AUSTIN, TX, UNITED STATES
Story by: Spc. Christina Clardy
Texas Military Department
AUSTIN, Texas -- Friends and families attended the annual Texas Military Department Open House and American Heroes Air Show at Camp Mabry in Austin, April 22-23, 2017.
A major focus this year is the living history aspect as this year marks the 75th Anniversary of the United States' entry into World War II and the 100th Anniversary of the 36th Infantry Division.
The event hosted numerous living history groups and re-enactment units from the Civil War to World War II, including a re-enactment group of 36th ID Soldiers. In the afternoon on Saturday and Sunday, the World War II groups joined together to create a large, simulated battle scene for spectators. As the German Army dug into their trenches, their tank and personnel track- carrier patrol came under fire. An assault force of U.S. Soldiers ambushed the patrol and pushed forward to capture the German line. The crowd-pleasing show featured simulated tank, artillery and grenade pyrotechnic simulators and blank-cartridge gunfire.
Shane Meyers, a 36th ID World War II re-enactor with Company G, believes that while re-enacting is fun, he sees it as an important way to give back and remember history.
"This gives us an opportunity to catch a glimpse of what it was like in combat in previous wars," said Meyers, who is also currently a staff sergeant in the modern-day 36th ID of the Texas Army National Guard. "Keeping the history alive is our way of honoring those who served and those who sacrificed everything for us."
The Texas Military Forces Museum, which is dedicated to gathering, protecting and sharing the history of the military forces in Texas, also supports the Co. G, 36th Inf. Div. re-enactment group. Located on Camp Mabry, the museum hosts a battle re-enactment for the TMD Open House and American Heroes Air Show every year.
Members of the 4th and 6th Texas Infantry Regiment Civil War re-enactment group are also dedicated to preserving the history of Texas and it's military forces.
"Everything is bigger in Texas, including the history of the military forces of Texas," said Quartermaster Sgt. Bobby Moore, a re-enactor with Company K of the 6th Texas Inf. Reg. "And if you don't remember history, you lose it."
The history of the 36th ID spans over a hundred years. Born July 18, 1917, Texas and Oklahoma National Guard units were merged together in reaction to the U.S. entering World War I. The historic T-Patch unit insignia was created with a "T" for Texas on an infantry blue Arrowhead representing Oklahoma.
They arrived in Europe in July 1918 and were involved in major operations in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. The T-Patchers were mobilized again, this time in 1940 for World War II, and spearheaded the Allied Forces assault landing in Salerno, Italy on Sept. 9, 1943. The 36th ID was the first American division to land on the European continent. The division was instrumental in pushing the Axis-aligned Italian Army up through the Italian Peninsula liberating cities such as Cassino, Salerno, Velletri and Rome along the way. During World War II, 14 members of the T-Patch division were awarded the Medal of Honor for their courageous actions.
After returning to U.S. after World War II, the 36th ID was permanently attached under the Texas Army National Guard. Since then, the unit has been serving the people of Texas by responding to domestic emergencies, mobilizing in support of national and overseas combat operations, and participating in joint partnerships with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to include disaster relief and response, emergency preparedness, counterdrug efforts, reconstruction missions and security assistance on some aspects of border security.
The 36th ID continues to participate in military and community activities throughout the state to celebrate and honor the 100-year history of the division throughout 2017.