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10-19-2019 at 10:38 PM
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Call of Duty: Real Life

Allow me to share a bit of my past. Perhaps it will entertain you, perhaps it will motivate you to share as well. Also it will allow me to share some pretty cool photos. :)

My oldest son is now 17 and has signed up to the Military. That has lead me to do a lot of thinking of my own experiences. This first photo is what I was doing in 1987, training as part of the Canadian Mechanized Light Infantry.

In 1987 I joined the infantry. Our weapons and equipment were older than we were. A lot of our gear had not changed since the early 70's, which is why a lot of photos of Canadian military in the 80's invokes images of young Americans in Vietnam. I was on my basic training when Full Metal Jacket came out. We never saw it until months later, which was a mind job. Our instructors were truly inspired by Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (Lee Emery). They were just as mean and strict as he was, but without the professionalism unfortunately.

If I had a photo of my time back then, I would have looked like this cheery fellow. That is a C2 fully automatic rifle. It fires 7.62 nato standard rounds (big!) from a 30 round magazine. That contraption on his chest is called a Bra, and is used to carry 4 additional magazines. That means he is carrying 150 rounds of heavy ammunition, with another 80 or so in a pouch on his back, affectionately called a "butt pack".

My brothers in arms loved to go out drinking and womanizing on the odd time we were let out, but not me. I spent all my money at an arcade called "The Dragon's Lair". It was bigger than anything I had seen from my home town. They had the latest games including Road Blasters and Commando. I bought roll after roll of quarters and stayed until they closed.

In between courses things were rather slow and we had much more free time. I brought my NES from home along with as 13 inch Sears color TV I got in 1984 from my parents for my birthday. I still have that TV in my little retro museum. It was a popular activity with my friends and they really appreciated the distraction from being homesick.

2 years into my service Canada upgraded to state of the art weapons. I was upgraded from a 1950s FN-C2A1 to a brand new FN249 Minimi (light machine gun, 5.56mm nato standard ammo, 200 round box)

In this photo you see the winter warfare gear we would wear. Mukluk boots (extremely warm) arctic mitts, full winter parka and thermal pants covered with white camouflage. The coldest I can remember training in was -30 C (-22F) but it could have been way colder. We were getting bad frostbite on our ears and were pulled inside for the night. Other nights we were in Arctic tents that kept the wind out, and were nice and warm in our arctic sleeping bags. Getting dressed was a real shocker if you forgot to keep your pants under your sleeping bag, as they would be frozen.

Around that time I upgraded my NES to a SNES and loved it as much as I loved my upgraded gear and weapons.

Since then video games have gotten exponentially more realistic. My first FPS that I truly loved was Blood (the one Jace Hall made). Then Quake III and Unreal Tournament. Then I got into Battlefield 1942. Then I added the Desert Combat mod with all the modern weapons. I was in heaven. When I played these games I could smell the gun oil, the smoke. I could feel the thud of the artillery rounds. When the Call of Duty games started coming out, I was getting bored of the genre and I started playing older games again. Then I re-discovered arcade games, Twin Galaxies, the entire retro scene.

I am proud to say that I survived my youth and have raised three kids that appreciate old games as well as new. We have computers and game systems all over our house. My sons both enjoy the range and the oldest has been taking marksmanship courses for two years. My daughter loves Japanese culture and as I discovered the other month is fascinated with Gary's mod and is now playing Half Life! (I am so proud!).

Anyway, thanks for reading. Now you know a little bit more about me.

P.S. The vehicle on the left of your screen is a Canaidan Iltis. That is the first vehicle I ever drove. I had my Military licence (called 404s) 2 years before I got my civilian one! I also drove various pick up trucks, crew cabs, and even a 5 ton MLVW (Medium Logistic Vehicle Wheeled, 6 wheel drive). What a beast!

  1. Pat Larocque's Avatar

    Great pics and backround Bill!! Much respect to you and hats-off for serving this country! From the stories I've heard from friends/family that have served, it's definitely not an easy gig! Love hearing the correlation between the training and video games also.....although my career path is quite different from yours, it's very much the same when it comes to the games 'keeping you sane' so to speak!

    I've been a professional touring and session musician since the age of 17 and honestly don't think there's ever been a tour without some kind of gaming system close at hand. Some of the fondest memories I've had over the years is bonding with fellow musicians over Madden and NHL tournaments. We would keep the boredom at bay with round robin tournaments on the tour buses and hotel rooms (even backstage sometimes) for hours on end, much like you mentioned above, to simply keep the homesickness and general boredom on down-time.

    Another great memory from the road was always our '4th of July' vacation every year, where we would rent a campground for a week in NH just down the street from Funspot. Since I was never much of a 'drinker' or 'party guy' I would spend most of those weeks going back and forth between the go-karts and Funspot instead of partying at the campground.

    This pic is from the Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany if my memory serves me correctly. Yet another festival that was spent mostly on the bus and backstage battling it out with other musicians on the Xbox. Great memories!!

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  2. datagod's Avatar

    Hey man, thanks so much! And I love your story too. That is a heck of a lot of people to play in front of!!! I stayed at the Sun Valley cabins many times in the past 10 years, and love Funspot tournaments. Sadly they are no more.

    Video games are the great equalizer. No matter where we come from in life, we can bond over games.


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