NEWS FLASH from Seven Springs (DEC 1943): Attendance records broken; raucous After Action Meeting; a visit by a Caesar; a public shaming of one pilot through a Board of Inquiry; and overall fun and mayhem as B-17 breaks in a new tournament site at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort.
It was our event’s 25th year and counting, surpassing all expectations with a record attendance of 78 pilots. The GMs were not sure what to expect this year in terms of attendance with the move, so we, like so many others, engaged in some prognostications. Mark Yoshikawa (Assistant GM) figured attendance would be down and guessed 55. GM Dave Terry was leaning in that same direction, until he noticed a lot of B-17 folks at 7S, and started getting word that there were a lot of new recruits who were going to show. So, I hedged my bets and went up to 65. But, we were totally flabbergasted by the record turnout of 78 pilots. We always come prepared with enough handouts. In the early days of the tourney (1990s), I would bring about 60 copies even though we routinely drew about 35 participants. In recent years (2000s), as we broke into the 40s and 50s, I upped that number to 70, and this year I had brought 100 copies just in case.
A large reason for the record crowd was because of word of mouth and recruitment of new players. Even though B-17 is listed as an A level tournament, we can take first time players. The main reason why I have always listed B-17 as an A tournament is because it is a solitaire game and I need people to bring copies of their games. We do have a library of games and are trying to increase it, just in case. And this year, we loaned out every copy we had in stock. We are not doing too badly for a game that has been out of print for over 30 years. I think the last printing was in 1983, and a lot of our participants had not even been born yet. Speaking of which, this reminds me that I am getting very old and over the hill too. As are my assistant GMs. We are all getting old and gray.
Staying on the subject of attendance and recruitment, I want to call to attention the special efforts of one particular contingent of B-17 gamers: The Delaware Crew, who was seen wearing a lot of “DE CREW” T-shirts, has led a lot of the recruitment of new and younger players over the years. Evan Hitchings has been one of the primary recruiters over the past dozen years, and now one of his recruits, Ashton Worley, did the legwork to bring a lot of his local gamers from Delaware out to Seven Springs for the B-17 tournament and all the other WBC fun. The 2016 tournament had 26 first time fliers (also a record), most of whom were from the Delaware Crew. We also had 17 women play, which is probably also a record. For his recruitment efforts, and the spirit and enthusiasm with which he plays, Ashton Worley is our 2016 B-17 Sportsmanship Nominee.
By the way, I talked to Evan Hitchings about all of this recruitment, because Evan originally recruited Ashton years ago. Evan said the credit for the large “DE CREW” turnout goes to Ashton, and that Evan’s own role in recruitment has kind of evolved into a direct marketing scheme. I never thought of B-17 having any comparison to Amway, but there you go. Don Greenwood has been trying to understand the success of this tournament for years (and so have I), and now we have a partial answer. We are the Amway of WBC.
And that bodes well for the future of the event – we really do have a wide cross-section of the gaming community, with a LOT of younger players. I would guess over half of the attendance is under 30 years old.
One particular entrant surprised me this year – Marvin Birnbaum, a former WBC Caesar, played in two of the three missions. Thankfully, he was not wearing a toga. Craig Yope had the pleasure of shooting Marvin up quite a bit. Anyway, Marvin’s attendance further illustrates that B-17 is crossing over and being noticed by more serious gamers. What is in our future? A Bruce Reiff appearance? A Don Greenwood appearance? Maybe, although scheduling is a primary factor and two major tournaments, War At Sea and Up Front have always usurped Thursdays for many and drawn against each other as well as B17. One of these years I should move the event to another day and watch the groans from GMs who lose players as a result. Just kidding
Before I discuss the tournament results, I want to comment about Seven Springs. The site is excellent and has a lot of variety in conference room sizes. We were a bit worried about logistics and what attendance we might get. And we are happy to report that we filled the Maple Room to capacity. As a result, we will be looking for a slightly larger space in 2017. We fit all 13 squadrons in the Maple Room, but if we had had a 14th, we would have had to spill over into Foggy Goggle or some other area. We have only had one prior spillover – our last year in the Conestoga room, which led us to the Paradise Room at the Host. Anyway, Seven Springs is very well suited for growth, and we are hoping to increase our record flight crew next year!
Onward to tournament results. This year again featured three missions to Germany and France in December 1943. All missions are historical with research done into the flight tracks and enemy aircraft encountered. The first mission was a repeat visit to the Port of Bremen, Germany, on 20 December. The second B-17 mission targeted the railroad marshalling yards of Osnabrück, Germany on 22 December. Finally, in the third mission, the USAAF struck the airfields of Cognac Chateaubernard, France (near Bordeaux) on 31 December. With that mission, we closed out 1943 and will be moving into 1944 in future tournament years, as we build up toward Big Week in February.
Most of the participants completed all three missions, with the last squadron straggling in and landing at 8:24 PM. Results were tallied and another boisterous After Action Meeting was held the next night to announce the results. We practically filled the Snowflake Forum on Friday night. A headcount revealed that we had a record 72 of the 78 players show up for the After Action Meeting. I know a few people had conflicting tournaments or had to go out of town, but still, 72 out of 78 was just amazing and would be the envy of most GMs trying to fill their semifinals, let alone a meeting! And the quality of my jokes is still just awful. It ain’t the comedic value that draws them - or maybe it is.
Prior to the second mission, Mark Yoshikawa instructed all participants of the new 8th USAAF guidelines requiring planes to avoid dropping bombs over France, Belgium and Holland. The threat of doing so would be a BOARD OF INQUIRY to be conducted at the After Action Meeting. The policy and Board Of Inquiry was meant to be historical and also fun, but it turned into a rather interesting PUBLIC SHAMING a la PRC “chains of shame” and administered by the SLS referee who has sent dozens to the penalty box for the awful crime of whining.
As we tallied results, Mark found that none other than veteran pilot Barry Shoults had jettisoned his bombs, supposedly in the water, but in actuality over HOLLAND. So, at the start of the After Action Meeting, Mark conducted a Board Of Inquiry, and interviewed some of Barry’s fellow squadron pilots, and in particular, Craig Yope. This turned into a rather fun 15 minutes, but the worst part of it was that Barry Shoults wasn’t in attendance. So, the crowd was aghast at how Barry could have defied a direct order from the USAAF command staff.
But, then it got better. Just as the Board Of Inquiry was winding down, in walks Barry, fifteen minutes late to the After Action Meeting, to be received by an unruly crowd fully briefed and ready to pour derision on his poor soul. Mark called Barry to the front of the Snowflake Forum, and the Board Of Inquiry basically started all over again so that Barry could get the full treatment. I swear, I have known Barry for years, but he absolutely looked bewildered at what was going on. But, he took his PUBLIC SHAMING in stride. Barry Shoults, thanks for being a great sport about it. I hope you come back next year.
Our annual prize table was conducted from worst to first (or most unfortunate to most fortunate) with players making selections among the donated prizes. Many thanks to all who volunteered and made donations to the prize table. Also, John Jacoby, the Circus Maximus GM, and his wife, again donated several items that he found at various yard sales and estate auctions over the past year. Although John doesn’t play B-17 with us, his contributions to the prize table and After Action Meeting have been greatly appreciated over the years.
The best and worst (FUBAR) squadron trophies, handcrafted by Michael Coomes, were also awarded for the fourth year running. This year’s best squadron was the “Squadron By The Door” and the FUBAR unit was Squadron #7 who named themselves “Toast By Flak”.
Continuing with the discussion of bad luck, Brendan Coomes came in last with a score of 23. What makes this far worse is that last year, Brendan came in fifth place by virtue of a tiebreaker that he won, thereby losing sixth place and the coveted Sand Plaque. No Sand Parade for you yet, Brendan.
B-17 is one of the few tournaments that awards the coveted sixth place WBC Sand Plaque. This year, there was AGAIN a tie for fifth place between Pete Pollard and Keith MacFarland with a score of 168. The tiebreakers came into play, and Pete got fifth based on the second tiebreaker of better bombing accuracy over the three missions. Thus, Keith “lost” out on fifth place and earned the Sand Plaque instead. The B-17 tournament has thus initiated another member into the Fez fraternity. Also just missing Sand was Evan Cagwin (seventh place by tiebreaker) with a score of 167. John Conlon in eighth place also missed wood by one lousy point.
Scores were tight throughout the standings, with many tiebreakers consulted to resolve the pecking order for the prize table. Six-time champion Paul Risner came in fourth for the second year in a row, this time with a score of 170. His squadron partner Keith Hunsinger came in third with the same score in his farewell flight in his last WBC.
Coming in second was veteran Justin Rice with a score of 179, which might have been enough to win in most years. However, our new champion is one of our DE Crew recruits from years ago. He survived the third mission by shooting down ten enemy aircraft, and in the process, racking up a huge final score of 192. So the overall top prize belongs to Jacob Hebner who wasted no time updating his Facebook photo with a picture of the plaque!
Mark Yoshikawa handled the medals again this year, which is a tradition that was started by Mike Lam. The following is Mark’s medal report for the three missions:
NOTES FOR 2016, S-2 Mark Yoshikawa
MISSION #1 STARTED AT 9:40 AM
LAST CREW FINISHED MISSION #3 AT 8:24 PM
MISSION 1: TARGET BREMEN
JENNIFER BROWN – NEAR THE COAST OF GERMANY an ME-110 was seen attacking the Bomber “COUNDRUNE”. An explosion was seen after being hit by the ME-110. All are presumed KIA.
NORA TUKE – Over Bremen, on trying to return to base plane was seen being hit by flak. No chutes were seen from the plane. All are presumed KIA.
ZACHARY FRANK – About 300 miles from Bremen a fighter was seen attacking the bomber and hitting the bomb bay area. The plane blew up with no survivors.
ERIC STRANGER – Over Bremen, plane was seen being hit by flak and then going into an uncontrolled dive. No chutes were seen. All crew are presumed KIA.
NATE PETERSON – While over the target, the bomber was seen hit in the tail section by flak. No chutes were seen leaving the plane. All are presumed KIA.
EVAN HITCHINGS – While over the English Channel and with the bomb bay inoperable to jettison the bombs. A fighter was seen hitting the bomber which exploded when hit.
CRAIG YOPE – In the English Channel attempting to land the plane in water, it was seen flipping over while landing. Search & Rescue attempts found no survivors. All presumed KIA.
DENNIS GOMER – Before reaching target, the bomber was seen attacked by several fighters. A walking hit reached the bomb bay area and explosion followed. All are presumed KIA.
JESSICA ADAMS – About 200 miles before reaching the target several fighters hit the aircraft with Machine Gun fire causing an explosion. No chutes were seen; all are presumed KIA.
KEITH HUNSINGER – With both the Pilot and Co-Pilot suffering frostbite, they disregarded the hardship and continued making sure the plane stayed in formation to safeguard plane and crew.
DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS:
BARRY SHOULTS - With the Co-pilot dead and the Pilot seriously wounded, all other healthy crew are able to bail out the plane safely. The Engineer attempted to land the plane causing the Engineer to be seriously wounded and killing the pilot. For his bravery in trying to land the plane with his Engineer, the Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded to Barry Shoults.
MISSION #2: TARGET OSNABRÜCK
BOARD OF INQUIRY FOR BARRY SHOULTS FOR DROPPING BOMBS ON HOLLAND BEFORE REACHING THE CHANNEL. (Action resulted in Public Shaming at the After Action Meeting).
DANIEL OVERLAND – On the outbound leg over the English Channel, Me-109s were seen attacking the bomber strafing the bomb bay area. The bomber exploded with no chutes seen. All are presumed KIA.
DENNIS GOMER- Near the Netherlands/German border on the outbound leg to the target. The plane was seen being hit by what looked like a rocket fired toward the tail section of the bomber and hitting one of the engines. The plane went into an uncontrolled tailspin. No chutes were seen coming out of the plane; all are presumed KIA.
LARSON POIRIER – While over target, the plane was seen being hit by a flak burst hitting the bomb bay area. The plane exploded after being hit. No chutes were seen leaving the plane. All are presumed KIA.
PERRINE LA SAUX – Near the Netherlands/Germany border on the outbound leg the plane was seen being attacked by enemy fighters. Tracers were seen hitting the bomb bay area where an explosion occurred when it was hit. No chutes were seen coming out of the plane; all are presumed KIA.
MISSION #3: TARGET COGNAC CHATEAUBERNARD
TIM PACKWOOD – While nearing the coast of France on the outbound leg of the mission, FW-190s were seen attacking the bomber with tracers seen hitting the bomb bay area. The bomber exploded after the tracers hit. No chutes were seen coming out of the plane; all are presumed KIA.
KAARIN ENGLEMANN – While nearing the coast of France on the outbound leg of the mission, fighters were seen attacking the plane. Tracers were seen hitting the plane causing a fire on the starboard wing. An explosion resulted, with no chutes seen leaving the plane as it went down. All are presumed KIA.
ERIC STRANGER – While over the target in Cognac Chateaubernard, enemy fighters were seen attacking the bomber from several different angles. Tracers were seen hitting the bomb bay area when an explosion was seen. No chutes were seen leaving the plane and all are presumed KIA.
TIM EVINGER – While over the target in Cognac Chateaubernard, the plane was seen being attacked by several enemy fighters. Tracers were seen going into the bomb bay area causing the bomber to explode when it was hit. No chutes were seen coming out of the plane. All of the crew is presumed killed.
LINDA PATTISON – While over the target area of Cognac Chateaubernard, several enemy fighters were seen attacking the bomber where it exploded while being attacked. No chutes were seen coming out of the plane as it spun out of control. All of the crew is presumed KIA.
GREG SMITH – Just as the bomber hit the airfields in Cognac Chateaubernard, several enemy fighters were seen jumping his plane. Tracers were seen hitting the bomb bay area causing the plane to explode. No chutes were seen coming out of the plane as it was seen going down. All are presumed KIA.
LARRY SISSON – Just before reaching the airfields of Cognac Chateaubernard, the plane was seen being attacked by several enemy fighters. As the enemy fighters shot at the plane an explosion occurred and no chutes were observed. All are presumed KIA.
MICHAEL FINK – While over Cognac Chateaubernard attempting to get ready to bomb the airfields in the area, the plane was attacked by several enemy fighters. Tracers were seen hitting the bomb bay area and the bomber exploded. No chutes were seen exiting the plane. All are presumed KIA.
EVAN HITCHINGS – While nearing the coast of France close to the airfields that this bomb group was going to attack, the bomber was attacked by several enemy aircraft. An explosion occurred while they were being attacked and no chutes were seen coming out of the bomber. All are presumed KIA.
R. J. GLEATON – As the bomber reached the airfields of Cognac Chateaubernard, several fighters were seen attacking. Tracers were seen hitting the bomb bay area and the plane exploded after being hit. No chutes were seen leaving the plane after being hit. All are presumed KIA.
PERRINE LA SAUX – While over the airfields of Cognac Chateaubernard, the bomber was seen being attacked by enemy fighters. When the bomber was attacked, an explosion occurred and no chutes were seen leaving the plane. All are presumed KIA.
BRAD PICKELSIMER – As the plane neared the airfields of Cognac Chateaubernard, it was attacked by several enemy aircraft. Tracers were seen hitting the bomb bay area as the plane exploded. No chutes were seen leaving the plane and all are presumed KIA.
DISTINGUISHED AIR MEDAL:
HENRY RICHARDSON – With the Pilot killed and the Co-Pilot, Navigator, and Port Waist Gunner seriously wounded, the Engineer piloted the plane over England where the rest of the crew was able to parachute to safety. The Engineer then attempted to land the plane with the wounded resulting in a crash landing where all were killed. For his heroism, this medal is awarded to Henry Richardson for his actions.
MICHAEL SANA – With the Pilot killed, and the Co-Pilot, Navigator, Radio Operator, Port Waist Gunner and Tail Gunner all seriously wounded, the Engineer piloted the plane over England. The rest of the crew was able to bail out safely and the Engineer attempted to land the plane with the wounded aboard. The plane crashed resulting in all being killed. For his heroism, the Distinguished Air Medal is awarded to Michael Sana.
DISTINGUISHED AIR CROSS:
BILL THOMSON – With both the Pilot and Co-Pilot seriously injured, the Engineer piloted the plane over England allowing the rest of the crew to bail out safely. The Engineer then attempted to land the plane with the seriously injured. The plane crash landed and all were killed. For his bravery in trying to save his fellow crewmen, Bill Thomson is awarded the Distinguished Air Cross.
END OF 2016 REPORT
WBC B-17 Assistant GM
S-2 Intelligence Section
So, back to the GM here. In closing, just a few more notes.
I don’t usually make note of plane names because they are often obscene, but in 2015, I particularly enjoyed the name that Pete Pollard assigned to his B-17, which was “Joan of Arc’s Smoking Hot Body”. As Keith Hunsinger, Group Chaplain, stated – “that’s just wrong”. Which is why I liked it. Well, Pete might have outdone himself with a new plane name for 2016. I really am not sure if I should report this or not, because once something is on the Internet, it is always on the Internet, but anyway, Pete called his plane “Uncles With Benefits”. There is something really, really wrong with that! I tried to get Pete to explain how he came up with that name. It apparently just came to him.
Now, for my annual giving of many thanks to those who go beyond the call of duty and assist with the tournament:
- Michael Coomes for the two perpetual squadron trophies (best overall and FUBAR).
- Tom Holliday who is building a database of player participation and a seniority ranking system.
- Henry Richardson, who laminated the B-17 Gunnery Chart.
- Mike Lam, Assistant GM, who keeps track of player participation and initiated the medals. Unfortunately, Mike couldn’t make it this year, but we hope for a return in 2017.
- Kaarin Engelmann, Assistant GM, aided with medals. Rumored to be in the USA now.
- Paul Weintraub, Supply Officer, creator of the aircraft control dice towers – he has retired to FL and the 2015 Host tourney might be his last B-17 event.
- Paul Risner, O-Club OIC and Morale Officer.
- Keith Hunsinger, Assistant GM, Group Chaplain, mission scenario design, cattle prodding.
- Mark Yoshikawa, Primary Assistant GM, S-2, mission scenario design, official computer scoring, medals, cattle prodding.
- Honoree John Jacoby, B-17 prize table donation specialist extraordinaire.
I am probably leaving someone out of the above list, but the truth is that EVERYONE contributes to making this tournament fun. Fun for themselves, fun for each other. Fun for me too. That’s why I continue to run it. I might be getting old, and a bit grumpy like Don, but it’s the players and history behind what we are doing that keep me coming back.
The 2016 WBC B-17 event marked the 25th year of tournament competition, spanning 74 missions covering August 1942 through December 1943. The B-17 tournament missions are recreations of historical missions using many reference materials, and our list of references is continuing to grow. Already since our tournament in August, we’ve started working on the scenarios for 2017.
We look forward to seeing you again at Seven Springs in July 2017. It will be our 26th year (and technically, our Silver 25th Anniversary). On behalf of the B-17 participants and team, we hope you can make it and join our squadrons.
B-17 GM, 1992-2016+
25 years of B-17 tournaments and counting!