Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Two Brothers, Fight #13


1700 Local Time
4 March 1966
Near Hill 50, Quang Ngai Province, RVN
Operation Utah

The squad crept northeast through the rice paddies, hustling from cover to cover as best they could, the sounds of gunfire to their front, right, and rear.  It felt very strange hugging the west side of Hill 50, knowing NVA were still up there, somewhere, but they were in a hurry.  They had to get up, through the village, and into contact with Fox Company, knowing the NVA had probably infiltrated between them and the Marines on the far left flank.  Not to mention, they really didn't want to get caught out in the rice paddies, all alone, knowing the battalion had precious little troops available to send to bale them out, and pretty much all the air and artillery assets were being used in support of the rest of the battalion, with all three companies in contact.  "Let's go," Sergeant Garcia hissed, "keep it moving."

Overview, north is up.  The village of Khanh My (1) is at top right, the northwestern tip of Hill 50 runs from right to bottom center right, with enemy trenchlines, which appear to be abandoned, and craters from earlier air and arty strikes visible, along with several patches of dense jungle.  In the northeast (top right) is a similar patch of dense jungle, which leads to the isolated Marines of Fox Company, while the left side of the table is nothing but rice paddies dotted with a few hedges.  The squad will enter from the southwest (bottom left).

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 rice paddies are from Battlefront.
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.
The bridge is from Novus Design Studios.
The sandbagged emplacements are from JR Miniatures.
The railroad tracks are cheap, plastic jobs from Target.
The craters, burned out areas, and rubble piles are from Battlefront.
The trenches are from Battlefront.
The bunkers are from... I can't remember.  The company is still in business but they no longer do 15mm terrain.

The opposing forces, with the Marines on the left and the NVA on the right.

The squad is no longer overstrength, down from the sixteen men they started the day with to eleven. 

Top, the Command Group (left to right): Sergeant Garcia, LCpl Jackson (RTO), and HM3 Johnson (Corpsman)  
1st Fireteam (left to right): Cpl Little, PFC Rivera, Pvt Contreras, and Pvt Floyd 
2nd Fireteam (left to right): LCpl "Danny" Thomas, PFC "Nikki" Jacobs (M-60), Pvt White, and Pvt McCaffrey (grenadier)

The NVA force has ten men, comprised of an NCO, a grenadier with RPG/B-40, a machine gunner with RPD, and seven riflemen armed with AK-47s.

Overview, this time with troops.  You can see the squad moving across the rice paddies in the southwest (bottom left), some Marines from Fox Company in the northeast (top right, in the jungle), in a fight with NVA off camera to top right, while the NVA involved in this fight are coming down off of the north end of Hill 50 and occupying the village of Khanh My (top center).

The Marines from F/2/7, spread out and cut off from the rest of the battalion, in a fight with NVA to their front (top right), with more NVA slipping in behind them (off camera to bottom left).

Looking south to north at the ville, you can see NVA have reached the trenchline in the village (left/center), a couple have peeled off to the north (just above them), creeping up on Fox Company from behind (in the trees at top left), while the rest of them filter down the slope of Hill 50 (center to far right top).

The squad entering the area from the southwest, with Cpl Little's 1st Fireteam leading, then Sgt Garcia and the command group, and Danny's 2nd Fireteam bringing up the rear.

The Marines push north (you can see the pointman, Rivera, in the narrow paddy at left top, followed by the rest of the squad), nearing the ville (top right).

Private White (bottom center left) is 'tail-end Charlie,' and he's keeping a nervous eye cast up Hill 50 (right).  "Dammit, Lance Corporal Thomas, this don't feel right, I can see the trenches and I just know they're sitting up there, waiting to whack us."

Sergeant Garcia (far left) motions Cpl Little to take a more direct path into the village, so the 1st Fireteam leader signals Rivera to head straight (center top) into the village, but Sergeant Garcia motions Danny to take 2nd Fireteam off to the right.  Danny motions White to take point for 2nd Fireteam, with Nik and his M-60 taking up the 'slack' position, followed by Danny and McCaffrey with his Blooper (center bottom).

And, after all the nervous, tense waiting, it happens: NVA in the trenchline running through the village open fire on 1st Fireteam (top left)!

But they (top right) need more range time, they don't manage to hit anyone!  Rivera is suppressed (red bead at left), but Cpl Little drops to a knee and returns fire with his M-14 on full auto.

An NVA rifleman is suppressed (far right), but there's a hollow, percussive thump and then a rocket comes hissing out at the Marines!

But it strikes an empty spot in the grass, showring some of the Marines with clods of dirt, but otherwise having no effect whatsoever, as Sergeant Garcia (bottom left) adds his M-14 to the weight of the Marines' return fire.

The NVA's light machine gun (bottom center) rattles, sending green Commie tracers out into the rice paddies, close enough to suppress Sgt Garcia and pin Doc Johnson (top left)...

Floyd and Contreras (center) finally join the fight, returning fire into the village (off camera to top right)...

But then the three NVA coming down Hill 50 (across the bottom of the photo) open fire on the Marines in the rice paddies (top center), pinning Cpl Little and causing Jackson to panic.

At the end of the column, McCaffrey (bottom left, with Danny, Nik, and White to his right, Sgt Garcia and 1st Fireteam above him) shoulders his M-79 and returns fire...

The 40mm HE round strikes near one of the NVA atop Hill 50, suppressing him (red bead).

1st Fireteam sort of riggles together at the edge of the rice paddy nearest the village and continues pouring rifle fire into the village...

One of the NVA in the trench is suppressed (red bead at top left), while another is forced to fall back (red bead at bottom right, from the trench).

McCaffrey quickly reloads his Blooper and sends a round into the village...

It strikes behind the trench, suppressing two nearby NVA riflemen (bottom right)!

McCaffrey (bottom left center) breaks down the M-79 and reloads as Danny, Nik, and White push forward (far right, with 1st Fireteam at top center)...

NVA in the trench (bottom center/right) spot 2nd Fireteam moving up (top left) and engage the Marines on the slope of Hill 50...

But the fire is ineffective and Nikki (bottom center right) gets the Pig going, sending a long stream of red tracers into the village...

Suppressing the RPG gunner (top right) and forcing a rifleman to fall back (bottom left), out of the trench!

The NVA light machine gun (bottom right) adds a fresh drum and begins firing on 1st Fireteam (top left)...

Floyd is suppressed and Cpl Little is pinned, but Rivera (top of the formation) pops up and returns fire.  Contreras (bottom left) just sorta sits there, watching...

The NVA NCO moves left in the trench (bottom right) an fires on 2nd Fireteam (top left)...

White (red bead) hugs the dirt, suppressed, as Nik shifts fire, driving tracers into the corner of the trench (top left), suppressing the NVA NCO and light machine gunner!

With 2nd Fireteam (in hedge at top center) engaged with the trench (off camera to far right), the NVA on Hill 50 decide to flank them, sending one of their men up the left side (left top), while the NVA at bottom right covers him and the NVA at far left rallies...

Nikki (at bottom left you have White, Nik, and Danny, from left to right) continues pumping machine gun fire into the trench (top left), but Danny, ever alert, spots the advancing NVA on Hill 50 (top right) and opens fire with his M-14...

The advancing NVA is suppressed (center), while his rallying comrade is forced further back up Hill 50 (far left, from center left).

Another NVA decides to move up on the slope of Hill 50 to flank the Marines (this guy is at center, from the hootch at bottom right, where an NVA rifleman is suppressed, and the NVA that Danny just suppressed is at far let top, while 2nd Fireteam is in the hedge at top left center, Sgt Garcia, Jackson, and the Doc are in the paddy at top right center, and 1st Fireteam is pinned down behind the paddy at top right).

Contreras (bottom left) spots the NVA moving up (top center right) and finally decides to get into the fight.  He raises his M-14, can't sight in because there's mud all over the rear sight aperture, so he brings it back down, wipes it off, and shoulders it again and opens fire...

But he (far right) misses, and the NVA (bottom center left) wheels and returns fire with his AK, pinning Rivera and causing Contreras to panic!

Surprisingly, the NVA are in a bad way, with their fire being relatively ineffective (no Marines have been hit) and the Marine return fire proving very effective, with eight of their own currently suppressed (far left, top left, three in the center, one at bottom right, and two in the trench).  I will point out, however, that they haven't lost any men, either, and a brief lull as the Marines reload, rally, and search for targets, allows the NVA to rally.

"Did they pull out?" asked Rivera.  "I dunno," replied Cpl Little, "let's have a look."  

Cpl Little (center left, with 1st Fireteam, behind the paddy) popped his head up, immediately drawing fire from the NVA trenchline (top center right).  "Nope, they didn't pull out!  Can't say I like these NVA dudes' style, VC woulda pulled out by now..."

McCaffrey shoulders his M-79 and pops a grenade at the trenchline...

And it's dead on, landing in the trench, right at the RPG gunner's feet, killing him instantly!

Nikki (bottom center left) spots NVA moving in the village (top center) and hoses them down with the M-60...

White rallies (far left) and Nik keeps firing as Danny pushes right, up Hill 50 (top right).

He reaches the relative cover of a hedge (bottom left), then shoulders his M-14 and begins firing downhill on two NVA (top right).

Dropping one (left) and suppressing another (bottom right)!

Jackson has been face down in the rice paddy pretty much since the fight began (bottom left), so Doc crawled over to check on him.  "You alright, bro?"  "Yeah man.  I suppose I should hop up now, right."  "Wouldn't be a bad idea," smiled Doc.  "Well, no @#$%, Jackson," said Sergeant Garcia (above them), "glad you could join the fight," as he popped rounds at the enemy trenchline (top left).  But suddenly he spotted an NVA in the hedges, south of the village (top center right); he realigned his aiming point, took in a deep breath, and slowly began to squeeze the trigger...

Just like they teach you during 2nd phase of Boot Camp, he was surprised when the rifle went off, and so was the NVA soldier when the 7.62mm round slammed into his chest (bottom center, with the guy Danny just whacked at top left), dropping him.

Sergeant Garcia sort of chuckled to himself, "nice shootin,' Tex," then, finished admiring his own handiwork, he dashed forward, splashing through the rice paddies, to help out 1st Fireteam (top right, from center left).  "Corp'ral Little, are you going to get your Marines going, or should I?"

Sgt Garcia (top right) had to eat a little humble pie when an NVA atop Hill 50 (bottom left) spotted the crazy Marine dashing through the rice paddies and then stopping to verbally harangue a bunch of Yankees lying behind a paddy dyke, then sighted in and fired.

Sgt Garcia (bottom right) was obliged to hit the dirt as Cpl Little and Rivera returned fire, suppressing the NVA on Hill 50 (top left, with the village at bottom left, Nik and White off camera to far right, and Danny at top center right).

An NVA that had fallen back, out of the trench, got his marbles back and dashed back up into the trench (far right, from bottom right), firing at 1st Fireteam as he went (top left).

He and Sgt Garcia (far left) exchanged fire ineffectually...

Another NVA that had fallen back (bottom right, sheltering behind the well) decided to hold position and fire on the Marines of 1st Fireteam (top left)...

But the entire Fireteam and Sgt Garcia replied, five M-14s on full auto...

One NVA was hit and went down (center), three more were suppressed (red beads at center, left, and left top), and the NVA at the well decided he'd had enough and ran for his life (far right)!

The enemy NCO (bottom center right) returned fire on the 1st Fireteam (top left), pinning Sergeant Garcia and (once again) causing Contreras to panic.

But, back on the right, Nik (bottom center) finally got his stoppage cleared and got the M-60 back into action, pouring lead into the NVA trenchline (top right).

Knocking out the enemy RPG light machine gun (far right)!

Danny (far right) looks on as Nik and White move up (center, from bottom left).

And McCaffrey (center bottom, from bottom left) follows them (right top).

With a better look at the rest of the village (top right), McCaffrey shoulders his M-79 and fires another grenade.

The grenade lands directly in the trench (bottom left), killing the NVA NCO, and convincing the last two enemy soldiers in the trench it was time to pull out (top right)...

But they ran straight into Marines from Fox Company and were captured!

The lone NVA still in the fight, the dude that has spent most of the battle suppressed up on Hill 50 (bottom left), sights in and fires on 1st Fireteam (top right)...

And then he, too, decides that discretion is the better part of valor, living to fight another day (far left, from right).

As Danny moves up and clears the area.

The squad cautiously gets on its feet and moves up, into Khanh My, to occupy the village.

Where they link up with the Marines of Fox Company.

"Well Hell, don't you look exhilarated again!" smiled Nik.  "Why yes, young man, yes I do." replied Danny with a grin.  "Maybe you're right, little brother, we are getting good at this.  The dinks left six bodies behind, and we didn't take a single casualty.  It's crazy, ain't it?  These dudes are wearing full uniforms, got new weapons, plenty o'ammo and chow.  I don't get it, how'd they get so far into South Vietnam like that, dug in and everything, and like we didn't even know where they were?"  "I dunno, Nik.  Hell, HQ says they're just walking across the damn DMZ.  I bet we're headed up there before too long."

But there wasn't much time to talk; they'd linked up with Fox, but the battalion had to stretch left to maintain that linkup, further thinning its lines, and while Golf Company was still pretty much pinned down on the west end of Hill 50, word came over the radio that Hotel Company was actually being counterattacked by the NVA, that hundreds of them had just risen up out of the bush and were close assaulting through Hotel's positions!  It didn't take but a minute for Sergeant Garcia to come dashing back through the squad, yelling "hat up, we're moving out, NOW!"

Coming right up!