“You said you would give me guns.”
The man in a gold Halloween mask and a green camouflage uniform screamed at the young cadet and the platoon facing him. As if to emphasize his frustration, the masked man threw his walking stick to the ground between them.
What had been a peaceful conversation, turned into a whirlwind of chaos as enemies in bloody white masks stormed out of the nearby woods. Plastic swords ready for battle.
The small band of cadets didn’t even hesitate. Raising their plastic guns, the young men yelled, “Bang! Bang! Bang!”
The seven oncoming enemies fell to ground, clutching imaginary wounds, and died.
As the defending party checked the bodies for weapons and enemy correspondence, one attacker rose from the dead and made a run for it.
He didn’t make it far.
On Oct. 18, prepped for the expedition, the BYU-Idaho ROTC weathered through snow, “ready-to-eat meals,” bunking with cows and combat exercises.
The ROTC helicoptered university cadets from the fields behind the BYU-I Ropes Course to Moody Meadows, a 20-minute ride.
By the time the cadets finished the subsequent two miles of walking, some faces sported grimaces.
A few helpful hands bandaged blisters as the hikers relaxed in the campsite — the field — they would share with the local cows. Scout, a participant’s dog, bounced around, showering people with attention and bringing smiles to their faces.
“This is the first time I brought her,” said Cadet Beth Horan, a senior studying recreation management. “She’s my sleeping buddy.”
Over the course of two days, the cadets and their leaders worked through a series of exercises.
One of first drills included a map of Moody Meadows, a protractor, a compass and a whistle. The drill required cadets to locate a set of coordinates using their wits and their training, once during the day and once at night — with no light source.
“It’s not just the actual finding of the point in the woods,” said Cadet Daniel Wilson, a senior studying chemistry. “It’s being able to orientate yourself in the woods — being able to plot a point on a map and say, ‘I know it’s somewhere in here and by a huge hill.’”
Another drill sent the cadets into a combat situation where seven enemies would ambush two “enemy combatants.” The group repeated the exercise several times.
Though the cadets were aware of these and the other planned drills, Captain Cody Chatigny, the officer in charge, and Cadet Wilson had a surprise in store.
With two other higher-ranked ROTC members, Wilson took seven cadets out to the woods to wait.
The rest of the group walked out to the next drill site, expecting to meet up with Capt. Chatigny’s group.
Instead, they came face-to-face with three men in masks — one gold, one fox-faced, one skeletal — and seven bloody white masked men came hollering out of the woods.