1230 Local Time
15 July 1966
Ngan Valley, Quang Tri Province, RVN
This morning Marine A-4 Skyhawks and F-4 Phantoms pounded LZ Crowe, followed by an artillery barrage, before the CH-46s carrying 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment (3/4) descended into the valley and began disgorging their heavily-laden Marines. The LZ was too small and quickly three Marine helos were down, badly damaged; two collided, and the third hit a tree while trying to avoid the other two. Even worse, the incidents left two Marines dead and seven more injured, all before the enemy had even fired a shot.
Nevertheless, 3/4 formed up and began setting about its tasks: India Company was charged with holding the LZ's perimeter, while Lima Company marched off to occupy a nearby hill, Hill 200, which it took after some light skirmishing. Meanwhile, the boys set off with Kilo Company, which was charged with moving south to cross the Ngan River and establish blocking positions for 2/4, which was being lifted into LZ Dove a few klicks to the east and was scheduled to sweep west, into K/3/4 and Hill 200. As Kilo Company moved south there was a brief firefight as they encountered some lightly-armed North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regulars performing a rearguard action; when the dust cleared the Marines were hardly prepared for what they found: a building containing a 200-bed hospital, and an ammunition dump containing 1200 rounds of small arms ammunition. "Hold up," Nik begged. "How the hell did they get all this stuff down from North Vietnam, and how's it just sitting here, unmolested, like they're not in somebody else's country? And how many of them must be out there right now if they're comfortable enough to build permanent-ass buildings up here?"
The Marines destroyed all they found and then continued their trek south towards the river. Kilo Company halted and sent out scouts locate a river crossing, and that's where the squad ran into trouble.
The hills are: Hill 110 at top left, Hill 155 at top right, Hill 142 at bottom right, and Hill 160 at bottom left.
The Marines are from Jimmi's Flashpoint Minis.
The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army troops are from Martin's Peter Pig.
In narrative terms, Higher HQ knew this was a big op on the DMZ and so plussed up a lot of units beyond T/O) strength, just like what happened prior to Operation Utah. In game terms, I had a hankering to play some games using KR-16, which works better with more troops than I was using, so I deployed more troops ;) And I'm happy that I did, the rules worked very well and I'll probably use them for platoon- or company-level games later on during the boys' adventures in Vietnam.
1st Row, Squad Command Section (left to right): Sergeant Little, LCpl Jackson (RTO), Pvt McCaffrey (Grenadier), and Doc Eakle (Corpsman)
2nd Row, 1st Fireteam (left to right): Cpl Benavides, Pvt Dombrowski, Pvt Mixon, and Pvt Connor
3rd Row, 2nd Fireteam (left to right): LCpl Danny Thomas, Pvt Burrows, Pvt Stidham, and LCpl Correa
4th Row, 3rd Fireteam (left to right): LCpl Nikki Jacobs, Pvt Contreras, Pvt Fitzgerald, and Pvt Higgins
5th Row, MG Team (left to right): LCpl Tomlinson, PFC Eusabio, and Pvt Holland
*The NVA are having a helluva time, failing lots of activation rolls, as is the US MG Team.
Nik looked down at the dirt, took a long drag on his cigarette, exhaled, and looked back at Danny; "it's okay man, I understand, just a little shook up is all. I was out of it man, I don't even really know what the hell happened back there, I just know it felt... it felt like I was out there for years, all by myself, and there was nothing I could do, and I just kept thinking to myself, Danny's gonna come pull me outta this mess, but then I'm thinkin' the dinks are gonna get me and string me up and cut my privates off and put'em in my mouth and all sorts of other horrible @#$%, but then help finally gets there, but the first face I see is... that ferret-faced bastard Eakle," he choked out, with both boys letting out a pensive chuckle. Nik let out another big breath, then looked up, "it's okay man, I'll be alright. Let's get outta here, Rob's trying to rally us up."
And with that, the squad fell back to evacuate its wounded, re-form, and check water and ammo; Fitzgerald's war was over, he'd lose his left leg at the knee and be medically retired, but Contreras would be back in a couple months, and the machine gun team leader, LCpl Tomlinson, was hit pretty bad and had to be evacuated, too.. Meanwhile, Kilo Company made two more attempts to get across the Ngan River but failed both times, taking moderate casualties, before receiving permission from battalion to fall back a couple hundred meters and dig in atop another hill to the north. But things were not well; Kilo was receiving the occasional mortar round beginning in early afternoon, then snipers moved up and began taking potshots, and by 1930 local time Kilo's CO reported to battalion that the entire company was surrounded...
Coming right up!