From his home in New Orleans, Louisiana USA, Â the Catshack Reports burned up the phone lines with none other than Juan “Beatle” Parke, newly appointed Supreme Allied Commander for the Allies for DDay 2012. This was no small interview as those closest to Juan know him to be a complex individual, a multi faceted person with exemplary organizational skills.
On a personal level, Juan Parke is a graduate of Harvard with a strong background in both Biochemistry and Literature. He has worked on an executive level with large corporations and also boasts a stint in the US Military. Now self employed, DDay for Juan is his favorite home away from home.
Juan has a rich history in paintball dating as far back as 1985. While living in the Boston area at the time he joined friends for a paintball outing. He was subsequently ostracized from the paintball group on account of a rather aggressive style of play even then that the other more casual players simply could not adapt to. Juan loved the game but didn’t have another opportunity to go on the field again until 2002 when his son was older. As a father and son activity the two hit the field at a nearby naval base where paintball was played by Marines and such. Juan laughs as he recounts as both he and his son lacking equipment were promptly tagged as newbies and picked last by the people picking teams that day. Father and son promptly went on the field and in the first match alone eliminated 9 out of the 12 opposing players themselves. That was the last time the two suffered the humiliation of being picked last.
Thereafter Juan and his son, Deen “Hollywood” Parke, started getting their paintball fix at every opportunity playing plenty of outlaw ball on a levy near the Mississippi River. Fast forward to 2005,”Hollywood” came up with a new proposal that being a father/son vacation to attend their very first big game together… Oklahoma DDay. Beatle had plenty of misgivings about a big game such as this imagining the worst that could come out of playing paintball with 3500+ players. Finally Beatle relented considering it a means of getting away from the trials and tribulations of life. Much to Juan’s own surprise his thoughts versus the reality were at complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Instead of masses of unruly people, he found friendly individuals from all walks of life, instead of a nasty, clustered mess of a game he found a well organized and very interesting event.
As fate would have it that first big game would have responsibility quickly thrust upon him. One of the Allied field officers, Cecil “Boomer” Higgins, lacking capable manpower quickly spotted leadership qualities in Juan and asked him to serve as platoon leader for the 1st Division platoon he was with. Beatle turned to a very young Hollywood wondering what his thoughts might be on the matter, Hollywood, wise beyond his years quickly volunteered “Dad I would rather be lead by a screw up I know, instead of a screw up I don’t know”. Meeting with great success that early field promotion quickly lead to another and Juan was handed (albeit unwillingly) another promotion from platoon leader to company commander that same year. Â Beatle recounts proudly his first big battle alongside Hollywood. The young boy, fresh from watching the movie “Saving Private Ryan” chose the 1st Division to see if he could survive the Omaha Beach assault for himself. As the game began and players piled out of the landing craft only to be felled by enemy paint, Hollywood tripped but then snatched up his trusty Tippmann A-5 out of the mud and helped take the beach. In his first DDay experience, Hollywood not only survived but was awarded the honor of hitting the button signaling the Allies victory on the beach at Omaha and the Grey Bridge objective and was featured in APG Magazine for his efforts.
On a side note, it was also this same year that the disaster “Hurricane Katrina” devastated New Orleans. Juan managed to clear both his son, other family, and friends out of harm’s way but stayed behind to assist as he could. He promptly “liberated” a canoe and rescued twenty people as well as dogs and cats as best he could. For his heroic efforts, Juan and few others were featured as men of the year by GQ Magazine. Â Katrina spelled disaster for paintball even to this day as whole fields were swallowed up. At the time, there were five paintball fields, today there are only two operating fields left in the region.
Like so many others Beatle and Hollywood returned for the 2006 DDay game now very engaged with this annual monster match. While the Allies lost that year, Beatle was again promoted to Major for Charlie Company and lead 100 of the 1st Divisions finest. Â Mark this as another milestone as Beatle’s analytical mind now kicked into overdrive. Â The SAC of the time received a full written assessment outlining the necessity of establishing an Anti Tank Unit courtesy of Beatle. Seeing as it was Beatles idea and as Beatle puts it he was ordered/told to put his idea into motion, thus the 899th Black Cats was born. Beatle was once again promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in charge of the Allies leading Anti Tank Unit which continues to play a big role to this very day. Beatle himself was awarded the Allies “Most Valuable Player” for both his off the field and on the field contributions.
In 2007 Beatle prepared to lead the 50 men of the 899th BlackCats and once again found himself the recipient of yet another field promotion to full Colonel. The Allies enjoyed victory that year due in part to the introduction of the 899th as well as strong field command and the tactics employed. Beatle, a real trooper continued on always willing to help out with the many details of the game that no one else wish to attend to. As Beatle puts it “those that organize the seemingly unimportant details succeed most in competition”
Now a true veteran of the DDay experience, Allied Command continued to fast track Beatles role in the largest paintball game in the world with yet another field promotion to General for the 2008 DDay game. For the 2009 game was promoted to Major General and was an integral component of the Allied command battle staff.Â For 2011 and as Beatle puts it, another proud moment, as the SAC returned Beatle back to his roots with a full command of the 1st Division. This gave Beatle an opportunity to once again rejoin his son Hollywood on the field now serving as an Officer for one of the 1st Division Companies.
For the men of 1st Division, Â the battle is always the hardest taking Omaha Beach, the Germans most heavily fortified position of this historical re enactment. In 2011, Allied Command deployed all of its resources which translated into as Beatle puts it ” a screaming, hands down success as the Allies stormed and seized the beach in 30 minutes”. Beatle was credited in part for this victory and the victory overall for the Allies in 2011 which put him on the short list as a successor for the SAC role. Â Then SAC, Jason “Grifter” White finishing his third year as SAC retired to a quieter role at the end of the game.
Next year, the 15th Anniversary of the DDay experience will be a big year, already battle plans and recruitment are well underway. Â Part of those arrangements included seeing Juan “Beatle” Parke a shoe in for the role of SAC. When asked what the plans are for next year Beatle was quick to respond “while many details cannot be disclosed I can say the wheels are already in motion. Almost 1000 war models will be ran between now and then. Some reorganization is already in the works with the creation of new jobs, expanding the role of other jobs and finding jobs for new people in the organization. We are filling our ranks with talented people including Str8shooter, Bond Chick and Silverback, formerly with the German side. I have an advantage stepping into this role having worked so closely with SAC in previous years. I do predict victory for the Allies in 2012 however the tides of war are fickle. Some things just cannot be predicted, weather being a huge factor on how the game plays out. The German side of the game are extremely talented opponents whom I also consider very good friends… expect the unexpected.”
Its been a while since the Catshack has inducted an individual into our Catshack Hall of Fame. A place reserved for individuals whose time served in the world of paintball has added to it. As for Oklahoma DDay, it isn’t just another paintball game, it is a paintball experience unlike any other! Check it at http://www.ddaypark.com/
Welcome to the Catshack Hall of Fame Beatle!