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Dade Battlefield park is site of World War II Commemorative Day

BUSHNELL — Charlie Hildebrant loves seeing people stop by to check out his 1942 Army jeep.

He enjoys watching the faces of World War II veterans as they reminisce about old times. He especially likes the expressions of young children, who often look upon the olive, drab vehicle as a living piece of history.

The jeep, which Hildebrant spent years restoring, is a pristine example of the type of military vehicles that are coveted by members of Military Vehicle Preservation Association. Hildebrant, who is event coordinator for the association's Florida chapter, owns three retired World War II-era vehicles. But the jeep is his favorite, he says.

"I drive it everywhere," said Hildebrant, of Wildwood. "It's a bit slow by today's standards, but you get there just the same."

Hildebrant's jeep is among about a dozen military vehicles that will be on display Saturday at the Dade Battlefield State Park's annual World War II Commemorative Day.

The event, which marks the 64th anniversary of the end of the war, will feature static displays of equipment, weapons and uniforms from the era. In addition, 70 re-enactors will be on hand, portraying American, British, Russian and German soldiers, though there will not be a battle re-enactment.

"It's a glimpse at an important part of American history," said George Webb, a ranger at the park who coordinates the event each year. "People are fascinated because the participants are so knowledgeable about these artifacts and how they were used during the war."

The historic Sumter County battleground, known best as the location of the 1835 Seminole War massacre, also served as a training base during World War II.

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1435.

If you go

War, remembrance

The Dade Battlefield Historic State Park's World War II Commemorative Day will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the park, which is at 7200 County Road 603 on the southwest edge of Bushnell. Admission is free. Parking costs $2 per carload. Call (352) 793-4781 for information.

Dade Battlefield park is site of World War II Commemorative Day 07/30/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 30, 2009 1:45pm]
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