Hello boys and girls. Something happened last weekend and I would like to share that with you. But let me start from the beginning.
It was a relatively cold evening. I had a dinner with some of my friends but to tell you the truth I couldn’t concentrate on the talk we were all having. I couldn’t wait for it to end. My gear was all packed up and waiting for me back home. As soon as it rang 10pm I ran back home, took my gear and drove to my teammate house. There two of them were waiting for me. We had a drive to the camp in north part of Serbia. It was a national park Deliblatska Pescara. Scheming and planning, the drive was pretty fast. We got there at 2am. No idea how many people arrived already. Perhaps a hundred perhaps none. We called up the team that organized everything and they showed us our sleeping quarters. Damn it felt like in the army. Bunk beds and no room at all. But it was warm. Sleep? No sleep. I have been playing airsoft for a while but I still get that itching feeling before the game. We went through our gear again, checked if everything was there, and to my astonishment it was. That never happened. Usually Murphy meddles and I always forget something. Ok, all done, we went to sleep. Long day tomorrow.
Morning came. We got up and put on our gear and were ready for our tasks. But like always, first we had to do a chrono. While going to the range to chrono our guns, we could see that the camp is actually a resort. Quite big and lots of space to play. Little did we know that behind the resort there is a vast playground that every airsoft player would appreciate. Sand dunes, bushes, some forest, etc. I can’t say it’s just like in Afghanistan, but it damn well felt like it. We did the chrono, and had a big brief before being deployed. I looked around and I so around 200 people there. I was happy to be one of those invited people there. Btw, I forgot to mention, we were there as Legion Flavia Felix IV team. Name came from the Fourth Roman Legion stationed in my home town of Belgrade, called the Lucky Legion.
After all of the briefs, some rules, etc., we were ready to deploy. It took us some half an hour to walk to our base. We were part of the US fraction that were in coalition with the YPG. Not a huge bunch, there was somewhere around 40 of us in total. Sounded good until we got the brief from the CIA operative in the base that we were up against Russians, Syrian army and the IS. Ant there is around 150 of them. Ok, I got the bumps but that is why we are here. Operation Road to Deir ez Zor was a go. Not much info at the beginning. We know that ISIS forces are spread all around the road and are defending the approach to the city of Deir ez Zor. We need to clear that approach. The issue is that Russians and Syrians are about to do the same thing. We needed to be the first. The three of us joined up with the team called OAF381. Papa One gave us the mission of clearing the west side of the road leading to the main intersection. We checked our gear once again and were ready to go. YPG was to protect our left flank and Papa One will take the right (east) side of the road. We started our sweep.
Intel in general was not very good. No markers no info about positions of the enemy nothing. The sweep was going slowly. Really not much to tell about that. We walked and crawled for couple of kilometers with no contact. But after that we reached the first clearing. There came the first contact. Now the issue is that before engaging the contact we needed to identify it, since it would be wise not to enter in a fire fight. We do not want an international scandal on our hands. Thankfully they were members of the Islamic State. With no losses we cut them down and went through their stuff. No luck, they had nothing. No luck for me too, I did not get a chance to try out my new gun. But one good engagement lead to bunch of others and our advancement was very slow, and our force started to decapitate. We lost 7 people in the course of 1 hour. After the squad leader of OAF381 fell I took the leadership of our two squads. We tried to push to the intersection, but all that we could hear is an intense fire fight with no end in sight. Also, everyone was very static, which we do not like. So, we pushed back south and tried to go around. That is where something very good happened. Some of our guys fell into an ambush. I know it does not sound good, but it is. After some slow and careful movement on our part we managed to pin down the location of the enemy forces. They were members of IS as well. I flanked them and took out both of them. Losses were also 2 guys, but what we lost in numbers we gained by inspecting the fallen IS soldiers. We found the map that had all the spots written on it. Russian and Syrian base, IS base, our base and all the strongholds and FOBs. Huge boost to moral and our endeavor.
We took a careful walk back to HQ and reported what we found. You can imagine the happiness of Papa One when he realized what we have. We also debriefed with the Langley guy and got some info form the assets on the ground. What we were very glad to hear is that Syrian army is scattered and in a very tight spot, ravaged by ISIS forces. Unfortunately, that was not the case with the Russians, which will later prove to be a very bad thing for us.
Small break, copying the coordinates from ISIS maps to ours and we were ready for our next mission. We got orders to put up an antenna that will help our fly boys to do air strikes on the positions in the field. That would be great right. Just as we were preparing to move, another intel reached us. The CIA guy ran up to us all breathless saying that a Russian airplane is down. The pilot survived and we needed to pick him up. The problem was that everyone was looking for him. And I do mean everyone. Russians, Syrians, IS and US. Who gets there first gets the prize. First hand Russian intel. We rushed out to get him, and sent YPG to place the antenna.
The terrain was very difficult. Sand got into everything and with all the equipment we moved as fast as we could. When we got close to the crash site we were in for a nasty surprise. Russians beat us to the spot. But all was not over. They were in a heavy fire fight with the IS. Now problem with the IS was that they do not work as a disciplined army. These dudes were all over the place. And I do mean all over the place. And spread out in small groups of two and three guys. When we too our positions we were facing the IS. After that was another line of IS and they were in fight with the Russian forces. We could not flank in case we hit Russians. We did not want that. And somewhere in the middle of that was the pilot, hiding. It was like finding a needle in a haystack, and the haystack was on fire. The fight was on. Shooting like crazy everyone covered their sector. We managed to break through the first line of IS bot not without losses. They were heavy. They had the advantage of being entrenched. And it seemed that as many as we kill, they kept coming back. What we did not realize is that the Russians out smarted us. They fell back and the rest of IS forces turned against us. Now that would not be an issue, since we managed to neutralize them, if the Russians did not come back and attacked us, and we were already in a very bad condition. When they attacked we hesitated because of the instructions we got back from the HQ, but then we got the OK and started firing back. And It was intense. Seven of us were left when they advanced. Our saw spayed, we were shooting like crazy moving from cover to cover but there was no use. Their snipers and their numbers have beaten us. We lost. But hey, we got the antenna remember. The day was over.
Day two started pretty much the same, but ended up not to be the same at all. During the night and some small skirmishes between fractions, our operatives analyzed the map we acquired. The HQ realized that if we manage to capture and hold three enemy spots, we will manage to ensure that the road to Deir ez Zor is open and ours. Also during the night, my team was reinforced by one more able body. We set out on the path of clearing the road. Now what happened on that road was confusing to myself but I’ll try to relay the story as best as I can. First spot was S1. It was not that far away but straight away we stumbled on one IS fellow with a saw spraying on our boys. And he was dug up pretty well on out 12. I took one guy and we managed to pull aside to our right flank and advance. Every move we took was filled with fire coming from the SAW position. Thankfully the rest of the team started shooting at him as soon as he started shooting at us so he had to duck and cover. Couple of minutes later he was taken out. Entrance to S1 was clear. Now came the S2. As we started moving again, a guy appeared out of nowhere. He was part of our fraction. Had all the right markings and gear. He was a reinforcement that came in this morning. He was a sniper. He said that he knows the roads well and he led us to S2. We took some back roads and let the YPG to deal with any contact on the main path.
With some small skirmishes on our way, and IS fighters yelling from far, far away we managed to reach it and take it. Buy now I changed my role to covering 6. This is what I do best, and whenever our team moves I stay back for 5 to 10 more minutes. Just to make sure. And to tell you the truth that was very interesting and intense. I could hear the IS forces like they were only few feet away from me. Scary. Some exchange of fire, some yelling, I told them to go do some bad stuff to their mothers, since they threaten me that they will cut my troth, and I heard that some guys from Papa One outfit experienced that faith. I did not want to be killed on camera to tell you the truth.
S2 to S3 was relatively easy. And just that was very suspicious to me. When I got the S3 our boys were holding it for 10 minutes already. Helicopters were on their way and ETA was 20 minutes. That is how long we had to hold it. If we manage to do that, we won. The mission was accomplished. We knew that IS was going to attack at any moment and we put out our defenses all around the S3. As a squad leader I checked on the boys and was about to light up a cigarette when I saw a strange figure walking around our landing zone. Straight away I gunned for him. He was not one of our own. And I was right. When I faced him, muzzle in his face he was startled and had no Idea what to say. We had an infiltrator. Was he the only one? Guys from Papa One outfit were preparing to tie him up when all of the sudden a fierce fire came from the hill nearby. I ran out to my right and out of the line of the fire, and before I knew it, all of them were gone.
The entire outfit of 20 people was gone. There was only 5 of us left. I looked around and saw the new guy, sniper guy alive. That was not normal, he was standing right there. I took a shot at him, as soon as he was tagged he yelled while falling to the ground. Allah Akbar. It gave me the chills. That guy was with us the whole time. But someone else was shooting at me from the hill to the right. He had our gear as well. No choice. I had to shoot. Me or him. I managed to get him first. Now there were only 3 of us left, and a lot of IS forces. Do or die moment. One guy stayed on the hill fighting in parallel with IS, I was back and near the landing zone, shooting at anyone trying to get to it, and third guy was to my left protecting my left flank. And then it came to me. WE HAD THE ANTENNA. I yelled on my coms to reach the dude from CIA. When I finally got him, he started mumbling how the Russians are on the way to help us out. I thought to myself “dude, by the time they get here we are good as gone”. I asked if the antenna is still in place and do we have an air support ready and in place. Thank God, the answer was yes. Three airstrikes ready and at our disposal. I ordered the first one to my 8 o’clock 30 meters out danger close. You can imagine how close they were when it was a direct hit on IS positions. Second was ordered by the teammate on the hill. He had a very good line of sight with a nearby road intersection. He took his chance and also scored a direct hit. We could breathe a little now. But it was still not over. Last 3 minutes. Man, they seemed like eternity. We were down to one strike. Guy on the hill ran down to my position. We stack up near a bush and were ready to take the last shot before the reinforcement came in. They were one minute out and we could not let IS take the helicopter down before it lands. We bombed the hill and ran to the intersection to cover any possible flank. It was done. We survived. The Road was secured. After intense, I can say most intense 20 minutes in my airsoft history, I was out of breath out of energy and good as dead. We won.
Walk back to the resort, and sharing opinions about what just happened, our game was over. OP: Road to Deir ez Zor was over. I was, and am now, very thankful to the guys who made it happen and decided to invite us to participate, team called SOKOL from Serbia. Players were great, LARP was on an extremely high level and the experience was priceless.
Hope I did not bore you to death and that you had fun reading this. Have fun, and Keep shootin’, keep playin’, see you next time!