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

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Presentation at Lancaster Highschool
By John Evola

On April 19th, I had the pleasure of once again being asked to return to Lancaster High school to give a presentation on the Uniforms and gear of the WW-2 Combat infantryman for Mrs. Lundgardes 11th grade American History class.

The presentation has developed over the last 12 years, when my own girls were still in Middle school and High school. Hearing how this important part of our Nations history was being told and how the men that fought in this conflict were portrayed bothered me so much that I decided to speak to my oldest daughter's teacher directly about the reservations I had. After speaking with that teacher, I volunteered my time to come in and speak to her class. The rest, shall I say is History.

In the presentation, I try to show what the typical soldier was issued, bought, read, ate, or picked up along the way. Using my collection of WW-2 memorabilia. I think I have been able to give a complete sampling of the vast array of items that one soldier could have had. I also use Veteran interviews that I have collected over the years from talking with them when they came into my Optical Office.
The morning of the presentation, I arrived at the High school in uniform. I pull up to the front walk and back up to the front doors. As I waited for Mrs. Lundgarde. The Asst. Principal asked me, 'Are you here for the Driver's ED coarse today?' After a moment I think, it clicked and she figured it out.

This year I had my daughter Cassandra helping out. She was dressed in her WAC HBT's and portrayed a Nurse for the day. I think Cassie had managed to tell every member of Faculty I was coming because, I had teachers coming from all directions when I was setting up the displays and asking questions. I believe we may have gotten a new unit member out of it too.

I spoke to 6 classes, for about 45min each! And of coarse I always ran out of time. For the most part the students were quiet(as they always are). I always hope for some questions from the students but, the teachers always had some to keep me going. When I finished with the first two morning classes, I told the student teacher in the class, "that a couple of times I thought I could hear crickets chirping, while I was talking", She also told me, "If their not talking, then they're listening which is a good sign too". The only time I got a rise from the students was when I described the GI PRO-KIT, and how for a pack of cigarettes in England or France you could get a date with a young lady of questionable virtue. Something about SEX always gets their attention.

I only got one of the dumb questions we as living history people live for, "How much is ALL this stuff you have on display Worth".  The first time I ignored him, then when He pressed me, I said, "If you have to ask, YOU can't afford it, and if you think your gonna come to my home and steal it, the last thing you'll see is the flash from the barrel of my M-1 punk!" To which the teachers in the classroom roared with laughter.

Most of the questions usually came at the end, when the classes were letting out. One young lady I spoke with, actually thanked me for coming in! Her grandfather was a WW-2 Vet and she has seen all of his awards and uniforms in his office and did not know what all of them meant until today. That made my day.
In closing, if you ever have the chance to a similar presentation. I highly recommend it.

Respectfully submitted by,

John A. Evola

Squad Medic