A taste of living history of World War II came to Hawley's train yard Saturday and Sunday, June 30-July 1.
HAWLEY - A taste of living history of World War II came to Hawley’s train yard Saturday and Sunday, June 30-July 1.
Enduring temperatures of nearly 100 degrees F., passengers and passerby mingled with re-enactors and examined their equipment. This was a newly introduced excursion theme for the Stourbridge Line, operated by the Delaware Lackawaxen & Stourbridge Railroad (DL&S).
On hand were re-enactors representing American soldiers and even a re-enactor who appeared to be portraying a German officer from the Third Reich (they fraternized freely).
A young man, Aiden Schafer, of Greentown, was in Army uniform, sitting on an authentic vintage WWII Jeep, posing for pictures as he handled a mounted machine gun. Formerly a Wallenpaupack student and now in private school, Aiden’s Facebook page lists him as Assistant Volunteer Coordinator at Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton.
Kenny Ganz stood nearby in full uniform. The Clarks Summit resident is an avid collector of World War II memorabilia and worked with Tim Wright, a conductor for the DL&S Railroad for the “Troop Train” excursion. He described the 1942 Willie M.V., the Jeep in which Aiden was sitting. Ganz said that the vehicle is all original.
He said his late father was a World War II Army Air Corps veteran. Coincidentally, this particular Jeep was delivered for Army service on October 24, 1941, the same date that Ganz’s father enter the Army. It was also the same day his father was discharged, in 1945.
To honor his dad, Ganz painted his father’s Army Air Corp unit number on the front bumper.
Ganz is a photographer and volunteer coordinator at Steamtown National Historic Site.
Rev. John Uhler, who is an assistant pastor in Easton, was portraying a WWII Army Chaplain.
Under the olive green tent, he had on display an Army field organ, Bibles and hymn books and other accessories a chaplain would have used. the Tatamy, Pa. resident said that chaplains help in raising morale of the soldiers, providing diversions such as music and athletic equipment, as well as serving their spiritual needs.
Displays of firearms, WWII-era posters and other gear was on display on the train platform.
Popular, period music blared, helping to recreate the WWII era, which is now around 75 years ago,
Train riders boarded in Honesdale.
Michael Keefe, who is with the DL&S, said that the troop train was to have gone as far as White Mills where the re-enactment was planned to be set up in the field. Some of the re-enactors cancelled out. The Hawley yard proved to be advantageous in having the covered train platform to offer some shade.
The president of the DL&S, Tom Myles, said that they hope to make the World War II excursion an annual event, and to expand it.
Ganz stated that it was his hope through events such as this, to educate the public about the “Greatest Struggle” this world has ever known. He said that the general public today has “no concept” about how the war pulled the nation together and his this nation saved the world.
He added that having the train involved was especially meaningful, given that the railroad was instrumental in moving troops and materiel. “We couldn’t have won the war without the railroad,” he said.
Information about the Stourbridge Line is available at www.thestourbridgeline.net or by call 570-470-2697.