BOURNE, Mass. –
The sound of machine guns echoed through the woods as heavily armed American Soldiers and tanks crept towards their enemy. The Germans lay waiting to attack the Soldiers wearing the distinctive patch of Massachusetts own 26th Infantry Division. The crowd watched as the ambush was sprung and the Americans charged forward, over running the German position.
This World War II re-enactment was one of the many events taking place on the Massachusetts Military Reservation at an open house on Camp Edwards here, Oct. 23 and 24, 2010.
In the past few years the Massachusetts Military Reservation has undergone many changes, with the Air National Guard’s F-15’s leaving and the building of Tactical Training Base Kelley and the Military Operations in Urban Terrain Training Site Calero among the changes.
“A lot of people don’t exactly know what we do. I think it was important to be able to do something that gets the public on the base to see a demonstration of what our mission is and how we do it.” said Col. Richard Crivello, post commander, Camp Edwards.
Camp Edwards was busy this past summer with over 2000 Soldiers being trained in preparation for duty overseas, which is why the open house is being held now.
Besides the WWII re-enactors, there were Civil War re-enactors from both sides, the Revolutionary War and the Colonial Era. The modern military was represented by an Army National Guard Black Hawk and Coast Guard Hitron helicopters and other military vehicles, Soldiers repelling down tall wooden towers and other displays.
The public was also able to tour TTB Kelley and see some of the training troops receive before deploying as well as their living conditions while deployed.
The displays and demonstrations took some visitors by surprise.
“It was way more than we expected,” said Dori Mebane, a Cape Cod resident who visited the base with her husband Bill.
“I just thought it would be more of a walk thru and look at stuff,” said Bill Mebane. “This is just dynamic.”
Cape Cod residents Susie Gallagher and Ed Nash observed Soldiers of the 181 Vertical Engineers conducting Modern Army Combatives training, otherwise known as hand to hand combat training, as well as weapons and physical fitness training.
“It gives us a sense of feeling very protected and very proud of our men and women,” said Gallagher.
Besides the training, the public and the troops had a chance to talk and get to know each other.
“These are dedicated people,” said Marian Novak, a Beverly, Mass. resident who came to see the base. “I went into the engineering tent and it was a tent full of people who were absolutely professional, but they weren’t full time Soldiers. They acted like they were full time Soldiers and they knew what they were doing like full time Soldiers, but they told me they worked for Verizon and other places. It’s an amazing combination, the Citizen-Soldier who is a citizen and really is a Soldier,” said Novak.
For some families, the open house gave them a chance to see what their family members are doing.
“Mackenzie wanted to see what daddy does for work,” said Aimee Fernandes, her husband Sgt. Steven Fernandes is on his third deployment to Iraq.
“It puts in perspective what he does over there. It shows what he is doing and what he has done and what he loves about being in the military,” said Fernandes.