Thursday, May 8, 2014

"In Country" Game 5 (13 Oct 1967)


On the last patrol the squad moved to the downed UH-1 Huey, destroyed equipment, and recovered the friendlies, also managing to give the NVA a bloody nose in their first contact with regular forces.  While performing their recovery mission, Sgt Banaszak noticed numerous large holes in the aircraft, the kind made by a 12.7mm heavy machine gun.  The Brigade focused the bulk of its patrols west for a few days, hoping to find and fix the NVA, or at least eliminate the HMG(s), but no luck, no contact by anyone.

It's 13 October 1967.  The squad has been out all night on night ambush, again no contact.  They had been set up just north of the village of Con Quan 9, southeast of Dak To, about a klick north of the village, overlooking a major north-south trail network.  The squad was just packing it up for the hump back to base when Battalion came on the horn: seems the S-2 just got word the Regional VC tax collector was in Con Quan.  The squad was ordered to move south and see what they could see.  The squad is down Bleier (Okinawa) and Blount (China Beach).

Overview of map, north is 'up.'  Hill 105 at top left, village of Con Quan at bottom left, and Hill 75 at top right.  US baseline is left, VC is right.  The squad is in and around the ville, having just marched south (off map) around Hill 105 then turning east into the ville.

Hill 75 (top right corner).  The four VC (top right, off map) will enter at the end of the first turn (assuming shooting occurs), either via the trail at left or the trail at right, depending on a die roll.

While the US apparently has informers in Con Quan, so does Victor Charles.  These three (rifle, LMG, and 50mm mortar) are in the treeline at bottom right, looking at the ville.  They were sleeping in the ville when a comrade burst in and let them know Yankees were coming down the trail.  They searched for the tax collector, but he was nowhere to be found, so they hauled ass across the paddy into the treeline, surprised the taxman wasn't there.

The squad: Sgt Banaszak is at far left, speaking with the village honcho, with Greenwood, Harris, and Swan at the wall.  Doc White is just outside the north wall, giving medical attention to a little girl, while Sgt Russell is standing on the trail aggravated with Ham and Stallworth, who are in the treeline on Hill 105 (top center), smoking and joking instead of pulling security like they should be.  Holmes, always steady, is at far right, where he has taken up a prone position to keep look out to the east.

Another look north of the trail, with Russell at bottom left, Stallworth and Ham center left, and Holmes at top right.  Holmes starts the fight as the only American not spotted.

The ville, with Banaszak talking to the villager, (l to r) Swan, Harris, and Greenwood at the wall, and Doc White just outside the north wall with the mama and baby-san.  Sgt Russell is up on the trail, with several civvies around.

If you look closely, between Banaszak, Doc, and Russell is a very suspicious looking individual, who has just approached from the left.  He's shocked and bewildered to find Yankees in the village, but he stays cool.  He's further shocked and bewildered that he can't find his three travelling companions; perhaps he should have told them he was staying with a friend last night...  He's really, REALLY shocked and bewildered when the village chief, talking to what looks to be the American leader, spots him and his eyes bulge almost out of their sockets.  The tax man has been made, and stumbles back a couple steps, almost running into another American.  Crap!

 As the village chief swings his arm up to point and the American leader turns to take a look, the tax man takes off running into the rice paddy, heading for the treeline!  Spec4 Harris, with the M-60, hops the wall to give chase.

The squad is caught completely on the wrong foot, and the tax man (bottom left) is able to sprint across the trail.  Just then he spots his three companions, hidden in the treeline (top right).  He drops prone and crawls east.

Harris continues to give chase, and opens up with a long burst, lightly wounding the tax man (roll of 20 followed by roll of 1!).

Swan thinks, Harris, what the hell are you doing?  But he hops the wall and follows.  Boomp, boomp, boomp!  Swan: "Oh sh...."  Three mortar rounds pump out of the treeline up ahead...

The blue beads are their intended impact points, all in the ville (one for Banaszak, one for Greenwood, and one between Doc and Russell).

At the same time, the VC LMG in the treeline (top) opens up, Harris (center, just below trail, with tax man center above trail) dropping as slugs rip through his body, giving him a serious wound.  The LMG then turns on Swan, missing him with two bursts (somehow), but leaving him with 6 stress (bottom).

Greenwood, correctly figuring the mortar rounds are destined for the ville, hops the wall, moves up to the paddy dike, and goes prone (center right), while Sgt Banaszak grabs the Honcho and moves right, where both go prone (bottom left).

The third VC in the treeline, this one with an old French MAS-36, fires at Sgt Russell (bottom left), Stallworth, and Ham (top right).  Stallworth and Ham take some stress, but Rusell is knocked on his back, hurt bad.  As the mortar fired three times, the LMG fired three times, and the rifle fired three times, I'm counting the treeline as spotted at this point.

Doc tests and passes (stress from Russell going down): he gets the mom and kid to lie down, then sprints over to the trail and drags Russell into the paddy and goes prone (bottom center).  Ham fails and drops prone, while Stallworth passes.  He drops prone and fires at the treeline, putting a serious wound on the VC LMG.

Holmes calmly realigns his body for a good shooting position to his right, then takes three shots at the VC mortar man; three misses...  Looking at the VC treeline, the rifleman on the left has a couple stress, the LMG in the center is seriously wounded, and the mortar on right has a decent amount of stress.

Then the mortar rounds start landing.  The first hits inside the wall, the second misses off-table, and the third hits outside the wall.  No one is hit, but Banaszak took some stress (bottom center), while he and Greenwood pretty much were forced to waste their turn by running away and going prone.

Over on Hill 75, four VC (left to right, rifle, SMG, LMG, and rifle) arrive on the east-edge trail.

Looking east from behind Holmes (foreground, behind bush under tree), straight down the trail where the four VC just arrived, with the VC treeline at top right.  The VC pointman moves up the knoll to his left, goes prone, but can't spot Holmes lying prone in the bushes (VC is top center, just to right of trail you can see his green 'prone' bead next to the bushes his hiding in).  Holmes shifts his shooting position back left and opens up straight down the trail, making a mess of the VC: SMG receives a light wound and LMG a serious wound, with the SMG and remaining rifleman on the trail racking up a goodly amount of stress (you can see all the red dice on the trail).  I count Holmes as spotted now.

Greenwood (bottom right), previously lying prone behind the paddy dike, pops up to a kneeling positino and opens up on the VC rifleman in the treeline (top right), missing with the first burst, delivering a serious wound with the second.  The VC in the treeline are having a rough time: the mortar man tests and drops prone, while the LMG and rifleman, both seriously wounded, drag their butts off table.

Meanwhile, Swan tests and drops prone; I was expecting worse, he had six stress and was standing all alone (don't count seriously wounded Harris) in a rice paddy, while Harris drags himself back a couple inches.  Taxman still sitting at top right.

Ham (off camera to left at base of Hill 105) pops up to a knee and fires a grenade, which lands disgustingly short (aimed for center VC at far right, missed, direction was 5 o'clock, and rolled a 19 for scatter so it landed 8" short)...  Ham reloads his M-79.  The VC rifleman on the trail (far right) tests and decides to head for the hills, while the seriously wounded LMG gunner crawls off table.  Then the lightly wounded SMG gunner (on trail with yellow bead) fails his test and runs too!  That leaves only the pointman on the knoll (bottom right).

To tell you the truth, this sequence of events changed the dynamic of the game.  Once the Yanks got Harris and Russell downed I started looking to make an exit before things got really out of hand.  But then the mortar rounds didn't hit anyone, and my guys, if not passing their morale tests with flying colors, at least managed to just drop prone, nobody ran.  Even after a couple lucky hits roughed up both the VC in the treeline and the VC on the trail, my intent was still to bring on more about five more VC on the northern trail, to which the only real option would be to grab the wounded and fall back and call in air/arty.  But then the VC suffered some terrible morale rolls and three healthy guys ran for the hills, so it made more sense narratively for the VC to give ground, rather than the Americans.

Stallworth (bottom left, and dammit, I forgot to remove Ham's terrible grenade shot at top left!) opens up on the VC mortar man in the treeline (top right): miss, hit-light wound, miss, so four stress total.  Then Doc (bottom center, behind paddy dike with wounded Sgt Russell) opens up on the VC pointman on the knoll (you can see the green bead at top center): miss, miss, hit and he's down!

I figure I'm pretty comfortable with the tax man (top right), surely he's going to assume a fetal position from all the combat stress... but he passes like a champion: he hops up, he uses both actions to crawl towards the civvies so the Yankees can't shoot at him.  Swan and Harris (seriously wounded) are lying in the paddy, while Banaszak (bottom left) passes his test (from the mortar fire), stands up, hops the wall, and sprints ahead, determined to catch that damned VC tax collector!

That's the end of the turn, and the VC win the initiative for the next turn, meaning the tax man activates first.  He hops up and sprints into the jungle, he got away, mission failed...

The VC mortar man, nearby in the treeline, would have gotten away too but he failed his morale roll and dropped prone.  Greenwood moved up to help Harris while Banaszak and Swan moved up and captured the wounded VC mortar man.

Banaszak is pissed; we secured the village, but hell, we're not staying, so as soon as we walk away it'll be back in VC hands.  Not only did we let the tax collector get away, but we only captured one old man with an ancient, WWII Japanese mortar, we only got one confirmed kill and few blood trails, and we got Harris and Russell both shot up pretty bad!  Not a good day!

The only good news is that the squad continues to account itself well under fire, though losing Russell in particular hurts.  Banaszak asked Harris what the hell he was thinking, taking off after the tax collector: "Sarge, you just reamed me for running away from the enemy, now you're reaming me for running at them?  I was trying to make up for the way I acted on Lamyai Ridge."  Damn...

Ultimately, the VC lost one KIA, one captured, had three seriously wounded, and two lightly wounded.  The squad had:
Spec4 Harris: two rounds hit him in the right arm, breaking it.  He was evacuated to the hospital at China Beach, will return in two months.
Sgt Russell: took a round in the thigh, sent to MASH at Dak To, will return in 18 days.

Sgt Banaszak recommended Doc White for a Bronze Star for getting those civvies into cover, then rushing out into the exposed, fireswept trail to drag Sgt Russell to safety.  He also wants to recommend Holmes for an award, but the Lt's giving him flak about it.  The Lt's right, Holmes hasn't done anything particularly heroic, that is, not a single event or action displaying extraordinary bravery; having said that, he's the most dependable member of the squad, just solid, and a fantastic pointman.  His talents as a pointman have saved the squad twice, allowing them to get into superior position to whack the enemy, and, just like this last fight, he's always in the right place at the right time, delivering timely and accurate fire.

Because Banaszak and Holmes have been so steady, I'm upgrading their S&D ratings to 4, while everyone else in the squad, as well as the enemy, remains at 3.

Pretty cool, yes?  I'm having a really good time, can't wait to play again.  I wish I had better terrain for Vietnam, particularly houses and rice paddies, but I don't want to sink a bunch of money into this, I have too many other projects on my plate and/or planned ;)


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