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WWII Reenactors take center stage
by DJ Kauffman Correspondent · November 9th, 2017

"Somebody has to play the bad guys," said WWII reenactor Galen Oline of Laport City, who chose to portray a Unit 12 SS German soldier because "there was a large variety of different camouflage patterns used by the Germans, so it makes collecting interesting."

Oline can be seen wearing his uniform in the upcoming Netflex movie, "Wunderland." He is in a scene where the Americans attack German anti-tank guns. "We rush forward and get shot," he said. And "being Germans, we usually have to die."

Besides running on foot, Oline's reenactment group also uses an armored 251 half-track vehicle, where he sits in the back. It seats up to 10 people, plus the driver and front-seat passenger, he said.

So far, Oline has participated in reenactments of the Beaches of Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, and a battle in Hungary. "My first big battle was really chaotic," Oline said. During the heaviest fighting, he found himself alone on the forward lines with tunnel vision, as his fellow soldiers had already retreated.

During each reenactment event, participants set up tents in the woods or village, and have cookouts over open fires. WWII Veterans in their 90s will sometimes stop by and visit with them.

Oline said he has participated twice in the largest Midwest reenactment event during September of 2015 and 2016, in Rockford, Illinois. He also attended several times in prior years as a spectator.

Two smaller battles in the woods, plus one large one on a big battlefield, where people watch from nearby bleachers are among the scheduled Saturday and Sunday events.

When Oline first began reenacting, he said some initial gear was provided to him, but he was later required to purchase his own uniform, equipment and and reenactment weapons.

Part of the reenactment fun is finding a good deal when trading, buying. and selling WWII memorabilia, he said. So far, he has bought an original helmet, gas mask, canister, and firearms from fellow reenactors and at a gun show.

Oline said his interest in the scope and scale of WWII began at age 13. He said he likes learning about the war's vastness and of different terrains and military sources in various areas of the world.

In addition, he would like to become a history teacher someday, and is currently looking to see what UNI courses are available. He said he would also like to visit Europe.

For more WWII reenactment information, visit
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