Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Two Brothers, Fight #14


1800 Local Time
4 March 1966
Near Hill 50, Quang Ngai Province, RVN
Operation Utah

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.

Overview, north is up.  Enemy entrenchments atop the southern tip of Hill 50 are visible at far/top right, while the northern tip of the village of Chau Nhai (5) (not to be confused with Chau Nhai (3), which we'll see tomorrow), and the rest is scattered jungle.  The beleaguered Marines of Hotel Company have withdrawn into a relatively small defensive perimeter to fight off the marauding NVA, the northern tip of which is visible at bottom left, while the squad will be entering from the northwest (top left), seeing to relieve pressure on Hotel Company.

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 an NVA platoon on the right.

The squad, after a rare fight with no casualties, looking exactly the same as the previous fight, with eleven bodies.

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 Floyd, and Pvt Contreras
2nd Fireteam (left to right): LCpl "Danny" Thomas, PFC "Nikki" Jacobs (M-60), Pvt McCaffrey (grenadier), and Pvt White

The NVA Platoon, with an Officer, an NCO, two RPGs, two RPD light machine guns, and fourteen riflemen armed with AK-47s.

Overview, now with troops.  You can see several Marines from Hotel Company in the jungle to the southwest (bottom left); the rest of their perimeter stretches off camera to the south, where they are already heavily engaged by attacking NVA infantry.  The squad is entering in the northwest (top left), as the NVA Platoon, split in half, is entering through the village (bottom center) and streaming down Hill 50 (center right).

A look at Hotel Company's position, with NVA at far right and top right and the squad at top left.

The squad, with Corporal Little's 1st Fireteam at far left, Danny's 2nd Fireteam at top center right, and the command group (Sergeant Garcia, Jackson, the RTO, and Doc Johnson) at top left.

The NVA Platoon, attacking in two columns (bottom center and center right).

The NVA push through Chau Nhai (5), heading west to attack Hotel Company...

The Marines on Hotel's northern tip (bottom left) open fire on the advancing NVA (top right)...

Killing one (left) and convincing their leader to move right (top) to flank the Imperialist Running Dog Cowboy Criminal Gangsters...

Both NVA columns swing right, heading northwest (top left).

Where Sergeant Garcia, Corporal Little, and PFC Rivera (bottom right) spot them (top left) and open fire with their rifles...

Two NVA go down (bottom center left) and another is suppressed (red bead), as several others return fire on the squad (top right).

Sgt Garcia and Rivera are pinned (yellow beads at top left), as Corporal Little leads Contreras and Floyd forward (bottom center).

The NVA's left-hand column (bottom left) spots Cpl Little's Fireteam (top center right) and opens fire on the Marines, suppressing all three of them!

Nik yells "White, with me!" and moves up into a nearby treeline (left, with Danny and McCaffrey behind them), where he gets the M-60 going, suppressing one of the NVA from the northern column (top right).

The enemy (bottom center) returns fire (Nik and White are in the trees at center top, with the command group behind the hedge at top left and 1st Fireteam behind the hedge/trees at far left top)...

Nikki keeps the M-60 rock'n rolling, but the incoming fire panics White (white bead at bottom right) as Danny and McCaffrey push left (far left, from bottom center left).

Jackson moves up to help steady Sgt Garcia and Rivera (left), as Doc dashes ahead to help get White back in the fight (far right), but he's still freaking out, not able to be a productive member of society...

The northern NVA column slowly pushes forward in the center (left), firing as they go, while three of their riflemen split right (bottom center, from bottom left), looking to flank the squad (top center/left).

And the southern NVA column moves on the left to support them (center/bottom), bringing a lot of weapons to bear on the thinly spread Marine squad (top left/center).

Nik (left) keeps the M-60 going, suppressing four of the NVA (right top), as Doc pleads with White (the white bead just below Nik): "Jimmy, ya gotta get your weapon and help, we're being slaughtered!"

The NVA continue to push (right bottom), firing as they go, pinning Doc (in the trees at top left).

While the southern NVA column also advances, firing from the hip, putting tremendous pressure on Cpl Little's 1st Fireteam (top center).

So much so that Floyd drops his weapon and hits the dirt in panic (white bead at far right), Cpl Little is suppressed (red bead just above him), and Contreras drops his rifle and falls back (far left)!

Nik (left) keeps the M-60 thumping away as Doc (just below him) rallies.

But the NVA (bottom right) return fire, pinning Nik (top left).

With Nikki pinned (far right), the M-60 isn't putting nearly enough lead out to keep the NVA (left) at bay, so Danny kicks McCaffrey in the ass and yells "let's go, Marine, bust some caps!"  McCaffrey pops up and fires his grenade launcher...

But the round goes long (right), not hitting or suppressing anyone...

While in the Marine center, Sergeant Garcia, Jackson, and Rivera (top right) get back in the game, opening fire with their rifles, suppressing two NVA (left).

Sergeant Garcia and Jackson (top left) continue firing as Rivera moves up to help out Corporal Little and Floyd (Cpl Little is the red bead at right, Floyd the white bead at bottom right)...

But the movement (top center left) draws fire from nearby NVA (center bottom)...

The enemy fire is intense, causing Rivera to panic (white bead at far right, above Cpl Little and Floyd), and Contreras leaves the fight, running off into the jungle, abandoning his comrades (far left)!!!

On the far left, Danny moves up (center bottom, from bottom right) and opens fire on the encroaching NVA (far left) at point blank range...

Danny zaps one NVA and forces another to fall back (red bead at top left)...

As the three NVA flankers push ahead (far right, from bottom center).

Danny is on the other side of the bamboo, with McCaffrey just visible at top right, Nik, Doc, and White behind the trees at top center, and the NVA Danny was just shooting up at bottom left.

The northern NVA column sets about getting itself rallied and back into fighting shape (right bottom), as the southern NVA column pushes left (left top), looking to crush Cpl Little and the shattered remnants of 1st Fireteam (Contreras ran off, Cpl Little is suppressed, and Rivera and Floyd are panicked).

From the far left, Danny (bottom right) spots the NVA (let top) moving in on 1st Fireteam (top right) and opens fire, suppressing two of them...

As Sergeant Garcia and Jackson (far right) get in on the act, trying to halt the NVA's southern column (top left, with Danny at bottom left, Nikki, Doc, and White at center right, and 1st Fireteam at top center right).

The NVA continue to advance on the 1st Fireteam, firing from the hip...

As a rocket is launched at the command group; "B-40, hit the deck!" screamed Doc...

The explosion drops Sergeant Garcia and pins Jackson!!!  Jackson is now screaming into the radio for help, "we have many casualties and are about to be overrun!!!"

Danny (center right bottom, between the trees and the stand) directs McCaffrey's fire (bottom right), and bloops another 40mm HE round out...

The grenade is on target, killing the RPG gunner and suppressing two more NVA!

Doc finally grabs White by the H-harness and drags him to his feet, hands him his rifle, and yells "now fight!" as Nik rips off another long burst from his M-60 (bottom left)...

Dropping another NVA in his tracks and suppressing their officer.

But White (far right) won't snap out of it, and he drops his weapon and hits the deck!!!  Doc shakes his head in disgust, then dashes back to check on Sergeant Garcia (far left).  Jackson (bottom left) turned and asked Doc, "how is Sgt G?"  Doc replied, "how 'bout you leave the Corpsman @#$% to me, and you keep your head in the fight, before we all get zapped!  Now go help 1st Fireteam, and tell me how many of them are down!"

I absolutely cannot believe all the Marine rallying rolls I'm failing this game, this is crazy!

Jackson high-crawled under fire down to 1st Fireteam (bottom center, from top left).  "Hey Doc, good news, nobody's hit, they're just laid up like a buncha chicken@#%s!"  "Jackson, you can kiss my ass," muttered Corporal Little, but it was enough to get Cpl Little and Rivera back in the fight.  "But where's Contreras?"  "That @#$%er ran off!"  

Doc continued working on Sergeant Garcia (top left), and it wasn't as bad as it first looked.  He took a bunch of shrapnel in his back, left shoulder, neck, and head...

But Doc was able to get him patched up and back in the fight!

While back on the left, Danny and McCaffrey (center bottom and bottom right, with Doc and Sgt G at top right, Nik and White at right, and Cpl Little, Rivera, and Jackson at top center) reload and fire on the NVA's northern column (left/top left)...

But they (top right) don't manage to accomplish anything but draw fire from the NVA...

Which pins Danny (behind trees at left top) and suppress McCaffrey (red bead at top left), as the NVA's southern column has rallied and begins pushing forward on the Marine left!

Sergeant Garcia (bottom left), still a bit woozy from his encounter with a B-40 rocket, spots the NVA movement to his front (right top, with Danny visible in the trees at center top) and opens fire...

As Rivera (far left) adds his rifle fire to Sergeant Garcia's (top left), hoping to halt the NVA's southern column (top right)...

One NVA goes down and another is suppressed...

But a rifleman from the NVA's southern column manages to get wide, into an enfilading position (far left) on Cpl Little's 1st Fireteam (top center right), where he intends on going full auto to rake the Marines...

But somehow Cpl Little (bottom right) manages to spot the NVA (top left), swing right...

And gun him down!!!

While a very similar situation is playing out on the Marine left!  The three NVA flankers from the northern column finally pop out from behind the bamboo thicket, where they immediately spot McCaffrey (top right, with Danny pinned down at center) and open fire

Somehow they miss the young grenadier, and he dives through to the other side of the hedge, panicked (right bottom), as Danny (far left) spins around and Nikki, hearing the gunfire signifying a new, grave threat on their flank and knowing his brother Danny is out there on his own, comes running up (top right, from off camera to top right) to help!

Nik (bottom center) levels his M-60 and cuts loose at the NVA (top center left), tracers zipping past mere inches from Danny (yellow bead at right)...

One NVA rifleman goes down, while the other two are suppressed...

Danny rises and dashes forward, firing his M-14 on full auto...

Killing the two remaining NVA!

But as Danny (top left) is finishing off the NVA flankers, an RPD light machine gun from the NVA's northern column (bottom right) spots him and opens fire...

And Danny goes down, next to the three NVA flankers!

Nikki sees Danny (casualty figures just visible at top left) sees Danny go down and his whole world goes red; he's screaming and doesn't even realize it, moving forward at a walking pace (far left), assault firing his M-60 as he goes...

Mowing down three NVA soldiers in succession...

Nik's torrent of fire (left top) is enough to break the back of the NVA counterattack in this area, convincing the six remaining NVA to fall back to their positions on Hill 50 (right)!

The battlefield suddenly grows quiet; Nik yells out "they're falling back, pull security, pull security, Corpsman up!"

Nik fell back to where Danny went down, where he was quickly joined by McCaffrey and Doc Johnson.  Nik immediately pounced on Danny, roughly grabbing him and rolling him over, checking him over.  "Damn, Nik, calm down brother, I'm alright!"  

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"

And while things were quiet in the immediate area, the battle still raged to the north (Fox and Golf Companies engaged with NVA on Hill 50) and south (Hotel still being attacked by NVA).  Ultimately the Hotel Company commander, 1st Lt Lau, was able to bring in accurate 81mm mortar fire to stop the NVA attack and force them to fall back in the direction of Hill 50.

"I ain't leaving you guys, Nik, these NVA boys are serious.  The squad needs me, and..." he peered over at Nik, his face showing the strain and fatigue of combat, and the anxiety from seeing Danny get hit and go down.  "And there's no way I'm not sticking by your side, brother.  What, no jokes about me being exhilarated?  Aww, come on man, lighten up, gettin' shot wasn't so, OWW!" Danny exclaimed, as he was twisting left, trying to test out the wound.  "Yeah, how 'bout that @#$%," Nik replied.  "It's getting dark, who knows what these crazy @#$holes will try to pull once it's dark, we better get out of here."

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 once again found himself as the Squad Leader, leading the Marines back into the NDP.  Once back in the rear, the squad accompanied Sergeant Garcia over to the LZ, were CH-34s were constantly buzzing in carrying water and ammo and buzzing out carrying wounded and dead.  Sergeant Garcia stood there in the failing light, smoking a cigarette.  He was practically naked, but for the bandages, his uniform having been blown to shreds by the RPG.  The crew chief for the bird on the LZ put out a 'last call' for anyone needing to load up.  The squad members kinda stood back and bid Sergeant Garcia farewell; he wasn't wounded all that badly, but he had to be evacuated, and his rotation date was up, so he was leaving them for good.  Nik and Danny cast a furtive glance over at Corporal Little and Doc Johnson; they had come into Vietnam last March with Sergeant Garcia, and they would be rotating home after the op was over, as well.

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."

On a side not, once Operation Utah was finished and everyone was back together in Da Nang, the battalion held a ceremony for all the Marines killed during the op, and to recognize Marines that performed heroically.  Private First Class Nik Jacobs was decorated and meritoriously promoted at that ceremony, receiving a Bronze Star w/V and becoming a Lance Corporal, for his tenacious actions on 4 March 1966, displaying valor in the face of the enemy.  PFC Jacobs almost single-handedly kept the enemy at bay with his M-60 machine gun as both flanks were threatened with being overrun.  His steadfast courage saw him kill six enemy soldiers, close assault to save the lives of two fellow Marines (McCaffrey and Danny), breaking the back of the NVA counterattack.

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!"

Coming soon.



  1. That was a big one! What a fight.

  2. What a fight, indeed! Riveting battle account, Jack. My eyes were glued to the screen until the end.

  3. Excellent report. Until he went down I thought Danny was doing a mini-Rambo - he just never seemed to miss. But then he was wounded and Nik went crazy! I did not see Danny going down coming.

    1. Shaun,

      Yeah, Danny was on his way to winning a big-time medal until he decided to stop a bullet with his body. The boys aren't bulletproof just death proof ;)


  4. Hi Jack ! fantastic stuff ! .. I've been head-down and just seen all of this ... wow ! I love your style ! , I love your games ! I'm looking forward to catching up ! keep up the great work !!

    1. Hey Old Man, it’s about time you drug your sorry ass over here! It’s so good to hear from you Jimmi, glad to know you’re still alive and kickin’, I hope all is well with you and the family!

      And yeah man, I finally did it, finally kicked off the massive project I bought your beautiful, M-14 armed Marines for, and it’s been a blast so far! So grab a coffee and sit down and get caught up, given your taste and background I’m sure you’re gonna dig it!

      And I just finished painting up the Hatchet Force you sent me ages ago, they’ll figure prominently in the boys’ second tour.

      Thanks for the praise, and so glad to ‘see’ you again.