Mar 242010
 

History and Reality Collide

One of the most asked questions when I’m asked about the Annual Oklahoma D-Day Event is, which unit sees the most action?  Next comes the question of what makes D-Day so different from other large events, like ‘Living Legends,’  ‘Castle Conquest’ or ‘ION?’

The truth is all of these events are basically paintball games, they all involve large numbers of players and they typically last about the same amount of time and so why is it that I continue to refer to D-Day as an event and not a game?  Simply put because when you play in a game you’ve got to follow the orders issued by the promoter.  They tell you when and where to go, in order to get the points you’ll need to win, unlike at D-Day where they leave the when and where you go totally in the player’s hands.  In a typical game the promoter has selected someone to serve as your commanding general, whereas at D-Day that person has been selected by his fellow officers.  With D-day, officers have worked their way up through the ranks much the way they do in the military.  They know the field like the back of their hand and they’ve fought for every inch of it more than once and it’s only because of this that they’ve been asked to serve as your leaders.

Another thing which sets D-Day apart form other events is the degree to which everyone both promoter and players alike, have gone to insure you have as realistic an event as is possible given everyone’s concerns for safety. An example of that would include the start of the 4th Infantry Division’s assault on Utah Beach, where a series of huge explosions ring out a safe distance from players on both sides.  Only once these are completed are the ramps on the troops landing craft dropped and the signal is given for them to storm ashore.  In that final moment, before the ramps drop hundreds of players on both sides are transported back in time, to a place thousands of miles away, to the beaches of Normandy and the actual invasion.   Could they generate the same adrenaline rush without the blasts, not really, not any more then when another group of players who are portraying members of the 1st Infantry Division step off the ramps of their landing craft and into the water of the pond which borders Omaha Beach.   In that final second before the ramp drops, players begin to understand what their grandfathers must have been thinking as they prepared to exit their landing craft.  Stories like this are unfolding all across the nearly 700 acres which comprise the field as the clock strikes 9 AM and they don’t just end in a minute or two, instead they continue non-stop till the final whistle blows at 5 PM.

Now that you know what sets this event apart from all others come out and join up with one of the units on either side and see for yourself if even for just a few moments you to don’t feel yourself living a part in the largest air and seaborne invasion ever undertaken, back on June 6, 1944.

Photos and article courtesy of Andrew Van Der Plaats
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