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Duncan's Games

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Duncan's Games
Photography by Bill & Dawn Mills
September 2006

paintballOn April 2nd, 1972, Lieutenant Colonel Iceal Hambleton, whose call sign was Bat-21, was flying a mission near Cam Lo in Viet Nam when his EB-66 aircraft was struck by a surface to air missile. What followed was the largest search and rescue mission in US Air Force history, and the loss of additional American servicemen, before a successful rescue which involved a Navy Seal floating Hambleton down a river to safety.

Hambleton's story, and the stories of those involved in his rescue has been the subject of a best selling novel, untold numbers of news articles, a major motion picture, and most recently, the inspiration for a scenario paintball game.

paintballSeptember 30th through October 1st, 2006, Duncan of Duncan's Games, himself a Viet Nam veteran, produced BAT-21 at Disaster Sport Paintball in Kissimmee, FL.

Over 300 players came out, and were divided into teams representing American and North Viet Namese forces. “ORJester” of team Orbital Reign in Tampa, FL filled the roll of general of the US troops, while “Meltdown” from Team Outkast in Palm Bay, FL led the NVA. Local team Osceola Raiders and the Black Berets from Old River Paintball in Ocala, FL served as the game's referees. The event drew players from throughout the southwest, and even further. Game promoter Kerry “Viper” Rosenberry made the trip out from Texas to take part..

paintballRather than trying to directly portray past events, the game pitted the two teams against each other, having to complete missions representing the type of actions taken just south of the demilitartized zone in the early 1970s. These included activities like finding a non-player character at a bridge and escorting them to safety, finding a missing airman wandering the field, and some more unusual challenges. To add to the competition, communication became just as important as strategy. Missions were issued to teams using a coded number system, rather than plain English mission objectives. Incorrect communication would mean the teams would go out, and complete the wrong mission. Referees only noted what was completed on mission cards – so a mistake in translation would cost a team a lost mission and lost time.

When the real Colonel Hambleton was communicating with his would-be rescuers, his love of golf came into play. To encode his position and travel plans, he described terrain and directions using the layouts of famous golf courses. The golfing theme was not lost on Duncan as he laid out the game. Each general was given a set of golf clubs, and one of their challenges was to get a handful of golf balls from a starting point to a goal, using “their best skills.” Similarly the official field map was laid out with golf course greens, the understanding of which was critical to the completion of key missions.

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