It's the evening of January 3, 1969 and everything is going swimmingly. The holiday has been joyously quiet, despite all the intel officers screaming about an NVA buildup to the east. Then combat erupts throughout the length of the country, with NVA and VC cooperating to attack dozens of US and ARVN bases.
The Brigade's planners have been gearing up for a series of operations to clear west of Dak To all the way to the Cambodian border, to reassert their dominance, so to speak. Alpha Company is once again expected to lead the way, so they are not manning the defense perimeter at Dak To, they are sleeping peacefully in their beds. Due to its size and importance, no one really ever thought the NVA/VC would attack Dak To, but that's exactly what happened: at 0330 sappers struck, blowing holes in the wire and disabling Claymores, tripflares, and Fugas. Simultaneously, 122mm and 130mm howitzers (yes, artillery), along with 107mm rockets, rained down for 15 minutes on Dak To, while the NVA assault battalions pushed through the holes created by the sappers. Alpha Company stood to as a QRF, with platoons being sent off as needed to plug holes in the perimeter. At 0430 it was the squad's turn, and they rushed forward to seal another breach.
Off camera to left, Kolb hops the wall and begins moving forward.
The final VC at Bunker1 to activate has to take a morale test. He has so much stress that, even behind decent cover and with a couple buddies nearby, he still has a -10 modifier. This guy is absolutely gonna run, right? What's he do? He rolls a 20, so he drops prone and fires, missing Kruczek, who tests and runs for the hills!
Bradley and Bradshaw check the arty position. The damned NVA spiked the guns...
Once again we have to reprimand someone for running during a firefight, this time it's Kruczek, who had been doing real well. I thought he was an up-and-comer, but I didn't do him (or Harris) any favors when I sprinted Harris out left, overextending everyone. This got Harris hit pretty bad, sending him to Japan for a couple months, and Doc White will be joining him. Brown was hit bad enough to require his being sent back to the World, his tour is over. The way things are going for Doc and Harris, they might survive their tours solely by getting wounded and spending months at a time out of the line...
Corps has ascertained that, while the fight here at Dak To was violent, it was brief as it was not an enemy focus of effort. The NVA and VC struck all over South Vietnam, and several major bases are being hard pressed. Seems the NVA did, indeed, manage to mass in the interior and unleash sustained attacks, even with artillery support, which is really blowing everyone's minds. In any case, the Brigade is gearing up for Operation Heartbeat City; a token force is being left at Dak To, but the majority of the brigade is packing up and moving north to relieve the ARVN garrison at Kham Duc, which is beleaguered and decimated. Brigade says we're gonna be there awhile, and better pack a mouthpiece...