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|06-08-2006, 11:52 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2006
C3 Contest: Leadership
My story centers around paintball, but has to do with so much more than that. Comraderie, leadership, and lasting friendships forged in a single weekend.
Alright. I want to tell you a tale of my own, which has to do a lot with a real life hero of mine.
The name of the game was Operation Eminent Storm IV. I had been on the home field's (Smakzone) forum a lot, and a man going by the name of SOGVET contacted me about joining the Ranger Battalion, an elite group of 75 players. Of course, I accepted, and he talked with me about my players positions and whatnot.
Well, when I arrived at the game, after a six hour drive, I met two guys there. One was in his late twenties, one in his early thirties, Josh and Mike Pittman, of the Pittman Brigade. They were going to be our Platoon leaders. They sat there and talked with us a while, making sure we were doing alright, reminding us to keep up our water intake, and get plenty of food the night before the game. Then they asked us how we liked to play... It was a question I had never been asked at a scenario before. No one had ever actually wanted to know what we wanted to do, how we liked to play, and then fit that into their plan for us.
We basically told him that we loved to raise hell, but we would do anything to help our side, JSOC win. He laughed at us, probably at our teenaged spirit. We were there to win, doing anything we had to. I also brought his attention to the maps I had printed out, off an architectural plotter. Well, his enthusiasm about those maps told me that might not be the last time I would be using my dads plotter for paintball purposes.
We cooked some food, and got some sleep. The next morning Mike was by our camp again, making sure we were getting hydrated, and getting some food. We loaded up our gear, and got ready to head out. The Rangers were being "airdropped" behind enemy lines. Well, we spread out, ready to start the game. I saw Mike, SOGVET and another guy talking, obviously pushed for time and debating. I saw Mike point a finger at the other guy, who I would later learn was another forum-goer, Firstrike. Then Mike called his whole platoon together, and give us our mission. We would all be running right past the enemies command quarters, screaming at the top of our lungs, and then we would dig in and get ready for hell to follow close on our heels.
We ran past the enemy HQ, and the look on their general’s eyes was priceless. He stood stunned for a second, just staring at the 75 guys running, screaming "HOOAH" at the top of their lungs. He soon came to his senses, and brought his radio to bear, calling in reinforcements, and their tank. We ran up the hill, and Firstrikes platoon split off, and ours stayed, and dug in. We soon heard the high pitched scream of the "Lil Reb," a tracked tank, that could be heard from one side of the field to another. It came by, as I yelled to my team to hold their fire. An infantryman’s paint would do nothing but draw fire from the tank.
The tank took a small number of our 20 man platoon, but it wasn’t the most deadly thing on the field. It was followed by infantry, as all tanks should be. I saw a large number of CSA flag bandannas, and knew the Rebels had followed their tank to battle. I took a few of them, and my boys fought hard, but we were eventually all destroyed. It wouldn’t be until later that I would find out why exactly we had been sent to slaughter. We were put there to hold the line, because the other Ranger elements were already pushing, along with Marine Recon, to take the main base of the feild, SATCOM. Well, we held off the enemy reinforcements long enough, and our boys took the base, along with all other bases but one, Fire Base Echo.
I put on my Ref In Play vest, but walked to the universal dead zone anyway, as I had been gogged and needed to clean my lenses. Mike was there, and I talked to him a bit. I got cleaned up, and got out to go raise a bit more mayhem. Saturday ended with us holding everything but Fire Base Echo. The game had pretty much ended when the first hour's points were tallied, based on how much real estate our team owned.
Sunday began with Mike coming up to me, bringing along with him another face to put to a forum name... Fastlearner. This man is a genius, and in any story concerning Smakzone, he shall surely be involved. It turns out our victory had been aided by a listening device he had created. Two of our people were sitting across a dry lakebed from the enemy HQ, listening to every word they said, while sitting put in ghillie suits.
Now they needed our help though. It seems that the Contras (the enemy) was starting to wise up, and had been sending patrols across the lake. They were infrequent, but could bust the operation. Mike asked us if we wouldnt mind providing security for Vixen, the lady with the listening device. He said it would probably be a good hour and a half of no action, but it had to be done. We told him we would do it.
It turned out being everything he said it would. Almost two hours of nothing. Fastlearner eventually gave us the go ahead to leave, and have some fun.
When we finally were finally left to our own devices, we joined the push against the only enemy stronghold, Fire Base Echo. All the Rangers must have been there, and a lot of the regulars as well. We were pushing against this behemoth castle, and there must have been a case of paint in the air at any given second. Amongst the sounds of hundreds of markers firing, screams for medics, and the sound of paint on aluminum sheeting, one sound came in true above the rest... "HOOAH!!!" One would scream it, the rest of the Rangers would answer. I ended up fighting alongside SOGVET, both of us screaming at the top of our lungs, giving it our all. We dodged paint, got people to move up with us, and we were the point of the spear. "RANGERS LEAD THE WAY!!!," was our cry.
I finally ran out of paint and air, but stood for a while, just in awe of the epic battle around me. I finally ran down the hill, trying to get back to camp to reload my paint, and then ran back onto the feild... only to find the game had ended. The rejoicing at FBE could be heard all the way at camp... from both sides. JSOC had won, but Contras had held the base.
We left the field, after being congratulated by our CO for putting up a great fight, and for sacrificing our fun time for the mission. We left the field, knowing we had made some great friends, but we had no idea how long lasting, and how important these friendships would be.
I would soon find out how much that first game, and the impressions I had made, meant to my future at that field, and how influential these people would be in my life. One example had to do with my truck. It was on the way home from OES IV when it broke down on I-70, about 70 miles from home. It turns out you have to put oil in those things, who knew? Well, the next day, at school, my cell phone went off. It was Mike, checking up on me, making sure I had got home, and asking if I needed help getting my truck home. He had passed by it on the way home as well, as he lived only about a half hour farther from the field than me. I didn’t, because I had someone haul it off, and they kept the title (this truck was a beater, and I shot a piston through the oil pan... So I pretty much considered it totaled). After that, we were in touch every once and a while via the computer.
As the Fire Fall Objective III, another annual game drew nearer, it turned out Mike and Josh Pittman had volunteered for General and XO for the UN Special Forces. They started to fill out their command structure, and I was given command of a Recon force. It was a small group, only about 20 people, but that was important to me. Mike, Josh and SOGVET took a great risk putting me in the command structure, as I was only 17 at the time, with only about 6 scenarios under my belt. So I worked with them all, learning great leadership, and gaining great friends, and of course, I printed more maps.
For the game, I brought my new marker, a customized sniper rifle, weighing in at about 11 pounds. The only reason that is important, is because with our first maneuver of the day, I fell, banged up the gun and myself, and never used that gun again. Josh Pittman volunteered his own marker for my use.
We fought hard that day, taking some ground, losing some. We started out as underdogs, as the points were set against us from the beginning, but that is a tale for another day. By the end of the day though, with all odds against us, we ended up only ten points behind. It was a hard game, and I myself ended up seriously dehydrated and fatigued, and Josh made my own team members take me off the field.
It ended up the second day was rained out, and we lost, but not in our hearts and minds. We had come together as a tighter group, and that meant a lot for future games, and for future experiences. After FFO, we started a little idea, a Band of Brothers. Well... a Band of Brothers, plus a sister, Vixen. That brotherhood means a lot to me, especially now, and Mike Pittman the one person that has represented that bond the best.
After FFO, I was burnt out. I was tempted to quit my team, and become more of a lone wolf. I wanted nothing to do with leading due to, what I thought, was a pathetic attempt on my part to lead a team. On my first mission with my own command, I got my whole group murdered, and got nothing done at all. Well, I sent out a private message to SOGVET on the Smakzone forum. SOG (who's name is also Mike, so I call him SOG to keep him and Mike Pittman seperate) replied to my question of my own leadership with a few words that meant a lot, and I keep with me today. He said that he would have me on his fire team any day, in real combat. This man was an operative back in Vietnam, behind enemy lines. For him to say that, well, it means a lot to a teenager who had hoped to enter the armed forces.
That was late September of this year. Now we, the Band of Brothers, are planning for OES V. It should prove to be the most difficult, yet rewarding game yet. SOGVET was named general of JSOC, and he began to fill out the command structure of his team... and again, Mike and Josh were important figures. Josh was given third in command, basically the one in charge of all communications. Mike was given SOG's old job, Commander of the Ranger Battalion. And again, he put trust in me... and named me his XO. I am going to be second in command of the Rangers at the biggest game in my state. All because of the trust that I was shown in my first game there, and the friendships I built there.
But the Band of Brothers idea passes farther than paintball. Just a few nights ago, I was talking to Mike on the internet, and in the begining formalities of "Hey, how are you doing," and whatnot, I told him about breaking up with my girlfriend of nearly a year. Simple teenage problems, right?
Well Mike immediately called me, asking me what had happened. We talked about women for a while, and then got back to a subject we could actually understand... Paintball. I asked him about my leadership skills... and he told me that I was a hell of a leader. That means a lot, from the guy who gives me orders at every game.
He told me my only problem was my fear, my hesitation. I was so intimidated at Fire Fall, being right up there with ex military men, and men more than twice my age... but they considered me an equal, and that made the difference. That’s how I knew I was their brother.
There you have it. Part of my life story, not just my paintball experiences. It just goes to show that every person will affect how you turn out. I have made such growth in my leadership abilities thanks to Mike, Josh , and SOGVET. Their trust in me has changed my life, making me more confident, and secure in my own abilities. I hope one day I will be able to repay them for that. For now though, I will just continue under their leadership, and learn all I can.
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