And then the wheels came off... If you recall, after a stiff fight yesterday to flank the NVA bunker line holding up 2nd then 3rd Battalion moving up Hill 475, all US forces pulled back and dug into company-sized NDPs. The squad had been resupplied and even received a couple FNGs as replacements.
All the NVA that have been downed, seriously wounded, or have run off get 'recycled,' and here comes the NVA's second wave...
Now it's time for some cheating (clearly I haven't been so far, or I wouldn't have Doc and Holmes down, and Stallworth and Fuqua seriously wounded), so I'm changing some stuff on the fly. This is rapidly turning into a 'last stand' type situation, so I'm changing a couple things: first, normally a seriously wounded man can only crawl away, nothing else. Since this is my Alamo, I'm going to play it that US seriously wounded can crawl, or, if they can prop themselves up against something, they can have one action to fire their weapon. Second, I haven't been playing the rules as written for morale tests; in addition to having uninjured friendlies and cover give you positive modifiers, you're also supposed to add the troop's S&D rating, but I don't do that because I like seeing guys run or drop prone without acting. Since this is a last stand situation, I'm going to add S&D for the positive modifiers as well, to represent a little stiffening of the backbone. As you'll see, this won't make a huge difference...
So Stallworth, despite being seriously wounded, is allowed to shoot because he's manning the M-60 in Bunker 2. He props himself up and fires at the NVA's center RPG, and puts him down (top center)!
Meanwhile, in Bunker 2, Stallworth doesn't do well on his test, either. He's been seriously wounded for several turns now, feels himself close to passing his. "I'm sorry man," he croaks to Fuqua as he drags himself out the bunker towards the aid station. Fuqua replies, "It's okay," then fires a burst in the last NVA in the center, killing him.
Swan and Ham see the NVA go down in front of Bunker 2, and with that they realize no one's been shooting at them from their own sector for a minute now. Ham says, "Let's Go!," and they both hop out of their bunker.
So, what did we accomplish? The squad held off a platoon-sized attack (I think 26 total NVA saw action on the table at one point or another), and they lost 8 KIA, 3 captured (2 seriously wounded and 1 lightly wounded), and another four seriously wounded that were able to drag their butts off table.
The squad was very hard-pressed, but did not allow the enemy to breach the company's perimeter. Here's the casualties:
PFC Earnest Holmes, Killed in Action
PFC "Doc" White, hit by 7.62mm rounds in throat and chest, evacuated to Okinawa, return 24 Dec 1967.
Pvt John Fuqua, hit by a 7.62mm round in abdomen, evacuated to China Beach, return 12 Nov 1967.
Spec4 John Stallworth, hit by 7.62mm round in head. Lots of blood and a concussion, but not all that bad. BAS has been moved IVO Hill 475, so he's been sent there for a couple days (return 26 Oct 1967).
The squad is down to: Sgt Banaszak, Ham (carrying M-60), Swan, and Webster with M-79, but Stallworth will be back on 26 Oct and Russell on 31 Oct. If this fight is as bad as everyone expects, it's likely to go on for a bit and Brigade will likely send more replacements.
Morale is not too hot in the squad at this point... "What the hell do you mean they're not pulling us out of the field! Look at this mess, this isn't a squad anymore! And him, I swear if I see that @#$% Fuqua again, I'll kill him!"
Good Lord, I don't want to do this anymore, though Banaszak. "Shut your mouth, Swan. I told you, Operation Apple Cobbler, this fight for Hill 475, is big, the whole brigade's out here, and nobody goin' nowhere. And shut your trap about Fuqua; Holmes was my friend, too, and messing with Fuqua ain't gonna bring him back. Fuqua just made a rookie mistake that's all. Surely you, of all people, know what's it like to not be at your best under fire, Swan..."
-Banaszak is being recommended for the Silver Star for running out, dragging Holmes back, then rushing to Bunker 1 to bolster the flagging left flank.
-Stallworth is being recommended for the Bronze Star (w/V) for keeping the squad machine gun in action for the bulk of the fight, despite being shot in the head.
-FNG Webster is being recommended for the Bronze Star (w/V) for single-handedly holding off the enemy attack on Bunker 1, then charging out and capturing an enemy soldier to finish the engagement.
Ouch, this one hurt...