1930 Local Time
16 July 1966
Ngan Valley, Quang Tri Province, RVN
The boys are with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment (K/3/4), on their first trip up to the DMZ. Yesterday they were helo'ed into the area, then found themselves in a sharp firefight trying to cross the Ngan River which saw them repulsed with two Marines badly wounded. The Company tried twice more to cross the river, but the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regulars of the 90th Regiment threw them back both times. Kilo Company then fell back approximately 200 meters to the north and dug in, but the NVA pursued them, harassing with mortars and snipers, and by 1930 Kilo's commander reported to battalion that the company was entirely surrounded. At approximately 2015 the NVA launched a full-scale assault on Kilo Company's hilltop, which the Marines threw back owing to some brutal close-in fighting buttressed by supporting fires, with both sides suffering significant casualties.
This morning the Marines of Kilo Company pried themselves out of their holes with the sunrise, and were greeted with an NVA mortar barrage for their efforts. It didn't last long and there were few casualties, so the rifle company got itself in order and not long after was back on the move, proving south towards the Ngan River. There was good news in that 2/4 had been told to hustle up and move west with all practical speed in order to effect a linkup with 3/4, owing to the tough resistance the Marines were running into, and radio traffic reported that 2/4 arrived at LZ Crowe* at approximately 1400. So there was a strong base behind Kilo Company, to the north, but it kind of left Kilo as the lone, dangling appendage to the south, still under orders to find and force a crossing to the south side of the Ngan River.
Needless to say the Marines were none too happy to be flung out so far to the south, without support, to an area they'd already gotten a good bloodying in, but order are orders, and so Kilo Company again attempted a crossing of the Ngan River, and again they were repulsed with casualties, by NVA on both sides of the river! The beleaguered company beat feet back to the hill they spent the previous night on and dug in, and it wasn't long before the NVA were making their presence felt...
*With three helos already grounded there from damage caused by collisions, then the NVA shot down a Marine CH-46 yesterday evening, the LZ Crowe area was now being referred to as "Helicopter Valley."
The Marines are from Jimmi's Flashpoint Minis.
The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army troops are from Martin's Peter Pig.
1st Row, Squad Command Section (left to right): Sergeant Little and Doc Eakle (Corpsman)
2nd Row, 1st Fireteam (left to right): Cpl Benavides, Pvt Connor, Pvt McCaffrey (Grenadier), LCpl Jackson (RTO)
3rd Row, 2nd Fireteam (left to right): LCpl Danny Thomas, LCpl Nikki Jacobs, LCpl Correa, and Pvt Holland from the attached machine gun team
Corporal Benavides is in Bunker 1 (top center) with Holland (and his M-60 machine gun) and Connor, while Danny, Nikki, and Correa are in Bunker 2 (bottom right).
The NVA have crossed the line of departure and reached their assault positions, where the infantrymen halt and check their time pieces, waiting silently in the dark for H-Hour...
"I'm working on it, Rob," replied Jackson.
Sergeant Little (just off camera to bottom left) is relieved to hear Bunker 1 back in the fight, but is now feeling quite exposed, for no particular reason... And then he sphincter tightens as he hears incoming mail...
The Marines, to a man, were saddened to hear Doc Eakle was dead, but were pretty lucky otherwise, as Connor and Correa suffered only light wounds and were evacuated.
Aside from being jittery from the attack and at the prospect of their possible being another enemy attack, the Marines not on watch had a hard time sleeping due to all the yelling coming out of the Command Bunker, where Sergeant Little and Lance Corporal Jackson were still arguing about whether the arty fire mission should have been called on the NVA machine gun position or the troops coming up the north slope, with neither Marine giving an inch...
So Kilo Company again held the hill, settling in for the remainder of another long, hot, restless night on the DMZ. They were ordered to hold fast the next day (17 July 66), sitting in their holes all day as Lima Company, 3/4, was dispatched from LZ Crowe to move south and reinforce Kilo on the hill just north of the Ngan River. Lima Company arrived that afternoon and dug-in, taking over a share of the hilltop perimeter, which allowed Kilo to pull some men back into reserve, which meant more sleep for the beleaguered company as they finally had a relatively quiet night in the bush.
*I hope you guys liked the fight; I was having fun with KR-16, but had to go back to 5MAK as KR-16 doesn't work right (to me) if you don't have enough men in enough elements, and 5MAK is designed for each man to activate on his own. And I was worried about the map setup; it wasn't until I was typing this batrep up that I realized how much this table and fight resembled the previous NVA night attack on the Marines' hilltop perimeter. Having said that, this type of fight was certainly a feature of the Vietnam War, and I'm not sure how much different I can make it...
Intel came in that the NVA, who had suffered their fair share of casualties too, had withdrawn from the Ngan Valley, so the new plan was for 2/4 and 3/4 to move out and exit the valley to the northeast, sweeping back towards the coast. So on the morning of 18 July 1966, Kilo and Lima 3/4 packed up, stomped in their holes, and trudged back north to LZ Crowe, arriving just as Mike 3/4 and all of 2/4 stepped off to the northeast.
But the NVA in the Ngan Valley hadn't left, and they were not done with the Marines of K/3/4. Coming soon!