Zombies take over Frunze Forest, few survive
By Staff Sgt. Krystie Martinez, 376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 05, 2013
TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan -- Halloween was celebrated with a zombie apocalypse themed race called Zombie Run 2013 or ZR:13 for short, at Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan Oct. 31.
More than 100 people entered the forest "alive", but only 17 survived. The scenario created a zombie outbreak that started a couple weeks earlier with a bad batch of vaccinations. Failed containment attempts resulted in the zombification of dozens of service members who were confined to Frunze Forest.
"We have a bunch of zombies that have infested our forest here," said Maj. Ryan Price, 376th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron deputy commander, deployed from Camp Murray, Wash., and the brainchild behind ZR:13. "A couple weeks ago we had the 376th Expeditionary Medical Group administer some vaccines to people, apparently they had some bad samples and some people turned into zombies. The zombies were released into Frunze Forest and we're going to try to run through them and survive."
The morale-boosting event recognized the popularity of zombies in movies and television.
"It's all about fun, having a good time and getting your mind off the mission for a second," said the Phoenix, Ariz., native. "Really relax and enjoy yourself, enjoy camaraderie with each other and have a fun time."
Price said this event wouldn't have been possible without the efforts of numerous volunteers from many units. Whether it was the 376th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron creating the obstacles in the forest or the 376th Expeditionary Medical Group assisting with zombie makeup and attempting to find a vaccine, people from all over the Transit Center had a part in making the event a success.
The 2.3-mile obstacle course not only included simulated acid pits and electric fences but the main attraction was the volunteers dressed as zombies attempting to snag the runners.
The runners started off with three flags attached to their waists with the goal of completing the course with all three flags. The zombies however, had other plans; their main goal was to take as many flags off the runners as possible and scare them too.
"We got quite a few flags today; about 28 of them so a couple of lives were lost," said zombie volunteer Master Sgt. Todd Weingeroff, 376th Expeditionary Communications Squadron superintendent of operations flight deployed, from Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
Weingeroff, a Jacksonville, Fla., native was infected during his attempt to quarantine the first zombie to appear at the Transit Center, labeled the "Queen of the zombies," played by Tech. Sgt. Jillian Shandrew. She took no prisoners, instead, she made zombies.
The New City, New York native deployed from Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, helped plan the zombie apocalypse as part of the ZR:13 planning committee. Shandrew, Personnel for Support Contingency Operations NCO in charge, also trained and made-up her creations to be more zombie-like.
"I think a lot of people are surprised about how good the zombies look," Shandrew said. "We all have the Halloween spirit."
The runners appreciated the attention to detail.
"I had the most fun. The zombies were so authentic in their makeup, and it was really exciting to see the number of people that turned out for this event," said Commander Steve Dickerson, officer in charge of Naval Forces Central Command Forward Headquarters Manas and San Diego, Calif., native deployed from Naval Air Station San Diego. "The obstacles were actually fairly challenging, they made you use some of the muscles that maybe you weren't used to using all the time and the zombies tired you out a little bit, which made it a little easier for them to catch you. They were extremely fast and coming from all directions. You just never knew what was going to happen. I was startled at times because they were so well camouflaged."
The zombies did have plenty of practice. Earlier in the day, zombies stormed in during a wing awards ceremony hoping to infect the audience and specifically the wing commander. Only a few were infected and the wing commander fought back long enough to escape to safety.
Whether a zombie or runner, event participants were happy to celebrate Halloween with a zombie apocalypse.
"The 376th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron really came together," Weingeroff said. "The volunteers put on a good program. I think everyone had a good time; I had a blast."