Sunday, June 8, 2014

"In Country," Game 17 (9 January 1968)


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!"

Overwview, north is right (west is up).  The squad enters from the left (south), with the goal being to exit off the right baseline.  The only enemy on the board is a sniper in the top right corner, and he will be almost impossible to spot, and the enemy also has an off-board 82mm mortar.

The dastardly, bush-whackin' enemy sniper, hidden and prone.

The squad, looking south, left to right: Hinkle, Bradley, Sgt Malone (on road behind tank), Bradshaw, Thomas, and Kruczek.

Fight starts on the left: sniper fires, and Thomas (center) stumbles, lightly wounded.

"Incominggggggggggggg!!!"  The sniper's round is followed by the cough of three outgoing mortar rounds (blue beads).  Everyone goes prone (green beads).  Kruczek (far right) tests, and he splits town, while Thomas (next in) sits tight.

Bradshaw is good to go and crawls over to Thomas (far right), looking for sniper.  Malone crawls off the elevated road, can't spot the damned sniper.  Far left, Hinkle and Bradley crawl forward, scanning the treeline.  Where's that damned sniper?  The tank fires its main gun, chunks of earth fly, but no body parts.

The mortar rounds hit, no one is hurt, though some stress is suffered.

Malone "Keep moving!!!"  The tank fires and creeps forward with Malone half crawling, half shuffling behind it, struggling to stay on the phone with the TC.  The tank's coax is hammering, but to no apparent effect.  Thomas again decides to sit it out; Bradshaw is pissed his teammate won't move.  "To hell with you, Thomas," then turns to move up and BAM! the sniper's round drops him in the paddy (top center, straight up from tank).  Dammit!!!

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.

Two more 82mm rounds hit, no one hurt, more stress.

Malone: "Thomas, you get off your @#$%in' ass, get up there, and help Bradshaw!"  "I can't Sarge," says Thomas as he digs further into the paddy.  Bradley (center right) continues crawling forward, peers cautiously over the paddy dike.  "Where is that..." BLAM!  Miss, but close enough to shower him with waterbull dookie...  Hinkle (bottom left), seeing this, stuff his face into the paddy.

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.

The sniper (top center) fires again at Bradley (right), missing.  "OH YEAH, I GOT YOU, YA BASTAHD!"  Bradley opens up with a long burst, screaming "watch my tracers, watch my tracers!"  The sniper is lightly wounded, and Malone picks up on Bradley's signal.  He talks the TC onto target; the gun is laid, CRACK!-WHOOM!  The sniper is down!

One more mortar round comes in, between Malone and Bradley.  Alright, who's gonna get up to see if we got him?  Malone rings the TC up: "Keep firing, we're gonna regroup then charlie-mike."  "Roger."

As the tank continued spitting rounds at the treeline ahead, the squad regrouped, placing Bradshaw on the back deck of the tank.  Malone steps to Thomas, "Thomas, you mother@#$%, I oughta...  Holy crap, sorry man, I didn't know you were hit that bad.  Come here, sit down.  Hinkle, get over here!"

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.



  1. Been following along for awhile, great stuff. Thanks for posting all of your AARs.

  2. If there anyone left who isn't a replacement of a replacement? Amazing what 1 sniper can do, just like in real life Without the tank, would it have made much difference? The M48 did take out the sniper in the end, but he was already lightly wounded, would Bradley have been able to take him out, maybe getting out the magic dice :-) Ha! managed to slip magic dice in....

    Not sure what was silly about the scenario - it shows what hidden small forces can do (sniper and mortar). The only reason I can think that you did not want to do it is that Bradshaw has left. Have you not run out of favourites by now?

  3. IrishSerb - Thanks for the comment, glad you like the batreps. I don't know how much longer I can keep this up though, I have a kid on the way and all my favorites are killed off! Feels about time to move on to my next project.

    Shaun - The tank was good for moral support ;) It wasn't a huge factor, but definitely a factor. A take that back, it was a huge factor. In that situation, I can't imagine the guys would have kept going without a tank there. Once the sniper was spotted, it was only a matter of time before he went down, but it sure is a helluva lot easier with a 90mm bullet!

    The 'silly' thing about the scenario was merely the fact of playing it; there's no winning. You're going to take casualties, and even one is too many to feel good about it. Insult to injury was the fact there are so few guys left that I'm attached to, then one of them, Bradshaw, gets hit...

    Bradley and Malone are the only guys left I care about. Over the course of the campaign I feel, in retrospect, I've done too much. That is, I wanted to play out an 'average' tour of duty for a squad of grunts in the Central Highlands. While the scenarios have been realistic, the campaign has been super high-intensity in terms of the amount of contact and the number of enemy present. I've really overdone it, and that's why my casualties have been through the roof.

    It's like everything is compressed: for example, say there's 100 units in all of Vietnam, and combined they have 50 fights over a one year period. It's like a took the top 17 fights (in terms of intensity) and jammed them all into one squad in four months. So, casualties are a bit skewed.

    That's starting to make these games very depressing. At the end of the past few I just feel like I've been kicked in the groin ;)


  4. I agree with you concerns about how much you have put the squad through. There may have been some squads that went though the number of intensive battles that your did in such a short space of time, but I would suggest it is not many. I do not think I will get as far as 17 (well, 19 for the two unposted ones you have mentioned) and maybe some of my originals will survive.