The Greatest Time I Ever Got Overrun
February 27, 2013
Ok, to preface this story I need to explain why I wasn’t able to attend Lion Claws II, which was definitely a learning experience.
I, like many other airsoft enthusiasts apparently, plan what gear and guns I’m taking to an operation long before I ever buy a ticket and, as such, I sometimes miss out on the operation because I WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO GET A TICKET.
This is exactly what happened in the run up to Lion Claws II. I showed up at my local airsoft store with a list of gear I felt I needed for Operation Lion Claws II and the conversation went something like this:
Salesperson: Wow Bob, you’re really stocking up this time. Gearing up for a big game?
Me: Oh yeah! I went to Lion Claws I last year and it was awesome. I’m totally going to Lion Claws II this year.
Salesperson: Oh, did you get your ticket?
Me: No, why?
Salesperson: Well, it just sold out yesterday.
Me: You’re kidding?!
Salesperson: Nope, see? [He turns the computer screen around so I can see that the event is sold out.]
Salesperson: Do you still need all this gear?
Me: Yeah… I guess I’ll just get 2 bags of BB’s instead of 4, but I still want everything else.
Regardless, when Operation Lion Claws III and IV came up, I purchased my ticket well in advance. To be specific, I tried to purchase one online the second it became available, and I was lucky I did that because I believe the entire operation sold out in a few days at most. After my ticket was purchased I began to get my gear in order for the operation and I decided to go with a slightly more MILSIM load out than my previous years. At the time of the operation, the majority of combat deployed units in the US military were using interceptor plate carriers so that is what I purchased along with a much more lightweight LBV-88. Since I already had a helmet, I purchased a 3-color desert helmet cover along with a tan shemagh to protect my face (more specifically my teeth) and to complete my head gear. Lastly, I ordered a rather expensive pair of goggles online (I think they were around $120) because the set came with a fan integrated into the goggles which was my primary means of preventing fog. Honestly, the goggles were very effective, the only downside being that I had to keep the goggle fan on at full blast for most of the operation and if I had been trying to sneak around at any point, the sound of the fan going at full blast would have given my position away.
With my gear and ammo purchased all I had to worry about was what I was going to do and who I was going to hang out with when I actually got to the AO (Area of Operation).
Lion Claws III, which was the year before, was the first milsim operation I’d been to on my own without any friends. To be fair, my college roommate Sean was slated to go with me but his wife’s family was caught in a tsunami in Indonesia and I reluctantly agreed not to make him feel bad about missing the game. That said, when I went to LC III by myself I was a little worried it might be a bit awkward not knowing anyone, but my fears were soon swept away when I met the squad I was going to be attached to.
For those of you that haven’t been to a Lion Claws operation or even a John Lu event before, one of the great things about going besides the actually game play is the camaraderie between the players no matter what side you’re on. There are literally hundreds of future friends at these events and all it takes is a modicum of effort to go up to someone and say hi and that’s exactly what happened for me. Lion Claws IV was perhaps one of the most fun operations I’d been to precisely because I didn’t know anyone when I got there and when I left I had made about 10 new friends.
With that in mind, I was utterly prepared to meet my squad leader for the next Lion Claws event. When I arrived at the AO I found my platoon commander and he let me know I had been placed in 3rd squad with the War Dogs. The War Dogs aren’t around as a team anymore and as many airsoft enthusiasts know or at least find out later in their career, airsoft teams, more often than not, do not last forever. Inevitably people from the group move out of state, find new hobbies, or end up having enough obligations that they can’t feasibly contribute to the team anymore and that’s essentially what happened with the War Dogs. Dave Storm, my squad leader for the operation and at the time a member of the War Dogs, is still around and can be found at John Lu operations regularly, hell he even sang the national anthem at one of the recent events I went to, I think it was OP Route 66 but I could be mistaken.
To be honest, I could not have been happier with the War Dogs, they were just the kind of players I’d always wanted to go to an airsoft operation with. Everyone had something they were good at: there was “Sniper” who was a former Marine Corps sniper who had a tendency to just run over a hill, find the enemy, and start shit; there was “Borino” who had defected from the Soviet military in the middle of the cold war and came to the United States to live as free man; there was “Cowboy” who was our cowboy hat-wearing, stoner machine gun-toting support gunner with a weird sense of humor; and my favorite of the bunch, “Gunner” who was a navy vet who was very good at looking tacticool and carried between 3-6 claymore mines at any given time. There were a few more members whose stories I could get into, but I think it would be best for all involved if I just get to the crux of the matter which was the airsoft action. Needless to say I was absolutely content to fighting with the War Dogs at my side.
Alright, with all that out of the way I need to start off my discussion about the actual game play by saying this is the first operation that I’ve been able to fight side by side with AIRSOFT TANKS!!!
That’s right, airsoft tanks! I’d been to other operations before where we had a deuce and a half or a humvee with a gun mounted on it but this was the first big game I’d been to where we had the Honest-to-God airsoft equivalent of tanks. The “tanks” were equipped with two turret mounted machine gun which could traverse the full 360 degrees, supported a crew of two, and was purported to be completely amphibious. To take a “tank” out, an enemy had to hit the “tank” with two rockets. After the first rocket hit, the tank would be immobilized and the driver would have 15 minutes to attempt to repair the vehicle. If the driver was shot during this time or a second rocket hit the tank, the tank would be considered destroyed and would be out of action for an hour.
There was also something else new about this operation that I hadn’t ever seen before: maps with little figurines showing where friendly and enemy units were supposed to be. There were telephone lines that had been ran around the entire AO so that command elements for both sides would be able to talk to each other in case of an emergency and so that each commander could contact his forward operating base to stay aware of the current battlefield conditions. Overall, this operation was leaps and bounds ahead of the kind of airsoft I was playing at Operation Iron Angel, and I couldn’t have been happier about that.
As for “the greatest time I was ever overrun”, I’m going to fast forward through some of the slower parts of the operation and just start off right when my platoon links up with some armor support.
About an hour before the end of the first days operations, I had just respawned and I was on my way back to our platoon’s rally point when I ran into the remnants of my squad. They all seemed to be in good shape and still had a fair amount of ammo, so we linked up with platoon command to find out where our next objective was. Our LT informed us that we would be assaulting a tree line where an enemy munitions dump was located and that we would have armor support. The next moment felt like it was lifted right out of a movie because someone in our huddle let out an excited “You better not be kidding”, and our LT responded with “nope, they are just over that hill” and as we looked over to where he was pointing, not just one but two airsoft tanks appeared, ready for action.
Our platoon’s morale skyrocketed immediately, and I think we were all pretty excited to finally fight with some badass armor support, but I don’t think any of us anticipated what would happen when we got to the objective. It was only perhaps a quarter mile to our objective so once we were within sight our platoon sergeant called for a quick meeting. He informed us that our squad was going to be the rearguard for our assault on the tree line and that we would have to leave one man behind with a radio to coordinate our squad’s movement with the LT. Sensing possible glory and assured awesomeness, I promptly volunteered. My squad started moving and took up a defensive position just below a hill about 100 yards to the rear of our assault, and once that happened, the LT gave our tanks the go ahead to commence the assault.
Once our tanks were within 300 feet of the tree line, someone on our team spotted movement and the tanks gunned their engines forward. I was far enough back to be able to see everything that was going on with both the main assault as well as my squad’s rearguard action, while at the same time being within arms reach of our platoon command element. Moments after our tanks began engaging the tree line, our infantry moved forward to cover the tanks from rocket attacks as well as to sweep the tree line clear of enemy forces. Unfortunately, the infantry commander had misjudged how far forward they would need to be to protect our armor from enemy missile troops and just as our tanks reached the tree line an enemy player armed with a rocket launcher stepped out from behind a tree and fired at our lead tank.
At this point, our entire formation started taking fire from the front and our LT realized that we had actually assaulted a much larger force than our higher ups had led us to believe. At about this point I was ordered to take cover with the rest of the radio men behind a log that was about the size of a large motorcycle and I began to take stock of our situation. Our lead tank had just taken another rocket hit putting it out of action, our infantry had been stopped butt cold at the perimeter of the enemy base and our other tank was firing everything it had when it too took a rocket round. As our LT conferred with two sergeants behind our second tank, I turned around to check on my own squad only to see around 80 enemy players massing just on the other side of the hill from my squad. I began screaming on the radio for them to either get to the top of the hill to put some fire on the enemy or pull back into a more defensible position.
At about this time a single enemy trooper with a rocket launcher stepped out of a bush only 150 feet to our rear ( I have no idea how he got there) and fired a rocket. From this point on everything felt like it was happening in slow motion; I saw the rocket arcing through the air toward the log I was hiding behind so I grabbed the radio guy next to me, threw him over the log, then jumped over right after him. Because I had taken cover behind a log, if it had landed where I just was I would have been fine. Sadly, it landed just behind our sole remaining tank, which is exactly where our LT and the two sergeants were. I looked over and the radio guy I’d just thrown over the log and he just shrugged and said “well, there goes our command element” then we both jumped back over the log to engage the enemy that slipped past our rear guard.
Once our command element was destroyed, our assault turned into a rout, which then turned into a massacre. The enemy attacked from almost every direction, our rear guard (my squad) was overrun and the last few players on my team left alive were the ones behind that log with me firing and reloading, firing and reloading.
The picture above was taken from behind the log that I was defending until I was overrun.
I know it probably sounds stupid, but it was probably the most amazing airsoft experience I’d ever had up to that point. As much as it sounds like it sucks to get overrun in airsoft, it was honestly such an adrenaline pumping experience to have more targets than you could possibly shoot at and to have to reload as fast as possible just to keep the enemy out of melee range.
As much as some people might complain about milsim operations being slow paced, boring, or too restrictive. They’re also some of the only events that I’ve ever experienced balls-to-the-walls, run-and-gun, epic airsoft action at, and, for that reason alone, I will always make time in my schedule for a good milsim game.
Special Thanks to the War Dogs for being great guys and even better teammates!