Self Portrait: Kakazu Ridge Revisited (77th Infantry Division Living History Reenacting on the island of Okinawa, Japan)

I earned one of my Army Achievement Medals as a junior enlisted man in the United States Army.  I was assigned to a strategic level Signal Battalion.  I earned that medal by continuing to pursue the reenacting and living history endeavors I had, without any change in the enthusiasm I had for them, prior to going on active duty.

I miss my time on the island of Okinawa, Japan.  I earned some much needed military historian practical knowledge, all while working closely by, with, and through my Battalion S3 Officer in Charge.  This all started when I was a Private First Class, not even old enough to drink [in the United States of America].  The man was an older Major who spent time in Desert Storm.  It was a hell of a time, working with and for that gentleman.

This activity enabled me to appreciate my own time at war that I would experience in my early twenties as a fast-tracked, ARSOF Non Commissioned Officer.  Learning from men and women who spent time in the Middle East with next to nothing for equipment as advanced as the stuff I would use, enabled me to have a better understanding of the survival situation on the ground.  My my fellow Paratroopers and I survived.

These older officers and NCOs went into Kuwait in 1991 with equipment that hadn’t changed much in the years immediately following the Vietnam War [M1977 Equipment/Gear].  A young man could not help but respect that fact, especially considering my living history and reenacting experience prior to my own time in the military service.

My vision is for men and women, regardless of race, creed, religion, and everything else outlined by the Army as discriminatory, to join me in my endeavors to success in the activities of Military Living History & Reenacting.

Be a legal adult of good moral and ethical standing, be an American, and be willing to be humbled through military history.  Even if you’re not exactly the best person when you start this endeavor, either physically, socially, or both, these activities will enable you to better yourself and others simultaneously.

The best part is that this battlefield which uses simulated blank ammunition is much more forgiving than real combat, which means hard lessons can be conveyed and applied at a much higher volume than what was actually seen in conflicts like WWII.

I promise you that if you perform to the best of your abilities, you will gain respect for yourself, respect for others, tactical experience, and emotional and social bonds with others that cannot possibly be gained anywhere else, not even on a real battlefield.

Become a student of yourself by becoming a student of military history!

Pictured below is my best attempt at recreating a moment in the past while serving in the Army in 2009.  My mentor who assisted me throughout the creation of my 77th Infantry Division “impression” was a real life combat veteran who served in the regiment I was researching.  The man’s name was Roy.  With Roy’s assistance via nothing but email, along with the more positive technologies found using a simpler internet in the pioneer days of the WWW, Roy and I were able to tell his story through living history, right on site in Okinawa.

Roy cheerfully told me the details only another soldier with a military history interest may readily ask about; things like bayonet lugs on M1 carbines in 1945; the supply and health problems experienced with the HBT cotton uniforms that never, ever dried on Okinawa [ACUs were not much different]; and some of the fiercest jungle fighting in leather boots the US Army has ever experienced, even to this day… just to name a few.

Roy is now dead, but thanks to our mutual efforts, Roy will live forever, so long as I can remember him.

Rest in Peace, Roy.  We shall see each other in Valhalla, and I will be proud to shake your hand, Sir.

(Please note that the unit who took Kakazu Ridge were men of the 96th Infantry “Deadeye” Division, and not personnel from the 77th Infantry Division.  I created this impression to remember Roy; this photo opportunity gives the memories of Roy a chance to better bond with the memories of another infantry division that fought on Roy’s immediate flank.)

Kakazu Ridge Revisited 2009

“Cattle die, and Kinsmen die…” -Havamal

-EJH