is the Commander's Corner.
the habit or principle of being independent and self-reliant.
2. a social theory favoring freedom of action for
individuals over collective control.
Individualism – it’s a cornerstone
of our society today. Being able to express yourself as a unique
individual with your own thoughts, plans and desires is
important…but that trait doesn’t work so well in
reenacting. In fact, it’s harmful to the hobby. The
act of portraying a soldier in a military unit requires first and
foremost that an individual understands the hobby is about
collectivism, not individualism. Der
, the reenacting unit out of Pennsylvania with a website
that is a wealth of knowledge, likes to call it the “unit impression
What is a “unit impression?” It’s making sure
that whatever you bring to an event, be it your uniform, your
equipment, your attitude and your persona, adds to the authenticity of
the unit as a whole. It’s falling into line and not
striving to stand out. Being “just another grunt” and
looking just like the reenacting soldier next to you should be the goal
of every reenactor trying to attain a great “unit
impression.” Let go of any individualistic item you want to
bring with you into the hobby. Just because you saw a picture
once of a Soldat
smock that was sewn together with Italian camo, an SS-zelt and some
sheepskin doesn’t mean that you get to wear that to an
event. You don’t get to buy and wear whatever fancy medal
you like. Don’t paint your helmet some wacky camo
YOUR DAMNED BEARD AND CUT YOUR HAIR
. Stop making excuses
and stop making yourself stand out from others in your unit.
Uniformity is drilled into you in basic training – a fun little
event most reenactors don’t get to experience (unless they are
prior or active military). Basic training is designed to tear
down the individual and rebuild them into a cohesive and uniform
group. This, kids, is what military service is all about –
the group survives or perishes as a collective entity. If you
want to have a top-notch reenacting unit, you have to understand this
concept. You are nothing. You are not special. You
are not unique. You are the same as every other basic grunt
around you. If one person fails, the whole unit fails. The
unit is everything. Apply whatever cliché you want here
– the tallest blade of grass gets cut first, the needs of the
many outweigh the needs of the few, a chain is only as strong as its
weakest link…cliché or not, it’s all true.
Uniformity is strictly upheld by military units, in WWII and now, even
in the most difficult of times. Unfortunately, uniformity is a
rarity in reenacting these days. The worst units (and the weakest
units) are the ones in which every member strives to have the
“coolest” looking uniform, where there are more MP40s,
machine guns and other odd weapons than there are K98s, where
there’s scant trace of military knowledge or discipline at all
and where the desire to go out and pop blanks is greater than being
historically accurate. The best units are the ones in which the Gruppe
is accurately portrayed, in
which all members know and understand military commands and formations,
in which you have trouble telling one Landser
from another at a distance of 10 meters.
Since starting this unit, we’ve seen a couple of exoduses from
our unit, with one happening just last week. These departures
occurred because these former members thought they could do it
better. They wanted to stand out. They didn’t want to
work as a team. They want individualism over collectivism.
While it hurts to lose members, it’s for the best.
I’d rather have four dedicated, historically accurate Soldaten
striving for a “unit
impression” than 40 half-assed weekend warriors who all have
their own opinion and think they can do it better on their own.
So, moving forward, we’re going to be pursuing a “unit
impression.” Will this be a difficult transition?
Absolutely. However, the benefits will far outweigh the work put
in to getting there. Tolerance for individualism is set to
0. Me kissing ass and playing nice to get you to fall into line
is done. Unique items, uniforms, weapons and equipment are
out. Trying to get half-hearted recruits to participate is
over. Either you get it or you don’t. Either you want
to learn or you don’t. Either you want to participate or
you don’t. Research on
, research on
the life of a Landser
things together as a unit
will be our priorities; they will serve
as the cohesive bond in our unit. Sorry, this isn’t a
democracy. There will be strict standards that will be defined
and will be followed. Striving for a “unit
impression” will bring our unit closer to the historical accuracy
for which we signed up in the first place. Being able to achieve
that historical accuracy will better enable us to remember
a generation, to honor
their sacrifices and to educate
future generations about the
Steve Kapotis, the commander
of the 914.Grenadier-
Regiemnt in Massachusetts, has been battling cancer for the last
several years. Yesterday morning, he lost the battle. Steve has
been an energetic and dedicated leader in reenacting for many years,
and had been coordinating with me to get our unit out to participate in
the GAP. It was his goal every year to get together all the
352.Infantry-Division units from around the world to participate in the
GAP. Unfortunately, we weren't ever able to make it out
there. His loyalty to his unit, those who have been under his
command and to living history as a whole has been exemplary. I
ask that you all say a prayer for him, his family and his family, as
they are dealing with this great loss.
Ich hatte' einen Kameraden...
In dankbarkeit die Kameraden
|4 Basic Life
Lessons from Basic Training
Anoter gem from the internets. For any of you that have been
through basic training, I'm sure you'll agree with what's said here.
Not only can these lessons learned be applied to your everyday
life, but they are good things to know and practice in reenacting -
they will improve your impression, and you should get more out of the
reenacting experience for it.
4 Basic Life
Lessons from Basic Training
Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Mike Inscho.
As an enlisted member of the Army, and now an Officer, I’ve gone
through what was essentially two separate stints at basic training. The
first as enlisted and the second as an Officer. During the training,
it’s difficult to see the lifelong lessons being drilled into
you. Now, however, years after finishing, it’s easier to put a
finger on those lessons and apply them to everyday life.
1. If You
Can’t Carry It, Wear It, or Shoot It, Leave It Behind
When I would travel in high school, my bags were packed with everything
that I might need in an encounter. It might get cold…throw in a
few hoodies. What about rain? Take the rain jacket. Doing laundry
sucks…I’d better take 3 pairs of underwear and socks for
every day I’m going to be away just in case. Seven days in the
Carolinas required the same amount of baggage as moving to a new house.
Drill Sergeant, in his infinite wisdom, was about to teach me a more
efficient way to pack my bags.
One day we were told we were doing a ruck march the next day and were
handed a packing list. This packing list was mandatory, and everything
on it had to be packed in our ruck sacks or worn on us.
“The stuff on the packing list is more than my ruck sack can
hold…how am I supposed to bring the extra gear I might
After that first ruck march with 10 days worth of gear and change of
clothes, my ideas about packing changed drastically. If it
wasn’t 100%, absolutely crucial to my survival, it wasn’t
packed. A uniform, two or three changes of undergarments, a
poncho, and some bungee cords were all we used, and therefore, were all
we needed. Twelve undershirts is unnecessary when you’re only
gone for ten days. Nobody cares what you smell like and that same
space could be used for food or ammunition.
How to Apply This
Lesson to Everyday Life
Do you need a walk-in closet full of dress shirts if your job requires
a hard hat and a tool belt? Do you need six different methods of making
coffee when you end up just stopping by a coffee shop anyways?
Take an inventory of everything you use, and donate or sell everything
that hasn’t been useful in the last four months. How do you
decide what stays and what goes? Do what I do. Twice a year, turn
everything you own backwards. When you look in the dresser drawer,
you’ll see the backs of your shirts; in the cabinet you’ll
see the back of the peanut butter jar. Then, when you use an item, turn
it back around so it’s facing you. If you don’t use
it, leave it alone. After four months, everything that is still facing
away from you is donated or sold…no questions asked.
2. Run, Shoot,
Every morning we did PT, and every PT session included some sort of
running. If we were ever on a real world mission and had to get to the
objective, we knew we could run to it.
Next, if we weren’t on a live range, we were practicing basic
rifle marksmanship drills. We knew that if we ever got into a real
world firefight, these techniques would be second nature and give us
the ability to protect ourselves and our teammates.
After that we communicated. Radios, written orders, hand and arm
signals…eventually our squad got to the point that our
communication was almost telepathic.
Our Drill Sergeant constantly reminded us that all we needed to be a
successful Soldier was to be able to run, shoot, and communicate. If
you can do those well and your squad can do them well, all of the extra
stuff is icing on the cake.
How to Apply This
Lesson to Everyday Life
What do you need to do to be a successful husband? Provide care, love,
and resources to your family. Nothing else should be your focus until
these needs are met. What about a successful bachelor? Grandfather?
The type of man you want to be can be simplified to a few basic
characteristics that, when done successfully, lead you to success.
Prioritize your life and focus on the “need to haves”
before you even think about the “nice to haves.”
My second round of basic training granted me a bit more freedom and
opportunities outside of training. Still, training was the priority,
and one day I found myself back on the range to qualify with my weapon.
“I’ve done this a million times. No sweat…BANG! I
wonder what they are serving for dinner tonight…BANG! What about
the gym…BANG! Are they even open today…BANG!”
On and on that went for all 40 targets. My mind on the mystery meat
that would be served later for dinner. It should have been on the
mechanics of marksmanship that were drilled into my mind and body
during my first round at basic training.
I finished my ammunition and awaited my score. No doubt it’d be a
28/40…or maybe even a 30/40 because I’d done this a
million times, remember?
9. I shot a 9 out of 40. Talk about embarrassing.
How to Apply This
Lesson to Everyday Life
Proficiency does not come from one attempt…not even dozens of
attempts. To do something well demands your concentration and for you
to practice mindfulness, regardless of how many times you’ve done
that task before. If whatever you’re doing isn’t important
enough to you to demand your full attention…why do it?
Someone Doesn’t Equal Control of Them
One of the Army Values is Respect, and it’s defined as
“treat people as they should be treated.” So even if
someone outranks you, if he has shown that he can’t keep track of
his equipment, you are well within your rights to treat him like
someone who can’t keep track of his equipment. Rank does not
automatically mean you get to boss around everyone below you.
Case in point, during Officers Basic Training, myself and 39 other
brand new Second Lieutenants made up a platoon that was
“advised” by a group of Staff Sergeants and a Sergeant
First Class. From the standpoint of the military’s hierarchy, we
were being led by people we outranked.
This wasn’t an issue until our field exercise. At times like that
everyone’s temper is much, much shorter than usual and the easy
way out tends to become the trail most taken.
After we came back from a tactics exercise in the woods, someone
realized that he had lost an important piece of equipment. Not
something important to him, or assigned to him, but something very
important to the entire platoon and the responsibility of our Sergeant
First Class advisor.
The search for it was half-assed on our part, and the Sergeant First
Class decided we needed punishment. Except we outranked him and
he couldn’t punish us the way it’s normally done in the
Army (mass amounts of push-ups and other exotic, and exhausting, types
of physical training).
The one thing he could do to us, was hold us in formation for as long
as he pleased and wherever he pleased. It was late June, in southern
Georgia, and our base was made up entirely of low tents and gravel.
Obviously the best place for him to keep us in formation for the next
hour was out in the open as the temperature rose to 100+…and
that’s exactly what he did.
How to Apply This
Lesson to Everyday Life
If you’re a manager, or a boss, or a leader of any type, you need
to realize that your position doesn’t mean your subordinates have
to automatically bend to your every desire. They don’t even have
to respect you.
You earn the respect you are given.
These four basic life lessons are nowhere near a complete guide to
being a man. They are, however, things you commonly see many men pay no
attention to. Practice these lessons daily, one at a time until each
one is mastered, and I’m willing to bet you’ll see all
parts of your life from a new perspective, and find yourself closer to
winning the battle that every man fights–whether soldier or
civilian–of becoming the man you want to be.
Mike Inscho is an Army Officer and aspiring writer. You can find his
writing on speed, strength, and power at AlphaMaleFTS.com.
Improvements to your Impression
Came across this on a forum a few weeks ago. This is a great list
of things you can do to make your impression better for free.
Improvements to Your Impression
By Neil Gillbanks
budgets are a reality for most people
these days, I was looking to compose a comprehensive list of zero
solutions. That is, the things reenactors can do to improve their
for zero or nearly zero dollars.
Many times I have
seen units that look 10 times better with minimal kit
and without the fancy weapons, than units with more money than
I am focusing
mostly on the times when you are not in the field or when
you are at a public display. My list in no particular order, so
1. Get a haircut.
2. Get your hands
out of your pockets.
3. Don't wash your
4. Skip the modern
5. Walk EVERYWHERE
in step and in column of 2
6. STOW your gear.
7. Clean your
weapon when sitting in camp.
8. Use your
9. Wear your belt
in the right place.
10. Set up zelt tents in rows.
11. Stack boxes,
crates, etc., neatly.
12. Put your
rifles in 3 unit tripods with a helmet on top.
13. Place the
tripods next to the zelt
14. Carry a pack
15. Stuff your
pockets with socks, blanks, apples, etc.
16. String your
gear on your "Y" straps.
17. Learn 1 new
German command each event.
18. Use German
commands in formation.
formations and kit inspections.
20. Move as a
squad/unit to and from assembly areas.
21. Learn some
greetings/small talk in German.
22. DON'T use
cheesy Hollywood German accents.
23. Listen to
ACTUAL German accents.
24. Get a little feldgrau canvas bag
to cover Gatorade bottles.
25. Discuss squad
tactics in camp.
26. Include the
new guys in the discussions.
27. Practice your
rifle drill and teach the new guys.
28. Write letters
home in cursive. [Not curse words!]
29. Do everything
possible as a group.
30. Learn to darn
socks, sew buttons, patch zelts.
31. When sitting
in camp, darn socks, sew buttons, patch zelts.
32. Leave the
twinkies, potato chips, etc at home.
33. Bring Babybell
cheese, small rye/pumpernickel loaves, wafer
34. Remove modern
labels from tinned goods.
35. Learn the
German names for your kit.
36. Play checkers,
chess and cards.
37. Offer to do
vehicle maintenance. (Check oil, tire pressure, etc.)
38. Use and
respect rank/command structure.
39. Don't argue in
public. (Unless it is in German!)
40. TURN OFF/or
41. Post a sentry
at camp or have people watching for P-47's.
42. Button your
43. Inspect each
other's gear before taking the field.
44. Try to
maintain a consistent time frame look for the squad.
45. Fill your
46. Think and act
like a squad.
47. If waiting for
something, stand in line.
48. Don't chew gum.
49. If you don't
know, politely ask questions.
50. Remember, We
do this for FUN!