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Dog Co. 1/16th 1st Infantry Division WWII Reenactors

Old Fort Niagara 2004
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Old Fort Niagara Soldier Timeline - Youngstown, NY - May 2004

Old Fort Niagara was Easy Co.’s first event this spring, after a short winter season. Those in attendance included Sgt. Mullen, Cpl. Bialecki, PFCs Knighton and Majewski, along with Pvts Sam and Evola. Other groups included Charlie Co. 5th Rangers, and the Niagara Chapter of the Military Vehicle Preservation Assoc. Other groups and individuals represented soldiers from Old Fort Niagara's long history, from 17th Century French Marines, to US Coast Guardsmen still stationed there.

Friday night Sgt. Millen, and PFC Majewski and PFC Knighton arrived and set up Easy Co.’s scenario, turning the South Redoubt of the fort into a Pre-D-day barracks impression, complete with footlockers, mermite cans and a 1940’s style radio that produced Big Band Music all weekend. (Note to the Company - We need more than one CD!) Highlights of the evening included enjoying a movie with the boys from Charlie Company, and calling Cpl. Bialecki to make him feel bad about having to work late that night.

Cpl. Bialecki arrived early Saturday morning and Pvts Sam and Evola arrived later. The plan for Saturday was living history all day and a tactical demonstration planned for later that afternoon. After spending the morning touring the fort and otherwise enjoying the view from atop the redoubt, Easy Co. headed over to the river-side wall of the fort to test some blanks and otherwise make sure our M1s were in order. There we learned the basic rule of living histories - Gunfire brings people out of the woodwork. Before we knew it tourists from around the world had converged on us and Cpl. Bialecki and Sgt Mullen found themselves explaining GI web gear to a family from the Ukraine. After about an hour of show and tell, it was time to participate in the Fort’s programs, one explaining the evolution of US firearms and one explaining the evolution of US uniforms.

Following these programs, Easy Co. and Charlie Co. set up the assault of the North Redoubt. Easy Co. would provide suppressing fire from the top of the works inside the fort, while Charlie Company would split into two three-man firing teams, one providing suppressing fire and the other taking the redoubt by force. An element of Easy Co. was to join the assault team once it had breached the redoubt door. Members of the Military Vehicle Club were manning the redoubt with single shot rifles to simulate German defenders. The plan went well, in fact, it went too well. As Sgt Frost of Charlie Co. blew his trench whistle, Easy Co. came over the works, and began maneuvering on the two tiers, providing suppressing fire. The assault team came rushing up, and with the two groups joining together, they entered the redoubt. The whole thing was over in 4 minutes, as it would have been done if we had actually been doing the assault for real. It provided a rush for the participants, but the spectators were left wanting more while the children in the crown scanned the grass for spent shells.

Saturday night saw some members of Easy Co. heading home, but Cpl. Bialecki, PFC Majewski and PFC Knighton stayed. Dinner marked the evening at one of Youngstown fine local restaurants, but not at the Famed Fyfe and Drum, as it was closed for the season. The three then retired to the redoubt for a cold evening of cards and swing music.

Sunday morning dawned early. Easy Co. awoke to the morning crew from the museum opening the large 18th century wooden doors that guard the entrance, and the cleaning of trash cans. After setting the barracks in order, Easy Co. got ready for another day of living history. Groups of South American and Polish tourists flooded into the fort, and Easy Co. is now being displayed proudly in photo albums throughout Latin America and Europe.

That afternoon, after retiring for a short nap, Cpl. Bialecki lay asleep on his bunk as groups of tourists filtered through. He was awakened by a small boy and his mother coming in and the boy saying “There’s a guy sleeping up here”. “He looks so real” said the mother as Cpl. Bialecki awoke, saying “That’s because I am real, and was really taking a nap!”

Sunday’s battle was a repeat of Saturday’s battle, only more drawn out. Easy Co. again came over the works this time tossing grenades and a smoke bomb, which turned out to be a dud. Easy Co put up suppressing fire while Charlie Co crossed the parade ground and the assault team worked it’s way to the door. The combined assault team entered the building to the applause of the crowd.

With the battle won, and our name achieving glory throughout Western New York, we packed up the barracks and headed home, tired, sweaty and smiling.