Justin "Blanfo" Blanford

Justin “Blanfo” Blanford posing for a shot on Utah beach, Oklahoma D-Day (circa 2007)

A Decade of D-Day

My first experience at D-Day was unforgettable. Barely 18 my friend Taylor and I made a 900 mile journey to play in the worlds largest paintball game. We had read about it in a magazine and figured “why not?”, it could turn out to be a lot of fun. 900 miles later we pulled down an old dusty road and into what felt like Disney Land for paintball. 10 years later and we are still making the journey and I still get that feeling as we cover the last few miles of road leading into camp. Now the roads are paved though and the looming image of massive church peaks out over the tree tops as you approach; it really gets the blood moving.

Flash back to my first experience on the field. Taylor and I gear up early, we talk extensively about how we are going to stick together through everything…..What naive boys we where. The smell of wet earth, gun oil, and paint fill the crisp morning air. The sounds of units forming up and moving, guns being tested, and nervous excitement echo all around. The call is made, our unit forms up and marches out to the landing crafts. Here we go.

The first few boats leave without Taylor and I on them. We can see, at least somewhat, the boats hitting shore through the smoke. The metal pings of hundreds of metal bolts smashing paintball’s into place and sending them down a barrel in our direction is deafening. Our turn. We climb aboard the boat and we work our way to the front. The boat lurches forward and everyone aboard the boat becomes dead silent. Only the sound of paint whizzing over head and the call of the driver can be heard. The gate drops and all hell breaks loose. My first instinct is to run right, but its clogged with “dead” infantry trying to get off the beach. I turn back left just in time to see Taylor get shot square in the chest, he looks up at me as paint continues to rain down on him. Suddenly I realize I am on my own now so I make my way towards the first trench. I weave through infantry trying to make my way to a safe place, screams and smoke fill my senses. while covering the last 15 feet to a trench I use a rather large man as cover pushing him along as I go. Upon arrival I throw myself into the trench and lay low. As the adrenaline starts to slow down I begin to look around and see just how many of us made it….and how many did not. I hear orders shouted from somewhere down the trench, they are passed on by each man until the message reaches me: get ready to charge up the hill. Dozens of smoke grenades are thrown at once up the hill creating a thick layer hiding whatever lies beyond it. Paint continues to pour through the smoke and into our trenches. The man next to me is hit straight in the mask, his head snaps backwards and he lets out a moan of disappointment. I do a quick gear check and find that I am ready for the charge, good thing because the order is given and we all leap from safety. Hundreds of us charge up the hill and into the smoke screaming.

This is D-Day. Ten years later and my heart is still racing.

Justin “Blanfo” Blanford

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  1. Pingback: Guest Blog Post by Justin “Blanfo” Blanford: A Decade of D-DayGritzArts

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