Reading Volume II


The Mid-Atlantic Air Museum’s WWII weekend is one of the two biggest events that I attend annually. There aren’t a lot of shows that offer such a combination of lot’s of WWII aircraft, reenactors and militaria vendors. Unfortunately, the show has been increasingly mired in complaints from the reenactors about their treatment at the hands of the organizers and volunteers. As a result there has been a noticeable decrease in the number of reenacting groups that are attending. It was obvious  last year and more so this year.

To be fair, some of the folks at the organization level seem to have realized that this is a problem and are making some efforts to smooth things over. Getting Richelle Savant to coordinate the reenactor registration was a good move. She is a very nice lady and seemed to genuinely want to be helpful. I don’t think anyone blamed her for any snafus that occurred.

One issue that affected our group, the 193rd Rifle Division, in particular was location. The Pacific theater was expanded this year, so we lost the area that we have had for the last three or four years. The 9th SS, who are usually our neighbors were also moved. At first, we were told that we were to be moved next door to Grossdeutschland, near the French Village, but at the last minute, we were moved to the very farthest reaches of the grounds – out past the end of the vendors by the firing range.

We were concerned that no one would ever find us back there, but this did not turn out to be the case. The crowds weren’t as heavy as in our former location, but they were substantial. Apparently the combination of the firing range and the 9th SS’s Stug III brought people back and then they noticed that we were there and went through our camp.  A substantial number of Red flags probably helped make our presence known as well.

As I mentioned, the 9th SS was moved back there with us. They not only had to cover their runes this year, but they were listed as Kampfgruppe 9. Apparently they couldn’t even call themselves the SS. Personally, I think that this is getting a little silly. Whatever you may think of the SS, it is pretty hard to ignore the fact that they were a significant part of WWII history.

The other main irritant was the alcohol issue. I understand that some reenactors portraying American Airborne  got stinking drunk and climbed all over a P-51 Mustang last year. I don’t know how much of that is true, but we were told that was the reason for the ban on alcohol. Supposedly the miscreants were dealt with, and hopefully they had to pay for the damages. Still everyone else was punished. Despite the reasoning, that usually causes ill feeling.  (Management 101 – Deal with the guilty parties, don’t chew everyone out because one or two screw up.) Plus it just resulted in people being sneaky.  I also heard that alcohol was served in the French cafe in the evenings, so how is that consistent? Personally none of this caused me any problems, but I don’t know that it helps an event with more than it’s share of black eyes already. I did get a laugh at the sign at the gate which stated “No alcohol or guns allowed” or something to that effect. I doubt that there was a car that went through that gate that didn’t have at least one gun in it!

On the plus side, I had a good time as usual and caught up with some old friends as well as met a lot of nice new folks. As Misha had mentioned before, we had a Red Army vet from the Great Patriotic War come by with his family. A definite high point for the weekend.Thanks to the Ukrainian cavalry contingent, we had superlative food for the weekend and we were able to invite this veteran and his family to a fine lunch.

Since I was (and still am) trying to shake off the effects of bronchitis, I didn’t walk around as much this year, but I did got some good pictures, including one of Captain America! That doesn’t happen very often. I told Cap I was looking forward to his movie.  As usual, there were a lot of good impressions out there and I tried to get what I could.

In summary, it is still a big show, and I like to attend, so I hope it can get it’s act together. It is starting to face some stiff competition from ‘Wings over the Beach’ in Virginia. There is no monopoly in this game anymore.

Thanks to Mike Momot for additional pictures.


6 responses to “Reading Volume II”

  1. Misha Avatar

    I surprised no one has schwannstuckered you over the images of the Hakenkreutz!
    Misha 🙂

  2. Misha Avatar

    Oh yeah,
    Interesting that my comment tag has the appearance of such as well. 😮

  3. Jim Barnes Avatar
    Jim Barnes

    Очень интересно!

  4. Misha Avatar

    Yes, it is very interesting. Speaking of which, a certain congressman, in the news most recently, bears a striking resemblence to Herr Goebbels. Hmmm, now there’s one for some thought!

  5. Mark L. Avatar
    Mark L.

    Our German unit used to consistently go to Reading with large numbers but now we are totally avoiding it. I came up just as a spectator to see how the re-enactor numbers were. I couldn’t believe how few there were this year. I was not aware of the complete alcohol ban and bag searches this year. What a joke and with those actions now I know we will never bw going back unless something drastic changes! We went to VA Beach for the 3rd year in a row and love it!! It rocks and blows Reading out of the water. I would not be surprised if Reading goes to the wayside in the near future. Thanks for the nicely written article!

  6. Cathy Darby Avatar

    Hello Reenactors,
    I am desperately reaching out to you from Purcellville, Virginia with hope to find WWII reenactors for Purcellville Heritage Day (May 12) Tribute to the 1940s and “The Greatest Generation”. Last year we highlighted the Civil War with reenactments and exhibits. This year we would like to have a WWII living history area, equipment & uniform displays, and possibly a small weapons demonstration.
    We have $$ in our budget to pay the reenactors.
    If you know of reenactors, or 1940s vehicle owners, who are local and may be interested please forward my information to them. We are also hoping to have a small car show with 1940s vehicles including some WWII if at all possible.
    I hope you do!
    Cathy Darby
    Purcellville Preservation Secretary

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