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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

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