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Camp Edwards Open House - A Weekend History Lesson 
Feature News Story 
By Sgt. 1st Class Steve Tedeschi, Massachusetts National Guard Public Affairs 

. - Police dogs barking, revolutionary war-era muskets firing, World War II German motorcycles zooming by, and a Blackhawk helicopter circling in for a tactical landing were some of the sights and sounds of the 2012 Camp Edwards Open House. More than 2600 visitors turned out for the weekend event on September 22 and 23, 2012 at the Massachusetts Military Reservation here.

A showcase of historical army encampments were on display, from Minutemen of the Revolution to U.S. Soldiers in Korea. The events began with a Minutemen muster.

The Minutemen explained to the spectators how their weapons related to the modern warfare weapons that are used today. As the men loaded their muskets with gunpowder and fired off their flintlocks, a group of Worcester Polytechnic ROTC Cadets standing by were invited to fire the Brown Bess Muskets.

“That’s a heavy weapon to carry,” said one cadet, comparing it to the M4 rifle a Soldier uses in today’s Army.

Men in French and Indian War period uniforms grasped their long lances as they displayed their artifacts from the era to bystanders.

“This was like going to school on Sunday” said one teen looking over the period items. A man wearing the Grey Coat rank of sergeant major called out commands to a squad resembling Soldiers from the Civil War Army performing period firing order drills for the attendees.

Firing Brown Bess MusketsAn announcement blared over the loud speaker for the crowd to move to the Military Operations in Urban Terrain site across the road to watch WW II Yankee Division re-enactors engaged in battling men dressed as German Army soldiers. The YD Soldiers successfully carried out their reenactment mission as spectators watched them move forward to defeat the German offensive in an urban environment.

They demonstrated WWII army tactics to the crowd as each side took prisoners. Connor Sullivan of Sandwich shared, “I loved it. I think it was like a visual history lesson.”

When the battle was over, Soldier instructors and trainers from the Massachusetts National Guard Modern Army Combatives Program revealed how our modern day Soldiers operate at a check point and handle combatives in a war-zone area of operations. Additionally, they put on a display of how Soldiers clear a building in a urban setting using a glass house model along with an improvised explosive device demonstration. 

On Forward Operation Base Kelly, the Army set up static displays of the types of equipment and vehicles they use in modern day warfare. Massachusetts National Guard members showed off their air assault skills as a Blackhawk helicopter flew into a drop zone with a Humvee suspended from 50 feet under its hull. The helicopter crew dropped its load, hovered over the area, then the Soldiers rapelled to the ground to drive off in the Humvee.

Even the Police Department K-9 units from ten towns on Cape Cod participated in a demonstration for the spectators.  Police officers explained how the K-9 specialty unit share their resources with other towns on the Cape.

The demonstration generated many questions from children and adults about our Army today. Most did not want to ignore nor miss out on what was scheduled for the day.

“I thought is was very interesting and very educational and wonderful. The whole family enjoyed it,” reflected Kristin Davis of Milford.

“What a great way to show the general public what’s within the area here and the full capability of this base. This by itself is just an incredible show of what the base has, the Civil War stuff and the reenactments that they are doing. It’s a good progression to show where the military first started and move onto the modern day military,” according to Chris Hatch, a Coast Guard H60 Maintenance Officer on Camp Edwards.