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Lynnfield computer wiz facilitates virtual reality training program for military

LYNNFIELD-Lynnfield resident Paul M. Keefe has always been computer savvy. In fact, he used to host “LAN parties” at his home where he and friends would battle one another from numerous computers he networked together.For the 41-year-old retired Essex County Corrections Officer, computers were more of a hobby, but he now owns a small Internet-based computer company called Computek Sales International located in his hometown.?It?s a big name, but a small business,” he joked.But that?s not all Keefe does. He spends his spare time working to save lives of American soldiers deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq in an interesting sort of way. And, just recently, the U.S. Army awarded Keefe with a Certificate of Appreciation for all his hard work this past year.?It was a bit of a shock,” said Keefe about receiving his award. “I didn?t expect anything out of it. I was just basically trying to help out our soldiers.”Just over a year ago, a friend of Keefe?s who works in the National Guard approached him with the idea to facilitate the military?s new virtual battlefield training program. After looking at the program and realizing he was capable of the large task, Keefe jumped on board.The program is similar to a large computer game suited for up to 20 players at a time. It simulates a rather detailed and realistic convoy through the streets of a war zone where anything could happen.?There are all different scenarios,” said Keefe, whose main role is developing true-to-life maps of the terrain. “Anything that could possibly go on over there, we simulate it.”The game works like this: Soldiers gather around a large screen. One person is designated the driver and operates the steering wheel and gas/break pedals. Another person is “the gunner” or terrorist responsible for attacking the convoy. The others work together to identify dangers, such as terrorists, bombs, etc. Afterward, the soldiers go over what they did right, what they did wrong, and how to improve their chances of survival next time.?It?s all about communicating,” said Keefe.It?s a fairly new program and Keefe is the first at Camp Edwards to partake in such training.In addition to donating his time creating meticulous maps for the program, Keefe also donates his own computers for soldiers to use temporarily for training purposes.?I?m just happy that I could help out in one way or another,” said Keefe. “I?ll continue to do it as often as they need me.”

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