’ ww1 business, called Soldaten Werk (WWW.soldatenwerk.com) 717-352-4437. Kami makes Helferin, DRK, BDM, and HJ uniforms.

Following the period church service conducted by Bob Hundertmark, Chaplain of the 506th H.Q. Co., we met and prayed with a new couple that we met from the town of Williamsport, who are friends of mutual friends of ours from our home church in Charleston, WV. We have had a blessed time with them and the e-mails have already started between us.

K imp Bowers has already asked me to do FDR again next year. I told him Lord willing I will.

Bill Donegan

Comments (3)

Nick Korolev

October 21st, 2009 at 9:36 am    

Wow! You do look like FDR! Looks like you had a lot of fun. I always enjoy your articles on this site.I hope to get involved in the near future in WWII. I am selling my place in WV and plan on moving to Pittsburgh for better job opportunities. Long story. I have been e-mailing Jim Barnes on an idea I have to start a WWII living history group of people portraying famous people from the era, political, civilian and military of all nations involved. No dues, no stupid politics, just a bunch of like minded people devoted to history. I have the website designed but not up yet. Would love to have you as FDR and any interested friends involved. I am involved with a similar Civil War living history group. Due to a bad knee I am giving up battle reenacting. Feel free to e-mail me. Will get on with the project once the dust settles from my move.

Tim Myers

March 21st, 2010 at 3:50 am    

Bill, We are doing South Pacific on April 17th. We are looking for someone in our area with a WWII jeep who would park with it on the front pad (entrance) of our school for the performance to give the attendees the feel of WWII when they come into the play. Any ideas?

Kim Bowers

October 4th, 2010 at 7:37 pm    

Bill & Linda,

It’s that time again! I have lost your email address. Get in touch. Look forward to seeing you again. I think we have a Packard for you this year!

Kim Bowers

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