History of the PBF

History of the Patriot Battle Fleet
By Gavin Starseeker

In the Beginning...

Since the beginning of the Rebel Squadrons, the club has always supported X-Wing Flight Simulator as a gaming platform. It was not until March 1996 under t the first Rebel Squadrons Fleet Commander, SA Super (then Vice Admiral) that the Fleet/Wing/Squad structure was formed to formalise which members played X-Wing and other Star Wars games that would be released in the years to come. The first Fleets formed were the Justice Fleet, Internet Fleet and Redemption Fleet.

Justice Fleet and Internet Fleet were the precursors of the Patriot Battle Fleet (PBF). Both these fleets were for playing X-Wing, with Justice Fleet for AOL users and Internet Fleet for non-AOL users. This was because the Internet was largely different in those days, with few users connected outside of AOL. Rear Admiral Noble was the first Leader of Justice, while Admiral Mykra was in command of Internet Fleet. Internet Fleet would later be renamed Liberation Fleet. In Mid-1996, Crusader Fleet was created for Mac users of X-Wing.

In the days of Justice, the Fleet was highly successful under RA Noble. He kept its members constantly motivated, which also attracted many new members. He was given command of Internet Fleet as a result when ADM Mykra retired as CO of Internet. The infamous Grey Squadron would be created at this time, who had a great influence on the PBF and its missions may be seen to this day on the PBF website.

In November 1996, SA Super would disappear from the Internet (though he has returned since) along with his XO, Cuptoman, leaving RA Dialathos to take up the position of FC. One of the first things he did was to clean up the RS Roster. This task fell to Michael "MacMan" McEwen, who set about the task. By this time, the Justice and Liberation Fleets had fallen into utter disarray, mere shadows of their former selves, as MacMan discovered from the hopelessly outdated rosters of the Fleets at this time. It was discovered that only a few pilots remained in both fleets.

Rebirth

Rather than rebuild the two fleets, it was decided by FC Dialathos to disband the fleets and consolidate their remaining members into a single unified fleet, which would be named the Patriot Battle Fleet. This makes the PBF the second oldest standing fleet in the RS, Redemption Fleet being the first. RA Noble was given command of the PBF in recognition of his service as CO of both Justice and Liberation and promoted to the rank of Bar Admiral (no longer used by the RS).

However, although Noble was the CO of the PBF, he left nearly all the work of managing the fleet to his XO, Michael "MacMan" McEwen, then commander of his own wing in the PBF. Other things that the PBF needed, in particular a website, were still not established despite Noble's position at the time of Internet Officer. This was a complete turnaround from Noble's earlier dedication to the RS. In fact, one of the reasons for Noble's neglect was his preoccupation with the Genesis Corporation, a personal project of his.

Months later, FC Dialathos had to resign due to RL pressures. He named MacMan in his place, which was a great surprise at the time. This came as a great shock to Noble, who was incensed that MacMan was nominated instead of him, as he did not lead a fleet. Noble nominated himself as well, but MacMan became FC nonetheless. It was at this time that Noble became increasingly unpopular due to his actions, including an attempt to get the PBF promoted to Sector status, which would have earnt himself a promotion to Sector Admiral.

In June 1997, A vote by Castor Efrata-Landis was put forward to the High Command to remove BA Noble from his position. Although he admitted he had neglected his duty to the PBF in pursuing the GenCorp project, Noble did appear to be changing his ways, although he decided not to fight the vote of no-confidence. Instead he retired, although he was unhappy about the situation. Although he was unpopular to some, Noble had been fiercely dedicated to the PBF in its early days and had been clearly shown to be acting in the fleet's interests when he pushed for Sector status for the PBF. In his place, MacMan was voted in as PBF CO.

MacMan was forced to retire as PBF CO in November 1997 due to computer troubles, so Commodore Strider was given the job in his place. During his time as CO, the PBF fell into disarray again. MacMan would rejoin the club in January 1998, as third in command under Strider and the XO, Myk Ell. In March 1998, Strider disappeared without a trace, so MacMan quickly began reform, which he intended to complete whether Strider returned or not. At this time the PBF roster was reformatted with the position of Second Officer made official. The first web page of the PBF was built as well at this time, a long overdue task. As it turned out, Strider would not return, so MacMan became the PBF CO for the second time, in late March 1998. It was also at this time that Crusader Fleet merged with the PBF.

The Golden Age

It was during this time that the monthly PBF ITOD began, which continues to run to this day. The idea of an ITOD for the X-Wing game had been contemplated before, as well as a set of missions been made, but it had never been used until now. Michael "MacMan" McEwen also implemented the PBF Merits System, as a kind of companion award system alongside the monthly missions, which still continues today. This move was a gamble, as the merits system dealt with new medals that were not part of the Official RS Medals system of the day. The new system would be implemented without input from the Medals Officer of the time, RebelRaptor (now FA Dave Trebonius-Astoris), as MacMan wanted a system for all members of the PBF to enjoy, as well as pride in the Fleet. This was a resounding success as it turned out.

The new PBF ITOD was rolled out alongside the new merits system, with some assistance from Castor Efrata-Landis and Grey Squadron, attached to the first major PBF Newsletter. This was when the PBF truly became one of the great fleets of the RS, as its fame spread. Years later, other fleets of the RS such as the Intrepid Battle Group would imitate the PBF and create their own merit systems. The PBF was also the most dedicated fleet in the RS at this time according to Castor. Although MacMan was CO, there are others who must be credited with raising the PBF to its status in those days, such as Gavin Phalon, Juho Taskinen and DewKng, for example.

Changing Hands

Due to a dispute with the FC at the time, MacMan resigned from the PBF CO position in June 1999. His replacement was RA Myk Ell. He had to resign after only two months, so LGN Juho Taskinen was appointed in his place, in August 1999. Although he too had to resign a couple of months later, Juho was a major proponent of the Supremacy Series (SS) which was an inter-club competition between the Emperor'sHammer (EH) and the Rebel Squadrons at the time. Each month the top 3 squadrons from the PBF would fly an X-Wing mission, while the EH pilots would do the same with a Tie Fighter mission. It was a one run only game system, that is, whatever you achieved in the first go, that was your effort for the competition. A successful mission was two points, a fail was one. This was very popular amongst PBF pilots and was used as a reward for good performances in PBF ITODs, but the series died out when Juho had to retire in Oct 1999.

MacMan was called on to lead the fleet once more. He decided to step down two months later, leaving his XO, BGN Dew, in command in his place. However Dew was forced to retire unexpectedly in March 2000, so MacMan was again given the position of CO for the fourth time. However, he was unwilling to carry the burden of the position this time, nor did he have the desire and patience to continue as CO. MacMan retired from the PBF CO position for the final time in April 2000, with CMDR Kerian "Big K" Halcyon replacing him.

Kerian remained in the position for only two months, as RL pressures again forced the CO out, with MGN John GAdRS replacing him in June 2000. John had a few tasks ahead of him, as Kerian had left a few positions open in the fleet that needed filling, not the least of which being the position of PBF XO. This position would not be filled until the middle of June, due to other issues in the PBF, such as statistics that needed to be completed for the PBF mission at the time (PBF 208) and merits that needed adding to missions. It was BGN Alvan Sirkoth who became XO once those issues had been resolved.

Alvan was forced to resign from the XO position when RL began to intrude on him in July, so John appointed Slyder McGrath in his place. Towards the end of July, John announced a Skill Competition and in August, the Most Active Squadron award was created as well.

It was at this time that John moved the PBF mailing list over to egroups.com after major problems arose with the AOL system. A floodblock protection program had been activated after John was forced to resend a newsletter (to about 125 people), which scrambled the passwords to the account, as well as to other people's accounts. So, the mailing list was moved over to avoid any future problems with emails to members. A PBFegroup was also formed, but this turned out to be an ill-fated move, as several members attempted to use the egroup to form an all X-Wing club by poaching members from the PBF and RS. This was squashed almost immediately. In September, the PBF mission report address was moved from AOL to Hotmail, mainly at PBF XO Slyder's request. The #PBF IRC channel was also reregistered under John, as MacMan had not maintained it ever since he left the RS in April 2000.

It was at the end of September 2000 that John was forced out of the PBF CO position by the FC at the time, Dave Trebonius-Astoris. There were rumours that other members had pushed for the move to oust John, but these remained rumours only. In fact, it was at this time that the current RS Roster Database had been started, but John did not use it, as he mistrusted the new system. Dave told him that he had to use it or else resign. John decided to leave because of this, although he wasn't very happy about it, and COL Daemon Jorval took his place.

Unlike John, who often bypassed the chain of command to befriend and assist new members (much to the consternation of Squad and Wing COs), Daemon insisted on a rigid CoC and did not intend at all on becoming friendly with the members of the fleet. He demanded respect, rather than friendship, which was a big change from John's command before Daemon took over. Despite his gruff attitude, Daemon was a capable CO. It was during his time as CO that the PBF Reports address was moved again to pbfreports@rebelsquadrons.org" and the scoring system for X-Wing was changed: ions would no longer count towards the score.

In March 2001, Daemon joined the real life armed forces. As a result he was forced to retire from his positions in the RS, leaving the PBF CO position open. Because the reporting address linked directly to Daemon's email address, a couple of weeks of reports were lost before the reports address was reassigned to Slyder McGrath's email address. This effectively made Slyder the PBF CO. However this left the XO and SO positions open, which were filled by GEN Petr Tagge Margul as XO and LCM Fion Grell as SO.

However, Slyder's computer had caught a virus in May 2001, which made contact with him sporadic as the months went by. His newsletters became increasingly unreadable and he became more inactive as time went by. Eventually, Slyder would disappear, although he did manage to name Petr as Acting CO until he could return after the virus. Petr didn't seem to reply, so Fion took over. However, Fion was scared as CO, as there was no XO, SO or advisor to help him. He eventually called on John GAdRS to replace him, but this was vetoed by the FC at this time, due to the friction that had existed between John and Dave previously. In the end, VA Spokes was able to take over as Acting CO for a short time, with John as advisor. Eventually, at the end of May, Slyder returned and retook command of the PBF. He would remain in command until December 2002, when VA Spokes then took command.

Stability

Vice-Admiral Spokes was able to remain in the PBF CO position for two and a half years (December 2002 to February 2005), providing a much needed period of stability in the PBF leadership, although the XO position changed several times due to Real Life pressures that impacted each in turn. PBF membership was very strong at this time, partly due to the stable leadership of Spokes and an involving ITOD at the time, written by Spokes. As a result, the PBF saw a return to the glory days of Michael "MacMan" McEwen's time as CO.
However, because membership was not as high as it had been, the PBF's wings were reduced from 4 to 3 due to lack of members.

There were setbacks as well for Spokes, however. For a time in Spokes command, there was a problem with people who did not submit mission reports for ITOD missions, effectively becoming a burden to the fleet. Another problem at the time was near constant allegations of cheating, usually after every mission. This was due to difficulties in verifying pilots mission reports. In effect, this delayed missions, causing morale to suffer as a result. In the end, this would be stopped with the development of a PBF Scoring System, which was fairer than the in-built scoring system of the X-Wing game itself (especially when the scoring in X-Wing DOS is different to that of X-Wing 95). Lasers were -1 point and a hit would 1 point, as well as ions no longer counting towards the score. This put a greater emphasis on skill, rather than tactics such as laser-padding. The problem with inactive or AWOL members would also be resolved as well.

At the end of Spoke's tenure as CO he also restructured the PBF Merits system, giving greater emphasis to pilot and squadron activity than had been applied in the past. This occurred in February 2005, also the time when Spokes had to resign when he became Fleet Commander of the RS. The position of CO was given to Vykk Tharen, with Gavin Phalon as PBF XO.

From the Brink

At this point the PBF slipped into one of its lowest points. The PBF Leadership changed several times in 2005, which many people referred to as the "revolving-door CO office". At this time, membership dwindled because of the lack of strong leadership, almost to the point where the PBF was in danger of being relegated to Wing status. As well as the changing CO position, the positions of XO and SO also changed often, with out any clear direction in the leadership.

Vykk Tharen remained as PBF CO until June, where upon MGN Xtremegene was then made CO in his place. He was assisted by Licah Fox in mission building, and also appointing an XO and SO, but could not handle the position for long. He would remain until Nov 2005 when Xtremegene stepped down, so the position was then given to RA Adam "Vender" Fene. Morale again suffered as Vender went AWOL in Mid-December 2005. At this time Josh Hawkins was XO of the PBF.

Spokes, who was still RS FC at the time, wanted to wait for Vender to return, but with only sporadic contact from him, Josh took matters into his own hands (much like Michael "MacMan" McEwen did in 2000) and began working as unofficial, acting CO. This situation continued until Feb 2006 as Vender eventually disappeared altogether. It was at this time that Josh was finally given the CO position officially by Spokes.

Since then, Josh has made many changes in the structure of the PBF. In April 2006, Retribution Wing (once Fleet) merged with the PBF, making it no longer solely an X-Wing fleet. The PBF now releases TIE Fighter missions as well as X-Wing missions. This was partially for storyline purposes, but also because the PBF itself was nearly declared a wing, having around 30 members at the time. This was reversed by this move.

The last mission and R2W newsletter was posted In May.

Another major restructure was the removal of Wings from the PBF altogether, in October 2006. It was felt that the old rivalries and competitions between wings was largely irrelevant, plus activity was much stronger at the squad level than at the wing level. Most people did not care at all, and Crusader Wing was dominating the wing competitions most of the time anyway. Therefore, Josh removed them from the roster at this time. It was also at this time that MacMan, PBF CO in 2002, returned as PBF Second Officer after his long absence.