Wicksteed at War 2017

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What an absolute blast! After arriving early on Friday morning and taking a look around, it was clear to see that the show had grown considerable since last year, there were so many more vehicles and so many more groups, and even a slightly expanded arena! And not to mention the nice pitch that we, Rolling Thunder, had to play with. Friday was taken nice and slowly as we laid out a small display and spoke to the school children about the Vietnam war on both fronts, with Pete getting them protesting and Phil showing off all of his gear whilst we waited for more Rolling Thunder elements to arrive. And the showers and blustery winds still didn't put a dampener on things, as we were excited for the weekend ahead. And luckily, the weather became oh so beautiful. After the majority had arrived throughout the day, we set up and got down to business. We certainly put together one hell of a display. With GP tents, a pup tent city, fly sheets, a M38 A1, mannequins, kit, personal effects and weaponry galore and even the damn hippies! Also, the glorious M113s and the fantastic guys of the American Infantry Preservation Society (AIPS) . Peter Seal brought along his leeches and a dead tarantula and scorpion to show that its not just the enemy you had to fight but also the wildlife.
After all was set, we chowed down and went to party! 
What a fantastic night it was! Pete's dancing is enough to put a smile on anyone's face.
Waking up bright and early on Saturday morning, it was clear to see that Mother Nature was going to be kind to us. Topped off with a pleasant breakfast from Mo! The sight of Grunts sunning themselves around camp was one to behold. I can assure you that there are still a vast amount of sun burns and tans present from the weekend. Really immersing ourselves with the heat, the sound of AFVN broadcasts, the good old banter, and living in the period, really made for a good feeling. Experiences like that can't be gained anywhere else. And having the absolute pleasure of talking to a living legend, 1st Lieutenant John Harris... a 3 tour USMC pilot. John is an absolute hero, the stories he can tell are well worth listening to and he's a man that I could talk to for hours on end!
Now... show time... After extensive planning and running around, especially by Luke and Craig, it was time for Rolling Thunder and the AIPS to take centre stage. After collecting our weapons, we mounted up on the tracks and made way for the battlefield. It's impossible to describe the feeling of being in the back of an M113 just waiting and waiting for our time. And the adrenaline rush as we hear the gears shift and feel the track begin to move is such an amazing high. As the ramp dropped, we all fanned out on either side and began laying down fire on Mr. Charles in the tree line. After advancing up to the knocked out Jeep, I took a hit, and went down kicking and screaming. The surrounding sound of gunfire and the sight of smoke and charging GIs was truly disorientating, I couldn't imagine how those brave souls that did it for real must have felt. After Victor Charlie had been dealt with, we mounted up, took a tour of the field and headed back for our debrief, and even practiced our maneuvers in the arena with the AIPS after show hours, to really get us looking spot on for Sunday's battle.

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Later that evening, we had a wonderful BBQ, courtesy of Mo and Wayne. There is no better comfort than having delicious, hot food... and lots of it! I can't possibly thank you enough for the way you looked after us. We all truly appreciate your efforts! Along with the presentation of an absolutely wonderful cake for the AIPS' Pete's 50th birthday, which looked and tasted great! The atmosphere was just fantastic. Sunday morning, the last show day. The Wolfhounds gear up for our photo shoot with Sean RT Bao Chi, Scott, and also Aidan of NAM Photography. After finding a fantastic bamboo shrouded area on the Friday afternoon, we met up with our photographers and headed straight there, which made for some epic photographs. And then we were sent through the thick vegetation, and took some relaxed shots of Grunts at rest...
Then we came to the part that we were oddly excited about. The lake! Our dear Roger braved the water first, getting drenched and covered in silt and mud, especially after a couple of tumbles, I certainly didn't envy the task of cleaning everything Roger! Then one by one, we all took the plunge and headed into the lake. This made for some awesome photos, but the stench of our uniforms afterwards was close to unbearable. And our hard as nails M60 gunner, Ben, even fully submerged himself and held the Pig high in order to recreate a somewhat famous photo from the time! Now that's dedication. After all of us waded out to neck high water and got a badass group shot, we charged straight out of that lake and went to dry off and dull the awful smell. We then dedicated the rest of our time before the battle to getting everything dry and relatively clean. With Luke even showering in his fatigues
And again, our time came, we donned our gear, went to collect our weapons, and mounted the tracks. Ready to put on the show of shows. And we sure did! I never got to see much of the battle in person, as I took my hit again and flailed around until the end. But the videos look tremendous! Now the fact that the show was coming to end had set in. As we began to pack down our camp and displays and say our farewells, it was clear to see that Wicksteed at War 2017 was a hit! We were all still hyped up and I wish it lasted longer. A massive thanks to everyone who took part. You really made the show what it was! 
A personal thanks to the AIPS for use of their tracks and for the good times shared.
Until War and Peace.
 Ash McNeill, 2/27th Wolfhounds, Rolling Thunder.

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wickwon00.jpg Photo report from RT "Bao Chi"

 All original untouched photos

 
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