Operation: Irene-III

Zussman Village MOUT Facility Fort Knox, Kentucky


23 - 25 September 2005

Operation Irene-III was held on September 23rd through the 25th of 2005.  Team Blackjack deployed five personnel to the event and together with six members of the Shadow Wraiths/Rogue Scouts and one independent player from California, Ryan Yoneyama, formed the third squad of first platoon of Delta Company.  MSG Mullins (Ret.) commanded the Company. 


The Good

There were a lot of good, great things about this event.  I think Chuck Thornton used the term "sensory overload" and I'll be damned if it wasn't!  I am just going to start listing them as they come to me so they are in no certain order.

Sound Effects:  The sound system in the town was awesome.  It allowed all sorts of sounds to be played that really made you feel as if you were in a middle eastern town.  Middle East style music, gun fire, explosions, screaming, vehicle noises, helicopters, calls to prayer, animal noises, you name it.

Pyrotechnics:  This too was an awesome facet of this event.  Artillery rounds exploding nearby, machine guns firing, explosions of vehicles and buildings, RPG rockets flying about and blowing up rooms and vehicles.  Buildings and vehicles burning and smoking.  Smoke grenades obscuring views.  During the night game it was even more intense with the flashes of the artillery and the flares going off causing you to be backlit and freezing each time the shadow you were stealthily moving through suddenly disappeared and became broad daylight momentarily.

Role Players:  These guys and girls really made the experience complete.   The townsfolk trying to go about their normal lives while Charlie and Delta company slug it out through out their little town.  Some of them taking one side, some of them taking the other.  Some of them remaining neutral while some of their loyalties were swayed with money, food, water, or weapons.  Women with their babies in their arms huddling in corners trying to avoid being shot in the cross fire.  Insurgents walking about with their weapons on their backs, waiting for the opportune moment to unsling them and attack an unsuspecting soldier of either side.  The Imam, priest that proved very helpful to Delta Company as we persuaded him to not only not hold his religious ceremony but instead persuaded his congregation to take up arms and fight with Delta company against Charlie and the insurgents.  These folks did a top notch job and made it that much more fun than it would have been. 

Vehicles:  Cars, jeeps, trucks, buses, technicals, and armored personnel carriers all were about and moving through the battle field.  No matter if they were just one of the locals trying to get to the store or a jeep screaming through the town firing a machine gun from the back or an M -113 APC rolling through the town carrying a squad of troops inside and providing cover for the troops following it.  The vehicles were all excellent to have in the game. 

The Town (Zussman Village):  The town itself.  Everything from the embassy to the sewer system underneath the town it was great.  Large buildings, small buildings all in various states from perfect to destroyed.  We had access to everything.  Basements, roofs, sewers, you name it we could go there.  It is very hard to explain the town very well while still doing it justice.  Just look at the pictures in the gallery here:


Col. McKnight (Ret.) and Master Sergeant Mullen (Ret.):  What can I say.  These two gentlemen are very competent, respected, accomplished professional soldiers that did their best to lead their respective companies to victory.  They both take their own personal time to come out and spend time with the airsoft community during these operations.  They both enjoy meeting the airsofters and spending time with them both on and off of the field as they came around to each of the camps to socialize a bit.  A big thanks to both of them for everything they have done for the country and what they do for the airsoft community.

Challenge Coin, Event Hat, Event Patches: Each player in the event received a very nicely made challenge coin minted in what appears to be bronze.  Everyone also received an event hat which had several of the sponsors logos embroidered around the hat while the front says OPI-III Zussman MOUT, Ft. Knox, KY.  Each person also received a subdued event patch that was worn on the left shoulder and if the player was an NCO he received a set of stripes to wear on the right arm.

Raffle Winnings:  There were many sponsors for the event and as such there were many raffle prizes given out.  Many hats, shirts and such that were just tossed out to the crowd.  There were a couple of AEGs and various other tactical pieces of equipment and gear.   I myself actually won a Dragon Models 1/6 scale action figure of Col. Danny McKnight (Ret.) that he was gracious enough to sign for me.  Something I will always treasure.  Keith Leary won a Classic Army polo-style shirt and ball cap. 

Working with other teams:  One of the great things about this event was getting a chance to work together with other teams.  Of course Team Blackjack, Shadow Wraiths and Rogue Scouts all deployed as 3rd squad 1st platoon but we also got to work with other great teams as well like Ghost Cell, Black Company, Strikers, Team Banana and all of the others.  It seemed that we spent most of our time in the company of Black Company because of how the squads in the platoon fell.  I would also like to say that Mercy of Black Company did a very good job as the platoon leader of first platoon.  She did not micro-manage the squads and was able to maintain a situational awareness that allowed the platoon to operate as smoothly as could be expected within this unique environment.

Shadow Wraiths and Rogue Scouts join Team Blackjack:  This operation showed to all those involved that the Shadow Wraiths and the Rogue Scouts all work very well together.  As a result of how well they worked together, both the Shadow Wraiths and the Rogue Scouts will be joining as squads under the Team Blackjack banner.  We welcome them all as our team mates and fellow airsofters!


The Bad

There are far fewer bad things associated with this op than there were good things.  In my book that makes this event a success.  Fact is we all had a great time and that is what makes the event a success.  The bad things that I will list here are only listed as points of constructive criticism and not meant as just pointless bitching.

Rules Changes:  The changing of rules back and forth was a little frustrating.  They were even occurring at the last minute during the mission briefings.  I can however, understand the challenges behind getting everyone on the same sheet of music while trying to coordinate and event and how sometimes a rule that initially sounded good my not look so great when it comes down to the wire.  This was a minimal thing really but I have to mention it as it was mentioned to me as one of the bad things.

Heat Injuries:  While heat injuries are not the staffs fault, the only negative thing I can say is that the several long formations throughout the day, between missions, could have been abbreviated or done in a more relaxed mode.  Standing in a formation with all of your gear on in the hot sun is not conducive to avoiding further heat injuries.  Possible uniform modifications as well might have helped.  Even the real Army has it's heat categories and the appropriate uniform modifications that go with each.  Such as the rolling up of the sleeves or the dropping of the blouse.  Again, just something that the staff may want to consider in the future for any operation in a hot and humid environment.

Stacked in Favor of Charlie Company:  This was heard and perceived many times during the event.  I can not speak directly about some of the things I heard that would support this as I did not not hear them directly from the source.  I will however state that it was very obvious that the Charlie company FOB was much closer to the AOO than the Delta company FOB.  Also on Sunday's mission, Charlie company was given a full 15 minutes to enter the town and locate the rangers and pilots before Delta company was even permitted to approach the town.  With some of the fast movers on Charlie company I see no reason why they could not be in and out of the town with the rangers within those 15 minutes.  These two things I can confirm as I witnessed them myself.  The other rumors I will not discuss for the fact that as of right now they are just that, rumors.  Like I said before, I had a great time at the event especially once I got it into my head to quit expecting victory for Delta company during this event.  It was a little tough on moral for myself and I think the squad and I know this was the general consensus among all the Delta troopers I spoke to.  I'm not saying that Charlie company did not fight hard or that they didn't deserve to win, on the contrary they fought hard and non-stop.  It's simply that there were some environmental variables that were definitely in their favor.  I just concentrated on the fight and the environment and that is what made up for the obvious slant.


The War Stories

If anyone has specific war stories about this event they would like to send to me please do so and I will post them here for you.   You can send them here.

I will start out with what will be the one thing that I definitely remember doing at this operation forever.

A.J. (Sixgun) and myself bribed a civilian in the church with an event patch to drive us around the other side of the town that was held by Charlie company.  So we piled into the red car, A.J. in the back, me riding shotgun and of course our driver.  As we rode through the streets in Charlie's back-country I continued to wave to the Charlie troopers and saying hello to them as if I were on some public relations tour for Delta company.  Many jaws dropped and fingers pointed as we did this.  Sixgun was laughing away in the back seat.  Between heaves of  laughter he kept saying that I was crazy and going to get us all killed.  Eventually one of the Charlie troopers that I had said hello to began to raise his G-36 to shoot at us.  I waved my finger at him and said "No, no, no...You wouldn't want to miss and kill this civilian would you?"  He dropped his weapon back down to his side while staring daggers at us as we drove away. 

As we rolled through the World Bank Consortium and into the alley behind it we found Col McKnight and his contingent of Charlie trooper guards.  He looked up at us as the cries from the troopers indicating the presence of Delta company troopers was passed quickly and loudly through the area.  The Colonel looked right at me as I waved and shouted "Hi there colonel!" We sped away from the area before the Charlie company troops could hem us in and capture us.  We were then dropped off at building number 2 near the embassy to assist the rest of our squad in holding the building. 

Echo5Hotel (Jim Hunsinger) Team Blackjack 0301D

Sunday Mission: BlackHawk Down
Delta Company, First Platoon, Third Squad, Bravo Team, SharpShooters:
In a roughly formed skirmish formation, Third Squad followed a M-113 Armored Personnel Carrier,(APC), into the town of Zussman. The APC provided much needed cover from both the embedded Charlie Company soldiers and the insurgents.
First and Second Squads, comprised mostly of Black Company and Team Strikers, respectively, moved in ahead of us, cutting a quick path through the recently overpacked cemetery, around some small houses and started their way up Market Street.
As the Third Squad SharpShooters reached the corner of the market, we found the Strikers pinned down in front of the Zussman News Network building, a few bodies down and needing a medic. We could hear their squad leader yelling out over the constant gunfire and rocket propelled grenades,(RPG's), going off all around. " Keep moving, Keep it going, Move Move Move...". Rounds pinged off the corner we glanced around from the "sappers" on the rooftops and upper floor windows at a bad angle for the Strikers to get anywhere.
Alex "Gunstar" Taylor, Joe "Reaper" Wesson and I, moved quickly into the market stalls facing the ZNN building, to try to provide some cover for the troops to ascertain a foot-hold on the corner and hopefully the building it'self. As we moved to each progressive stall, we covered the mover with fire, attempting to pin the shooters down long enough to allow us a better vantage point.
When we finally reached the final two stalls, through a hailstorm of fire, it gave us a great angle on the Zussman Hotel, as well as the bank and rooftops, where Charlie was bunkered down so well. Reaper brought it to our attention that most of the Strikers were piled up and wounded in front of ZNN. The Second Squad medic was at the rear corner tending to the wounded soldiers wounded in the first rush on the building.
Reaper glanced my way and said, "We need to get them out of there, the medic will never make it to them." I called out to Gunstar, "Cover Reaper, Hit those windows!". Gunstar and I rained fire on every window bearing a chocolate chip,(6-color Desert), uniform, as Reaper tore across the road on his rescue mission.
Each time Reaper ran forward to pull another soldier out, Gunstar and I gave Charlie hell, streaming rounds through the windows, down the street, and everywhere we could see a head, hand or foot. We alternated changing magazines, so that at least one of us could constantly fire while Reaper and the wounded were exposed to the open street.
Once the wounded were all safely back at the rear of ZNN, the medic tended to their various wounds, a lot of blood-red rags were visible. Reaper returned to the market stalls to help Gunstar and I cover Second Squad as they moved to take over the ZNN building.
Two of Charlie's marksmen ran across the roof of the bank towards the roof of the ZNN building, to get an angle on our sharpshooter team. Gunstar had just taken a near fatal round to the head. Reaper and I both took quick aim and sent a burst after the rooftop runners. Soon after this threat to our sanctuary was removed, Charlie moved troops into the lower levels of the bank, directly in front of us. By this time, Strikers had control of ZNN and Reaper and I both went down from the crossfire. AJ "SixGun", of team BlackJack, pulled the rest of my team to safety and to the much needed medic.
As exciting and fast-paced as this small part was, it could not top the end of the mission. As we were regrouping, the Second Squad, Squad Leader, approached reaper and I on the soccer field. He stretched out his hand to Reaper and said, " I want to thank you for what you did out there, for me and my men. We couldn't have done it without you saving our asses."
Reaper received some well-earned respect that day, for doing the right thing, at the right time. It made us all feel very proud of our team member, our team and for all of Delta Company.

Gecko (Lew Kirk) Team Blackjack, Rogue Scout Squad 0301D