World War II Weekend at Eisenhower National Historic Site September 15 and 16
GETTYSBURG, Pa. – On September 15 and 16, the National Park Service will sponsor its 22nd annual World War II Weekend at the Eisenhower National Historic Site. The public is invited to tour World War II encampments of over 700 living historians portraying Allied and German troops. The camps are authentically recreated by over 50 living history units and include original World War II vehicles.
Living history volunteers will be present to interact with the public throughout the weekend discussing topics such as WWII weapons and equipment, communications, medical services, military vehicles, and the life of the common soldier. Dozens of operational WWII vehicles will be on display. Visitors have the opportunity to participate in an Army Air Force mission briefing, join an infantry platoon on patrol, and listen to stories of civilians from the Home Front.
The weekend also features book signings, special guided tours of World War II burial sites in the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, and a World War II style “USO” dance.
Guest speakers for the event include World War II veterans and authors of books on World War II. This schedule of speakers is subject to change, so please check Eisenhower National Historic Site’s Facebook page and website for the most recent information.
Saturday, September 15
10:00 a.m. – Jared Frederick, an Instructor of History at Penn State Altoona and former National Park Service Ranger, will speak about Gettysburg during the World Wars, focusing on the history of the Gettysburg Battlefield during the 1940s and how it was impacted by World War II. Jared is also the author of several books, including “Images of Gettysburg National Military Park”.
11:00 a.m. – Ed Bearss is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, a recipient of the Purple Heart, and the Chief Historian Emeritus of the National Park Service. Mr. Bearss is widely renowned as a historian and author who leads tours of battlefields across the United States. During World War II, he served with the First Marine Division on Guadalcanal and New Britain, where he was severely wounded in January 1944. He will be sharing his experiences from the war. Mr. Bearss is also the author of numerous books, including “Fields of Honor.”
12:00 noon – Kenneth H. Fidler is a veteran of the United States Navy during World War II. He was a Sonarman Third Class from 1943 to 1945, and served on the USS Loy DE 160. The Loy served as an escort ship for 6 convoys in the Atlantic before it became an Auxiliary Personnel Destroyer in the Pacific, taking part in the invasion of Okinawa. Ken also served in the Navy during the Korean War, and would later write “Memoirs of a Ping Jockey” on his wartime experiences.
1:00 p.m. – Beverley Eddy is a Professor Emerita of German at Dickinson College, and the author of “Camp Sharpe’s Psycho Boys: From Gettysburg to Germany.” Eddy has a doctorate in Germanic Languages and Literatures, and has taught at Middlebury College and Dickinson College. She will be speaking on the history of Gettysburg’s Camp Sharpe, which was a secret sub-camp of the World War II Military Intelligence Training Center.
2:00 p.m. – John C. McManus, an award-winning professor, author, and military historian, is the Curator’s Distinguished Professor of U.S. Military History at the Missour University of Science and Technology. He is the other of a dozen books on United States Military History, focusing on World War II, and is currently in residence at the U.S. Naval Acadamy as the Leo A. Shiffrin Chair of Naval and Military History. He will be speaking on the subject of his book “September Hope,” discussing the events surrounding Operation Market Garden in September 1944.
3:00 p.m. –Arthur Lentz is a veteran of the United States Army and the recipient of the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster. He fought in Europe with the 119th Infantry, 30th Infantry Division during World War II. He was wounded by a German sniper in January 1945, and recovered from his wound in France. After the war, Lentz played professional basketball in York, Pa., where he still resides today.
Sunday, September 16
10:00 a.m. – Ben Jenkins served on the crew of a B-29 “Superfortress” during World War II, taking part in bombing runs on Japan. The B-29 “Superfortress” was a four engine heavy bomber, and was one of the most important planes of the war. Ben will be sharing his stories of operating the weapons control on his B-29, as well as recounting a supply drop to American POWs in August 1945 following the Japanese surrender.
11:00 a.m. – Clem Leone is a resident of Gettysburg, Pa., and served in the Army Air Force during the Second World War. He was a radio operator and a gunner on a B-24 Bomber, and was shot down on February 24, 1944. After landing, the Dutch Underground assisted Clem, helping him to find his way to Antwerp, Belgium, where he was captured by the Germans. He spent time at Stalag Luft IV, a Luftwaffe POW Camp. He was liberated by the British in May 1945. Clem is the recipient of the Purple Heart and the French Legion of Honor.
12:00 noon – Steven Bosan served as an engineer with General George S. Patton’s Third Army during World War II. After training in the United States, he arrived overseas in the fall of 1944, and took part in the push into Germany, building bridges, clearing mines, and repairing roads. He was injured in a vehicle accident in early 1945, but recovered and went on to serve in the Korean and Vietnam wars as well, commanding aviation units in both. He ultimately reached the rank of Colonel.
1:00 p.m. – Ken Weiler is an author and historian who has written and lectured on the Second World War, focusing on the war between Germany and the Soviet Union. He is a member of the Hanover Area Historical Society, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Society, and is a National Park Service volunteer at the Eisenhower National Historic Site. He will be speaking about the War on the Eastern Front from 1941 to 1945, which is the subject of his book “Why Normandy Was Won: Operation Bagration and the War in the East, 1941-1945.”
2:00 p.m. – A two-time national bestselling author, Larry Alexander is a lifelong native of Ephrata, Pa. He is a retired reporter and columnist for Lancaster Newspapers, and the author of the New York Times Bestselling “Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, the Man who Led the Band of Brothers”. He is also the author of several other books on the Second World War. Alexander will be speaking on the life of Major Dick Winters, the leader of the famous “Band of Brothers.”
3:00 p.m. – Richard “Dick” Donald is a veteran of the United States Navy. During World War II, he was stationed, among many places, on the USS Melvin R. Nawman, a destroyer escort. He served as a “ping jockey”, using sonar to search out enemy submarines. In February 1945, he witnessed the raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi at Iwo Jima. He took part in seven invasions during the war in the Pacific, and he also served on a destroyer during the Korean War.
Both days, retired National Security Agency employee Rick Henderson will be on hand to demonstrate a captured German Enigma Code Machine, the code for which was cracked by the Allies, allowing them to intercept and decipher important messages transmitted by the Germans.
Licensed Battlefield Guide Ralph Siegel will present free guided tours of the World War II burials 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. 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. 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. Cost of shuttle bus tickets are: Adults, $9.00; Children 6-12, $5.00; Children age 6 and under are admitted free.