Following the debacle at the NDP last night (early morning, actually), the squad is allowed to rest through late morning, get cleaned up, then went on working party for a few hours. During this time 2nd Battalion passed through 3rd Battalion into the assault on Hill 475, while 1st Battalion (the squad's parent element is on holding the southern flan. The vicious nature of the fighting has got many calling Operation Apple Cobbler "The Battle for Chopped Sirloin Hill."
By mid-afternoon 2nd Battalion's attack is stalled; in preparation for 1st Battalion assuming the assault position, several choppers' worth of replacements were flown out to join the battalion in the field, to include enough to bring the squad up to full strength. This was causing some sever consternation amongst the few survivors of the squad, and Sgt Banaszak had the rare occasion to voice his opinion directly to the Company commander: "Sir, I don't like it, we've got men out on convalescence! They're coming back, and they belong with the squad! There's no way we're keeping these FNGs while our buddies get farmed out to other units."
"Sergeant, perhaps you haven't been paying attention to recent events. It's 1430 hours (I don't know why the Army insists on saying 'hours' after the time...); your squad will be heading up that hill at 1530. The way things are going, you'll have plenty of room on the squad for your returning buddies." Banaszak's expression turned from one of anger to concern, his mouth went dry, and he peered over his shoulder at the looming hill. "Uh, I see Sir, sorry Sir." "No problem Sergeant, now you get back to your squad and get your boys ready." This is what we call foreshadowing...
At 1500 1st Battalion was passing by LZ Bluebird, where so many wounded and dead were being evacuated by helicopter that Banaszak figured no one could be left in 2nd Battalion, and at 1530, as the squad passed through 2nd Battalion's front lines, he saw he was pretty much right... Picking up the action at approximately 1545 on 24 Oct 1967.
Everyone is starting unpotted, hence the violet beads.
Mansfield and Shell (off camera to right, sorry, didn't snap a pic) both open up on Bunker3, get spotted, and receive fire from Bunker3. Mansfield and Shell fire a total of six times, as do the NVA; nobody hit nuthin'... But that's not the important part: the important part is that, while Mansfield and Shell were keeping the three NVA in Bunker3 tied up...
A rifle in Bunker1 tests and drops prone, while another fires at Ham, missing three times, and the last fires at Webster (dead center), missing three times. The misses are great, but the stress means continued morale tests and likely continuing to stay pinned...
The four seriously wounded crawl towards the rear while the NVA mortar opens up again...
It paid off! I rolled morale and the NVA decided to split. In my narrative, I'd say he saw Banaszak, was scared out of his mind, got up to run, and Banaszak shot his ass, as well as the seriously wounded NVA in Bunker3 (that's why I put three casualty figures in there).
The other two NVA in Bunker1 open up on Ham, not hitting him but doing their best to make sure he stays pinned next turn too, while the four seriously wounded crawl back.
For those not paying attention, Banaszak is the only guy left not seriously wounded...
Wow, it's over. Fatigue sets in, and all he wants to do is lie down there and go to sleep, but Banaszak knows there's so much work to be done. What to do? I need to get the guys up here to consolidate our position, but where is everyone? Inconceivable! They're all down! Banaszak gets on the Prick-25 (yes, Panda-John, I know you're going to love that, but that's what we called the PRC series radios) with the LT: we've forced a way through the third bunker line, but need troops up here to consolidate before the NVA realizes and pushes us out, and need immediate MEDEVAC.
The LT brings the rest of the platoon up, looks around. "Good God, Sergeant, you did all this?"
The NVA losses were as follows:
-3 captured (two seriously wounded, one lightly wounded)
Meanwhile, the whole squad is shot up:
Sergeant Bradley took a round through the calf, on Light Duty until 28 Oct 1967.
Pvt Brown had a round bounce off his ribcage, on Light Duty until 28 Oct 1967.
Wagner took several rounds in the chest, bad enough to be evacuated back to the World.
Private Webster succumbed to his wounds, KIA 24 Oct 1967.
Pvt Kolb took rounds in both thighs, was evacuate to China Beach, returns 7 Nov 1967.
Cpl Ham took shrapnel in his right arm, evacuated to Dak To, return 28 Nov 1967.
Pvt Thomas took a round in the foot, evacuated to BAS (moved here to Hill 475), return 31 Oct 1967.
Pvt Mansfield was pretty much peppered by shrapnel from head to toe, but the docs patched him up in the field and he's good to go, back in action.
Swan and Shell both ran, and if I recall correctly, this is actually Swan's third time to run in eight fights...
"You two s@#$bags look at me, hear me, and understand what I'm saying to you. I'm begging you, begging you with tears in my @#$ing eyes, run again while we're in a fight! Do it again and I swear to God I'll shoot you myself! You're lucky the Captain doesn't court martial both you @#$%holes, spend the rest of your pathetic lives in Long Binh Jail! How do you do that @#$%, Swan? How do you run out on your buddies while they're laying there, bleeding out on some jungle trail in Vietnam? Get out of my sight."
Of course, the whole brigade is talking about Banaszak: whole squad is down, and what's he do? He @#$%ing charges, man, he charges! He drops a grenade in the bunker, whammo, they're zapped! Moves to the next one, hops in the damn thing and sticks an NVA officer! Then he hauls it to the third bunker, another grenade, whammo, they're zapped too! That dude's dinky dau, man!
Sgt Banaszak has been recommended for the Medal of Honor for his actions on Hill 475 on 24 Oct 1967, which went beyond the call of duty. Banaszak is now S&D5 as well.
That game was intense, and it certainly worked out like real life. That is, you don't need a big-time hero until you've got a big-time problem.
In any case, 1st Platoon came up and consolidated 1st Squad's breach in the third bunker line, while the rest of Alpha Company moved right and Bravo moved left to expand it. Once that was finished Bravo and Charlie tied in facing north, while Alpha was pulled out of the line and thrown in the south for rear security overnight.