After fighting their way into Kham Duc yesterday then falling back to the battalion position, the boys were not happy. They were even less happy when they were told they would be again leading the advance, this time from the south. Seems the NVA had (somehow?) reinforced the eastern end of Kham Duc, so the headshed decided to change things up. "Why are we leading from the South, I thought that was 25th ID's?" "It was, but they're pretty beat up, so we're taking over the South as well."
The "squad" is gearing up, and I'm using the term loosely as it's down to an attached tank, Sgt Malone, Hinkle, Bradley, Bradshaw, Thomas, and Kruczek. Bradley: "Hey Sarge, I'm not one to complain, but it seems that, if the six of us are the spearhead, maybe high command ain't all that serious about this attack. You ever hear those stories about troop is short, s'posed to go out on patrol, just head out the wire about 100 yards and laager up?" Malone looked at him, "No, never heard of it."
This was kind of a silly little scenario I quickly drew up. Not silly as in implausible, I'm sure most every US grunt that served in Vietnam experienced something similar. It's just that, like real life, it's very demoralizing, nothing good can come from it, you can't win. And I wish I hadn't done it.
So, here's the situation. The squad's task is to probe from the south, north into Kham Duc, contact and identify the enemy main line of resistance. The squad will report back and, depending on the situation, Brigade will direct them to push ahead (and reinforce the effort) and assault Kham Duc, or, direct them to stand fast and direct the employment of supporting fires (air and arty).
The squad moved west to the staging area before dawn, and crossed the line of departure at 0635, with the rest of 1st Platoon in trail. The south is different than the east in that there is no cover, only several kilometers of rice paddies flanked by the occasional sparse treeline. "Holy @#$%," exclaims Bradshaw, "we need to go back. I don't care how many Commies they have over there on the east side of town, at least they have trees and @#$%!" Malone's reply: "Saddle up!"
The mortar rounds hit, no one is hurt, though some stress is suffered.
Two more mortar rounds in the air.
Bradley tests, good to go, crawls forward, where is that bastard? Hinkle is scared crapless by this sniper stuff, buries his head in the water-buffalo dung-filled rice paddy water.
Malone tests, good to go. The tank fires its main gun, and the coax keeps firing; Malone peers out from behind the tank, trying to find the sniper, WHAM! The mortar rounds land, and Malone is lightly wounded.
Malone is good to go, just a little shrapnel, but Bradshaw is tore up, gonna be evac'ed back to the States (again, one of my favorites is gone. Yeah, I have a lot of favorites, but I have to. He's a replacement favorite.), and Thomas was hit in the stomach; he's headed to China Beach until 5 February.
The squad pulled up to the sniper's treeline, where they began receiving heavy fire from Kham Duc. They pulled back a little bit, offloaded their casualties, then began calling in supporting fires.