Pacific War Museum – Current News

re-enactors

During the re-opening of the Living History Programs in the renovated Pacific Combat Zone in March, the volunteers included two students of Asian descent who came from the Dallas area to play the roles of Japanese soldiers. Robert (“Robbie”) Boucher, who is of Vietnamese descent, is a graduate student in history at Texas Christian University. His close friend, Ryan Itoh, whose father is Japanese, just graduated from TCU and will be entering medical school this fall. Both are experienced in reenacting with U.S. Civil War and Indian War groups and became intrigued with becoming involved in reenactments of Pacific War battles.

re-enactors: Robbie Boucher & Ryan Itoh

In Robbie’s view, our Museum’s programs appealed because they offer one of the most unique experiences possible for people interested in history. They allow visitors the opportunity to glimpse ever so slightly into the realities of 75+ years ago, hear the sounds of combat, and feel its stresses. Ryan elaborated by saying that being half Japanese, he had always been fascinated with the Pacific War and wanted to learn about the daily lives of the Japanese troops.

From past experiences, he knew that when you put on a uniform and enact the lives of soldiers you learn so much more: from the way the uniform fits; how the leg-wrappings cut into your legs, but provide a sturdy support; and how hot the sun becomes when you wear a steel helmet.

You also feel a small portion of their suffering when you jam your finger in the charging bolt or feel the weight of the weapon or the heat from the flame thrower. Yet, it is just a taste — you get to change clothes afterwards and go home. When asked what they hoped to achieve through their roles as Japanese combatants, both Robbie and Ryan stated that their key purpose was to humanize the Japanese soldiers as people with families, hopes and goals. Robbie said this is often forgotten due to propaganda and movies which show them as faceless fanatics charging machine guns for the emperor.

As reenactors, they hoped to dispel stereotypes created of the Japanese. Ryan stated that the Japanese soldiers and airmen were all called upon by their nation to fight for a dogma that they may not even have believed in — yet they answered the call. He believes that at the end of the day, the GIs and Japanese soldiers had more in common than differences. In sum, participating in these reenactments gives both Ryan and Robbie the opportunity to learn more than they ever could from a college textbook or documentary, and their goal is to make the audience realize there was a soul behind the Japanese uniform.

This short video from the museum tries to reenact a battle.  In reality, it did not always end so grand for anyone.

Article is from the National Museum of the Pacific War, in Fredericksburg, Texas w/ the Admiral Nimitz Foundation.

Click on images to enlarge.

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STAND ON THE BEACHHEAD

Feel what it was like to walk the wooden dock alongside a PT Boat, stand in the hangar deck of an aircraft carrier as a torpedo bomber is readied for a strike, and view Japanese battlefield entrenchments.

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Military Museum Humor –

National War Museum: ‘And I say we move this up to the 3rd floor!’

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Farewell Salutes –

Henry Andregg Jr. – Whitewell, TN; USMC, WWII, PTO, Cpl., KIA (Tarawa)

Jack Avery – Lacombe, CAN; RC Army, WWII, ETO, Signal Corps

Norma Duncan – Matariki, NZ; WRNS (WRENS), WWII

Laura Edmonson – Ft. Pierce, FL; US Coast Guard SPAR, WWII

Albert Golden – Katy, TX; USMC, WWII, PTO

Lester Habeggar – Spokane, WA; US Army, WWII, medic

Charles “Red” Jones – Knoxville, TN; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Rodney Kirkpatrick, NM; US Navy, WWII

Howard Shearer – Fannetsburg, PA; US Army,, 11th Airborne Division

H.Gordon Turner – Troy, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS California

 

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on August 31, 2017, in Current News, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 70 Comments.

  1. Alles is belangrijk om ons de ellende van oorlogen te leren kennen en om ze zeker niet te vergeten en ons zo te behoeden voor een nieuwe oorlog.

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  2. Living in Virginia, I am familiar with Civil War reenactments. I’d not heard, however, about Pacific War reenactments or the museum. What an eye opening experience. Perhaps if we all had the chance to feel, hear, smell, and see the sounds of war, we would all work harder to end war.
    Your words in describing what it is like to take on the role of the soldier are so well written

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Another one here…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In Singapore all men serve national service (draft). Two years full time at age 18 followed by annual service stints that can stretch up to 3 weeks. NCOs do their reservist stints till age 40 and officers until they attain age 45. Of course, all men are liable for call-up up to age 60.
    You therefore understand, we do not hold re-enactments. Our live-firing exercises are real enough. Plus, we also participate in combined-arms exercises.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can well understand that, Eric! And many will criticize me for it, but I believe we should also still have the mandatory draft. The way things are now, our children never grow up and become adults, just don’t “get it”!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It seems that even in a time of relative peace, enthusiasts still long for ‘the thrill’ of battle through reenactment.

    My grandson dons full armour to reenact the Battle of Bosworth; fighting on the side of Richard III who died in that particular event.

    Frankly, the news of current bloodshed around the world is depressing enough without conjuring up images of the blood-soaked past, but for some enthusiasts, it becomes a way of life – and of course, their expertise is invaluable to the film industry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The re-enactments are one of the best ways to teach history. Hearing about the war in the media makes it too distant and ‘safe’. Hopefully your grandson’s part will show that there is no romance involved with sending our children into that nightmare.

      Like

  6. Some people just aren’t learning and some places in the World just don’t seem to care. Some modern war makers need locking in museums.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very interesting, GP. I am sure there are/were soldiers everywhere who leave their homes to fight for their country because they’re patriotic not because they want to fight a war.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I am retired, but my wife and my two girls had just about zero interest in military history, except the medical museum. My wife and one of my daughters are nurses, and my other daughter is a doctor. Since I have the time, I suppose I ought to visit on my own. The Washington area has several.

    When I watched the video, I was glad they were firing blanks. Otherwise, they would have been shooting each other by accident.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Now that’s what I call getting close and personal in order to understand the stresses of the battlefield, to strengthen a nation’s memory of that which simply must not be forgotten. Love this!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This would be pretty cool to see. Most of us have no real understanding of the actual activity. The more we learn, maybe the less likely we’ll be to rush back into war.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. An interesting idea to bring history alive. I must admit , I have mixed feeling about the re-enactments . I’ve enjoyed Civil War re enactments , but maybe WWII is still too close . We have to be careful not to trivalize the reality of it .That’s in my mind as I watched the video .

    Liked by 1 person

    • We weren’t exactly angels in trying to eradicate the enemy. I don’t think they trivialized the war here, but had you think about their soldiers as humans, just as our troops were. 16-years old and up trying desperately to do what their country asked of them – on both sides….

      Thanks for stopping in , Dan. I appreciate hearing all opinions.

      Like

  12. This museum sounds like it will offer a wonderful experience for those looking to learn more about history and current issues xx

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I am interested in this museum!
    In the battlefield, all soldiers lose a heart and Humanity. because,cannot fight against fear of the death if do not lose it.
    PTSD of the Veterans and social Care after the return are not enough in the United States either.
    It is important that the Nation takes good care of the Veterans who fought to follow own country,I think.
    Thank you for touching Japan!^_^

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I admire reenactors a lot. It’s a lot of work and time for them, and interesting to hear from the Japanese side. Keep it up, guys!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Excellent, GP!
    … and I learned something today: I didn’t know that there is a museum about the war in Admiral Nimitz’s hometown of Fredricksburg, TX. Admiral Nimitz was one of the finest Admirals our Navy has ever produced and he was absolutely incorruptible. He was in many ways the polar opposite of the vainglorious General MacArthu. Admiral Nimitz, unlike MacArthur never sought the limelight for himself. But I digress … I think it is important to do these reenactments. They give a real context of the battle and the war to the participants.

    I know it is often a contentious thing, but I absolutely agree with you when you show the Japanese fighters’ humanity.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. What an amazing re-enactment (the video). And I like the goal–that Japanese and American GI’s had more in common than different. There’s a lot of truth to that.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Good work of those 2 japanse re-enactors to gives te soldiers a face

    Liked by 1 person

  18. What an outstanding reenactment!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I will definitely have to visit this museum. It is now on my bucket list!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I must admit: even if I’ve been living in Fredericksburg for more than 3 years now, I haven’t been to the Nimitz yet, except for an exposition abolut Bob Hope in the war. But I fully intend to.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. This statement, “Robbie and Ryan stated that their key purpose was to humanize the Japanese soldiers as people with families, hopes and goals.” touched us deeply with the truth. Regardless of sides the participants in war are people like us. We all have a perspective and a role expected.

    Liked by 6 people

  22. Fantastic article, GP. That’s one reenactment I’d be interested to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. The Nimitz Museum is worth the time it takes to find it in Fredericksburg, TX. Years ago we placed a plaque on the wall in honor of out dad who is a WWII Navy Veteran. It meant a lot to Dad and to us to be able to honor him in this way.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. This looks like a very interesting museum, though even the battle reenactment cannot possibly replicate the terror felt by those really involved. It must be of some value for the cast of actors, to experience the discomfort of fighting in constricting uniforms, carrying heavy equipment.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

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