Two American paratroopers were pinned down by German troops at the Carson City Airport during World War II re-enactments Saturday. Members of the Army's 2nd Ranger Battalion moved in, wiping out the German defenses and taking several prisoners.
"I bet they had to do rock, paper scissors to figure out who was going to play the Germans," joked onlooker Tim Crowley.
He said he's seen several re-enactments and this one was pretty authentic.
"These guys actually look like they know what they're doing," he said. Actors fired fully-automatic machine guns - with blank rounds - from behind vehicles.
Joerg Koschyk takes re-enacting seriously.
"I have over $100,000 invested in this hobby," he said.
He drove an original, 1942 Kübelwagen in the battle. It was abandoned by the German army and later used by a Czechoslovakian farmer. Koschyk also owns a German half-track vehicle used in the movie "Saving Private Ryan."
Crowley said the re-enactment brought World War II to life for him.
"The war was before my time, but my time could have been a lot different if it hadn't been fought."
His mother, Linda Clements of Dayton, said it hits home for her because two of her brothers-in-law fought in the war.
"They turned their lives upside down to volunteer so that what we have today and what I can give my kids, is freedom."
Koschyk said the re-enactments can't do justice to the real thing.
"There's no way you can identify with what actually happened. The only people who can identify are those people who were there."
Wearing the skull-and-cross-bones symbol of a Nazi SS (Schutzstaffel) officer and holding a German submachine gun, he said re-enacting battles is just for fun.
"It's a hobby like collecting stamps or playing golf. It has nothing to do with Nazism or anything. It's just boys having fun."
Koschyk is a member of the Research and Preservation Society. He came up from Auburn, Calif.
Other re-enactment groups at the airport Saturday included the Military Commemorative Association and a new group, the Nevada Historical Organization.
Ernie Levario of Gardnerville was doing re-enactments with the other groups when he decided to start the local organization.
"We just decided to let some of our local people benefit from what we do here, rather than drove eight hours to do it somewhere else."
He hopes to make the re-enactment an annual event. For details on his group, which portrays the 2nd Ranger Battalion, call 783-0848.
The re-enactment was part of a free airport open house. Military aircraft and World War II Harley-Davidson motorcycles were on display on the tarmac.
Free chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream cones were given out at the hangar of George Byard.