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"Will I Have the Courage?"

Warren "Skip" Muck at Camp Toccoa, GA
The nephew of an Easy Company paratrooper once asked Stephen Ambrose's theory on why he (the nephew) was so passionate about researching his deceased uncle's life. For anyone dedicated to researching WWII history, we ask ourselves the same thing. I just love Ambrose's response: 

 "All men ultimately want to know two things—'To whom do I owe thanks that I should live in such opportunity?' And, 'Will I have the courage when the time comes?'"
 —Stephen Ambrose 

One of the (many) books I'm reading right now is A Company of Heroes by Marcus Brotherton. (I grabbed the book because of the chapter on Skip Muck ... let's be honest here.) I really liked what Marcus Brotherton wrote in light of Ambrose's response, so I thought I'd share some excerpts. 

Answering Ambrose's questions can be difficult. Few of us today actually jump out of airplanes into combat, or undertake any of the large-scale events that traditionally produce heroes. Sometimes the questions only tick quietly in the back of our minds. We need to strain to hear their subtleties. 

My niece at the Currahee Military Museum
...We continually look to WWII for clues to the potential for our own heroics. We want to know if we've got the right stuff. We hope to live authentic lives that amount to something purposeful, and we're searching for examples that show us the way ... Hero is a concept that beckons us. Most of us today, if we are not military personnel or third world humanitarians, will never fight in conditions anywhere close to the terror of Bastonge. Still, we face battles that we hope matter. We take actions that we hope have significance.

Ambrose's questions mean most for us today when we remember that the soldiers who fought in battlefields of Normandy, Holland, and Bastonge, indeed gave much. And they gave it for a reason—so that we could live for what matters. The liberty that the Band of Brothers fought for was not a freedom to do whatever we want whenever we want, but rather a freedom from tyranny, a freedom of self-determination, a freedom to make something of our lives. 

The men of Easy Company were everyday guys, kids like those we grew up with, yet they reached beyond themselves and way beyond their home turf. Because they were ordinary men who chose to live extraordinarily, their examples inspire us to make deliberate decisions for right action. They invite us to be courageous in our own commitments, to provide security for our families, to be noble in our careers and communities, and to be engaged on a global front. 



They Have a Story | January Edition

It's time for the January edition of They Have a Story!

What is They Have a Story? It's a monthly historical fiction link up hosted by yours truly. Once a month I'll post a historical picture. Your job (and mine ... I'm totally doing this!) is to write a short story inspired by it. It can be as short or as long as you like. Have fun with it! Post the monthly picture, your story, and blog button on your blog, then link up. Let’s see how many different stories we can get from the same picture! 

Happy writing! 



1. I had my first author appearance at a local book club on Wednesday night! All the ladies were super sweet and I had a really fun time answering their questions and listen to them discuss Resist! Sometimes I forget that people are, you know, reading my books. =)

2. A lot of people have been asking me what I'm writing next. The truth is, nothing at the moment. But that will change very soon, and it will be another WWII novel. (You're all super surprised, right?) 

3. I have three Airborne reenactor interviews coming your way in 2017. "I am the trooper of the sky! I am my Nation's best! In peace and war I never fail. Anywhere, anytime, in anything, I am Airborne!" 

4. Currently reading: A Man for Others: Maximilian Kolbe, Saint of Auschwitz, In the Words of Those Who Knew Him

5. Emily Chapman recently told me about the movie Denial because she very rightly assumed that it was my kind of movie. It's based on the book: History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier. You should watch it if you get a chance, especially since Holocaust Remembrance Day is next week. This film is so well done. 


6. They Have a Story .... it will be back! Keep an eye out!

7.  Yesterday I walked past two Amish guys who were racing their shopping carts down an aisle in Walmart. So if that doesn't make a person smile, I don't know what does. =)

What have you all been reading, writing, and watching?


Evan | A/1/7 and the 1st Marine Division

This is the sixth interview in my WWII reenactor interview series:

1. Why did you choose your impression?

Unlike many in the reenacting world who join directly into a group, I created my own group to do my current impression of a Marine rifleman in A/1/7. I did this because the Marine reenacting portion of the hobby severely lacks groups with high authenticity standards, and my ideals did not line up completely with the Marine group I was previously in. I chose to specifically represent A/1/7 after reading dozens of Marine memoirs, in which the New Britain campaign stuck out the most. The campaign was regarded as the worst of the war by the men of the 1st Marine Division itself, who fought through many terrible campaigns such as Peleliu or Okinawa, yet it goes vastly forgotten. I found a group of similar minded buddies who were interested in portraying the campaign, and A company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines happened to be the unit we chose. Months later, we still learn more about the courageous Marines we portray, everyday, and we strive to do so as correctly as possible.
2. Can you tell us about your reenacting gear?

Marine reenacting proves to be quite the challenge for those who wish to do it correctly. As the hype generated by HBO's The Pacific dies down, many companies are no longer producing Marine reproductions, and only a few places did in the first place. We spend hours everyday researching and discussing what reproductions are the best, and sometimes months trying to find one. The majority of our items come from SMWholesale, WWIIimpressions, TTO USMC, or are originals.
Here's my basic kit list:

Restored fixed loop m1 helmet
1st pattern camouflage helmet cover
1st pattern Fibre "hawley" liner
P41 utility coat
P41 utility trousers
Navy N1 "Boondockers" boots
P1940 Navy dog tags with silencers

M1923 Marine contract Cartridge belt
M1910 first aid pouch
2nd pattern Marine canteen cover
1st pattern m1941 "riveted" haversack
Marine manufactured bayonet scabbard
Marine manufactured shovel cover
Repainted M1910 "T handle" shovel
Early Khaki ammunition bandolier
Camouflage Marine poncho
Personal items -
Marine hand towel
Navy soap dish
Military bible
1940 "red book" manual
Pack "green book" manual
Weapons -
M1 rifle built with appropriate wartime parts
M1905 bayonet

3. What's your favorite part of reenacting?

My absolute favorite part is spreading the history. I love being able to see friends and discuss in depth about the topics we love. I also love being able to ignite the spark for history in young people that reenactors ignited in me years ago. Another priceless aspect is being able to talk to the family of veterans, and help them to understand what their family member went through, and maybe form a communication bridge they can use, as our World War II veterans sadly continue to pass. Being able to talk to the veterans themselves is a close second. Hearing what they went through from their own mouths, and showing them that there are people out there who care in a world that seems to not, is priceless.

4. What group do you reenact with? Are they recruiting?

My group is A/1/7. We focus on portraying the men of the 1st Marine Division on New Britain in an authentic and historically minded fashion. We are made up of collectors and reenactors alike, and enjoy being able to bridge that gap that divides much of the community surrounding militaria. We focus on engaging younger people, ages 15-25. You can contact us on Facebook via our facebook page, A/1/7 WWII USMC living history group.

We're always looking for more people, who are willing to put in the time, money, and research. Anyone who is willing to do so, and follow our other guidelines, is welcome. We are based in the Midwest but concentrated in Minnesota and Wisconsin, currently with 5 members.

5. What have you learned from reenacting?

I've learned that the more you learn about the past, the more relevant today seems. Reading the accounts of veterans, talking to them, and wearing their gear, sometimes under similar conditions, forms a true appreciation for the sacrifices they made, which for some, was their lives.

6. Who's your favorite WWII hero?

Ed Bearss is my favorite hero from World War II. I knew about him for years when I was a Civil War reenactor but really began to respect him as I became interested in World War II. Ed served as a Marine raider on Guadalcanal, and again with the 7th Marines on New Britain until he was severely wounded at "Suicide Creek". I look forward to speaking with him again and respect him heavily for his life, as well as his continued dedication to preserving history, giving legendary battlefield tours even in his old age.

7. What advice would you give to newbie reenactors?

Strive to be the best you can possibly be. Everyone has different opinions on where authenticity starts and ends, but that will no longer matter when you push yourself everyday. Pick up every quality World War II book you can and fall asleep reading it. Spend your spare time brushing up on the things that interest you, as well as some that don't. Find reenactors you can look up to, as well as ones who can help you out. If their answers are "I don't know" or "it doesn't matter", keep on looking! Lastly, at the end of the day, have fun. None of us are spending vast amounts of money in this hobby to be stressed or miserable. Find where you belong, and be ready to spend many years enjoying it.


If you're a WWII reenactor and would like to be featured on Taking Dictation, email me at: authoremilyannputzke@gmail.com