Military history put on display at Reynolds Park

Annual tank, aircraft, military vehicle show draws thousands

By Nick Blank nick@claytodayonline.com
Posted 3/30/22

GREEN COVE SPRINGS— After tanks reenacted World War II’s Battle of Sicily at Reynolds Park this weekend, children ran on the field scarred by tank treads to collect shells like it was an Easter …

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Military history put on display at Reynolds Park

Annual tank, aircraft, military vehicle show draws thousands

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS— After tanks reenacted World War II’s Battle of Sicily at Reynolds Park this weekend, children ran on the field scarred by tank treads to collect shells like it was an Easter egg hunt.

The Military Museum of Northeast Florida Winter Rally featured tanks, people in soldier and nurse uniforms, weapons demonstrations and stalls of military-grade equipment.

Nicole Ashton’s son Jedidiah held out a handful of shells retrieved from the mock battlefield.

“I really liked seeing the tanks shoot,” Jedidiah Ashton said. “It was really cool. I really liked all the military stuff.”

The children were excited to collect the shells, Nicole Ashton said. While she enjoyed the reenactments, she said there were several lessons from the rally.

“I think it’s extremely important for this generation to learn that freedom is not free,” she said.

It was difficult to evade the crackling of shells at the event. Doug Chuford and his father Charles Chuford, who was in the U.S. Navy for 12 years, attended the gathering.

“I enjoyed it. I like the noise and seeing the old equipment run,” Charles Chuford said. “I liked watching those tanks run.”

The event had two tank demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday. WW2 Armor is a Sanford-based company focusing on historical military hardware demonstrations. It has a mix of full-time staff and part-time volunteers, with several veterans involved.

Director of facilities and event coordinator John Thomas said the tanks create “fixable damage” to grass and damage to pavements. That’s why WW2 Armor doesn’t take Clay County for granted, he said, and it was their privilege to reenact WWII history.

“We love Clay County,” Thomas said. “We don’t get to put on shows like this in too many places.”

WW2 Armor was recreating the Battle of Sicily, where the Allies launched a month-long offensive in 1943 to breach the Axis Southernmost forces in Europe. He said most children had no idea about the battle and events like this weekend would be a memorable day.

“They called it going after the German’s soft underbelly in Europe,” Thomas said. “It worked slowly, but ultimately, the invasion of the European mainland occurred June 6, 1944.”

WW2 Armor’s Rich Brimer was dressed as an allied scout sniper during the Battle of Sicily. As a volunteer, he said if history is lost, we are doomed to repeat it.

“When you see the kids out here … it’s that spark that gets lit, whether it’s people reading a book or watching a movie, then you start to expand your knowledge.”

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