Over 8 months since EW 8 I finally got the photographs I took at the event developed! I took very few this year so I thought I might post them in a sort of AAR, (since I never did one
) assuming I can remember when I took them.
First up we have a beautiful.. Um.. sunrise I think? Taken at the Eastbloc camp:
The camp went up really quick this last year of EW. Mostly because we had no kitchen, or mess tent, and we held off trenching for a while until rain was threatening. This worked pretty well really, a blight some trenching in the rain. I had fun repairing phone lines to admin despite some challenges.
Next is a very blurry photo in the command tent:
Coop was sorely missed, however we had a first year Soviet recruit filling his shoes. He was at least good for locking in the radio room with a grenade or two.
With the dwindled attendance we had, I spent a lot of late nights at the base RF-10 and chatting with the rest of our skeleton crew. Speaking of the RF-10s, I think they worked great this year. Once we had discovered that hash from our battery chargers had been interfering with the radios in the camp, we had only battery problems. When the radios were charged they worked brilliantly. Not that it matters much at this point.
As for our field operations, I will always remember the smashing success we met with on our first night out as Grenzers. Our objective was to ambush a convoy, and that's just what we did! We had two, two man groups consisting of Chef and myself on the one side of the road, and Doorman and Kaptain Fabelhaft on the other. I vaguely recall discussing general location to set up and some debate over who would fire first. I believe it was supposed to be Chef and I with a grenade and small arms fire into the middle of the convoy, should one come. We would up in a slightly staggered position, with Chef and I just a bit farther north than Doorman. After setting up, I was highly dubious that we would meet with any traffic, given the size of the AO. I figured I was settling in for a long sleepless night, perhaps not unlike the one at EW 7 where Ian and I shit ourselves over some creeping armadillos. Chef and I traded off napping and watching for a time. We were jolted awake once when Fabelhaft radioed us on the UFT-771s that he thought he saw something. There was some confusion for a time but we eventually figured out that it was a false alarm and settled back in. Once the haze of sleepiness had settled in again I began to hear things. Engines to be exact. Chef and I exchanged glances (more like silhouette nods) confirming that I was not hearing things. Those familiar with the AO know how difficult it is to predict whether noises heard will actually come your way. We strained our ears for what seemed like many minutes, staring off into the dark road. Once we were able to hear stick cracks and footsteps accompanying the engines, we knew for sure they were on our road! This was it! Chef readied our weapons and we waited to see the first Mut. I could see soldiers on the road, then the first Mut. Feuer! I cant remember if we both had grenades, or if just Chef did, But I remember re-throwing a mis-thrown one and it appearing to land just short of the road. It went off, followed by a similar bang and some bursts of fire from our Genossen on the other side. I opened fire with my AK into the confused mass lining the road before being beckoned back by Chef. I could see NATO taking off in all directions! Into the woods on our side, some towards us, some parallel. I took up another position and continued firing, frightened as I was that perhaps I was seen, realistically there was little chance of this. Eventually Chef and I fell back to a deer trail some distance back from the road, and the lost NATO men in the woods. Our objective was now to rendezvous with the other half of our team. Now my memory gets a bit patchy. If I'm not mistaken, I think we were planning to find each other near the butt hole. Thus ensued a bit of a game of marco-polo, unless I am confusing another night op. Eventually we did find each other though and, hoping we had made some havoc for NATO, headed back to camp.
Now we have a photo of good ol' Oberfeldwebel MasterChef:
If I remember correctly, that photo was taken just after climbing through a wall of brambles straight up a cliff in the western AO to do a little recon.
Here's the recon:
Not much to see really. At that point, we were convinced that NATO was up so something in this area since we had discovered Land Rover tracks heading off in this direction in days prior. Chef and I sat up on the hill overlooking that valley with our Zeiss binos and Praktica SLRs all afternoon and didn't see squat.
After a different day of recon, where Chef and I (backed up by a squad of soviets with a dead radio battery) surveyed a fuel dump deep in the hills of nato land, our commander decided to have our own WARPAC convoy to pick up said fuel. This began pretty well from my perspective. I was the point man.. Right up to the point where I became the first to die, or lets say, first to become mortally wounded for the sake of continuity. As Grenzers I guess we were tasked with being the sacrificial lambs for the Soviets. Doorman followed my lead to.. becoming mortally wounded, shortly thereafter. The mines we tripped were lain just as Grenzweg became Vossstrasse. Through my bloody half open eyes I just had time to watch Han skillfully disarm the remaining mines and the convoy left us.
In the days leading up to our pseudo-surrender to his holyness of NATO, there is one more event of note that I vividly recall. A brilliantly planned and executed operation if I do say so myself.
I think it was mostly the brain-child of Curfman. Anyway, we had been getting reports of pesky NATO troops treading on Neuhausen-Spree. Given that this was our front door to the AO, we were having none of that. Following an operation by Chef and Doorman of the Grenzers where they met their demise in that very town, an operation was planned by which we would storm the town and massacre any NATO troops left. We hoped this might teach them a valuable lesson. The assault would be carried out by our top soviet squad, and seeing as it was the middle of the night, they were to be lit by flares, which were to be shot off by Curfman and a team of Grenzers acting as a De-facto Feuerwehr brigade. We set up in the field behind some culvert pipes while the Soviets got into position. They radioed in a codeword to us on the UFT-721s when they were ready to descend on the town and we shot off the Czech flares. Despite some warnings from Brett, they worked pretty well. There might have been one dud maybe. All the while we heard nothing but full-auto small arms fire and countless grenade pops in the town. We were all giddy thinking that someone was getting massacred in there by our Soviets. Later, we found out that they had been shooting at nothing.
Lastly heres a pic of nothing in particular in Arch Bishop Swayze's Cottbus:
After our march to this place, I recounted stories with some of the NATO troops stationed here and discovered why they had not opened fire on Fabelhaft and I on a recon run we had done on Cottbus earlier in the week. We took several hours, tailed by a photojournalist, to get to the outer ridge of the compound, and it was only after retreating from a forward LPOP behind a dirt pile within the town that we were pursued. We got pretty close to some Americans, my gun jammed, Fablehaft fired from afar, but ultimately we booked it back across the valley unscathed. Apparently, the reason we weren't greased by these Amis is because they were looking to form some sort of truce with us to stave off the increasingly crazy Swayze. Who knew.
Well that's all I got. I will really miss this event. Thank you all for the fond memories.