Living history

Students participate in reenactment group


Robin Scoggins

Student Nicholas Scoggins participating in one of G-Company’s WW2 events.

By Natalie Brink and Harshita Avirneni

The soldiers march toward the German border to face the Siegfried Line. Behind the German defensive was the Rhine River, and right above was the Ludendorff Bridge. This capture would shorten the war. As they got closer, the soldiers got ready for battle.

Freshman Nicholas Scoggins and junior Jackson Broadhead are part of the G Company Historical Reenactment Group based at the Texas Military Forces Museum on the Camp Mabry military base. The group’s next reenactment will be March 22-24 in College Station.

“[Reenacting] certainly has societal importance,” Scoggins said. “My generation only knows WWII through very historically inaccurate games such as Call of Duty WWII and Battlefield V.  However these reenactments allow youth to see how soldiers actually lived and fought.”

The Texas Military Forces Museum is the official living history organization of the Texas National Guard. G Company mostly reenacts WWII, but the group sometimes will reenact other time periods such as WWI or the Vietnam War.

“I love history,” Scoggins said. “This is not something for the faint of the heart or if you are looking for a hobby. You lose a lot of weekends going there, cleaning up and setting it up. It is pretty tedious to make sure your uniform is in good condition and you don’t accidentally point your rifle at somebody’s face. Once you actually do get to it, it’s pretty fun.”

As G Company, they represent the 36th Infantry for WWII. Scoggins plays a U.S. infantryman assigned to the 36th infantry division of the Texas Army National Guard during WW2 in the European theater.

“[I’ve learned] a lot of historical tidbits you don’t find in books,” Scoggins said. “For example, we do a lot of stuff that back then would be out of regulation, but they did anyway. You’re actually not supposed to wear your chin straps. You’re supposed to have them wrapped around your head, as otherwise you’d lose your head when an explosion goes off.”

Broadhead plays a few things while reenacting. He sometimes is a backup tank driver/50-cal gunner for the Sherman tank. Most of the time he is a  gunner with the BAR machine gun, meaning that he carries a M1 Garand rifle.

“Reenacting gives you a very different perspective on history,” Broadhead said. “It helps you somewhat understand what it was like for men at the time, the overwhelming confusion of combat with all the noise and flashes and the pain of moving with the weight of all the gear. Even how much of a pain fixing and cleaning equipment is.”

While the reenactments give Broadhead some insight into how the soldiers in theses conflicts must have felt, he said that his favorite part is when the battle ends.

“Old war vets who fought in these conflicts come up,” Broadhead said. “[They] ask to hold the gun they served with one last time and try firing it again. The little kids rush up eager to pick up the casings from our shots and ask about the gear and the history of the event.”

Scoggins is so involved in history, he founded his own club, Vandegrift Strategic Studies, to teach fellow students about history. The club meets Fridays during PIT in English teacher Melanie Stamp’s room, and everyone is free to join.

“I wanted to educate people about military affairs and to honor veterans,” Scoggins said. “[The club] means a lot to me, me and my fellow club members have a great time discussing history or watching military training exercises. I hope we expand to have a cadre of good students willing to honor veterans.”

For Scoggins, honoring veterans is personal. His grandfather, Jerry Snodgrass, was a veteran of the 36th infantry division who tragically passed away in 1991.

“I [do reenactments] to honor my grandfather,” he said. “I first joined because I loved history so dearly, but now a lot of it has shifted to not only because I plan in joining the National Guard when I reach military age, but also because I want to honor my grandfather’s legacy.”

This story was originally published on Vandegrift Voice on February 14, 2019.