0130 Local Time
18 November 1965
Near Hoi An, RVN
Operation Blue Marlin II
Following the end of Operation Blue Marlin I, the boys re-boarded the amphibious shipping and sailed to Chu Lai, where 3/7 was offloaded. They went ashore and to a couple days of rest, before it was time to re-board the ships for Operation Blue Marlin II, this time with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines. They sailed south and landed 22 miles south of Da Nang on 16 November 1965, where they wheeled right and pushed north towards the confluence of the Song Truong Giang and Song Cua Dai (Song = River). The Marines have spent two days humping the bush east of the Song Truong Giang without contact, while two battalions of ARVN Rangers have done the same west of the river.
And there have been changes to the squad. Prior to the kick off of Blue Marlin II, the platoon received a fresh slate of replacements, including some NCOs. While at Chu Lai, the Platoon Sergeant, Staff Sergeant Dunn, called Corporal Little into his hooch to talk. "Rob, sit down, I need to talk to you. We got a load of replacements in and some are coming your way. But I wanted to you to hear it from me, Sergeant R.A. Garcia is coming in, and he's going to take over the squad."
"You're taking my squad away, Staff Sergeant?" "No Rob, just I gotta put him somewhere and 3rd Squad has a Corporal running it." "2nd Squad has a Corporal running it, too, Staff Sergeant."
"Look Rob, you're a good Marine, and a good leader, but you need more time in the bush before you're running a squad." Corporal Little opened his mouth in protest, but Staff Sergeant Dunn cut him off: "You're not hearing me Rob. Sergeant Garcia is a great leader, knows what he's doing, and I want him to take you under his wing and teach you the ropes. You've been on your own since Sergeant Oxland went down, and you've done good, but I need better. In Red Snapper you took your squad charging straight up the road and ran straight into a bunker, and then I ask you to hold the hill and you put two FNGs out on the flanks by themselves..."
"But I was..."
"All night, Rob, you left two FNGs out there all night! No relief! We're lucky those two didn't fall asleep and wake up with their throats slit! Last week I asked you to escort the Combat Engineers while they sweep the road and you didn't put out flankers... And in Black Ferret, you run into a couple snipers and the After Action Report says... what did it say? You were knocked out, didn't even participate in the fight? I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, but that's a bit damn strange, don't you think? Anyway, it doesn't matter what you think, Sergeant Garcia is coming in here and you're going to follow his lead and you're going to learn from him, do you understand?"
So Sergeant Garcia took over the squad. A solid leader, he'd come ashore in March of 1965 and led a squad for several months in a different company before taking over as Platoon Sergeant. During Operation Starlite his platoon was ambushed and he single-handedly pulled their chestnuts out of the fire. He was awarded the Silver Star for his actions, and though he was wounded badly enough to be brought back to a staff job at battalion, now he is all healed up and ready to get back into the field.
With him he's bringing Corporal Zamora, a seasoned NCO just arriving in country from the States, and LCpl Murcia-Jimenez (they call him "MJ"), a seasoned non-rate just arriving in country from the States, both of whom Sgt Garcia had served with in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Additionally he was bringing a two cherries straight out of Boot Camp/SOI, Mike Albergo and Lamar Jackson.
The Marines are from Jimmi's Flashpoint Minis.
The Viet Cong are from Martin's Peter Pig.
Top (left to right): Sergeant Garcia, Squad Leader, and PFC Nelson, Grenadier
Middle (left to right): Cpl Zamora, Fireteam Leader, PFC Griffin, and Pvt Jackson
Bottom (left to right): LCpl Marks, Fireteam Leader, LCpl Murcia-Jimenez, and Pvt Albergo
"#$%@ that, Gunny, what the @#$% is this bull@#$%??? Sandbagged bunkers with no overhead protection? No wire, no Claymores? The fields of fire suck, the dinks could be in our perimeter before we even know what hit us! This is some serious bull..."
"I see you haven't changed, Sergeant Garcia." The Gunny cracked a smile. "Nevertheless, it's good to see you back in the field again. I understand your concerns, and I remind you that we are taking over these positions from our ARVN allies, so... do what you can to improve them, and hold the bridge."
Things are looking grim on the east end of the bridge: Marks is down and everyone else is completely suppressed...
That's all the red beads. The white bead is Cpl Little and means he is panicked, so he can't self rally, he has to be rallied by another Marine moving into base contact with him. Cpl Zamora is in that same boat now...
"Grab it and toss it out of there, over there, at where the VC came at us from. And you two can call me Rob, I think you knuckleheads have earned it."
"Yes, Sergeant, not a scratch. We did have quite a scare, though," Nikki said, pointing at the dud grenade. "Yeah, I bet you did. Get rid of that thing, then Jacobs, you pull security, Cpl Little and Thomas, you guys get over here and and help us with Marks and MJ, they're both hit."
"Damn it, Marks! I nearly shot your dumbass!" yelled Sgt Garcia. "And I think I let out a little pee," laughed Cpl Zamora.
"I'm alright, I think. That round hit me in the shoulder, but I don't think it got the bone," replied Marks. He was right, a relatively superficial wound.
"Yeah man, I definitely feel like years are being shaved off our lives at a rapid clip."
"You wanna hear something funny? I never even fired my rifle last night."
"Yeah, I know, I was right there next to ya! I didn't shoot, neither! And them Viet Cong were right there, close enough to toss a frag right into our laps! Speaking of that, I still can't believe you didn't jump on that grenade to save me!" Nikki said coyly, a silly grin crossing his face.
"Well Semper Fi, Mac!" And both boys busted out into laughter again.
Coming right up.