Expo draws military history buffs to Phillipston

  • Jose Ramirez of Cranston, R.I., John Padula of Southborough and Cole O'Neil of Reading, all in their 20s, portray U.S. soldiers from the Vietnam war era. The trio were among the many reenactors who took part in the Mass. Military History Expo held in Phillipston last weekend. Staff photo/Greg Vine

  • Raven and Bella Kaldera of Hubbardston protraying a doctor and Colonial militiaman, respectively, at the Military Expo in Phillipston. The brothers were manning a Revolutionary War-era field hospital. Staff photo/Greg Vine

  • This World War II-era British self-propelled howitzer was among the military hardware displayed during last weekend's Military Expo in Phillipston. Staff photo/Greg Vine

  • German soldier reenactors awaiting an assault by American forces during a World War I battle reenactment at Saturday's Military Expo. Staff photo/Greg Vine

  • American soldier reenactors rush a German force in a reenactment of a World War I battle during last weekend's Military Explo in Phillipston. Staff photo/Greg Vine

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 9/15/2021 2:26:50 PM
Modified: 9/15/2021 2:26:53 PM

ATHOL — Jose Ramirez of Cranston, Rhode Island, isn’t old enough to remember 9/11, Desert Storm or the invasion of Grenada, let alone the war in Vietnam. Nonetheless, the 20-year-old enjoys donning the garb of a ’60s era U.S. Air Force recruit and giving history enthusiasts a glimpse of what it was like to have served in Southeast Asia.

“My father, he served in Vietnam,” said Ramirez, “and he always used to talk to me about the conflict. And so, for myself, I’m very, very interested in the Vietnam conflict.”

Ramirez does more than portray someone in the military, however; he is currently a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.

“I’m serving in the Air Force right now. That’s why I chose the Air Force uniform for Vietnam.

“Other than that, I do it because it’s a forgotten war. When people came back, they were pretty much ignored. It’s very sad. They came back to people yelling at them. They even felt they had to throw their uniforms out.

“It wasn’t like World War II, when people came back heroes.”

Ramirez was among the military history reenactors who took part in last weekend’s Mass. Military History Expo event in Phillipston.

John Padula, dressed as a Vietnam-era U.S. Marine showed off a poncho tent from the period, along with a cot, footlocker, a jerry-rigged radio, flak jackets, C-rations, and other items.

“I’ve always been interested in history,” he explained. “And I went to a surplus store and I bought a helmet, and that got me into collecting. Then that kind of evolved into reenacting.

“Vietnam is kind of an interesting topic, and it’s kind of been neglected in reenacting. There’s not a big group of people that do it — Korea, even less so.”

Portraying military men from two centuries before Vietnam, brothers Raven and Bella Kalder manned a Revolutionary War field hospital. Both are members of the Hubbardston Militia Company.

While much of the equipment on display had been collected piece by piece, some items — such as a blood pan — were hand made.

“We’re history buffs,” explained Bella Kaldera, “and one Memorial Day, the Hubbardston Militia had a recruiting booth. We came to observe and met the other Hubbardston Colonial Militia and immediately decided we had to join.

“After all, the Second Amendment says a well-regulated militia is essential to the security of a free state. And this,” he said half in jest, “is a well-regulated militia.”

“Medical history has always been an interest of mine,” Raven Kaldera interjected, “so I said I will be the surgeon, and put together all this over a few years.”

The brothers have been reenacting for about five years, they said, usually appearing at events three or four times per year.

The Military Expo featured military equipment and ordnance from many other eras, including the first and second world wars, Civil War, and Spanish American War. It was organized by the Mass. Military History Expo, which is headquartered in Athol.

The weather for the event couldn’t have been better, with a slight breeze and blue skies accentuated by a few passing clouds. Organizer Missy Eaton said the attendance for both days of the event was “pretty steady.”

In addition to military displays, the event also featured the Mass. Vax Bus, which provided vaccinations to attendees interested in receiving a Covid vaccine.

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com

E-Edition & Local Ads


athol forecast

Social Media

Athol Daily News

14 Hope Street,
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Telephone: (413) 772-0261
FAX (413) 772-2906


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.