In 1984, the quintessential RedScare film ''[[Film/RedDawn1984 Red Dawn]]'' came out and opened with a shocking invasion of the American heartland. It covered a small band of Resistance fighters in the opening months of WorldWarIII as they attacked the DirtyCommunists that invaded their homeland and were gradually destroying their town, until eventually, only two of them survived to escape to American lines.

Someone, however, was intrigued by [[MrExposition Colonel Andrew Tanner's]] review of the War in North America by November 1985. With [[CrypticBackgroundReference vague talk of things such as]] TheSiege of Denver, unspecified horrors being inflicted on the population of Texas, and the Mississippi River becoming a frontline, John Milius's take on the Third World War had rich potential for expansion...

[[ExpandedUniverse And so they did]]...

''Red Dawn +20'' originally started as a thread on an Alternate History message board that ran ''[[LongRunner 335 pages]]'' before relocating to [[http://www.tboverse.us/HPCAFORUM/phpBB3/viewforum.php?f=31 this members only message board dedicated to organizing the available information and subject matter]]. (TheWikiRule [[http://reddawnwwiii.wikia.com/wiki/Red_dawn_alt_hist_wwIII_Wiki is also enforced]].) After some considerable [[RetCon RetConning]] to separate some wheat from the chaff, a coherent, believable timeline for WorldWarIII emerged. A bloody conflict lasting from September 3, 1985, to October 14, 1989.

This extended story, told from the points-of-view of posters roleplaying as veterans of the war, covers every facet of the fight imaginable.

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!!This thread provides examples of:

* AcePilot: Several tell their stories, including one who enlisted with the Canadians as a teenager lying about his age, got found out after scoring several kills, joined the Marines (where they didn't care how old you were as long as you could fly), shot down quite a few more Commies, then, after turning 18, joined the Kentucky Air National Guard to score still ''more'' kills flying with the Kentucky ANG...winding up with a confirmed score of 70.
* AllohistoricalAllusion: Many RealLife contemporary figures played a big part in the war.
** Norman Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell led the defense and offenses that saved America. The latter would become President of the US in 2004.
** UsefulNotes/GeorgeHWBush becomes President "early" as UsefulNotes/RonaldReagan was killed when UsefulNotes/WashingtonDC got nuked.
** [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gus_Hall Gus Hall]] is made the [[TheQuisling president of the American puppet government]].
** Former musician, record producer, and Lieutenant Governor of California Mike Curb is mentioned; he served as an appointed Senator from 1985-1989, and played a USO-recruited has-been singer in the remake of [[KellysHeroes Kelly's Heroes]].
** Bill Clinton is elected President in 1996; Hillary Clinton serves as a Senator from 1985 to 2012, when she is elected President.
** An InUniverse AlternateHistory book titled ''With a Whimper, Not a Bang'' describes the "alternate" history of the collapse of the Soviet Union and Iron Curtain exactly as it happened in RealLife. The person who describes it dismisses it as [[RealityIsUnrealistic as way too unlikely,]] [[ItWillNeverCatchOn even in retrospect]].
* ArsonMurderAndJaywalking: When a Marine unit shoots the hell out of an ALA unit that committed an atrocity, one of the members of that unit gets arrested on charges of treason, murder, arson, unlawful destruction of personal and real property, violation of civil rights under color of law...and ''violating the Clean Air Act of 1970.'' (Those Soviet combat vehicles do NOT meet federal emissions regulations, particularly after they brew up.)[[note]]This was after the platoon corpsman talked the Marine making the arrest out of shooting the guy out of hand. Shooting him might have been merciful compared to siccing the EPA attorneys on him.[[/note]]
* BadassBiker: Most biker gangs end up becoming cavalry regiments. The Hell's Angels are especially famous as the "13th ACR".
* BreakOutTheMuseumPiece: Happens a lot, as anything that can move, fly, and/or shoot gets pressed into service.
** It starts with three of the four museum-ship battleships (and even ''Texas'' packs a HAWK surface-to-air missile battery), and goes on from there...
** Lots of "warbird" aircraft get a chance to see combat one last time. A flight of World War II-vintage TBF Avengers is used in anti-submarine patrols in the Gulf early in the war, while all three surviving Martin Maulers form a flight for counter-insurgency work.
* BoardingParty: During the Battle of the Baltic Exits, HMS ''Yarmouth'' (the "[[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Crazy Y]]") managed to board and capture a crippled ''Krivak'' class frigate, towing her prize into Rosyth Harbor two days later.
* [[BraziliansWithBazookas Brazilians With Bombers]]: The Brazilian Navy sends its aircraft carrier (''Minas Gerais'') to help out, the ship's compliment of A-4 Skyhawks and S-2 Trackers flying off the U.S. Navy carrier ''Shangri-La'' after their own ship burned out its boilers reaching North America.
* BritsWithBattleships: In the Battle of the Baltic Exits, the Soviets tried to invade the United Kingdom, sending their invasion force through the Baltic Sea. The Royal Navy found out and was most displeased. Her Majesty's Navy then expressed it's displeasure by sinking the majority of the Soviet Baltic Fleet. The result of the battle? The Soviets lost two ''Kiev'' class carriers, a ''Kirov'' class battlecruiser, and about twenty other ships, plus many more damaged in various ways. The Royal Navy lost two carriers and had two damaged, with ten escorts sunk or crippled.
* CoolBoat: The U.S. Navy battleships ''Alabama'', ''North Carolina'' and ''Massachusetts'', all museum ships, were reactivated for the war and were fairly active. ''Texas'' was too old for reactivation, but did have a HAWK surface-to-air missile battery set up on her quarterdeck, becoming the only ship to see combat in all three world wars.
* CoolPlane: Cool planes infest the series, but among the coolest of the cool mentioned are the SR-71E Blackbird (in RealLife, the SR-71 series only went up to C) and the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TR-3_Black_Manta TR-3B Black Manta]].
* DeadlyGas: Chemical weapons are used on occasion by the combatants; one infamous example given is where a TV reporter, taking a firm grasp on the IdiotBall, dismasked to prove there were no chemical weapons being used...as the unit she was embedded with ''was being nerve gassed''. The [[SemperFi Marines]] with her were frozen with shock, then horror at the act and its results, some of ''them'' becoming casualties when they had to [[NauseaFuel dismask to vomit]], and after the first few seconds the video of the event [[GoryDiscretionShot is classified at the highest level]] as too horrific to be viewed.
* EliteMooks: A KGB unit ends up holding off a Marine regiment for two days at an airport, the worst possible terrain for defense. Then again, they ''were'' guarding the [[MoscowCentre TVD Amerika]] [[MnogoNukes nuclear weapons stockpile]].[[note]] A veteran of the fight compares them to the Spartans. Their commander was named, fittingly enough, Leonidias.[[/note]]
* EnemyCivilWar: One starts to afflict the Soviet Union just before they sign a ceasefire with the allies.
* ExactWords: It takes 22 years after the end of the war before the Veterans of ''Foreign'' Wars allows WWIII veterans to join. Needless to say this causes many hard feelings.
* ExpandedUniverse: For ''Red Dawn''
* FailOSuckyname: the [[AlternateHistoryDotCom AH.com thread mentions]] a Soviet general by the name of "Yuri Jurkov." 'Nuff said.
* UsefulNotes/FilipinosWithFirearms: The Philippine Army and Air Force send detachments to aid in the battle, with the former described as quite enjoying sneaking up on Soviet sentries and using bolo knives to [[AxCrazy chop them to pieces]] and leave a [[CallingCard death card on the corpse]].
* FullFrontalAssault: A female soldier chases down and captures a Cuban soldier who took her encampment by surprise while she's wearing combat boots...and ''only'' combat boots.
* GreatEscape:
** The battleship ''Texas'', a museum ship in its namesake state, is dragged off by tugboats to avoid it being captured.
** UsefulNotes/{{NASA}}'s Johnson Space Center in Houston is also evacuated. And has everything inside taken along with the evacuees. '''Everything.''' ''To the bare walls.''
* HoldYourHippogriffs: [[HitlerAteSugar Chebrikov Ate Sugar]].
* IncrediblyLamePun:
** A pilot of KC-135s and B-52s in Strategic Air Command happens to be named [[Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer Buffy Somers]]. The title of her autobiography is ''[=BUFFy=] the Communist Slayer''.
** After the invasion, Congress passes a Selective Service law that uses student loan data to find EVERYBODY of military age (including the ones who didn't--or, in the case of women, didn't have to--register for Selective Service. It's known as the [[CurbStompBattle Curb-Stomp Act]].
* KlingonPromotion: Happens a couple of times to one Soviet officer mentioned by several, bumped up after being proven right for ''not'' toeing the party line, then again when his commanding officer orders a massacre and he [[EvenEvilHasStandards objects]] [[UnusualEuphemism strenuously]]. [[LampshadedTrope Lampshaded]] in that he's said to hate Klingon Promotion jokes.
* LaResistance: Quite a few. Some were [[TheRevolutionWillNotBeVillified heroic]], some [[TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized weren't]].
* LesCollaborateurs: The ALA (American Liberation Army) is a military/security force raised in the occupied states. It's membership ranges from people who are forcibly conscripted, reluctantly join for free food, criminals looking for a reduced sentence and a lot of power, and of course, true-believers.
* MacrossMissileMassacre: A Soviet air raid on Los Angeles makes the fatal mistake of crossing the Port of Long Beach, where the missile testing ship USS ''Norton Sound'', testing the AEGIS radar and vertical-launch SM-2 missile system, was docked...and the officer in command of the ship put the system in 'Special Auto'. [[RocksFallEveryoneDies Missiles flew, every plane died]].
* MadeOfExplodium: The battleship ''Massachusetts'' manages to drop a 16" high-explosive shell into a group of fully-filled liquid natural gas tanks while bombarding the Port of Houston. Her captain's first reaction is that they'd accidentally fired a nuclear round; he wound up getting the nickname [[EarthShatteringKaboom Marvin]].
* MassOhCrap: A quadruple missile launcher salvaged from a Soviet cruiser sunk in the [[NoodleIncident Battle of Puget Sound]] was mounted in front of an American Legion post in Washington state. Several years after the war, it was opened up for refurbishment...and [[OhCrap found to still be loaded]]. A U.S. Navy [[BombDisposal EOD]] squad is called in...and discovers the loading is ''nuclear''. Cue [[DefconFive SPAZCON ONE]].
* TheMutiny: ThePoliticalOfficer of ''K-236'' decides to incite a mutiny at the end of the war against the...less-politically-enthusiastic...officers. [[spoiler: He winds up being [[ThrownOutTheAirlock shot out of a torpedo tube]].]]
* MutualKill:
** Following the war, Dr. Robert Ballard dove on the wreck of the aircraft carrier USS ''Forrestal'', which had been sunk by a submarine attack. Not too far away from the carrier he found the wreck of a Soviet "Victor II" sub.
** Another Victor II scored a "tie" with the cruiser USS ''Yorktown''.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: The Chernobyl Raid. Intel said the reactors were not yet completed, so an air strike was ordered to hit them before they were brought online. Turns out Intel was wrong. [[InSpiteOfANail Oops]].
* NorthKoreansWithNodongs:...Fight with the same tenacity as the Imperial Japanese in WorldWarII.
* NoodleIncident:
** The uprising on Jamaica and the Bermuda Insurrection.
** One poster mentions a chapter (titled "Cheeseburger in Paradise") in ''Long Walk to Denver'' as being the funniest war story he's ever heard.
* NuclearOption: Although many details are [[ClassifiedInformation classified]], it's known that nuclear weapons were used to bring about the end of the rump states of the USSR fairly recently, not to mention the limited nuclear exchange at the start of the war.
* NukeEm: Speaking of the above, Washington D.C., New York, Omaha, Kansas City, and various nuclear silos in the Dakotas and Wyoming are wiped out. Most of China goes up in smoke as well, though duds spare Hong Kong, Macao, Fuzhou, and presumably a handful of other cities and military bases. The Chinese, likewise, manage to hinder Soviet air defenses by successfully firing a handful of nukes at Russia itself before they're destroyed, creating holes in its air defense shield, which the pilots of Operation EASTERN EXPRESS exploit over the next few years.
* OmniscientCouncilOfVagueness: Until recently, the Soviet Politburo fell under this, with none of their membership ever being referred to by name until the events of [[OperationBlank Operation ROYAL FLUSH]] were covered. AdolfHitler in particular finds his SpiritualSuccessor and Communist Counterpart in an AlternateUniverse version of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Chebrikov Viktor Chebrikov]], a RealLife KGB Chairman who ended up becoming the General Secretary of the Communist Party prior to the war instead of Mikhail Gorbachev.
* PowerOfLove: A series of stories tells the tale of how two veterans, who broke up the night before the war started, were reunited after the war, and ultimately reconciled by helping each other heal from their traumas. They marry and are now cheerfully living HappilyEverAfter.
* RedShirtArmy: Aside from the [[IncrediblyLamePun obvious quip]] about the DirtyCommunist armies, the [[LesCollaborateurs ALA]], the Mexicans, Libyan, and Angolan armies are described by their own allies as "Worse than useless."
* RedsWithRockets: But of course.
* [[ReformedCriminal Reformed Enemy]]:
** Several mentions are made of [=ComBloc=] soldiers and pilots who, after the war, decide not to return to the Motherland upon their release from Prisoner of War status, instead remaining in America to become successful businessmen.
** One poster mentions that piping C-SPAN with appropriate subtitles into EPW camps was very effective in convincing prisoners to flip sides; they got to see what a truly representative government looks like.
** TokenEvilTeammate: [[DefectorFromDecadence For a given value]] [[GoingNative of evil]], one of the posters was a ''Russian'' [[TankGoodness T-80 crewman]] who fought throughout the first half of the conflict before being captured alive at The Battle of Wichita and applying for citizenship after the war.
* {{Retcon}}: While many were inevitably made as part of an agreed-upon timeline, the most notable one is that initially, England submitted to a [[TheQuisling Quisling government]] that kept control of it until the war's end. This was changed to England successfully fending off Soviet air and naval attacks despite Colonel Tanner's [[UnreliableNarrator thoughts to the contrary]].
* RuleOfCool: It's pointed out on occasion that some elements of the scenario (above and beyond the [[WillingSuspensionOfDisbelief inhererent oddness of the movie's plot]]) are unlikely when looked at with a realistic eye; for instance, the [[CoolBoat reactivated battleships]]. A combination of [[StatusQuoIsGod inertia from having been around in the story so long]] and plain old [[InvaderZim Because It's Cool]] keeps them around despite this.
* SemperFi: The 5th Marine Division (the guys who raised the flag on Mount Suribachi) is reactivated using Marines from grounded West Coast helicopter units. (The definitive history of the division is titled ''Every Marine a Rifleman''.)
* ShoutOut: The series is full of them, including but not limited to:
** One of the posters speaks highly of a fighter pilot named [[Series/BattlestarGalacticaReimagined Kara Thrace]]; there's also a RAF exchange pilot named Kara Shaw, Athena flies a RF-4C Phantom II, and a Colonel Tigh is mentioned.
** [[Film/IronEagle Doug Masters]] is stated as having received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the war, while Chappy Sinclair wound up with [[TheBrigadier two stars]].
** The 5th Marine Division Sniper School was run by [[Film/{{Shooter}} Bob Lee Swagger]], who had returned to active duty after a Spetnatz team attempting to kidnap then-Arkansas Governor Clinton and his family trespassed on his property and shot his dog when it began barking. [[DisproportionateRetribution That was a bad move on their part]].
** A [[Literature/TheBigOne DEMOCRAT-hating Senior Chief]] makes an appearance.
** A BadassBiker named [[FanFic/HalfLifeFullLifeConsequences John Freeman and his son Henry Freeman]] prove pivotal in capturing Sergei Khvostov.
** [[Series/{{JAG}} Vice Admiral Chegwidden]] is in charge of the JAG office after the war, investigating a Marine general's misconduct, with assistance from [[Series/{{NCIS}} Jethro Gibbs]] and company.
** The Brits' Special Investigation Branch gets some work during the war, with both [[Series/RedcapClassic John Mann]] and [[Series/RedCap Jo McDonagh]] being mentioned as involved in investigations.
** A {{NSA}} hacker named [[Literature/{{Neuromancer}} Henry Dorsett Case]] is mentioned as being on a Soviet hit list.
** [[Film/StarTrekVITheUndiscoveredCountry Colonel Chang]] takes over a troubled Idaho National Guard attack helicopter unit postwar following a major cock-up, and ''very'' efficently cleans house.
*** Interviewing a prospective pilot: "[[VideoGame/StarTrekKlingonAcademy I am not interested in the names of your parents, nor in your family's lineage. What I am interested in is your breaking point.]]" [[note]] The interviewee was the daughter of a Medal of Honor recipient and a woman who is a major-league war hero in her own right (she is eventually awarded the Medal as well). The daughter acquits herself well and gets nominated for flight training.[[/note]]
** [[Creator/HaroldCoyle Nancy Kozak]] commands a mechanized infantry combat team in south Texas, while Scott Dixon is an aide to General Powell at war's end.
** The 5th Marine Division JAG tells an officer turning himself in for war crimes that writing the officer up for murder would be like "[[Film/ApocalypseNow passing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500]]."
** [[Series/DangerUXB Brian Ash]] of the Royal Engineers is involved in post-war cleanup of unexploded ordnance. [[note]]Actually, it's his grandson--he even mentions that EOD is sort of the family trade.[[/note]]
** The captain of a Soviet "Sierra" class submarine is the son of [[Film/TheHuntForRedOctober Admiral Yuri Padorin]], while [[Literature/RedStormRising Chairman Kosov]] heads [[MoscowCentre the KGB]] late in the war.
*** [[Literature/JackRyan Jack Ryan]] gets around during the war, and afterwards, as well; so does Arnold Van Damm.
** A man named [[VideoGame/NoOneLivesForever Dimitri Volkov]] is a major figure during the final days of the Brownsville Pocket.
** [[Series/ParksAndRecreation Chris Trager]] is a former Green Beret who earned the Silver Star, and attended the funeral of a recovered MIA.
** [[Literature/TheStand Randall Flagg]] is a "Tier One" fugitive still being sought for war crimes in 2012. Some veterans muse on how he seems [[EldritchAbomination a bit beyond the mundane]]. In one story, a female soldier held prisoner by Flagg's people gets a literal DidYouJustFlipOffCthulhu moment. [[note]]Gets away with it, too; in this interpretation, Flagg has no power at all over those who do not freely give themselves to him.[[/note]]
*** A PAC spy takes a photo of some cops in San Francisco in the days leading up to the San Francisco uprising and finds [[Franchise/TheSlendermanMythos a tall, faceless figure standing in the background]]. Flagg is [[HorrifyingTheHorror spooked by this development]] and warns the PAC spy not to look into it, but after that, the spy in question vanished without a trace.
** A post-war prank by appropriations officers results in [[Series/{{Airwolf}} File A56-7W]] and Film/BlueThunder being designated as prototypes for acquisiton.
** [[Creator/MichaelDiMercurio "Patch" Pacino]], commander of the submarine ''Bremerton'', scores a Medal of Honor for taking out a Red convoy on the first day of the war. ''All the way'' out, as it were.
** [[Series/HouseOfCardsUS Francis J. Underwood]] is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee circa 2013.
** [[Film/TheFifthElement A Marine with the surname Dallas]] shoots a recalcitrant political officer in the head and asks [[CatchPhrase "Anybody else want to negotiate?"]]
** [[Film/{{Stargate}} Colonel Jack O'Neil]] commands an [[UsefulNotes/TheModernDayRambo Air Force Special Tactics Squadron]] during the first part of the war.
* StuffBlowingUp: A U.S. Navy pilot, rolling in for a [[StandardHollywoodStrafingProcedure strafing run]] on a Soviet destroyer, suddenly finds himself having to dodge flying destroyer ''bits'' as an incoming [[{{BFG}} battleship-caliber salvo]] blasts the ship to pieces in his face.
* TankGoodness: The Battle of Wichita is explicitly said to be the SpiritualSuccessor of the Battle of Kursk.
* ThrowItIn: The film never once hints at New York City getting nuked. Someone on the thread did, and as a result, it's wiped out in this timeline.
* TookALevelInBadass: The Mexican army is laughably incompetent and easily thwarted during the first half of the war. As the tide turns and America starts forcing the [=ComBloc=] forces back to the Rio Grande, though, they're consistently described as "fighting like demons."
* UnusualEuphemism: The "Gold List" of high-value enemy personnel who were to be turned over to "OGA" (read: Central Intelligence Agency); the Marines referred to this document as the [[FunWithAcronyms Special Human Intelligence Target]] List
* WarIsHell: Invoked in several pieces of fiction and many posts.
** One character recalls being under chemical & high explosive artillery bombardment (where even a minor shrapnel wound can be a death sentence)
** Many cases of witnessing (or, in one case, [[SlowlySlippingIntoEvil arguably committing]]) war crimes
** There are multiple stories of [[ShellShockedVeteran veterans trying to come home]]
** One story deals with a female POW's experience of torture (including rape).
* WartimeRomance: Several examples.
** One major example: a fighter pilot becomes romantically involved with his female back-seater; they marry after the war, and eventually command two different fighter wings (at the same time, no less) in the Air Force Reserve.
* WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue:
** From [[Film/RedDawn1984 the original film]], Colonel Ernesto Bella defected to the United States a few months after the events of the movie and testified at various war crimes trials. Likewise, Wolverine veteran Erica Mason serves as a Colorado state senator and is elected Governor in 2010.
** However the other Wolverine, Danny, is [[WhatHappenedToTheMouse never mentioned]].
** Despite being an unwilling [[TheQuisling Quisling]], Mayor Bates and an unspecified number of other collaborators native to Calumet were killed by [[StateSec Black Operatives]]. The posters, particularly one of the aforementioned black operatives, show him NoSympathy. Admittedly, they had no way of knowing his reasons for collaborating.
* WorldOfBadass
** Considering they survived--AND WON--a war that started with a nuclear strike and reduced the American population by 13 million, yeah, they're going to be badasses.
** TruthInTelevision: In the 1980s, some teenage punks decided to go over to a mostly-WW2-era VFW post with the avowed purpose of "beating up the geezers." The punks ended up in the hospital with broken limbs, missing teeth, and one eye gouged out...by some guys who were collecting Social Security.
* WretchedHive: ''Most of China'' has become this, thanks to mass bombardment by nukes. Only Hong Kong, Macao, and two provinces across the sea from Taiwan are still ruled by any sort of authority, with the rest of the land under the control of bloodthirsty warlords and bandits ala VideoGame/{{Fallout}}. [[SuperiorFirepowerBombers Strategic Air Command]] has a [[NoKillLikeOverkill standing offer]] to the British forces in Hong Kong, just in case any of the warlords start getting uppity.
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