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!"
The Marines are from Jimmi's Flashpoint Minis.
The Viet Cong are from Martin's Peter Pig.
Bottom (left to right): Cpl Little, Pvt "Nikki" Jacobs, and Pvt "Danny" Thomas
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 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!