1230 Local Time
10 December 1965
Que Son Valley, RVN
Operation Harvest Moon
While the boys were cavorting on Operations Red Snapper, Black Ferret, Blue Marlin I, and Blue Marlin II, the Viet Cong 1st Regiment had reconstituted itself, dodged various US/South Vietnamese sweeps, and concentrated in the Que Son Valley, which comprised the west end of the area of operations for Blue Marlin I. During Blue Marlin I, the Marines swept east of Route 1 and the ARVN swept west, extending their area of control out to Hiep Duc, where they established a Ruff-Puff base. The Marines pulled out on 12 November and pushed south, and that is when the 1st VC Regiment struck. On 17 November the ARVN base at Hiep Duc fell; the ARVN counterattacked the next day and by 19 November 1965 they had retaken Hiep Duc, killing 141 Viet Cong while losing 33 of their own.
The two counterattacking ARVN battalions were pulled on 20 November to go deal with another emergency; the security situation in the Que Son Valley immediately deteriorated. III MAF met with ARVN commanders and began planning a joint operation to neutralize Viet Cong forces in the Que Son Valley. US Marine forces would be 3/3 and 2/7, while the South Vietnamese would contribute the ARVN 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment, the 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, 1st Battalion, 6th Regiment, and the 11th Ranger Battalion.
Operation Harvest Moon kicked off on 9 December 1965, and it was a disaster right from the start. The Viet Cong launched attacks on the ARVN 1/5 and 1/6; the latter was repulsed, but the former overran the ARVN infantry and killed their regimental commander. The ARVN 11th Ranger Bn was also ambushed and lost over a third of its strength in less than an hour. The US Marine 3/3 was lifted in and set off to assist them but ran into a battalion-strength strength defensive position that cost the lives of 11 Marines before the VC withdrew. The boys had gotten their first helicopter ride, landing further west with 2/7, and walked all day without seeing anything or firing a shot.
Because things were going poorly, the US Marines committed 2/1, which attempted to land near Cam La, but the LZ was hot and the helos were shot up badly enough that only one rifle company (Fox Company) was landed and the remainder were put down in alternate LZs further west. The rest of the day was spent trying to link up and cost 20 more Marines killed in action (I would loved to have gamed this but I cannot find any H-34s in 15mm-1/100 scale... If someone can point me in the right direction I'd greatly appreciate it).
On a side note, prior to deploying for Harvest Moon the squad received three replacements straight out of Boot Camp/SOI: Privates Leon Washington, Jose Deleon, and Bob Holmes. This led to an interesting discussion on the helo ride in. Sgt Garcia found himself sitting next to Pvt Washington and decided to strike up a conversation: "How ya doing, Washington?" I'm doing well, Sergeant, thank you." "Why you always so quiet, Washington?" "Because I don't want to be here, Sergeant." "What da @#$% you mean, you don't wanna be here? We all volunteered for this @#$%," Sgt Garcia laughed, looking around the helo to see who else was laughing."
"I didn't volunteer, Sergeant." "Dammit, Washington, what the @#$% are you talking about you didn't volunteer? We're all volunteers." "I'm telling you Sergeant, I'm no volunteer." "Ah, shut the @#$% up Washington, this is your first helo ride and your first combat operation. You might be regretting it right now, but we all asked to be right where we're at." "No Sergeant, I didn't. I didn't volunteer for this, I was drafted." "WHAT??? What the @#$% did you just say? That's bull@#$%, you weren't @#$%ing drafted, Washington, the Marine Corps doesn't take draftees, we're all volunteers!"
Cpl Zamora interjected: "Hey, G, that's not true man, the Corps is taking draftees now, been doing it for awhile now." "That's bull@#$%, ya'll are bull@#$%ing me, and that's enough of your nonsense! Washington, get the @#$% down there, get away from me, a @#$%ing draftee, what the @#$%?!"
Deleon and Jackson didn't have the heart to tell Sergeant Garcia they were draftees, too.
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, Pvt Jackson, and Pvt Washington
Bottom (left to right): LCpl Marks, Fireteam Leader, LCpl Murcia-Jimenez, and Pvt Holmes
*I cheated here, for the bad guys! I actually rolled 6K 7S and didn't roll a single '6' on the Kill Dice, but I figured it was so implausible that no one was hit that I converted one of the suppressions to an 'out of action.'
"I gotcha Skipper, we can hack. We're gonna pull back and consolidate, treat our casualties, I'll keep you updated" Sgt Garcia responded, thinking to himself, 'easier said than done.'
"Roger, standby, fast movers ten mikes out," replied the FAC.
Sergeant Garcia immediately relayed the story of Private Washington's actions to the Platoon Commander and Platoon Sergeant, recommending Washington for the Navy Cross.
"Where are they, Sergeant, I don't see anything?" asked Nikki. "They fly too high, you can't see them, you're just sitting there and then, all of a sudden, the world goes wobbly and horizon just disappears. Wait, there!" Sgt Garcia exclaimed, pointing skyward, "contrails. They're close!"