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Sam goes the the Eastern Front on the West Coast

Greetings survival blog readers. I’ve been tasked to write up a concise yet compelling synopsis of my trip north to a war reenactment. Ost-West Kampf! is an annual World War 2 reenactment set at the tail-end of the war, Hosted by Camp Rilea in Astoria Oregon. For those of you unsure of what a reenactment is, it’s when a bunch of people dress up in period correct clothing and uniforms and shoot at each other with authentic old-school weapons firing blanks to ensure real fun and fake deaths. The aim is to act out famous battles such as the fall of Berlin, and other interesting historical fights that may have transpired.

In our group we even had some real enthusiastic fellas show up with armored cars and half-tracks to cruise around in. This of course really helps with the immersion of being scared of large, fast-moving death machines. Now to those of you who frequent the store, it isn’t much of a surprise hearing I have a bit of an interest in the last great war. At a time when all of the different fighting countries had a near-equal level of power and technology, any breakthrough in any field of research could make or break the war effort for the rest of them. As a result of this, huge achievements in science and medicine frequently take place as a result of war, especially war on a global scale. World War 2 brought us things like atomic power, the microwave, portable radios (walkie-talkie), and rocket engines. It’s hard to say we could have made it to the moon as fast as we did without technology developed for war.

The political climate at the time is also something future generations, like myself, should study and take note of. Like somebody with more credentials than myself once said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” I think it’s important for the younger folks to keep history alive when our elders leave us, so we don’t forget, and so we don’t make the same mistakes. To me there is no better way to do that than to reenact a giant human-wave charge into nazi machine guns for the people and the workers of the Soviet Union.

My friend Neco and I arrived a day early to settle in, unload our equipment, and get the best spot to sleep in the barracks while we meandered around and talked with other guys as they slowly started to file in for the weekend. The first thing I noticed about my first reenactment is the people there with you. It’s fantastic to show up to a strange place to discover that every single other person there shares almost the exact same hobbies and interests that you do. I suppose it makes sense, it’s not like two hundred guys in Oregon stumbled into Red Army soldier uniforms and just needed a place to offload them. We all put in time, effort, research, and of course, cash, to be here.

As more and more began to file in we performed some field exercises and maneuvers to be ready for the big day. We also picked up a few good phrases in Russian so we could really tell them what we thought of their invasion of the Motherland. When the big day rolled around we got up bright and early with the foggy dew and marched out to die for the rhodina. At first there was a lot of laying around, waiting, watching, positioning, trying to find, or at least hear, the enemy. We started to get excited when we heard shots ringing out a-ways off and signals were being given through the tree cover.

A few scout motorcycles got close enough to our happy little hillside that we lit them up with some small arms fire, which made us feel cool for a bit. Then the SS drove their 222 armored car over the hillside and we just about did everything we could to be invisible. I even tried to hide under my rain cape to blend in with the grass around my stump a bit better. If spotted, all of us would be dead in the blink of an eye. It did, however, not see us, and it got close enough, it was possible that one of us could land a lucky molotov cocktail or grenade down the hatch and take it out. In classic Soviet fashion our best hope against a well-engineered all-wheel-drive doom wagon is a hot bottle of the good stuff and a solid throwing arm.

Luckily the 222 eventually passed us by without incident and we began to move up to the treeline where we had spotted Germans talking to the scout bikers. Our Sergeant made the call to march us down into some real thick brush once we got there. I’m not talking undergrowth. I’m talking under, over, alongside, and every damn-where growth. We got whipped in the face by pine trees, slipped on wet mud, twisted our ankles pulling our boots out of root lattices on forty five degree inclines, and to top it off, the animals in the area were obviously very well fed, if you catch my drift. The experience was I am sureThe Germans we were trying to sneak up on heard us trekking through the mire of thorn bushes and tree roots and ended up getting the drop on us.

We lost our first real engagement pissed off, sore, and tired because of our tarzan jungle bungle. So naturally the chain of command deigned it wise to send us right back into our squad-level hell of a gully right after that. Now I’m not a field marshal, but call me crazy if I think the enemy watching you march into your hiding spot tends to make said hiding spot… ineffective. Long and short of that little maneuver is we all got killed in seconds flat by a 222’s MG42 when we tried to get out of our hole to cross a road. Not to worry though, our sergeant stayed back in hiding and watched us all die valiantly after giving the order that led to our swift demise.

Right about now the Red Army started to converge and we saw our impressive manpower begin to amass in one place, it was a thing of beauty. All day we had watched the 82nd Airborne American forces stomp through open fields like they were bullet proof (seems they never heard of tactics or cover) but now it was our time to shine. We took our amassed numbers that would make the enemy quake in fear and we marched them right back down into the sloped treeline and got stuck in thorns instantly. Gotta hand it to the brass though, the chain of command’s calls and lack of empathy were super accurate to an actual military setting. Great stuff. We all died trapped like rats in a hole trying to snake forty plus guys and girls (the Red Army is all about equality) through the labyrinthian underbelly of this west coast jungle slope.

I did throw a molotov cocktail(Dog squeaky toy bottle) in the middle of some circled up German motorcycles and may have killed several of them in a fiery storm of death. Not sure though, it’s hard to tell if you got anyone when you eat about seven handfuls of bullets once you jump out of a treeline shouting “oorah!” After our lopsided big battle started to die down the Americans took the liberty of finally showing up and began to cut down the nazis using the dead center of an open road as cover.

Then the SS division showed up from atop a nearby hilltop to fire back at them, and suddenly it was starting to feel like an honest to God World War Two battle. The GI’s brought some real cool gear to play with and it was a pleasure watching rifle grenades rain down on the SS while a few guys plastered their positions with some big beefy American BARs. After that last nazi scum bit the dust we cordinated with the American forces on setting up and ambush a ways off from the top of a ridge overlooking a crossroads. We got up to our spot and were quickly informed by our British friends where Jerry was, where he was coming from, which direction he was headed, and what he brought to play with. It was a neat display of British intelligence gathering at work in real life, combined with America’s doctrine of “The best way to win a war is never show up on time.”

I sat under a tree with my trusty mosin and my molotov bottle with Neco and our sarge right next to me and we waited. The rest of the squad all got into solid defensive positions right before the Germans advanced across the road. Finally we got the jump on them and cut them down with a fusillade of firepower, no survivors! My fellow soviets yelled for me to turn around and, sure enough, coming down the road from our flank was an unguarded SS troop transport truck. I gave my best oorah shout and threw that bottle with everything I had and bounced it right off the hood of the truck, taking it out. It felt good, real good. A few guys gave me a pat on the back and we talked to the Germans a bit before they headed off for our last giant battle of the day. Both sides commanding officers planned the engagement out so we would all get stuck in and have tons of fun and gunplay, and I gotta say, it was glorious.

Us Soviets spread into wide lines and began to cover an entire field with our sweeping advance while the Americans engaged the Germans dug into the top of a hill and a nearby mountainside with their halftrack. Once the Germans attention was focused squarely on our allies we all shouted our thunderous “OORAH!” and did a mass charge on the German position. Forty or so pissed of Red Army soldiers sprinting flat out on their position and Americans closing from their flank took the fight right out of them and they tried a disorganized retreat and we got most of them in the chaos.

It might’ve been to most fun i’ve ever had seeing the fear of God on their nazis faces when they left their heavier guns to run. After a long gunbattle and a bit of following behind the American halftrack chasing the Germans into their  last position our squad was ready to retire for the day. We had cramps, broken boots, low ammo, and dying daylight. We sat around with everyone and talked out the day for a bit and headed back to the barracks to get ready for the after party. Which is a staple for OWK here at the big year-end event.

I definitely plan on going again next year, and possibly attending more events in the future, now that I’ve got the taste for it. OWK and war reenacting is an awesome way to meet a literal army of cool people, play with an arsenal of exotic historic weaponry, and live in the past for a weekend. Hanging out in the barracks at night is an absolute pleasure and every one of the guys and gals there are as friendly and trustworthy as they come. All in all, I think everyone should look into at least watching a reenactment, let alone participate in one. Hey, the Soviets have tons of loner gear if you’re looking for a team to join on the fly, wink wink, nudge nudge. If you are interested in getting in on the action check out OST WEST KAMPF’s facebook page. If you have any other general questions feel free to talk to me at the store, I never mind talking about word war two while im getting paid. This has been Sam Hango at Umpqua Survival, thanks for reading. Dosvedanya, comrades.

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