News: JBLM BOSS program participates in paintball extravaganza
Story by Sgt. Mark Miranda
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – Waiting for the referee’s whistle blow that would signal the start of the next game, Spc. Deshawn Lavigne chose a direction, a path through the trees that would both take him toward the objective and protect his team’s left flank position.
The goggles of his facemask fogged a little as he was sweating from previous matches, but it wasn’t a real concern at the moment. Checking the ammunition reservoir a final time, he followed three team members as soon as he heard the signal.
Lavigne, a wheeled vehicle mechanic from Chicago, looked down the barrel of his raised gun as he moved carefully through brush. Around him, other players stayed down, quietly low crawling along the forest floor.
Within minutes, several light puffing noises followed by the splatter of paintballs against tree trunks alerted Lavigne’s team that they had been spotted.
Shooting while moving, the team scattered and yelled to one another trying to determine the location of their opponents.
In the minutes leading up to a paintball match, most players are anxious about getting hit until it actually happens. Players usually shrug off the initial sting, and aside from being tagged “out” of the game, can enjoy the rest of the time spent playing.
Soldiers and Airmen, through the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Better Opportunities for Single Service members program, were invited to enjoy a “paintball extravaganza” July 28 at the Danger Zone, a paintball facility on Lewis North.
The paintball outing drew more than 30 service members who were split into two teams, competing for a day of fun-filled action.
“We’ve been planning this for almost a month,” said Pfc. Tavares Burton, military policeman, 66th Military Police Company. “Something like this is a good time for those who’ve played before and want a way to do so with their friends.”
The first BOSS paintball event took place in “The Village,” one of the Drop Zone’s most popular fields. Concrete buildings, barriers and vehicles recreated an urban environment. The battle areas are zoned to keep players from wandering too far off and encourage fast-paced matches. Each game lasts approximately 30 minutes.
“They have an upper woods field which is a big, wide wooded area with lots of trees ranging from narrow to real wide ones,” said Burton, originally from Brunswick Ga. “This is a fun field to play on. My favorite is their hill which has a top portion with plenty of bunkers to shoot at the guys on the bottom. They rotate fields often so you get a chance to play all of them.”
Between games, players refilled paint ammunition and compressed air. They shared their paintball war experiences, showing off their welts and splattered “badges of courage.” One Soldier talked about his experience getting hit, sharing advice for new players.
“The less exposed skin you’ve got, the better, so you see most people out here wearing long sleeved shirts, maybe a thick sweatshirt. One of the difficult things is dealing with the lens on your mask fogging up, but you have time between games to wipe it clear,” said Pvt. Jose Rodriguez, food service specialist, Headquarters Support Company, I Corps.
Though playing paintball is a way to blow off steam and take a break from the stresses of work, it’s also a form of recreation that makes use of several basic soldier skills.
“You’re not really thinking about it when you’re playing, but you’re using some of the training you’ve gotten if you’re military: reacting to contact, tactical movement, using principles of cover and concealment. I wore a green sweatshirt to blend in (with the vegetation) and it’s helped some,” Lavigne said.
All of the matches for the paintball extravaganza were variations on a capture-the-flag theme. One game required teams to infiltrate enemy territory, capture their flag and return it to a safe zone. Another placed a flag in the middle of a forest, and the winning team was the one who brought this flag back to the team’s designated starting sector.
“I’ve played paintball before, but never here. Overall, this was a great place to play. I’m glad I came and I only found out about this event a few hours before it kicked off. I made sure I was ready to go; BOSS events don’t disappoint,” Lavigne said.
The JBLM BOSS program, currently based at the Warrior Zone building on Lewis North, was recognized last year as the “Best in the Army,” according to Spc. Sable Meyers, JBLM BOSS President.
The BOSS programs are built on what it calls their Core Pillars: quality of life, community service and recreation/leisure. The program participates in projects that give back to the surrounding community.
“We’re always looking for volunteers. Aside from the recreation events, we like to promote community service. Some of the volunteer programs we get involved in include Boy Scouts, the Headstone Volunteer Project and Veterans Home Visits,” Meyers said.
Through VIP: Volunteer Incentive Program, BOSS logs those volunteer hours. At 200 hours, soldiers can earn the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, which is worth promotion points.
Volunteers also take a role in keeping one another safe with the BOSS program’s designated driver program, which provides a safe ride for service members on Saturday nights, 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.
“Through BOSS, soldiers have the opportunity to speak up on barracks, dining facilities and any quality of life issues. It’s one way to empower soldiers with a voice,” Meyers said.
Service members can contact their unit BOSS representatives to find out more about getting involved with the program. For more information, visit their website at http://www.facebook.com/BOSSJBLM