2015 Local Time
15 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. They were helo'ed into the area this morning, 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.
The squad is tasked with holding a section of the company's perimeter on the northeast side of the hill, and it's gonna be a long night...
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, 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 and Pvt Higgins, and then they picked up PFC Eusabio and Pvt Holland from the attached machine gun team
Yes, you could argue that the Marines should have their bunkers sighted further up the hill in order to make the NVA cross all that open ground on the fingers, and you could argue that the NVA should have concentrated all their rifle squads at one finger and ignored the other, but this is a game and I want it to be challenging for both sides, so this was the best I could do to 'balance' the fight; and is another reason I laid off the Claymores. And on that note, this was actually my favorite fight from Operation Hastings, rip-roaring action with a helluva lot of stress and a great back-and-forth!
"Alright, alright," Jackson concedes, "I'll put the arty on the north finger!" "Well, no @#$%, and argue with me again and I'll shoot your dumbass," replied Sergeant Little.
"Fresh arty on th way," Jackson screamed, "heads down, shot out!"
Nikki let out a huge belly laugh, rolling in the dirt, rejoicing at being alive! "Are you okay, are you hit?" Danny asked, "and quit your friggin' laughing, it's obnoxious!" "Dammit brother," Nik exclaimed, closing in and hugging Danny, "we gotta quit doing this! If I was a cat I'd be down to my last couple lives!" Danny looked him over: "you are hit, look, you're bleeding down your back!" A 7.62mm round had ricocheted off his helmet and shot down the back of his neck, coming to rest just under the skin, between his shoulder blades. "Don't worry, buddy, I'm alright, I ain't goin' nowhere. Doc can pull that sucker out, slap a fresh bandage on me, I'll be right as rain. And don't sweat it, little brother, I was down, but I could hear ya comin,' just had to hold on. I had Eusabio's pistol out, just waiting for them bastards to come over the sandbags."
"Damn, Nik, you seem... almost exhilarated! What the hell is going on?" "Well, I dunno man. That fight earlier, I felt abandoned, all alone. This time, I just felt like it was over, 100%, no way was I getting out of that one alive, I was just laying there, hoping to take as many of them with me as I could, but then you guys showed up and... Holy @#$% man, I'm alive!" Danny lit a couple smokes and passed one to Nik; "well, here's to being alive then!"
The next morning Doc Eakle came over to talk to Nik. "Hey man, I know you're plan is to stay in the field for this op, but do you want me to list you as WIA on the Morning Report?" "It doesn't make any difference to me, Doc," Nik replied. "Why are you asking?" "Well, from what Sergeant Little told me, that will be your third Purple Heart." "So? Let's go, Doc, speak plainly man," Nik chided. "Well, that makes you a three-time loser, that's your ticket outta here!" "I get to go home," asked Nik. "Well, no, you still stay in country, but if you get wounded three times you can get out of the field, go get one of them cushy REMF jobs back in Da Nang!" Nik glanced over at Danny, who was listening intently, the shook his head, "nah, I'm good where I'm at, thanks." "Gotcha Nik, just wanted to check," said Doc, walking away.
Danny inched in closer to Nik, "so, if three Purple Hearts let you go home, would you have taken it?" "Negative, and don't even give me that bull@#$%, I ain't goin' anywhere without you brother, so don't even screw with me about that. I just hadn't thought of home in awhile, put all my mind into this crap. I wonder how my Ma is doing is all."
But the news wasn't as good for everyone in the squad: a total of six Marines had been hit (Mixon was hit twice). Higgins and Nik were okay, with Higgins just being knocked out and Nik just having a superficial wound, but Mixon was Killed In Action, Eusabio was hit badly enough to require evacuation to the States, and Dombrowski and Burrows were hit badly enough to require evacuation in country, meaning they'd be back with the squad at some point in the future. The Marines evacuated their wounded and quickly policed up the area, finding thirteen enemy bodies and capturing a boatload of AK-47s, along with a couple B-40 rocket launchers.
Sergeant Little made sure and got good accountability for everyone in the squad, checked ammo and water, then got everyone back into the bunkers. The squad went back to 50% and tried to get some rest, wondering how their second day on the DMZ would go...