1800 Local Time
4 March 1966
Near Hill 50, Quang Ngai Province, RVN
2nd Battalion, 7th Marines had been in contact all day; even before they were landed via helos they were taking fire on the way in, heavy enough that two Marine choppers and an F-4 Phantom had been shot down, and more than 20 helicopters had been damaged badly enough they'd had to head back for repairs, necessitating another helicopter squadron be committed to the fight. Once on the ground, the Marines joined an ARVN battalion that landed before them, and it was being mauled by North Vietnamese Army (NVA) defenses on and around Hill 50. 2/7 sprung into action, basically coming online and pushing east, with Fox Company to the left (north), tying in with the ARVN, Golf Company in the center, and Hotel Company on the right (south). The ARVN were hard pressed and weren't keeping up with the Marines, so Fox Company was pulled farther and farther north as Golf and Hotel struck the NVA defenses on Hill 50. Now it was the Marines turn to be mauled; the enemy were numerous, well-armed, and dug in, letting the Marines get close enough so that it was very difficult to leverage supporting air and artillery ("hugging the belt"). The Marines, Golf Company in particular, were able to breach the enemy defenses on Hill 50 in several places, but they were spread too thin and didn't have any reserves to exploit the success. And then battalion realized another problem brewing; while Golf and Hotel were essentially 'stuck in' and not going anywhere on Hill 50, a gap had opened between Golf Company and Fox Company, with NVA pouring into the gap, near the village of Khanh My.
The boys had accompanied Golf Company on its assault of Hill 50, reaching the enemy trenches but not able to push past, while suffering heavy casualties. They settled into a bit of a stalemate (like the rest of Golf and Hotel), but were then pulled back and sent north to reestablish contact with Fox Company, where they had a short, sharp firefight with a squad of NVA, sent them packing, and linked up with Fox. But now Hotel Company was being counterattacked by NVA on the southern side of Hill 50 and was in danger of being overrun, so the boys were sent south to help them out.
The Marines are from Jimmi's Flashpoint Minis.
The Viet Cong are from Martin's Peter Pig.
Doc replied, "negative, you're not alright, but you'll survive," pulling Danny's web gear out of the way and cutting off his uniform blouse. "And you are damned lucky: the round hit a magazine pouch and ricocheted up and bounced off your ribs. The bleeding ain't too bad, but I gotta get you to the rear, you probably have some broken ribs..."
"Negative, Doc, I ain't going to the rear, I'm staying with the squad!" Danny pleaded. "Relax man, relax. I'll see what I can do. Maybe I can stitch you up and wrap those ribs and you don't have to be evacuated, but you damn sure gotta head back to the BAS*, that round is still in there an I ain't gonna try and pull it out up here."
*BAS is the "Battalion Aid Station"
Which was exactly what LtCol Utter, 2/7's commander, was thinking. It was tough; all three companies were decisively engaged with the enemy, at close quarters. Nevertheless, he sent out the message for all units to break contact and fall back; in his own words, "We made the first fifty to one hundred yards, painfully. Then we rolled in the air. Under cover of bombs, rockets, napalm, and strafing runs we made two hundred more rather easily." The battalion fell back to the southeast, into night defensive positions (NDP) in and around Chau Nhai (4), where they were able to evacuate their wounded and dead, replenish their ammunition and water, eat some chow, and get a little bit of rest. And there was some good news on offer: at 1800, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines (3/1) was heloed in and landed five klicks to the north, and 2/4 was scheduled to chopper in the next morning.
Corporal Little and Doc Johnson both closed in to say their goodbyes. Sergeant Garcia's eyes welled up as Corporal Little moved in, gave him a big hug, then dapped it up, followed by Doc Johnson doing the same. "Thanks a bunch, G, and take it easy. Thanks for everything, brother. I'll be seeing ya." "No sweat, Rob, they're all yours now. You're ready man, do what you need to do." Corporal Little rubbed his eyes and stepped back to leave as the crew chief began escorting Sergeant Garcia towards the waiting helo. "Wait," Sergeant Garcia, yelled. "And Rob, if you ever see the @#$%er Contreras again, you make sure and handle that bastard." Corporal Little scowled at the thought of the cowardly Marine that had run off in the middle of a firefight. "You know I will."
The boys settled in to share their customary fighting hole for the night, but it was not to be a peaceful one. First, at about 2030, Doc Johnson came out to grab Danny; "hey boss, follow me back to the Med tent, the surgeon is ready to see you, gotta get that slug out of you." And with that, Danny headed to the rear to get operated on, in the field. It wasn't long after that Corporal Little came rushing up, rousing the Marines from their holes. "Up and at'em, boys, we're going on a hunting expedition!"