1400 Local Time
18 July 1966
Ngan Valley, Quang Tri Province, RVN
The boys are with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment (K/3/4), on their first trip up to the DMZ. Yesterday they were helo'ed into the area, then found themselves in a sharp firefight trying to cross the Ngan River which saw them repulsed with two Marines badly wounded. The Company tried twice more to cross the river, but the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regulars of the 90th Regiment threw them back both times. Kilo Company then fell back approximately 200 meters to the north and dug in, but the NVA pursued them, harassing with mortars and snipers, and by 1930 Kilo's commander reported to battalion that the company was entirely surrounded. At approximately 2015 the NVA launched a full-scale assault on Kilo Company's hilltop, which the Marines threw back owing to some brutal close-in fighting buttressed by supporting fires, with both sides suffering significant casualties.
This morning the Marines of Kilo Company pried themselves out of their holes with the sunrise, and were greeted with an NVA mortar barrage for their efforts. It didn't last long and there were few casualties, so the rifle company got itself in order and not long after was back on the move, proving south towards the Ngan River. There was good news in that 2/4 had been told to hustle up and move west with all practical speed in order to effect a linkup with 3/4, owing to the tough resistance the Marines were running into, and radio traffic reported that 2/4 arrived at LZ Crowe* at approximately 1400. So there was a strong base behind Kilo Company, to the north, but it kind of left Kilo as the lone, dangling appendage to the south, still under orders to find and force a crossing to the south side of the Ngan River.
Needless to say the Marines were none too happy to be flung out so far to the south, without support, to an area they'd already gotten a good bloodying in, but order are orders, and so Kilo Company again attempted a crossing of the Ngan River, and again they were repulsed with casualties, by NVA on both sides of the river! The beleaguered company beat feet back to the hill they spent the previous night on and dug in, and it wasn't long before the NVA were making their presence felt, and about 1930 local time the NVA mad their push. The Marines were once again able to hold on, but Doc Eakle was killed, and two more Marines were wounded and had to be evacuated, bringing the squad down to a total of six bodies, seven including Holland, the attached machine gunner.
Kilo 3/4 was ordered to hold fast the next day (17 July 66), sitting in their holes all day as Lima Company, 3/4, was dispatched from LZ Crowe to move south and reinforce Kilo on the hill just north of the Ngan River. Lima Company arrived that afternoon and dug-in, taking over a share of the hilltop perimeter, which allowed Kilo to pull some men back into reserve, which meant more sleep for the beleaguered company as they finally had a relatively quiet night in the bush. At some point intel came in that the NVA, who had suffered their fair share of casualties too, had withdrawn from the Ngan Valley, so the new plan was for 2/4 and 3/4 to move out and exit the valley to the northeast, sweeping back towards the coast. So on the morning of 18 July 1966, Kilo and Lima 3/4 packed up, stomped in their holes, and trudged back north to LZ Crowe, arriving just as Mike 3/4 and all of 2/4 stepped off to the northeast.
Lima 3/4 took off not longer after they got back to LZ Crowe, and the plan was for Kilo Company to hang around and blow up all the NVA weapons and ammunition that had been captured, as well as the three damaged helicopters still sitting on the east end of the LZ. So that's what the Marines were doing, split up into squad-sized elements they were packing up gear and prepping stuff for demolition, when all of a sudden, at about 1400 local time, gunfire was heard from multiple directions. Sergeant Little, with the squad at the far western end of the LZ and substantially distant from the rest of Kilo Company, further east, ordered the rest of the squad to grab their gear and get ready to move in a hurry!
The Marines are from Jimmi's Flashpoint Minis.
The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army troops are from Martin's Peter Pig.
And I'm not sure how I've done this 23 fights into the campaign, but I've screwed up my normal format, I don't have pictures of the Marine and NVA forces... What the hell is going on here?
The only two NVA in the north left are at top right, a rifleman and a grenadier.
Meanwhile, Nikki (at the head of the column) begins firing at the NVA to the south...
*You might think that's a mistake but it's not, the NVA actually had an RPG in the north AND the south.
Kilo Company was still in a bad way, but since the call went out they were in contact and needed help, Golf 2/4 had turned back and taken a nearby hill to the northeast, and were shooting in Lima 3/4 as they worked back into the valley to come to Kilo Company's aid, and now Kilo Company had air and arty slamming into every known NVA position, stopping their advance cold.
Thus ending Operation Hastings for the squad, though 2/4 and the rest of 3/4 would remain in the field for another week, humping the bush, chasing the NVA, but unable to get to grips with them before finally coming out of the field on 25 July 1966.
The squad got off pretty light in this fight: Sergeant Little and Corporal Benavides were both lightly wounded and would return to the squad in a couple weeks, and McCaffrey was moderately wounded, would return in two months.
"Well, that's a good point you make there, little brother," Nik grinned. "I admit that the fight can be... not sure exhilarating is the right word, but there's something to it. But I tell you what, I'm not found of fighting up here on the DMZ, too much open ground, I prefer the jungle where I can get at the bastards, and I'm gettin' damn tired of always being on the receiving end. I don't know what it we could do to change it, but I'm tired of always walking until they decide to start shooting at us, only fighting when they want to fight, on their terms. I wanna take it to them, make'em pay."
"So you're ready to ship over, then?" Danny blurted out. "Now I didn't say anything like that, ya @#$%in' psychopath! Are you outta yer mind??? After what we just been through??? And we ain't done yet, we could still get killed in the next couple months!"
The boys spent August and the first half of September holding down Da Nang, pulling security operations and running local patrols as multiple battalions were surged north to the DMZ for Operation Prairie. When the Platoon Commander came in to give Sergeant Little a Warning Order in mid-September, Rob put up quite fight, reminding the Lieutenant that his squad was still considerably understrength, and that his two most steady veterans only had about two weeks left in country. The Lieutenant smiled and informed Rob that was exactly why he had chosen Sergeant Little's squad: Operation Golden Fleece is set to be a piece of cake. Eleven days in the field, down south, with 1st Battalion, 7th Marines and the ARVN, providing security in some village called Mo Duc for the annual rice harvest, no sweat!
**So that's the end of Operation Hastings. I hope you enjoyed it; all five fights were based on real fights that Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, took part in, to include the getting left at LZ Crowe and almost being overrun. I really enjoyed the games using KR-16, particularly the river crossings and the first hilltop defense (and was proud of my DMZ tables), they were lots of fun, and it felt like I was able to still keep some personality in the games despite playing with elements, rather than individual troops. It actually felt kinda strange going back to 5MAK after playing KR-16, but the next fight proved it didn't take me long to get back to normal. And I say that because this fight... well, I hope it was fun for you guys, but this particular fight was the least enjoyable/satisfying battle of the entire 24-game first tour. I really like the concept of the 'on the run' type of fight, and I'll need to get it perfected if I'm going to play some games as Marine Recon, it just didn't seem to work right this time. I'm thinking I need to give the bad guys a bunch more troops, and go back to Ben Lacy's "SOF Warrior" rules for that type of fight. We'll see, and I hope I didn't taint anyone's opinion of this fight; if you loved it, please don't listen to me and continue loving it! ;) It's kind of funny because, reading the batrep, the fight seems absolutely amazing to me, but I can just tell you that it didn't feel that dramatic as I was playing it.
Last fight of the boys' first tour coming right up!