Marking D-Day with massive U.S. paintball battle
By Steve Olafson
OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters Life!) - Mighty forces are gathering in the U.S. and they're looking for a fight. They're well-organized, high-spirited and heavily armed -- with paintball guns.
In one of the largest paintball games in the world, some 3,000 people in Oklahoma will relive the events of June 6, 1944, D-Day, when German-occupied France was invaded by Allied Forces, marking a turning point in World War Two.
This year's Oklahoma version will mark the 14th time a D-Day-style paintball game has been staged. There's an Allied side and a German side, and even the French Resistance is represented, but it's not just a paintball free-for-all.
Instead, in a large, rugged park, Allied Forces and the Third Reich will compete to achieve certain goals based on the many individual battles that occurred 67 years ago.
There are mock tanks rumbling around, pyrotechnics exploding and soldiers tumbling out of plywood landing craft amid a cacophony of clacking paintball guns.
"The field sorts out the men from the boys," said Andy Van Der Plaats, a 64-year-old marketing consultant from North Fort Myers, Fla., and a high-ranking officer in the Allied paintball chain of command. "The adrenalin is just cranked. It's stressful."
It's a big deal in Wyandotte, population 500, where Dwayne Convirs created the event in 1997 to honor his grandfather, Enos Armstrong, a combat engineer who fought his way through Europe after landing in Normandy on D-Day.
The first version of Oklahoma D-Day drew 135 players, Convirs said. Since then as many as 15,000 people - including the families of players -- have shown up to either camp out on the grounds of Oklahoma D-Day Adventure Park or stay in nearby motels. Continued...