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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rangers lead the way!

Here's a nice write up about the Sicily game put on by Ron. Thankfully, the writer corrected my mistake in the interview- I referred to the "Mt. Etna" board as "Monte Cassino", which is in Italy and not Sicily (but I'll be damned if it didn't look just like it!)

Anyhow, here's the link:

Coming soon: Panther A Platoon pictures, F4F Wildcat Pictures, and pictures from the Sicily game.

Full Article copied & pasted for posterity after the cut.

War Games

By Mike Strasser, Managing Editor

A war broke out at the U.S. Army Women’s Museum Saturday – sans explosions, firefights and bombardments. Instead strategy, experience and the roll of dice were the arsenal used to claim victory.

Flames of War is a World War II tabletop game where two opponents, armed with miniature armies, move, shoot and fight in any one of several scenarios such as “free-for-all” or “hold the line.”

This year’s tournament – the fourth organized by Ron Bingham, museum technician – recreated the Battle of Sicily in 1943. Experiencing war history from the point-of-view of a frontline commander is an aspect of competition not lost on any player.

“I like to refer to us all as ‘history geeks’ because we all have an affection for military history,” said Phil Gibbons, after the first round of competition. “When you have people like that, you tend to see a lot of attention to detail. A lot of us strive for historical accuracy. That’s why you see the exact representation of specific units.”

Gibbons, a retired Marine Corps master sergeant, is known by Flames of War colleagues as “Gunny Phil.” Winning and losing aside, he said the tournament is more about enjoying the camaraderie that comes from playing the game.

“My wife loves it when I go to a tournament, believe it or not, because she said I always come home in a great mood,” said Gibbons. “It’s good mental therapy to get out of the daily grind and come out here and peek into history. We can’t experience what those guys experienced by any means, but we can explore it and understand it better. Bottom line, it’s a lot of fun.”

Steve MacLauchlan said he wasn’t interested in history until he began playing Flames of War four years ago. The Richmond native used his collection of rangers to take the hill in Mount Etna for a victory.

“Before this, I knew nothing about these engagements,” said MacLauchlan. “The immense amount of troops that fought, the casualties ... it’s hard to imagine.”

Visitors to the museum were able to watch the competition, and ask questions about the game itself. Shan Palmotier gave the McGowan family a tutorial on Flames of War and the history behind the Battle of Sicily.

Pat McGowan, who brought her daughter and two sons to the tournament, was impressed with the details in the miniature soldiers and vehicles. Her youngest son, Andrew, liked the playing field, filled with trees, roadways and battle positions.

“I loved the way they’ve incorporated the actual time period to the game,” said Pat. “The details, I think, are what makes this game more real.”

Along with two families on a home school field trip, Soldiers from a basic noncommissioned officer course also stopped by to see the action.

“As a museum staff member, I believe the high point for the day was when the two home school families arrived to learn about WWII,” said Bingham. “This shows that these type of museum events do reach out to the public and that there are many exciting ways to teach and even participate in history.”

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