1430 Local Time
13 January 1966
An Hoa, RVN
Some old faces, Nelson and Griffin, had returned to the squad, and some new faces, Rivera and Tate, were picked up as replacements, bringing the squad strength to twelve Marines, nearly their T/O strength. They'd been patrolling in and around Da Nang for a little over a week when Sergeant Garcia walked into the squadbay and gave them a Warning Order: they were heading about 20 klicks south of Da Nang to support a sweep by 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines (1/3) and 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines (3/7) in and around a village named An Hoa. It seemed An Hoa was a burgeoning industrial center (or at least he South Vietnamese government hoped so), with the country's only functioning coal mine and a newly completed railway spur located there. But the Viet Cong R-20 Battalion, recently reinforced by the 5th Main Force Viet Cong Battalion, was causing big trouble there for the ARVN assigned to protect An Hoa, so the Marines were being sent in find, fix, and destroy the VC forces in the area and evacuate about 300 villagers from small hamlets in the surrounding area into the (allegedly) better protected An Hoa village proper.
The Marines kicked off Operation Mallard on 11 January 1966, having been trucked into staging areas the previous night. The first two days and nights were relatively uneventful, the Marines following the long established routine of humping all day before stopping about an hour before sunset to dig their night defensive positions, eat their evening chow, then spend a long, uneventful night interrupted by standing watch and sometimes a couple hours out on OP/LP before getting up the next morning to piss, brush their teeth, eat morning chow, stomp in their holes, and set off in search of the Viet Cong again.
But on the third day of the operation they were humping the bush when local Ruff-Puffs (members of the ARVN) reported Viet Cong had occupied Hill 108 looking down on the western end of An Hoa. The boys' platoon was attached to a company from 3/7 and dispatched to destroy the VC threatening An Hoa from Hill 108, the fear being the VC would infiltrate An Hoa and damage or destroy (again) coal mining infrastructure in the village. As the company moved west on Hill 108 it took contact from the north; the main body of the Marine company wheeled to deal with this contact, but the boys' platoon was ordered to continue west at the double in order to cut off and prevent the VC from entering An Hoa, taking Hill 108 in the process.
The Marines are from Jimmi's Flashpoint Minis.
The Viet Cong are from Martin's Peter Pig.
"Damn Ni, I don't know if my bunghole's ever been this puckered before!"
"Hell little brother, I didn't know you still had the capacity to pucker after our wetdown out in the ville!" Danny shot daggers from his eyes at Nikki, then smile. "I thought we agreed we weren't gonna bring that up."
But Sergeant Garcia was hot on their tails, "police it up that bull@#$%, morons, and keep it moving, we gotta get across these paddies most rikki-tik!"
"I dunno brother, stay frosty."
"Nah, don't sweat it, Jackson," smiled Griffin, faintly, "I'm heading back to The World, man." And he was; the round hit him at the base of his neck, broke his left clavicle, and exited out his shoulder, destroying the joint.
The Marines spent another four days in the bush, the first three on further search and destroy missions and the last one escorting about 300 villagers from the surrounding areas into the relative safety/protection of An Hoa. Following the evacuation the units were loaded up and trucked back to Da Nang, where they received a few days to rest and recuperate before heading back out into the local area for more patrols. On 26 February 1966, Sergeant Garcia walked in and gave his Warning Order: "Listen up, Marines. In two days we're heading back out to the bush for about three weeks. They're calling it 'Operation Double Eagle,' another multi-battalion op, this time up in Quang Ngai Province, while the Army and ARVNs are running a similar op down below us in Binh Dinh Province."
"Sergeant, where the hell is Quang Ngai Province? Or Binh Dinh Province?"
"Now the @#$% would I know, Holmes? And what the @#$% does it matter? It's a section of jungle, just like any other jungle we been in, 'cept this one has apparently got more dinks in it! So get yer @#$% squared away."