Mr. Bill George Presents

The Invasion Of Normandy (In Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania)

In Sports on August 5, 2009 at 12:37 AM

I’m standing in a crowded landing craft. Or at least it’s called a landing craft. In my mind I’m an allied soldier, ready to storm the beaches of Normandy with my brothers in arms as we save Europe from the grip of tyrannous Nazi bastards. Images of “Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault” and “Saving Private Ryan” flash through my head. However, outside of my mind, I am actually in a wooden recreation of a landing craft, firmly planted on a grassy field surrounded by 10 other landing craft placed intermittently along an imaginary “beach line.” My rifle is really a paintball gun and my brothers in arms are fellow players who have made their way to Pennsylvania as I had for “The Invasion of Normandy” at Skirmish Paintball. One of the largest paintball events in the world.

We stood cramped in this craft waiting for the game to start. Waiting for the entrenched Nazis at the tree line to make fodder of us. We were the first wave. From the outside we could hear war crys as our allies got amped up for their wave to go in. This was not so with us, we in the landing craft had dimmed to a calm silence as the 30 seconds till the game start counted down. Sweat beads run down my face stinging my eyes, unable to be wiped away because of my mask. I check my harness, make sure my ammo pods are secured. I will be needing more than what my hopper can carry alone. The time is running out now. At five seconds a siren wails, signaling the start of the game. From the distance a million orbs of paint rise from the tree line like a great swarm of speckled bees that have just been disturbed from an ageless slumber. The silence of their ascent lasts for only a moment as the tiny orbs begin hammering the door of the craft, assaulting us with reverberations from the wood.

I crouch low, ready to sprint when that door drops. A great “WHOOMPF” is heard all along the field as the doors of the landing craft fall softly to the tall grass. Five guys ahead of me falter in the sprint to cover as shells and paint giblets erupt from their chest. Poor bastards never stood a chance, the germans had a bead on them ever since they started firing at the door. I don’t pause in my advance, I make it out of the landing craft and sprint the few yards to cover. About half of us made it out of the craft and we had drawn very heavy fire.

It was only the first wave and we were already barely able to fit behind the little cover near the landing craft. With nervous hesitance I knew I had to move up, if the second wave entered without us moving up it would be a cluster-fuck of camouflage, paintballed allies, and very happy Nazis. With that knowledge I charged ahead to the next available bunker. I remember thinking it was much more spacious however the volume of enemy fire I had attracted was also much more significant.

“MOVE UP!” I scream, along with a few others in the front lines. We few were like the fingers making way for the rest of the hand to drag itself up. Thank god, people started to move up though I found myself in the predicament yet again of being cramped in my bunker. Looking to my right there were a few barrels that would have to do for cover. I got up to sprint to it when I heard an immense flare in crackling, the firefight just reached a new level. Thinking the enemy all decided to say “Hey! Go for that guy!” I picked up speed and crashed into cover. When I made it to cover I saw that the firing was due to the second wave hitting the field, guns blazing at no particular target, and the germans were happy to return the favor. There were paintballs colliding with other goddamned paintballs to give you any idea as to how filled the air was getting with hard-shelled orbs traveling at speeds upward of 270 feet per second.

One of those hard orbs smacked into the little of my shoulder that was exposed, lucky for me it didn’t break. In paintball, you can get hit with the “bullet” but if it doesn’t leave an oily mark than you are still good to fight the good fight. Moving on. I rolled out of my cover and crawled like a snake to my next choice of cover. I was close enough at this point to have a chance at hitting my enemy, I saw a group behind a bunker firing wildly at the landing craft so I took aim, compensated for the ball drop and let fly 30-40 paintballs. I can’t be sure if any of them hit but by god it felt good to finally contribute to this absurd firefight. It was getting harder to see the enemy due to the fact that both sides were wildly hurling smoke bombs at each other: the allies to secure their advance and the Germans… well I’m sure it felt incredibly cool to lob a smoke bomb at enemies and pretend it was a grenade. This was good though, this gave me the room to move up to the grassy knoll just short of the tree line, this would be where I would get them and most likely where I would get lit up.

The knoll was the hardest place to move in my experience of traversing this “beachhead.” Exposing any part of myself meant hundreds of paintballs would fly in my general direction, and to top it off the hot sun was beating down as I thrashed about trying to get a good view of my foe. By happenstance I see a hole in some bushes, it looked like someone had pried themselves through it at some point, clearing most of the branches. The best thing about it though was that it was amidst tall grass and in a trench and might just be good enough to creep through and get a good shot on some Nazis.

What the hell I think, I’m only going to sweat sitting here. So against my instincts I rise and sprint the few feet to the bush, narrowly avoiding the few whizzing bolts inches from my head. In an attempt to feel cool I dive towards the hole in the bush only to have my harness securely snagged by one of the bush’s surprisingly sturdy branches. “Fucking great” I think, imagining the Nazi that happens to have an angle on me and shoots me in the ass as I thrash about, defeated by mother nature’s brambley-ness. I stop struggling to get free and decide to just snap the branches caught on me, hey it will serve to be better camoflauge at least.

So now I am pretty well cut off from my team and in a pretty great place to get lit up if my location is noticed. I inch forward trying not to disturb the fauna around me, tensely listening for any firing in my immediate vicinity. I’m startled as I hear a crackle come from beyond a bush about 20 feet ahead of me. Through the branches I can see the gleams of enemy masks. Perfect. The branches aren’t thick enough to impede my paintballs, as long as I fire enough that is, and they’ll be so confused by this paintball spewing bush that I should be able to get them all before they fire back. I raise my gun, train my sights the best I can, and let fly a stream of paint. I don’t stop until I hear “GODDAMNIT I’M OUT.” I feel bad but you can never be too sure with the amount of people that wipe the paint off nowadays.

At this point I feel pretty cool, I just got three Germans out so I decide to kneel in a dramatic fashion in order to take out as many visible foes as I can see. However this plan panned out poorly for as soon as I was above the knoll’s crest I felt a series of painful stings as a stream of paint thudded into my chest. And then another few in my back as stray friendly fire pelted me. I roll back to safety and raise my gun in the air, hopefully signaling to stop firing at me because I’m dead. It was a good start, I may be dead, but I can go in with reinforcements just as soon as I quench my parched throat and maybe nap for 2 hours. The intensity of the fire fight assures me that my suppositions that I would get hit many times as I walked off the field have indeed come to fruition. The 7 welts are now 15 and that is from roughly 25 minutes of paintball. Walking back to my camp covered in welts, bruises, a little bit of blood, and paint did feel pretty cool I have to admit. The battered soldier returning to his mini-van in order to recoup with some Capri-suns and rice crispy treats. A real bonified soldier of fortune.

What followed after this short period was 10 more hours of paintball, 25 more welts, exhausted muscles, an extravagant amount of sweating, a whole lot of paintballed Nazi’s, and a FANTASTIC shower at the end of the day. I recommend any of you other possible paintballers out there try and make it one day to Skirmish. It may sound a bit ridiculous but one can seldom have the experience of charging through smoke and forest into a heavily fortified enemy base with hundreds of others guns blazing, well at least in real life, or without the threat of being killed.

  1. markers:98 customs from tiapmpnn body armor-chest pads,mask bukners-make your own woodss out of wood and for speedball you can buy an used one from a field if selling or go to a sporting store. But gett a excellent set up.for cheaper rental use. go to a forum website and say im buying used 98 costums. Will buy for 5O dollars. My boss did that for his field he got about 20 more guns. GOOD LUCk.

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