Bite The Bullet
Report From The Front: Operation Iron Angel (2002-06-12)
Firstly I would like to thank Drop Zone Productions for organizing such a successful event in the heart of Southern California. The location, a 174 acre working movie ranch in Agua Dulce, provided the perfect setting for mil-sim operations, and from talking to some of the close to 200 participants who attended the event, people really enjoyed themselves and had a great time. I, for one, enjoyed myself thoroughly participating in the games and also meeting US players who are passionate about airsoft. It was surely well worth the 14 hour flight out to Operation Iron Angel from Hong Kong. The dry desert climate coupled with the mountainous sandy terrain made for an excellent location to play out the three missions of Operation Iron Angel. The organizers took great pains to generate mission briefing documents and provided aerial photos of the site for players prior to the event day. Vendors were also given early access to the site for planning. With all this thorough planning, Operation Iron Angel promised to be a successful event.
For those of you who were not able to attend the event, the main theme entailed two sides (Greeks in Desert Camouflage versus JSOC forces in Woodland Green) battling out several missions over the course of Saturday and Sunday. Numerous military vehicles were on hand to support the games and most players camped out on location for much of the event – fighting by day and partying by night! Adding to the realism were a team of pyrotechnic specialists (Sharp FX) who detonated foam mortar shells and mines against unsuspecting players. Smoke grenades were also abundant, and were often thrown in during the heat of combat to add even more realism. For those of you who did not know, Sharp FX was also responsible for pyrotechnics in the filming of the movie “Black Hawk Down”. The participation of Delta Force team from the TV show “Combat Missions” added even more excitement and flair to an already top-notch event. On hand to sign autographs and participate in the games, they also provided much entertainment and laughter throughout the weekend with their stories, jokes, and human tricks (which I won’t get into here but those who attended will know what I’m talking about).
Many sponsoring vendors also turned up to show their support for the largest airsoft event in SoCal ever. As an avid supporter of the US airsoft market since its inception in 1997, RedWolf Airsoft was on location as a premier sponsor alongside its US partner, The Q Project (based in Southern California). Setting up our booth on Friday afternoon, we provided supplies and repaired AEGs for participants throughout much of the 2.5 day event until Sunday afternoon. Free battery charges were on hand via our bank of Intelli-chargers that participants could use as needed. To make the event more fun and memorable, we also held games to give away free gifts in addition to raffling off some valuable prizes. Gorgeous Q-T girls were also on location on Friday evening and Sunday to sign autographed posters and sell T-shirts promoting some soon-to-be-released products from The Q Project, including the G36, MP7, and the much-rumored M134 mini-gun.
One of the highlights of the event was undoubtedly The Q Project’s unveiling of the new M134 mini-gun, designed and developed in the US. The M134 is a fully functional full auto support weapon that is capable of shooting up to 50 rounds per second at 500+ fps. Power and rate of fire can be adjusted through factory spec'd valving and battery size respectively. Constructed entirely of metal, the M134’s six-barrel turret spins at an impressively high speed to pump out successive rounds faster you can count. Its enormous power is also clearly visible in the form of columns of gas emitting from the barrel and the loud report of full-auto fire. The BB’s travel so fast that you often cannot see them mid-flight - you only hear the “plop” as they land on their target. Many of the players got to see first-hand how the M134 was used during combat in Missions 2 and 3. Jack Ma (President of The Q Project) was seen lugging this 25 pound monster across the game terrain and obliterating enemy forces with a vengeance! “Unleash the wrath of God” was the slogan for the M134, and much of that it did in Mission 2, when Jack came down riding high atop a Deuce, raining BBs on enemy locations.
Poised on the back of the Hummer and protecting "the President" with a RedWolf Custom G3 Snipe during Mission 2, I too experienced lots of unforgettable action and camaraderie with fellow players that will be the substance of stories for years to come. The convoy of desert camouflage-donned military personnel marching alongside our Hummer and other military vehicles, slowly edging through the rough wind-strewn sandy terrain to the other side of the field looked like a scene straight out of the movie “Black Hawk Down”. Much drama ensued during battle and one of the most talked about incidents was when one of the organizers of Operation IA (Alan) held the Greek President at gunpoint within the Hummer towards the end of Mission 2. Alan was sitting on the road-side arranging gear when I first spotted him. We drove by his spot and he promptly caught up with us and hopped into the Hummer for a ride. He looked harmless enough with his mask off and no rifle in hand, so despite sporting his Woodland green JSOC uniform, no one objected to his actions. Three minutes into the ride however, Alan suddenly pulled a Glock out and put it up against the neck of “Mr. President”. “Call Eric (IA game organizer), I have the President”, he said calmly. I was sitting 3 feet from Alan, still busily training my G3 Snipe into the hills when his happened – and it suddenly dawned on us all what had just happened. How could we have been so lax?
What immediately ensued was 3 minutes of high drama – we were all confused how this had happened and whether Alan was just kidding. Confusion turned to frustration and tension when one of the Greek soldiers pulled out his M9 and trained it on Alan, commanding him to drop his weapon or get his head blown off. Another soldier (Joe Dog of the Cimmerians whom I later sipped honey dew juice with the next day) came around the side of the Hummer and rammed his Colt .45 into Alan’s chest. Alan reeled backwards and was head-locked by another soldier sitting beside me. I did my part and simply twisted the Glock out of Alan’s hand to end the stand-off.
If this sounds confusing to you, then I must say that it all happened very quickly in one smooth coordinated (yet unplanned) motion. Of course, Alan got kicked out of the Hummer and the stand-off ended with lots of laughs and smiles (and lots of Greeks pushing Alan around jokingly and patting his back – reminding us all that we were just having a good ol’ time!) Thanks Alan for being a sport and adding some flair to our games! Then there was the story of how one of the Delta Force team members slipped and fell down a slope in the heat of action and landed in a full bed of cactus. His team-mates later had to assist in plucking out the deadly needles though rumor has it that not all needles could be removed on site. Such is the agony of skirmishing! Another story involved a Team Excessive Force team member (Team Excessive Force is comprised of active law enforcement officers) who slid down a 15 foot slope, which ended to his horror in a 12 foot vertical drop.
Luckily, he was able to grab onto a branch and was left hanging on for dear life. Another more unfortunate incident involved a player getting his teeth knocked out by close quarters fire. Luckily though, no one was seriously injured over the course of the entire weekend and everyone finished the games in high spirits.
Ending the event off on Sunday, RedWolf and The Q Project gave out free gifts including caps and other airsoft accessories, and raffled off some valuable prizes - including an assortment of leg holsters, magazine pouches, expensive SOG and modular combat vests, a fully upgraded Glock 19, and an US$800 custom G3 snipe. (Congratulations to the Gray Northrup of Team Roughnecks on winning the grand prize.)
For those who stayed till the very end, Lindsey (the Q-T girl also known as the Vulcan girl), demonstrated the M134 by firing upon several gracious volunteers (Nutter and Andrew). Standing at 30 feet away, one of the volunteers bared his behind in the glaring sunlight, while the other was wrapped to his teeth in protective body armor. Our Q-T girl Lindsey (stunningly beautiful smile) unleashed the wrath of god upon our volunteers, who bravely fronted the rain of BBs were coming at them. They promptly decided to turn and run for the fields and Lindsey tracked them from well over 100 feet away, smiling and grinning with delight. When it all ended, Nutter displayed a fairly bruised behind while Andrew’s arm was also quite bruised. Of course, our gracious volunteers were all laughs and cheers at how they had become the first "victims" of the M134. We all felt bad and commended the volunteers on their bravery. Lindsey felt especially bad for all the pain she inflicted and spent some time tending to and caring for our volunteers. (Lindsey is an EMT in training so caring for the injured is her specialty).
It is important to note that the M134's power can be tuned and adjusted according to needs and game regulations. The valving on the M134 can be used to limit the power of the rounds. The range of power can be toned down significantly to spring gun levels through a smaller valve, or maximum power of well over 500fps can be unleashed through more unrestricted breathing.
Of course, had I known that braving the M134 would have bought me half an hour of Lindsey's caring attention...(oh well). After the excitement wound down, I also took the opportunity to get autographs from the Delta Force team - who are a great bunch of guys. We also held a small closing ceremony with the Beerhunters where we saluted a red smoke grenade to tunes blasted from Greek Commander Brett's car stereo. A solemn moment of silence and the games were officially closed.
On behalf of RedWolf Airsoft and The Q Project, I want to take this opportunity to thank the organizers of Operation Iron Angel at Drop Zone Productions and wish them success in arranging future events. Also, special thanks to the BeerHunters for their hospitality and to members of the Cimmerians and Excessive Force for their help in setting up and tearing down our booth.
It is RedWolf Airsoft’s and The Q Project’s whole-hearted intent to continue supporting the sport for years to come and we hope to see you at the next big game!