For the squad, Happy Thanksgiving! It's 25 November 1967 (I didn't look at a 1967 calender to see if it's correct, but close enough for me), and the squad is enjoying a day on base with turkey and stuffing. But they're not off the hook; the Brigade has several patrols out, still trying to find those damned HMGs, which have put another helo two days ago, and the squad is on standby as a Quick Reaction Force should something go awry.
Which is exactly what happened. On of the the Corps-level 'Lurp' (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols) teams has gotten itself into a @#$% sandwich out on the border; they stumbled onto an NVA base camp, called in air, which saturated the place, but a lucky NVA walked into them during exfil and compromised them. They went in the run, trying to make it two klicks to the LZ, but the NVA did some damage. The Lurps are in a bad way, holed up on Hill 65, about 300 yards from the LZ. They've to heavy NVA pressure from the northwest, at least company-size, and four of their seven-man team are out of the fight. The squad is heloing out to the LZ, its mission to secure the Lurps, move them to the LZ, and exfil everyone.
As soon as the squad's helo, a Chinook (because I don't have any Hueys...), touches down, fast movers are gonna drop Snake and Nape (500-pound 'Snakeye' retarded bombs and napalm) to the northwest of Hill 65 to help the Americans break contact with the NVA pushing there. It's up to Banaszak's boys to get the Lurps back to the choppa and thus to safety.
NVA seriously wounded crawl towards their baseline.
Thomas (bottom left) fires at the NVA leader, lightly wounding him, while the seriously wounded NVA crawl off-table.
"Whew, we made it, holy cow! I can't believe it, those NVA almost got me!" Banszak said, pulling a demolished Claymore mine out of his buttpack, which had stopped an enemy rifle slug (he was lightly wounded in the fight, then after the fight I roll on a casualty table to see what happens for the campaign, and it was a 20, good to go. Last fight the roll was light duty for five days. I know, Magic Dice.).
"Hey, where's Stallworth?" Ham didn't answer, just looked away. "Who's in there?" Banaszak asked, pointing at a zipped up body bag on the floor of the chopper...
The NVA suffered 5 KIA and two WIA that escaped. But the squad lost another friend, with Stallworth, a stalwart of the squad since Day 1, succumbing to his wounds. In the time before their next fight, the squad would lose two more friends:
SSgt Bleier, who had been convalescing in Japan, was promoted on 1 December 1967 to Sergeant First Class and transferred to the Battalion headquarters, while Pvt Swan had received his third Purple Heart, earning him a transfer out of the line into a rear echelon job as a 'Three-Time Loser." Thomas took some shrapnel, got a Purple Heart, spent five days on light duty.
The squad is getting perilously short of experienced men; there are rumors of a Christmas cease-fire, and they're really hoping just to make it til then.