From the Ashes of Winter: AFG Paintball

By Jock Tracey, Class of 2020

The 11th annual Booth Armed Forces Group (AFG) paintball tournament took place this past Sunday, April 28th. Veterans from militaries throughout the world partnered with their civilian classmates at Booth and across the University of Chicago in a spirited team paintball battle. While on the prior day Chicago appeared, it would not release itself from the clutches of winter with up to five inches of snow falling across the city and suburbs, the brave participants were greeted with beautiful sunny weather throughout the day.

The legendary and triumphant Maroons

The legendary and triumphant Maroons

The annual paintball tournament provides students from across the University of Chicago the opportunity to further develop their relationships with students who are former and current members of the military. The event allows teams to work together in a unique environment, better understand the perspective of members of the military who were trained in combat arms and many who have served in combat throughout the world while most importantly having fun and achieving victory for their team.

The tournament took place at Paintball Explosion East Dundee, Illinois less than an hour drive from the Loop. AFG Co-Chair Matt Johnson, Class of 2020 and former United States Marine Corps Amphibious Assault Vehicle Officer, led the organization of the event. The event included a ride to the Paintball arena and lunch before pre-arranged teams of mixed skill level assembled.

The men and women in the area  Photo courtesy of Wyatt McCallum

The men and women in the area

Photo courtesy of Wyatt McCallum

Over 80 participants registered and attended the event which was a resounding success. Attendees included students from the Part-Time and Evening MBA programs, the University of Chicago ROTC program and several Partners. Non-veterans attending the event included consultants, private equity associates, investment bankers and entrepreneurs from India, the United Kingdom, Israel, Taiwan and Singapore among other incredible professions and countries.


Attendees played team versus team battles including elimination, fort defense and capture the flag. Despite years of training and experience, it seemed Dror Ben-Baruch of the Israeli Defense Forces, Steven Galbreath, a former Army Blackhawk pilot and Matt Johnson were everyone’s favorite targets. On several occasions, they sustained multiple paintball shots from their peers most notable during “fort defense” in which one team must continuously attack a building until it is captured.


The Armed Forces Group is the largest veteran organization at the University of Chicago. It is open to all veterans, from any country with the primary goals of placing veterans into top tier employment opportunities, connecting veterans to peers around the world, hosting social events and providing admissions assistance for veteran applicants. Of note, this year’s event was supported by Terrell Odom the Associate Director in the newly established Office for Military Affiliated Communities. The Booth Armed Forces Group looks forward working with the University of Chicago to continue to bring the experiences of veterans from throughout the world to schools and communities across campus.