Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Two Brothers, Fight #8


0930 Local Time
19 December 1965
Phuoc Ha Valley, RVN
Operation Harvest Moon

Everyone knew the Operation was scheduled to wrap up tomorrow, then they'd return to Da Nang and get a rest as the Christmas truce kicked in.  But the op wasn't over yet; the squad was thankful for not having to stand watch the previous night, but now they were back to normal, back at it, having chowed down on some cold C-rats, brushed their teeth and shaved with some cold water, stomped in their holes, hoisted their packs, and set off into the jungle, searching for the enemy.  They'd been humping for several hours already when the sound of gunfire and explosions could be heard in the distance.  The Platoon called a halt and Sergeant Garcia signaled the squad to take a knee and face outboard, pulling security while he moved to Jackson and propped the radio handset between his shoulder and ear, listening and narrating for the squad.  "Golf Company is on point and's got contact...  They got casualties, calling for fire and MEDEVAC...  VC are attempting to flank, separate them from the rest of the battalion.  Fox Company is moving right to head it off...  Fox is in contact, taking casualties...  Arty is pounding the VC in front of Golf, but they're not pulling back...  Air is on the way...  VC in front of Fox broke contact, Fox will be on the move in about ten mikes...  Air says they got dinks moving to the west, trying the other flank...  Uh-oh..."

Once again the 'uh-oh' was a call to action for the squad.  Their platoon was being sent west to head off this new threat to the US flank, but it was a lot of ground to cover and so the three squads were assigned sectors, not really tied into each other.  "The Lootenat assures me we're not out there with our asses hanging in the wind, that Echo Company is regrouping and will be right behind us, we just gotta head the dinks off and hold'em until Echo arrives.  Alright, let's move!"

Overview, north is up.  There is a hardball road running north/south in the west (left), and you can just see the bend in a nearby river in the southeast (bottom right), while there's a small village in the north-northwest (top center left), butted up against a low ridge in the west (far left).  There's a relatively large hill in the east (far right) that's heavily wooded, and thick jungle dots the landscape, aside from the open areas covered by rice paddies.  The Marines, harried on by Sergeant Garcia to head off the enemy, have the advantage here.  They have hustled to their assigned location and taken up hasty defensive positions in hopes of ambushing the flanking Viet Cong, whom they expect to enter from the northeast (top right).

And yeah, I got a couple new sets of rice paddies from Battlefront, from their "Battlefield in a Box" line.

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 Squad, down to a measly eight effectives.

Top (left to right): Sergeant Garcia and Pvt Jackson is carrying the radio.  
Center (left to right): Cpl Zamora, Pvt Washington, and Pvt Holmes.
Bottom (left to right): Cpl Little, Pvt "Nikki" Jacobs, and Pvt "Danny" Thomas

The squad, in ambush positions (far left and center), sweating in the tropical heat, baking in the sun.

On the far left is 1st Fireteam, with Cpl Little, Danny, and Nik with his M-60 machine gun.

The Marine center, with the command group (Sgt Garcia and Jackson) at left and most of 2nd Fireteam (Cpl Zamora and Holmes) at right.

2nd Fireteam (Cpl Zamora and Holmes at bottom left) has put Washington out on the far right flank (far right), to make sure the VC don't sneak past by coming over the hill.*

It's difficult to see, but there is a hill at far right, sloping down to the left, and Washington is actually on a small finger shooting off to the west, dropping away to the north and south, ending just west of where Washington is standing.

And Washington signals the rest of squad, VC have been spotted!  Two scouts slowly break out of the treeline, advancing to a nearby rice paddy and taking a knee, surveying with their eyes, ears, and noses.

After sitting completely still for a couple minutes, they push west (left, from far right).

They quickly cover the open ground and enter the village (far left, from center), which is completely abandoned.

Once there, the scouts (right) signal back across the paddies to the main body.

Which receives the signal and begins to break cover, intent on quickly crossing the open ground and getting around Golf Company and into their rear.

The VC platoon is crossing the paddies...

And, just as they're entering the village...

Sgt Garcia and Jackson (bottom left) open fire with their M-14s, targeting the VC platoon (top right, with the two scouts across the road at top center left)...

On the Marine right, 2nd Fireteam (bottom center/right) adds their rifles to the fusillade...

As 1st Fireteam, with Nik's M-60, opens fire from the Marine left (bottom left, with Sgt Garcia and Jackson visible at bottom right).

Four Viet Cong go down in the initial burst of fire, with five more of them being suppressed!

From the Marine far right, Washington (bottom right) opens fire on the VC scouts (top left, with their main body at top center)

But as brave as he is (top right), he never seems to hit anything!  So the VC Scouts (bottom left) return fire, pinning him down...

One of the scouts (center, with main body just visible at top right) lays down fire as his partner scrambles for high ground atop the nearby ridge (far left).

And Washington goes down...

Sergeant Garcia (bottom center, with Jackson next to him) spots the VC running up the ridge (top left) and opens fire, suppressing him.

A couple of the unsuppressed VC in the main body (bottom center) return fire on 1st Fireteam (top center, with the command group and 2nd Fireteam in the treeline at top left), trying to put Nik's machine gun out of the fight, pinning all three Marines...

As the enemy RPG gunner fires a rocket at the Marines in the southern treeline...

The B-40 rocket actually comes through the trees, slamming in to the ground and blowing up behind Sergeant Garcia and Jackson, pinning the former and suppressing the latter!

But Nikki (bottom left) keeps the pig thumping, while Cpl Little and Danny add their rifles...

Two more enemy soldiers fall, as the VC platoon leader and two more soldiers are suppressed, one badly enough that he decides he's had enough and runs for it (top right)!

Cpl Zamora and Holmes (bottom center) reload and keep pouring fire into the VC trapped in the rice paddies (top center).

A seventh VC goes down and a second VC runs for the hills!

The enemy platoon leader takes a quick look around...

Then gives three quick blasts on his whistle to order his men to break contact and fall back, ending the fight!!!

The Marines let out a resounding "Ooh-Rah!!!", lowering their weapons, pushing their helmets back, and drawing in a sigh of exultation at having survived another encounter with the enemy!  "Wait," Sergeant Garcia says, looking around and counting heads...

"Where is Washington???" (top right)

Corporal Zamora and Holmes dash up the slope to Washington's position, but it's too late...  They brought him back into the squad's position.  "Dammit," Sgt Garcia said in disgust, "You'd have never guessed it, he was so quiet, and a draftee, but he was a damn fine Marine.  I'm sorry, Wash, you deserved better, you really saved our asses in that ambush, we all owe you our lives."

Cpl Little, Nik, and Danny pushed up and surveyed the battlefield.  "Be careful of booby traps, fellas," Cpl Little reminded the young Marines.

Nik and Danny copped a squad, pulling security while they waited for a MEDEVAC to come pick up Washington's body, and to be relieved by Echo Company.  "Dammit man, that hurts, he was such a great guy, I can't believe they got him.  That's three of us they've zapped now, just since we've been here, Nik."  "Yeah, Danny, I kinda can't believe it.  I mean, we've never put a hurtin' on the VC like that before.  Look it, they left their bodies, weapons, ammo, everything, and we still got one of our guys killed.  This is some real bull@#$%."  "Hell, it's alright man, we're coming outta the field tomorrow, heading back to Da Nang, get some hot showers and some real chow, maybe some beers, we're gonna be alright bro."  "Yeah man, I suppose..."

And they did; the Marines spent one more uneventful night in the bush, then another half day humping the bush, looking for Charlie, before the helos swooped in and carried them out to Phu Bai, before being trucked back to Da Nang.  Just like Danny said, they got hot showers to wash away the dirt, sweat, grime, and blood of the last twelve days in the bush, some hot chow, and some beers to help wash away the memories of their first couple months in the 'Nam, settling in for a decent-sized break as the Christmas Truce went into effect.  "Good news, boys," Sergeant Garcia told the gathered Marines, "we ain't going back into the bush until after the New Year!"  

A couple days before Christmas, the entire battalion was called outside into formation.  They held a brief ceremony for all the Marines killed during Operation Harvest Moon, and then General Walt, the III MAF Commanding General, flew in to promote and decorate several Marines from the battalion.  At the end he meritoriously promoted Leon Washington to Private First Class, and bestowed upon him, posthumously, the Navy Cross, for gallantry above and beyond the call of duty, which saved the life of Pvt Deleon during an ambush on 12 December 1965 in the village of Muc Tieu, RVN.

A couple days after Christmas, Sergeant Garcia walked into the squadbay and found Corporal Little.  "Hey Rob, watch this.  Jacobs, Thomas, get your dumb asses over here!"  "Aye aye, Sergeant, on the way!"  Nik and Danny rushed up to Sgt Garcia.  "Yes, Sergeant," they said in unison.  "Hello numbskulls, at ease.  Let me ask you two something: what is the time in service/time in grade requirements for Private in the Marine Corps to be promoted to Private First Class?"

"Ummm, I think...  I believe it's six months, Sergeant," replied Nik.  "And how long have you dumbasses been in my Marine Corps, now, Jacobs?  Go ahead, count on your fingers, hell, take your boots off, if necessary.  I'll wait."  Nik looked at Danny, both mentally counting up the months since they enlisted in the Marine Corps.  "Uh, eight months, Sergeant."  "I see," Sergeant Garcia responded.  "Now listen up, squad, I have great news!  These two dip@#$%s are now PFCs in my Marine Corps, and since they didn't even notice, I have arranged for all of us to take a trip out to the ville tonight, so we can throw a proper wetdown for Jacobs and Thomas.  And since they didn't even notice, their wetdown will not comprise merely of them spending the customary one month's difference in pay, they will spend the difference in pay for both November AND December!" he exclaimed, joyously, to shouts of "Lordy!" "Amen!" and "Hear! Hear!"  The boys looked at each other and grinned sheepishly; "well, why not?"  Thus ensued a 48-hour long rage of blinded drunkenness and debauchery that most members of the squad could only but hazily remember and almost got a number of them court-martialed!

The New Year's holiday came and went, some wounded buddies returned, some replacements were received, and the squad resumed patrolling in the relative safe area around Da Nang to get broke back into normal operations.  They spent all day humping around the local area about every other day, interacting with the locals, searching for an enemy that refused to reveal himself, except by booby traps, which the squad was lucky enough to dodge.  They knew it was never going to last though, and it wasn't long before they were receiving their first Warning Order of the new year.

Coming right up!



  1. A great narrative mini campaign Jack..inspirational stuff!

  2. Fascinating read, Jack. Sorry to see Washington meet his maker. Many years ago when I gamed Vietnam primarily solo, I played “Where’s Charlie” that handled the Vietnamese in an automated fashion. Have you heard of those rules?

    1. Jonathan,

      Thank you Sir, and yes, I was not happy about Washington getting hit, either, I thought he'd be around for awhile and be one of the guys the boys could depend on. Unfortunately, casualties are making it tough for anyone to be someone the boys can depend on...

      I can't say I've ever heard of "Where's Charlie," but anything that handles the enemy in an automated fashion is something I'm interested in!


  3. Hello Jack,

    Excellent report. Is it me or was this shorter than usual? Did not seem to be as much rallying, suppression, rallying etc going on. More like my battles seem to go is the only reason I noticed and ask.

    1. Hey buddy! It wasn't you, just the ambush was successful and so not a lot going on. Don't worry, it's the only one like that! ;)