And here we are again, and I'm quite proud of myself, a lot of catching up the blog happening here. So here's the deal: if you're not aware, I'm a former US Marine. Now I proud myself on that fact, as well as my knowledge of Marine Corps history (and military history in general). But I was sitting on the couch not long ago watching The Military Channel (or whatever the hell they're calling it), and a show called "Against the Odds" came on, which features various battles in which one side fought a numerically superior enemy and, if not win, they at least gave good account of themselves. So this episode was called "The Battle of Dai Do," and I sat there and watched I was both fascinated and sickened. Fascinated because the story was fantastic, and this single, three-day battle saw two men win the Medal of Honor and several more win Navy Crosses (2nd highest award for valor).
I was sickened, and I still am, because I'd never, ever heard of this battle before. We're talking Vietnam, up on the 'Z; we've heard of Da Nang, Rocket City, Monkey Mountain, Hue, Khe Sanh, The Hill Fights, Operation Buffalo, etc..., but I'd never heard of Dai Do (sometimes referred to as The First Battle of Dong Ha). Here's the Readers Digest version: immediately in the wake of the failed (from a North Vietnamese standpoint; the Viet Cong were eliminated as a force in the South) Tet Offensive, the NVA pushed an entire division of infantry across the DMZ, looking to eliminate the major logistics hub of Dong Ha and cut I Corps off from the rest of the country. The NVA division successfully infiltrated unnoticed, but they blew it when one of their patrols fired on a Navy landing craft on the Cua Viet River (major artery running east-west in northern RVN). The Marine Corps decided to send a company up there to check it out, and that's when all hell broke loose.
Ultimately the entirety of 2nd Battalion, Fourth Marines (the "Glorious Bastards;" I actually floated with them once on the 31st MEU) was committed to this battle, even reinforced with another infantry company, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines (I did a Tandem Thrust exercise in Australia with them), but they were committed piecemeal and with limited arty and air support. Ultimately, five Marine rifle companies ATTACKED an entire NVA division, throwing them out of four separate villages, one at a time (the largest being the village of Dai Do), before reaching for a fifth village and ultimately being kicked out of the fourth village and back into the third village. But at that point the Marines had so badly bloodied the NVA division that it fell back across the DMZ into North Vietnam to reconstitute.
So I quickly went to Amazon and picked up the book, "The Joint Army-Marine Defense of Dong Ha," which laid it all out for me. I took copious notes and (focusing only on the Marine part of the battle, for brevity's sake) I compiled a book of ten separate company-sized scenarios that I want to play out on the tabletop, playing the Battle of Dai Do out (for the Marine units) in its entirety (the Army had a battalion assigned as reserve for the 3rd Marine Division, and it was called up to assault a village to secure the right - eastern- flank of the battles at and around Dai Do).
To do this I decided I needed some terrain. Having seen several wargamers make good use of these foam mats, I decided to give it a shot, so I bought a bunch of 2' x 2' foam tiles and I'm making terrain to play out the ten scenarios. Each table will be four tiles, so 4' x 4', and I've figured out I need to make a total of eight tiles to play this out (with a little bit of fudging ground scale). I've been cutting, gluing, painting on latex, spray painting on texture, hand painting on dirt, drybrushing the dirt, spray painting water ways, and putting flock on like a champion, and I've just finished my very first terrain tile.
I'm very happy with it, so I figured I'd show you guys.
More to come!