Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Two Brothers, Fight #15


2300 Local Time
4 March 1966
Near Hill 50, Quang Ngai Province, RVN
Operation Utah

2nd Battalion, 7th Marines had been in contact all day, for the first time in a stand-up, knockdown drag-out fight with the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) in and around Hill 50.  The Marines had been in heavy combat, and while they'd certainly put a hurtin' on the NVA, they'd taken a pretty good beating themselves.  They'd managed to break contact, fall back to the south, and establish a night defensive position, where they could treat and evacuate their wounded, replenish their ammo, and grab a bit of grub and rest.  But while things were relatively quiet on the ground, Marine Air was having a helluva time, drawing heavy fire every time they came near Hill 50.  Three helos and an F-4 Phantom had already been shot down, and approximately thirty more choppers shot up by NVA antiaircraft weapons, mostly Dshk 12.7mm heavy machine guns, which the Marines often referred to as ".51-cals".  

But the Marines cut a lucky break; firing to the southwest drew the attention of one of the battalion officers, who grabbed a few Marines and headed over to check it out.  "I'll be damned," he thought, somehow the NVA gotten a .51-cal HMG in behind them, dug into a trench and expertly camouflaged.  The officer headed back into the Marine perimeter to inform the Colonel what they'd found.  The decision was made to launch a raiding party to destroy the NVA anti-aircraft emplacement.  Not long after, Corporal Little was informed he'd be leading the raiding party.

Overview, north is up.  2/7's night defensive position in Chau Nhai (4) is off camera to top right.  At top right is a small knoll that Corporal Little used to screen the squad's approach on the enemy AA Position, which is located to the south (bottom center/left).  There is a thick patch of jungle in the southeast (bottom right), while the rest of the table is covered with scattered rice paddies, one of which has a stand of trees located nearby (center top).

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 NVA on the right.

The squad, down to eight warm bodies!  Corporal Little arranged the squad into two teams, a base of fire element and an assault element.  He ordered Nik to give up his beloved M-60 and grab an M-14, to trade out with Rivera.  Nik complained, but Cpl Little explained, "I need you with me in the assault element," to which Nik took a quick glance around at how few were left in the squad, and silently shook his head in agreement.

Top (left to right): Pvt Contreras and LCpl "Danny" Thomas, who are not participating because Danny is getting a slug pulled out of his side and Contreras ran off and still hasn't been located
Middle (left to right): Cpl Little, PFC "Nikki" Jacobs, Pvt Floyd, and Pvt White
Bottom (left to right): Pvt McCaffrey (grenadier), PFC Rivera (M-60), LCpl Jackson (RTO), and HM3 Johnson (Corpsman) 

The NVA have DshK 12.7mm HMG (".51-cal"), an NCO, an RPD light machine gun, and six riflemen.

Overview, this time with troops.  The NVA are manning their AA emplacement, with everyone in the trench except a single sentry out on foot, to the south (in the trees at bottom left center), while Cpl Little has placed his base of fire element in the copse of trees in the center, and led the assault element up  to the dense stand of trees to the east (center right).

The plan is for the base of fire element to get into place while Cpl Little and the assault element cover from the knoll.  Once Jackson signals Cpl Little the base of fire element is in place, Cpl Little will begin moving the assault element into their jump-off positions at the corner of the western point of the patch of jungle in the southeast under the cover of a pre-arranged fire mission by the battalion's 81mm mortars.  Once the mortars lift the base of fire element will engage the AA position while Cpl Little leads the assault element into the east end of the enemy trench, clearing west to destroy the NVA's HMG.  

A look at the NVA position: two riflemen in the west (bottom left), the HMG in its emplacement (center left), two riflemen in the east (far right), a picket to the south (in the trees at center right), and the NCO, LMG, and a rifleman in the center (center top).

The base of fire element gets into the copse of trees in the center (right), signals Cpl Little, and he begins moving the assault element up (bottom left).

The battalion mortars begin pounding the NVA trenchline...

Covering the approach of Cpl Little and the assault element (left, with base of fire element at top right and the NVA position at top left).

Cpl Little peers out around the copse of trees.  "Well, I guess we're ready," he murmurs as he signals Jackson with a red penlight, letting the base of fire element know the assault element is ready to jump off.

The mortars lift and the base of fire element (bottom right, with the assault element at bottom left) cuts loose, Rivera on the M-60 and McCaffrey pumping 40mm HE rounds and flares out of his M-79...

The mortar barrage and initial burst of fire are very effective, suppressing almost all the NVA in the west end of the trench.

On the Marine left, Cpl Little, Nik, White, and Floyd (bottom left) open fire on the two NVA (top center right) at the eastern end of the trench...

And then begin pushing forward...

But only one of the NVA was suppressed, and the other empties an entire magazine from his AK-47 into the advancing Marines!

Floyd is hit and goes down as White, Nik, and Cpl Little hit the dirt!

As the two NVA at the west end of the trench begin moving east (far left) and the lone sentry outside the trench moves right (far right bottom) to get a better look.

Nik (bottom right) spots the sentry outside the trench (top left) and opens fire with his M-14...

Suppressing him (red bead at bottom center), but the NVA in the trench (far right) reloads his AK, pops up, and opens fire again...

This time White is hit and goes down, while Cpl Little is suppressed and Nik is pinned!

"They're in trouble, cover me!" screamed Doc, as he dashes forward (left, from far right) to assist the assault element.

Rivera, Jackson, and McCaffrey (bottom right) continue pounding the west end of the trench...

And McCaffrey manages to drop a 40mm HE round right into the trench, knocking out two NVA and suppressing the DshK HMG!

McCaffrey reloads as Rivera keeps the M-60 going (bottom right), targeting the center of the NVA trench (top left), as Doc moves closer to the pinned down assault element (far left).

Rivera is proving effective on the M-60, popping one of the NVA in the center and suppressing two more!

The two NVA in the east end of the trench rally, but so does Cpl Little, as Nik rises up and tosses a frag into the trench...

But the NVA on the left spots it and kicks it further down the trench, where it explodes, suppressing him again, as the non-suppressed NVA (bottom right) continues pouring AK fire from the trench, pinning Doc.

Cpl Little (far left, Nik below him with yellow bead) raises his M-14 and cuts loose on full auto...

Cpl Little calls out "Cover me!" then jumps to his feet, rushing forward the last ten yards.  Nik called after him, "Rob, wait!" as Cpl Little jumped into the NVA trench!

Nik (bottom right) lays down fire with his M-14 as Cpl Little finishes off the two NVA in the east end of the trench with his M-14 (bottom left) and then sets off to the west (top right), pausing to cautiously peer around the bend in the trenchline and reload his rifle.

As Nik's fire drops the NVA sentry outside the trench (bottom center, Nik off camera to top right, Cpl Little at top center, NVA NCO visible at top left)!

Doc reaches the assault element, where he immediately approaches White and begins checking him over.  It's bad, he needs a MEDEVAC ASAP, but Doc's got him breathing and not bleeding.

As Rivera, Jackson, and McCaffrey (bottom right) continue pounding the west end of the trench.

Keeping everyone suppressed.

Which allows Cpl Little to dash forward, down the trench, firing his M-14 as he goes...

Dropping two more NVA!

Cpl Little reaches the enemy's AA position...

And eliminates both gunners!  Cpl Little reached up and pulled the DshK 12.7mm HMG off its tripod, slung it over his shoulder, and began working his way back to the east.

Nik (right) is keeping watch as Doc treats the casualties when suddenly the Dshk HMG comes flopping out of the trench, followed by Cpl Little climbing out.  Nik gives him a hand, helping to pull him up, "holy @#$%, Rob, that was quite a performance!"  "Yeah, well, things weren't looking so hot there for a moment, I figured I needed to make something cool happen."  "Well, you certainly did that!  Let's get outta here before the dinks figure out there ain't but three of us up here!"  "Amen to that!"

Cpl Little signaled Jackson with his red penlight, and Jackson got on the radio to let battalion know they were heading back in, and to get the 81mm mortars firing on the trenchline again to cover the Marines' withdrawal.  Cpl Little hoisted the DshK HMG on his shoulder again, as Doc and Nik both grabbed a wounded Marine...

And the three set off for greener pastures!  Once they reached the base of fire element (in trees at top left) they crashed in, dropped their cargo, and lay on the ground for a good 15 minutes, catching their breath and letting the shakes subside.  Jackson, Rivera, and McCaffrey pounced on them, overjoyed the assault element, which early on looked like it was going to be wiped out, had not only survived, but had carried out the mission, knocking out the enemy AA position and even hauling the gun back to friendly lines!  "And you, Corporal Little, what the heck got into you?  You guys see that?  He just hopped into the trench like a friggin' mad man, cleaned the whole damn thing out practically by himself!"  Cpl Little just waved them off, and lay there in silence, staring up at the stars as the friendly mortars came in, pounding the NVA positions further south.  Finally, Cpl Little rolled his head to the side, looked at Doc, and asked "how is Floyd and White?"  "Bad news, Rob: White'll live, but he's going home.  And Floyd is dead."  "Dammit..."

The squad humped it back to the battalion's NDP, being very cautious about re-entering friendly lines, not wanting to get shot up by their own side, but when they finally got in and reported to the Battalion S-2, the Battalion Commander, LtCol Utter came over and personally thanked each of them for taking on the dangerous mission and congratulated them on a job well done.  The Colonel practically snapped and out of nowhere a couple HQ Marines arrived with fresh sandwiches (fresh as in 'not something that came out of a C-rat can') and hot coffee; as the squad rushed the chow/coffee and devoured it, Nik made his way back over to the Battalion Commander.  "Sir, permission to speak?"  "Go ahead son, what do you have?"  "Well, I figured you ought to know how it really went down out there.  It was all Rob, I mean, Corporal Little.  We were pinned down in the open, two men already down, with no help on the way, and he just took it over.  I  mean, he popped up, guns a-blazin', and the next thing I knew he was in the enemy trench!"

The Colonel let Nik tell the story.  "I see," said the Battalion Commander, "and I'll take care of this.  It sounds like your Corporal did a helluva job out there, and I'll make sure he's recognized for it."  "Thank you, Sir."  "Now you Marines go get some sleep, plenty more work to do tomorrow!"  "Aye-aye, Sir!"

And he did; following the conclusion of Operation Utah, Corporal Little would be awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in attacking the NVA's anti-aircraft position, entering the trench alone and personally dispatching six enemy soldiers and destroying the heavy machine gun position.

Meanwhile, Operation Utah continued apace, with much fighting yet to be done.  The squad dropped in the grass right there next to the Battalion CP for a couple hours' sleep, rather than stumble in the dark back to their platoon position, but they were up before first light and quickly got back to the platoon.  Once there it was quite a reunion: first, they were notified that 2/7 was pulling back to the north to provide security for LZs; they were pretty beat up, and the operation was expanding, so the LZs absolutely had to be secure.  3/1 was brought in yesterday evening, and 1/7 and 2/4 were on the way.  With 2/7 moving north for the security mission, the platoon was now being attached to 3/1, so when the squad got back the rest of the platoon was busy stomping in their holes and hoisting their packs, getting ready to hump a couple klicks over to link up with their new battalion.

The next exciting reunion moment was getting back to their holes to find Danny was back!  His surgery went well; the battalion surgeon was easily able to locate and remove the 7.62mm slug, which Danny gleefully showed everyone and stowed in his pocket.  He also had a cracked rib, but he adamantly refused evacuation, so the Docs bandaged his wound, pumped him full of antibiotics, and wrapped his ribs as tightly as they could.

The last aspect of the reunion with the platoon was the Company Gunny and Platoon Sergeant waiting on Cpl Little.  Nik hugged Danny but was only halfheartedly listening as Danny showed off the Commie bullet and told his surgery story.  Instead, Nik was keeping his eye on Rob as the Gunny and Platoon Sergeant led him away.  They halted about 20 yards to the rear, near a patch of woods, where two pissed-off looking Marines in full gear were sitting with a filthy, lumped up Marine.  The sad sack was just sitting there on his ass, legs outstretched, no weapon, no gear, staring at the ground, his face swollen, dried blood everywhere.  Clearly he'd been worked over...  And then, as Rob, the Company Gunny, and the Platoon Sergeant approached him, it dawned on Nik what he was looking at.  As the two pissed-off looking jarheads snatched the sad sack to his feet and shoved him forward at the three advancing NCOs, Nik realized the sad sack was Contreras!  Apparently they'd found him, and looks like the platoon was none too pleased to see him, either.  Well, serves him right, Nik thought, how the hell could you run off and leave your buddies in the middle of a fight?  Nik watched as Cpl Little stepped closer to Contreras; Nik couldn't hear what he was saying, but Rob was saying something to Contreras, very demonstratively, punctuated by quite a few finger pokes to the chest and face.

It went on for about five minutes before Cpl Little turned to the Company Gunny and Platoon Sergeant, spoke for a moment, and then they and the two pissed-off looking Marines walked off.  Rob bent over, grabbed a rifle and gear, then carried it back over to the squad, with Contreras dejectedly following him.  "Let's go, Marines, saddle up, we're heading out to link up with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines," was all Cpl Little said.

The Marines trudged off in silence, across several kilometers of open rice paddies and grassland, the sun beating down on them. The platoon reached 3/1 a little after 0800, joining their perimeter, the NCOs and officers hurrying off to attend a briefing by the Battalion Commander.  Cpl Little returned about 45 minutes later; "alright boys, circle up.  Well, I got good news and bad news.  The bad news is, we're going back up Hill 50.  The good news is, we're coming from a different direction."  "Damn, Corporal," exclaimed Jackson, "you really need to have your 'good news' meter adjusted."  Cpl Little laughed; "sorry, fellas, that was as close as it got to good news.  So, let's go, saddle up.  We're moving up to our jump-off positions, I'll brief you before we cross the line of departure."

Coming soon!



  1. Great setup, again I’m not actually sure whether you are playing as a game or just telling a story 😀

    1. Matt,

      Thank you Sir, I appreciate the compliments. And I assure you, dice were thrown ;)


    2. I agree with matt - there is more content surrounding the game report than the game report itself. Dice may have been thrown but seems to be the minor point of the post! Anyway, a nice short sharp report (the game bit) with a little bit of excitement thrown in.

    3. Yeah, I guess it’s been fun for me but not particularly compelling.


  2. Superb. Epic story too...I'm actually rooting for these guys now. Bring 'em home Jack!

    ..and loving the M79 thumper effects with the pipe cleaner - can I steal this for my pics Jack?

    1. Thanks, Darrin, I’m glad you enjoyed it. But no bringing them home, this is but the first of several tours in the ‘Nam. And steal whatever you like, I’m flattered!


  3. Superb as usual Jack. You are always at the cutting edge of tactical post WW2 simulation. Miniatures, scenery, scenarios, plausability, all always excellent, from a combat veteran such as yourself, but always willing to share your knowledge with anyone interested. God bless you and all United States Marines.

    I tried FNG2 in my latest attempt to replicate circa '88 platoon level combat. It was pretty good but sometimes the reactions get convoluted.

    I'll try 5 men at Kursk. If you have the time to reply could I ask is it difficult to convert to late 20th century weaponry? Also have you tried FNG? If so any thoughts?

    Thanks so much again for everything you put into this community and hobby Jack

    Forper in Australia

    1. Hey man, how ya doin'? It's been awhile, I hope all is well. Still doing your Marine invasion of Cuba? I haven't seen you post any batreps in awhile; as I recall you were doing the really big dudes (I don't what they were, 1/18 scale or something?) and working on 20mm troops. Very cool stuff.

      Thanks man, I'm glad you liked the fight. And it's my pleasure, this campaign has really been a lot of fun. I own both NUTS! and FNG, but just haven't been able to get them to work for me. I read and re-read them, but just can't quite get them to work for me. I think maybe it's too many die rolls and consulting tables, and then later iterations of the rules seem to have gotten away from squad-level combat and seem more geared towards larger level fights. But in the overall scheme of things the issue is that it seems like you just kinda move your dudes up and then when one of the PEFs turns up bad guys you just kinda sit back and watch what happens, and it's over pretty quick, with not a lot of tactical decisions to make. I know a lot of people love the rules and the guy that runs the place is super friendly helpful, but I just can't seem to get them to work for me.

      I have had a lot of fun with 5MAK, you just gotta keep the fights small, say maybe 7 on 7, or it gets pretty unwieldy. The most fun I've had with them are ultramodern games, fights at point-blank range in built up areas, like the campaign with Royal Marines I did a few years back.

      In terms of 'converting them to 20th century weaponry,' I don't think there's much to that. I mean, the rules are built for WWII, so if you just treat a rifle like a rifle and an MG like an MG you'll be fine, and any modifiers you want to give, whether up or down, are going to be based on the troop quality.

      Again, my pleasure man, and it's really good to hear from you again! If you've got more questions, lay'em on me and I'll do my best to get you where you're going.