Sunday, January 17, 2021

Two Brothers, Fight #3


1330 Local Time
4 November 1965
Tra Bong River, 10 miles south of Chu Lai, RVN
Operation Black Ferret

Yesterday the boys were trucked down Route 1 and dropped about ten miles south of Chu Lai Airbase, near the Song Tra Bong (Tra Bong River).  There they were attached to 1st Bn, 7th Marines (1/7), for the duration of the operation, pushing southwest along the river with 3/7 on their right and the ARVN 4th Infantry Regiment on their left, across the river.  Intel had said a Viet Cong battalion-sized base camp was located in the area, but the boys had walked all day long and hadn't seen anything.  As usual, about an hour before sunset the sweep halted and the Marines dug in to their night defensive positions and ate their evening chow.  The boys spent a long, uneventful night, including being out together for a couple hours on OP/LP.  The next morning the Marines got up, pissed and brushed their teeth, ate morning chow, stomped in their holes, and set off in search of the Viet Cong again.

They've been walking all day so far, lots of stopping to search for VC/munitions, but so far nothing and no contact.  They've crossed numerous tributaries of the Tra Bong River, and now they find themselves coming to another, with a village nestled against.  Lt Ward called a halt and for his squad leaders.  He explained that 1st Squad was going to circle around to the south of the village to isolate it, 2nd Squad was going to head straight in to search it, and 3rd Squad was going to cut north to search some sampans beached nearby, make sure they're not hiding any enemy soldiers or contraband.

North is up, the US entry is in the southwest (bottom left).  The fishing village is located in the southeast (bottom right; that's just the northern tip, it is much larger to the south/southeast, off map, and that is what 2nd Squad is going into and 1st Squad is going south of).  In the northeast (top right) is a tributary of the Tra Bong River, where the three sampans to be searched are located.  In the northwest (top left) is a slight rise/ridgeline, and their is a hardball road running east into the village and north to the next village.  The center is dominated by rice paddies offering very little cover, and the landscape is dotted by a few patches of dense jungle.  

A couple admin notes: I'm playing this game using a modified version of Ivan Sorensen's "Five Men at Kursk," but I've also modified Joe Legan's "Platoon Forward" to a card version to figure out the US mission, assets available, enemy location, strength, activity, etc...  I'm playing this game solo.

I'm playing in lovely 15mm with individually-based troops.
The Marines are from Jimmi's Flashpoint Minis.
The Viet Cong are from Martin's Peter Pig.
The mat is from The Wargaming Company.
The roads are from Fat Frank.
The fields are from Hotz Mats.
The villages are from Flashpoint Minis, as are the bamboo thickets and most of the trees.  The rest of the trees were bought off some cake decorating shop on Ebay.
The sampans are from Flashpoint Minis.
The rivers are from Wargamers Terrain.

Top (left to right): Corporal Little, Squad Leader, and PFC Nelson, Grenadier
Middle (left to right): Pvt "Nikki" Jacobs (sporting his new M-60), PFC Masterson, PFC Griffin, and LCpl Devers
Bottom (left to right): Pvt "Danny" Thomas, Pvt Hendricks, Pvt Ryder, and PFC Marks

So the squad's got nine M-14s, an M-79, an M-1911 (carried by the grenadier), and each Marine is carrying a couple frags.

Initial deployment: Cpl Little and Nelson are at bottom center. Marks' 2nd Fireteam is in the treeline, covering Devers' 1st Fireteam as it moves north (far left).

1st Fireteam nears the next treeline (left).  Cpl Little is being much more deliberate now in the squad's movements.

1st Fireteam takes up position (left top) as 2nd Fireteam prepares to move out (bottom right).

2nd Fireteam steps off towards the rice paddies, with Cpl Little and Nelson in tow.

Pushing east as 1st Fireteam (top left) covers.  Nikki calls after them, "keep your wits about ya, Danny boy."  He heard Cpl Little informing the Platoon Commander via radio that the squad was breaking cover.

2nd Fireteam, the Squad Leader, and the Grenadier begin fanning out.

And into the muck they go.

1st Fireteam (bottom left) keeps a wary out out as their comrades traipse across the rice paddies.

2nd Fireteam nears the sampans...

When, from the northwest (bottom left), a burst of automatic rifle fire rips the heavy, humid air.  Corporal Little goes down and Nelson is suppressed (top right)!

Devers actually saw the burst, so 1st Fireteam (minus Nikki and his M-60, which is just off camera to bottom center right) returns fire, pouring 7.62mm rounds from their M-14s into the nearby treeline...

When from the northeast (bottom right), a second gunman opens fire.  Masterson and Ryder (center top) are pinned, but none of the Marines saw where this fire is coming from.

Devers grabs Griffin and gets on the radio: "we're pinned down by two snipers, Echo Four Lima is down, we need air or arty, pronto!"  The Platoon Commander says he's working on it, but probably going to be awhile as they're in contact, too.

Devers and Masterson (bottom right) continue laying down fire to the northwest as Griffin keeps talking to the Platoon Commander.  

"Jacobs!!!" Devers yelled.  "Yeah," replied Nikki.  "Air and arty's gonna be awhile, we gotta do this ourselves.  Get over here and lay down some fire, Masterson and I will flank him!"  "On the way!"

Nikki moves over (bottom center) and gets the machine gun going as Devers and Masterson take off to the left (far left) to flank the enemy position in the northwest.

Tired of pleading with the Lieutenant, Griffin (bottom left) grabs his M-14 and starts spraying the opposite treeline, despite the fact he has no idea where the other VC is.

In the paddy, Marks lays down fire as Hendricks and Masterson get themselves back in the game.

And Danny sprints forward (right bottom, from bottom left), as fast as one can in a rice paddy.

The Viet Cong rifleman (bottom right) cuts loose again, suppressing Ryder.

Hendricks and Marks (bottom center, Ryder is to their left, with red bead) still can't see the shooter, but are running through magazines as fast as they can reload.

Back on the Marine left, disaster strikes...

With Nikki and Griffin (bottom center laying down covering fire, Devers and Masterson (far left) are working left to outflank the VC position (top center right) when suddenly the world erupts.  There was a metallic 'ping' immediately followed by the crash of an explosion...

Masterson stepped on a landmine and is down!!!   Devers has his bell rung but is otherwise okay.

Nikki (far right) yells "dammit!" and stops firing for a moment, trying to figure out what happened, but then he sees Devers still moving so he goes back to sending red tracers into the nearby treeline.

Devers (left top) dashes past Masterson (bottom left), closing the distance to the enemy.

Griffin (bottom left) keeps laying down fire over his buddies' heads, though he still doesn't know where the VC in the northeast is.

Nelson (far right) yells out to Cpl Little and doesn't receive a response, so he yells to the rest of the guys in the rice paddy: "anybody out there still alive?"  "Yeah!"  "Good.  Anybody no where that @#$&er is?"  "Negative!"  "Okay, I'm gonna pop smoke on the treeline. Shot out!"

He actually fired three smoke rounds, obscuring the area fairly well, which allowed Marks, Hendricks, and Danny to push up (right, from bottom center).  Ryder (bottom left) rallied.

Nelson grabs Cpl Little (bottom center) and then, quite courageously and considerably foolish,starts trudging back across the rice paddies, trusting his comrades to take care of the VC.

Smoked out, knowing the Marines are moving but unable to see them, the VC in the northeast moves left (left, from right) to get a shot.

Still none of the Marines have spotted him, so he calmly draws a breath and opens fire, pinning Hendricks.

Griffin (bottom left) finally sees the enemy (top center right) and opens fire, but misses!

Back in the paddy, Ryder pops up (bottom left), sights in on the VC soldier (top right), and fires...

"I got him!  Guys, I got the bastard!"

But then the VC in the northwest (bottom left) opens fire on Ryder (center)..

Ryder is hit three times and goes down (bottom left) as Devers is suppressed and Danny is pinned (right).

"Dammit!"  Nikki and Griffin (bottom right) continue pouring fire into the northwest position.

As Devers slaps in a fresh magazine and mentally steels himself (bottom right).  He takes a deep breath and then...

Pops through the dense undergrowth, spewing fire from his M-14, but there's no one there, the Viet Cong has melted away into the jungle.

1st Fireteam crosses the paddy, carrying Masterson, as 2nd Fireteam searches the sampans.  One of them grabs the dead Viet Cong's body and drags it back across the river.  As they're checking on and tending to the wounded suddenly Corporal Little sits bolt upright with a start.  "Rob!" screams Nelson and Griffin, "are you alright?"  "Yeah, I'm okay, I... I dunno, I guess I was knocked out."

"That's great news brother, but I got bad news: Masterson and Ryder are both hit bad, we gotta get them medevacked the hell outta here or they both might die."  And they did, Griffin had a helo inbound to scoop up the wounded and get them back to civilization.

As they waited for the helo, Nikki and Danny linked up in the rice paddy.  "Hey little brother, glad to see ya."  "Yeah, I couldn't see you, but I could hear that -60 thumping the whole time.  And you know what, you were right - that getting shot at stuff DOES suck!"

The squad then pushed south and linked up with the rest of the platoon, which was policing itself up following its own firefight.  The they humped on for a couple hours then, as usual, about an hour before sunset the sweep halted and the Marines dug in to their night defensive positions and ate their evening chow.  The boys spent a long, uneventful night, including being out together for a couple hours on OP/LP.  The next morning the Marines got up, pissed and brushed their teeth, ate morning chow, stomped in their holes, and set off in search of the Viet Cong again.  They humped all day, ended up at Route 1, where they were met by trucks and driven back to Da Nang, thus concluding Operation Black Ferret.

As was becoming the norm, they got a few days to rest, relax, and clean up gear, head to the beach, and drink a couple beers before receiving their next Warning Order.  When Corporal Little walked in all business like everyone knew what it meant and simply asked, "where to next, Boss, and when are we leaving?"  "Good news boys, we're linking up with 3/7 and going for a boat ride.  They're calling it Operation Blue Marlin, and we leave on the 10th."

"The 10th???  But that's the birthday of our beloved Corps!!!  But what about cake, and alcohol???"

Coming soon.



  1. Fantastic! I particularly liked the special effects!

    1. Thanks, Jim, I’m glad you liked it.