Report on the 2009 CAF Airsho: Bands of Brothers
It has been a week since the Winged Commandos attended its first event as a fully organized living history unit at the Midland CAF Air Show. As is normal for post-event debriefings, we like to look back on events and activities and see how we, (as a unit) can improve and prepare for the next event. That job, we are doing. Next, it is common to asses how the event was (overall) and what we took away from the event. To be brief, it was GREAT!
First, I would like to thank the folks at the CAF Midland Air Show, especially, Gena, for making our weekend a memorable one. The courtesy, hospitality and overall support shown to the Winged Commandos and all the living history groups in attendance were fantastic. We look forward to attending and supporting the CAF at the next event. Thank you for making a great weekend!
Secondly, I wish to recognize the living history units that we shared the weekend with. Many in the general public have no clue as to what we do or why we do it. Many years ago, there was a change that began from re-enacting into living history. Additionally, there was a dominance in the hobby of Civil War re-enactors but very little else. Since I first stepped onto a field wearing the Confederate gray so many years ago, the hobby has grown and changed to encompass a variety and host of different eras and impressions.
Since people have been made more aware of the passing of the World War II generation, and through many successful films as of late, WWII living history has began to boom, (pardon the pun). With this boom, has come a gentle transformation from the days when grown men ran around the field with their bullet launchers to "give hell to the Rebs or Yanks". Authenticity is the rule. Teaching and public and interaction has become the norm and living history units have become a gathering ground for some of the brightest and most knowledgeable men and women that I have met.
Living history has truly come into its own. Additionally, there is a bond that is present and universal among all dedicated living history folks that transcends the lack of fellowship and camaraderie in today's society. We share a desire to preserve and share a part of history that is an interregnal part of our nation's soul that makes us Americans. The WW II era is as alive to us today as if it were last week. We remember those who gave us our lives and freedoms that we enjoy today, by giving so much over sixty-five years ago on the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific. They were our fathers and grandfathers. They were sons and daughters who filled the breach when their country sounded the call. They are us, and we are them.
What I felt when standing with the other units on a cold and damp Sunday morning was a bond. It was a moment with a "band of brothers & sisters" that felt as close to me as if they were family. Living history is a unique family that I am proud to be a part of it. We laughed, drank coffee, joked and stood under wet canvas tents, as our fathers did so long ago, and it felt wonderful. We shared a moment that in our time, that was (I am sure repeated) in foreign fields so many years ago on countless mornings across England, Europe and the Pacific. We shared a moment in time that makes us more then re-enactors, more then living historians, it makes us brothers.
We carry on the history of the WW II era because we want to. We study, spend our dollars, research and labor because we want to. Living history fills a need for many of us to become a part of American history that we enjoy and understand. Living history and those that take part in it have become standard bearers of a part of our national history and soul. We enjoy the experience and sharing the knowledge with others. We will stand for hours and greet the public and impart too many stories and deeds that have been washed away from our schools and textbooks. We do what we do out of love, respect and a sense of honor because we appreciate our past, and those who lived it.
Living history allows, if not for a brief period, history to come alive again. Those who are fading away so quickly, the greatest generation, are our brothers. As they fall, we pick up the colors and carry onward. We do not forget.
So, to all of the units and fellow living history folks that shared time at the Midland CAF Air Show, (the Amarillo guys, the Abilene guys, the Lubbock guys, and especially the Arizona guys - sorry if I missed some) it was a privilege. Until we meet again, raise a glass before we journey once again into the breech of history, and think of your fellow "bands of brothers". We will see you soon! Here's to a great time had by all!
Public Affairs Officer
The Winged Commandos ™ attend the National WASP WWII Museum in honoring the Women Airforce Service Pilots with a day-long open house followed by a barbecue dinner.