The first-person-shooter started in World War II, moved to the War on Terrorism and with the latest title, Black Ops, takes players into the combat zones of the Cold War.

The man responsible for ensuring that each Call of Duty game is as realistic as possible is Hank Keirsey. He is a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and decorated combat veteran who served during the Cold War and in the first Gulf War.

Keirsey holds a Bachelor’s degree from West Point, a Master’s degree in history from Duke University, and has taught history and military ethics at West Point. He is also a master parachutist, a ranger, and has earned the Expert and Combat Infantryman Badges.

Some people say these games glamorize violence and warfare – what do say to that?
We as the human race take pleasure in the good shellacking of a bad guy. That’s just part of our basic nature. We’re going to wack something as part of our entertainment whether it’s Pac-Man eating something up or aliens as in Halo. What I like about Black Ops is that while it is violent, it is, I think, honouring a generation that hasn’t been honoured – the Vietnam veteran. 550 Kiwis went to Vietnam for God and country and had to come home in shame when in fact they were doing their job. So people might think twice about why we go places, you know. We as soldiers don’t get to choose what hill we get told to take, we just take the god damn hill. This doesn’t have much to do with your question now, but I want to say this. You always honour the guy that comes back from doing what your government asked him to do, versus having to slink back into the country like in 1975 when those guys got out of Vietnam.

Talk me through some of the weapons in Black Ops.
Once upon a time, before we put it under the barrel and called it an M203, we had a grenade launcher that looked like a shotgun and fired a 40mm grenade. It was called an M79. But they had just gotten rid of it when I got in the army. It had a shotgun round, it had a smoke round, it had a chemical round with CS gas, it had a high-explosive round, it had an armour-piercing anti-tank round, so it was very versatile. Your point man in a patrol in Vietnam would use that with a shotgun round in there and the accuracy didn’t have to be very good. There’d be movement in the bushes, you’d identify the target and boom! You’re going to put 300 pieces of flechette in some guy. The M202 FLASH, which was a flamethrower substitute, is an interesting weapon system that you’ll see. The M60 machine-gun, I spent a lot of time carrying an M60. It’s a big pig of a gun, that’s why we call it the Pig. It fires a 7.62mm round at a high rate of fire. Basically the firing mechanism on it looks very similar to the MG42 that the Germans used in World War II. What’s interesting with Black Ops is that all the weapons and kit is the stuff I used as a young man. I came in at the end of ’76 and we’d gotten out of Vietnam in ’75 and still had that same uniform and equipment. So it brings you back to the old days before we switched to the digital pattern uniforms that we’ve got now.

Black Ops has the very exciting Rambo weapon of a bow with explosive tip arrows. How realistic is that one?
Actually if you read about this unit, there was this guy who was a little bit off. He worked with a crossbow so that he would have silent kill capabilities. Even a silenced pistol gives a little bit of report, so if you just have the click of the bowstring, in the woods it doesn’t sound like a gunshot. When a NVA (North Vietnamese Army) patrol was moving down a trail at night, he used a crossbow a few times but he used a solid dart, he didn’t attach explosives to them. I think there is a bit of creative license used on that weapon, they have a little glowstick that sticks in the guy for a few seconds then ba-doom! He shatters into a thousand pieces and eviscerates the guy beside him, causing some discomfort. Viscera always causes discomfort.

Read the rest of the Daniel Rutledge’s interview at

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