JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. —
It’s the year 1188. The Battle of Hattin is in full swing and “Getulio D ’Amalfi” is entrenched in war between the Crusader states of the Levant and the forces of the Saladin. After accepting defeat in the battle and the loss of many of his fellow soldiers, Getulio heads back home to Italy.
Fast forward to 2018, Getulio, or U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Benjamin Lanteigne, 628th Security Forces Squadron patrolman, fights a different battle here in the Lowcountry we call traffic. Lanteigne portrays the character known as Getulio D ’Amalfi within a Society for Creative Anachronism group. He has been building war reenactment gear since high school but recently has gotten involved in the local group “Barony of Hidden Mountain.”
“As the Baron of Hidden Mountain I feel like it’s my duty to welcome Benjamin as a new member of our Barony,” said George Stanley, Barony of Hidden Mountain leader, a local community of SCA. “It is my job to help him meet the people he needs to meet and help him accomplish his goals.”
Fabric, metal, wood and paint — the materials which can be used to build an armored suit — seem limitless. Lanteigne sews all his clothing by hand and does some leather and woodworking for the other items he creates. His hope is to accrue the tools and materials necessary for more intricate level work like blacksmithing, casting and silversmithing.
After completing each article of clothing, Lanteigne dons his gear to become the character Getulio and participates in war reenactments with his Barony across the United States.
“I started off making very basic things and at some point in my life realized this was my passion,” said Lanteigne. “I wanted to do this seriously, so I showed up to one of those practice events and joined the club.”
Lanteigne was introduced to this craft by an art teacher who would bring medieval armor made by students in previous years to class. Intrigued, Lanteigne asked where the teacher obtained the armor and soon became interested in making pieces himself.
“I recreate artifacts found by archeologists, depicted in artwork or described in text,” said Lanteigne. “I then present them to the public to portray them in the most factual context possible.”
Lanteigne wants to make a career out of the Air Force and stay in as long as he can. When he gets out, his dream is to become a high school history teacher. Lanteigne is no stranger to challenge and accepts the battle to keep the attention of adolescents.
“I did a demonstration a few weeks ago at a local school,” said Lanteigne. “I brought the body armor I created to compare medieval body armor so the students could feel the weight difference. I want them to realize that it’s not like a knight’s full metal body armor back when they were immobile. We have this ridiculous image of soldiers in the past where they can’t move and are statues on the battlefield, which is a common misconception I try and educate people on.”
Lanteigne says building the gear relates to his job in security forces because both benefit from having a mind that is mechanical. Being able to understand how each detail is a part of a bigger picture or mission is vital for both overall security of the base and crafting together battle gear.
“When I was in Turkey, we had a Humvee break down,” said Lanteigne. “In my mind the process of diagnosing a broken down Humvee is similar to breaking down the way a piece of clothing is put together. Each part is essential to the final product.”