A Day in the Life — A Day to Remember

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World War II history buffs by the hundreds experienced a unique opportunity to touch, see, hear and feel the world’s greatest armed conflict at Camp Hearne on Saturday. From the roar of a C47 over head to the touch and sound of some of the War’s most famous weapons, Camp Hearne and the Hearne Airport’s Saturday event provided the stuff for an historical feeding frenzy. For aviation lovers, it was a great day to appreciation a much-improved Hearne Municipal Airport and experience some genuine WWII Warbirds.

Re-enactors from both the American and German Armies displayed an amazingly wide variety of military artifacts from Thompson machine guns to walkie-talkies to little travel guides for Germans leaving the motherland to fight in North Africa with Field Marshall Rommel. The number of items, including the permanent Camp Hearne display, numbered in the thousands. Men came dressed in a variety of uniforms—everything from American G.I.’s in combat fatigues, to airborne, to a German general of the Condor Division.

It’s impossible to list everything one could see and/or experience at the Camp on Saturday. To many, the highlight was seeing or perhaps even flying in a B25 Mitchell, the bomber made famous for its bombing of Tokyo after Pearl Harbor. None of those Mitchells retuned home but they proved to the Japanese people that we could hit them at any time. On Saturday, kids were climbing all through the B25—from tail to nose—getting a real “feel” for history and for what we owe “the greatest generation.”

Folks made the trip from the Camp to the Airport to see the B-25, the T6 trainer that served militaries from 1942 to 1994, and the C47 throughout the day on a “hayride” or little speedy golf carts. No matter where one was at the Camp or Airport, one could see one of two parachute drops during the day, and even people with no interest in history could appreciate the free food, some really great “dogs” made of Slovecik’s sausage with chili, cheese, onions with Fritos and sodas on the side. Turning it into chili pie was another option. At the Airport, visitors could “belly up” to Ama’s catering wagon for great free food.

For others, the highlight was hearing former Camp Hearne POW and Afrika Korps veteran Heino Erichsen tell his history. Erichsen, a “reluctant warrior,” likes to say that he learned about freedom from behind barbed wire as a German Prisoner of War in America.
People who had never visited the Camp Hearne exhibit or guard tower found Hearne’s own slice of World War II history fascinating. With so few of the greatest generation left, Saturday with its bright sunshine and cool breezes seemed like a great day to remember their sacrifice.

Melissa Freeman | Robertson County News

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