1600 Local Time
5 March 1966
Near Hill 50, Quang Ngai Province, RVN
The boys had accompanied Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines (L/3/1) in the final assault to secure Hill 50, and now they were attached to Mike Company, which was attacking the fortified village of Chau Nhai (3), which lies just east of Hill 50, from west to east, while India Company had swung around to the north and were attacking from east to west.
The boys' platoon was attacking on the far left flank of Lima Company, with the boy's squad on the far left flank of their platoon, on the left end of a line running north-south. "Our job is to break into the northwest end of the village, securing a foothold, as the rest of the platoon swings in from the front. We'll be tying down their left flank, making sure the NVA can't filter in behind them as they push east to clear the rest of the village," Corporal Little briefed the squad. "So, what, Corporal, the seven of us are gonna assault the village, all by ourselves?" Jackson asked. "No Jackson, we're gonna have all of Lima Company out there with us assaulting the village. They just won't be anywhere you can see them. But trust me, they're there," Corporal Little replied, as the squad busted into nervous laughter. "Let's go, Marines."
The Marines are from Jimmi's Flashpoint Minis.
The Viet Cong are from Martin's Peter Pig.
Bottom (left to right): Pvt McCaffrey (grenadier), PFC Rivera, LCpl Jackson (RTO), and HM3 Johnson (Corpsman)
"Alright Marines, keep your heads down," Cpl Little relayed, "friendly mortars inbound, then we're jumping off." "Roger that!"
"Dammit, be careful Jackson," yelled Nik, "the assault element is pushing up, be careful, DO NOT hit one of our own guys!" "Gotcha Nik!" replied Jackson.
"And where's Danny? I ain't see him since that explosion in the right-hand bunker," Nik asked.
"Yeah!" "Alright man, fire it up, I'm coming back in!" "Roger, come on!"
"Roger that! FAC says fast movers inbound, they're rolling in hot in five mikes, keep your heads down, we're danger close!"
The Marines lay there, bleeding and exhausted, pretty much out of ammo and water. It took about fifteen minutes before Lieutenant Ward and the rest of the platoon showed up, advancing into Chau Nhai (3), setting security, and working backwards to help the squad get sorted out and back on its feet.
Nik and Danny both received their second Purple Heart, and one day while they recuperating aboard the hospital ship a Marine Colonel came by and pinned the Bronze Star w/V on Nik and promoted him to Lance Corporal. It took the boys two and a half months to recover from their wounds, not getting back to the squadbay in Da Nang until nearly the end of May 1966. The squad had largely been inactive since Operation Utah, bringing in some replacements, training them up, running local patrols, performing base security, and participating in a couple walks in the woods, all without any major contact.
The boys were a little apprehensive walking through the door, not sure how it would be, who they'd still know, but they were floored when they walked in: "Well, how 'bout that @#$%, about @#$%in' time, knuckleheads!" boomed the voice of Sergeant Robert Little, recent recipient of the Navy Cross and Silver Star. "Rob, what the hell are you doing here?" both boys exclaimed as they rushed over to their squad leader, hugging it out. "I reenlisted, then shipped over for another tour in the 'Nam, wasn't ready to go home yet, figured you knuckleheads needed me more than anyone back in the States," smiled Rob. "I can't believe it, I was sure you'd be gone and we wouldn't know anyone in the squad," replied Danny. "Yeah, we've picked up some replacements, but look," he said, pointing across the squad bay, "still plenty of friendly faces." "Excellent!" exclaimed Danny. "Yeah, still plenty of faces missing, too," said Nik.
"What about Doc Johnson," Nik asked Rob. "He rotated out as soon as we got back to Da Nang, couldn't wait to get back to his wife and their little one." "Man, I'm sure glad to hear that, that cat saved our asses in Chau Nhai." "Yeah he did!" replied Rob. "You know, the BC put him up for the Congressional Medal of Honor, had a bunch of Captains from MAF staff running around here, interviewing everybody." It would be almost a year later before Doc Johnson would be called to Washington, D.C., for President Lyndon B. Johnson to hang the Medal of Honor around his neck for his selfless actions in the rice paddies north of of Chau Nhai (3) on 5 March 1966.
"Rob, tell me you still got my Pig," begged Nik. "Sorry bro, I was on the same MEDEVAC as you were, I have no idea what happened to your M-60," replied Sergeant Little. "Besides, you're a Fireteam leader now, back to your M-14." "Yeah," said Nik, "makes sense, but it sure was nice having a machine gun in the squad, wasn't it?" The three veteran Marines silently nodded in agreement. "And let me guess, Danny is a Fireteam leader, too?" "Yeah, why? And I don't want to hear any bull@#$% about you two not being together, we're all in the same squad, we're all in the same @#$% together, so get over it." "Aye-aye, Sergeant!" the boys shouted. "Kiss my ass," replied Rob, the three breaking into laughter.
The boys had missed Operations Texas and Virginia, but now they were back with the squad and rumors were already swirling about the next operation. They were laying around in their racks on 15 June 1966, reading comics, pulp novels, and girlie magazines when Sergeant Little walked in: "listen up Marines, we got a Warning Order for Operation Dodge, get your @#$% squared away!"
Coming right up!