Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Two Brothers, Fight #21


1500 Local Time
16 July 1966
Ngan Valley, Quang Tri Province, RVN
Operation Hastings

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.

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 we catch up with Sergeant Little and his squad about to make another attempt to cross the Ngan River.

*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."

Overview, north is left, for my second big DMZ map.  The western area (bottom) is pretty open and flat, a couple spare trees and scrub, the Ngan River is narrow and shallow and flowing in a southwest to easterly direction, but the big deals are the two hills, the massive Hill 212 dominating the north (left to top left) and Hill 104 on the south bank, in the southeast (top right).

A couple admin notes: I'm playing this game using a modified version of Michael Stockin's "KR-16" rules and 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 and North Vietnamese Army troops 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 US Marines on the left and NVA regulars on the right.

The 'squad,' now starting to look a little thin, particularly given its mission...

1st Row, Squad Command Section (left to right): Sergeant Little, LCpl Jackson (RTO), and Doc Eakle (Corpsman)
2nd Row, 1st Fireteam (left to right): Cpl Benavides, Pvt Connor, and Pvt McCaffrey (Grenadier)
3rd Row, 2nd Fireteam (left to right): LCpl Danny Thomas, Pvt Stidham, and LCpl Correa
4th Row, 3rd Fireteam (left to right): LCpl Nikki Jacobs and Pvt Higgins, and then they picked up Pvt Holland from the attached machine gun team

The NVA are sporting a reinforced platoon consisting of four five-man squads (two with RPG, two with RPD light machine gun) and an 82mm mortar team.

Dammit, look at how blurry that damn thing is!!!  My apologies, folks...  Anyway, Sergeant Rob Little leads his squad towards the Ngan River (right top), looking to get across while avoiding any contact with the NVA, hugging the base of Hill 212 (left), Hill 104 looming ominously across the river (top center right).

Sergeant Little (bottom left) called the squad to a halt and had them pull security; behind them (off map to bottom left), the rest of the platoon halted as well.  Rob called his fireteams over and explained his plan: "we're not walking into a mess like we did yesterday, and I know that hill across the river's gotta be housing some NVA on it, so you guys sit tight, Jackson and I are gonna hustle up front and put some arty on the hill."  "We are?  Who's this 'we' bull@#$%?" queried Jackson.  "Shut up, Lamont, you're coming with me.  Any questions?"  Rob looked at each of his fireteam leaders' faces as they solemnly shook their heads, then headed back to their teams as Jackson called in the plan to the platoon commander.

The squad looks on as Sergeant Little and Jackson move up...

They get in behind some scrub and raise supporting arty on the radio; Jackson spent a couple minutes providing the data to the battery, then called out "spotting round on the way, shot out!"

"Splash!"  "Splash, out," replied the battery.  "You're dead on, fire for effect!" (you can see the cotton 'blast' atop the hill at top center)

The 105mm HE rounds land square on top of Hill 104!

Rob looks back at Jackson, "good shooting man, now have'em walk the rounds down the west slope, into those trees!"

And that's exactly what Jackson does; the 105mm rounds begin climbing down the west slope of Hill 104...

And then pound the nearby clump of trees.

The battery reported 'mission complete,' and an eerie silence fell over the valley.

"Alright, let's do it," Sergeant Little whispered, motioning to Danny who got 2nd Fireteam on its feet and moving towards the river.

Nik and 3rd Fireteam look on (bottom left) as Doc joins Sgt Little and Jackson (left) and Danny's 2nd Fireteam nears the river (center, with Cpl Benavides' 1st Fireteam off camera to left), the freshly cratered Hill 104 still looming ominously across the river...

As Lance Corporal Correa, walking point for 2nd Fireteam, dips his toes into the Ngan River.

But the NVA were clever, figuring the Yankees would pound the hell out of Hill 104, so they didn't place any troops there.  The NVA placed one squad on the south bank of the river (right center, just across from 2nd Fireteam), but everyone else is on the north side of the river!!!  There is one squad in the southwest (bottom right), but the last two squads and the NVA mortar team are all atop Hill 212 (top left, with the Marines visible below them at left bottom)!!!

It's hard to see the large drop in elevation but this is looking down on the 2nd Fireteam (far right) from behind the NVA positions atop Hill 212, with Hill 104 off camera to the left and NVA squads visible behind the hedges at center top and top right.

The NVA on the south bank (bottom right) are staring right at Correa and 2nd Fireteam, while the squad on the north bank (top left) is on their flank.

And the mid-afternoon stillness is shattered by the NVA squad on the south bank of the Ngan River opening fire at point-blank range on Danny and 2nd Fireteam...

Oddly enough, the pointman, LCpl Correa, is the only one not hit!  Correa falls back, diving for cover behind a nearby hedge, as Danny and Stidham are hit and go down!

And with the NVA squad on the south bank having initiated the ambush (right top), the NVA on the north bank (bottom right) open fire, launching a rocket at the Marines!

The rocket is off target, but impacts close enough to pin the Marine command element!

Emboldened by the Marines' apparent weakness and wanting to exploit the situation before reinforcements arrive, the NVA on the north bank move up (bottom center, from bottom right), looking to eliminate the beat-up squad in close combat then fall back and disappear.

The NVA mortar team (bottom left) opens fire from atop Hill 212 (NVA on south bank at far left top, NVA on north bank at top center), targeting Nik's 3rd Fireteam (far right top)...

But the 82mm mortar round is off target, landing in front of 3rd Fireteam (right).

NVA riflemen atop Hill 212 (bottom left) fire down on Cpl Benavides' 1st Fireteam (top right), suppressing them...

But Corporal Benavides is able to grab McCaffrey and Connor and shove them into cover behind a nearby hedge.

Correa is still in shock (center right) as Doc dashes up to him, while Jackson (bottom left) gets on the radio, trying to get that arty support back on the hook!

As Nik spots the marauding NVA on the north bank (top right) and gets his 3rd Fireteam (bottom left, with Doc and Correa at top left) into action; Nik and Higgins cut loose with their M-14s as Holland gets the Pig into action, spewing forth a steady stream of red tracer rounds...

The NVA squad, caught in the open, has two of its soldiers gunned down and the rest of the squad suppressed!

With the NVA on the north bank at least momentarily neutralized (top right), Nik gets 3rd Fireteam (bottom right) to shift fire to the NVA on the south bank (top left, with Doc and Correa just below them)...

And again the M-60 machine gun is proving its worth, as two more NVA go down!!!

But the Marines are in big trouble; the NVA mortar team (bottom left) spotted the fall of their last round and have made adjustments, and they fire again on 3rd Fireteam (top right)...

And this time the round impacts dead-on target!!!  Nikki and Higgins are hit and go down, while Holland is suppressed, temporarily knocking the M-60 out of the fight!

As the NVA on Hill 212 (bottom left) continue engaging Cpl Benavides' 1st fireteam (behind hedges at far right, with 3rd Fireteam above them, 2nd Fireteam at left top, and Sgt Little and Jackson at center left).

And the NVA begin moving downslope (center, from bottom left, with Sgt Little and Jackson visible at right top).

As the second NVA squad atop Hill 212 moves up (center) to join them (bottom right).

Sgt Little and Jackson get back in the fight (bottom left, with Doc and Correa above them), firing on the NVA squad on the north bank (top right, with NVA squad on the south bank at top left)...

Another NVA is hit and goes down, keeping the last two suppressed.

Correa is still cowering as Doc Eakle breaks cover, moving out to Danny and Stidham...

And dragging Danny back, into cover.  Doc checks him over...

And Danny's okay, just a flesh wound, and he's back in the fight, which is enough to shake Correa out of his stupor.

While back on the Marine left, Cpl Benavides (bottom right) has spotted the two NVA squads bounding down Hill 212 (left) and orders his Marines to open fire.  He and Connor cut loose with their M-14s as McCaffrey launches a 40mm HE round uphill...

And the Marine fire is deadly, catching the NVA in the open!  Three enemy soldiers go down (bottom right) and the remaining two fall back, suppressed (top left, with the other NVA squad at top right)!

*I gotta admit, while the Marines are not outta the woods yet, they're lives have been made much easier by their deadly shootin' dice, which has accounted for eight NVA in four rounds of fire (seven in three rounds of fire), which is very odd for KR-16, definitely some hot dice.  Ergo...

Doc Eakle dashes back out into the open, reaching Stidham (right bottom, with Danny and Correa to his left), as Sgt Little and Jackson (bottom left) lay down fire on the NVA squad on the south bank (top right)...

And another NVA soldier goes down!

Stidham looks to be hit pretty bad, so Doc Eakle hoists the young Marine across his shoulders and begins moving back (bottom center, from bottom right) towards Sgt Little and Jackson (top left)!  Danny and Correa (far right) are laying down covering fire across the river when Danny notices movement to his left (top)...

He spots the other NVA squad coming down Hill 212 (top center right) and he and Correa (bottom right) open fire...

And the two M-14s on full auto manage to drop three NVA soldiers (bottom center), forcing the remaining two to fall back, suppressed (center)!!!

Danny looked over at Correa, "holy crap man, that's some hellacious shootin' there, partner!"  Correa didn't say anything, just grinned back.

*I'm telling you, I don't know what's going on with these dice, but I swear I'm not cheating.  And I can tell you that Correa is quite the marksman, you will see something like this occur in Fight #24.

And with that, Danny and Correa fell back to Sgt Little and Jackson (bottom left, from far right), as Doc Eakle struggles carrying Stidham's big ass (bottom right)...  Jackson is on the radio, but still can't get any arty on the hook.

But then it hits him; Danny looks around, "where's Nik?"

Danny (top center left) spots 3rd Fireteam (bottom center); "who is that?"  "It's Holland," Sgt Little responds.  "Thanks.  Hey, Holland!  Holland!"  "Yeah," Holland responds, shaking his head to clear the cobwebs, rubbing dirt from the mortar explosion from his eyes.  "Holland, where's Nikki?"  "Who?" replies Holland.  "Nikki!  Jacobs!  You're fireteam leader, you moron!"  "Well kiss my ass, I'm new here, and my team leader is Tomlinson, not..."  "Shut the @#$% up and tell me, where is Nik?"  "Him and the other dude are down.  Both are bleeding, but one of them don't look too bad."

"Hang on, Danny.  Are you okay, Holland?" Rob hollered.  "Yes, Sergeant, I'm okay, working on getting my gun back into action," replied Holland.  "Good, you just hold tight, keep an eye out to your right, and do not fire to your left, we're coming back to you!"

Sgt Little, Jackson, Danny, and Correa (bottom left) all laid down fire across the river at the NVA on the south bank (top right)...

Dropping another enemy soldier and driving the last one off (top right)!

*I'm telling you, the Marines are only hitting on 5+, and NVA in cover are saving on 4+, but they're still dropping like flies...

Danny and Correa (top right) reload as Sgt Little, Jackson (center), and Doc Eakle (bottom right) fall back.

Danny and Correa (bottom left) then sight in on the NVA on the north bank (top right)...

And do the same thing, dropping another NVA and forcing the last man in the squad to run away!

Before they take off (bottom left, from top right), passing Sgt Little and Jackson in Danny's haste to get back and check on Nik.

As Corporal Benavides and 1st Fireteam (bottom right) continue pumping rounds up Hill 212...

And another NVA goes down!

Which is enough to convince the remaining NVA on Hill 212 to fall back (bottom left, from right), ending the fight just as Jackson finally got arty on the radio and the Lieutenant got the rest of the platoon up to the squad's position.

Sergeant Little orders Jackson to rain hell down on Hill 212 nonetheless.

And the rest of the platoon goes traipsing off, up the hill, as Sgt Little has his men consolidate and treat the wounded.

It would turn out that Stidham and Higgins were hit pretty bad; Stidham's war was over, he was going home, though Higgins would be back in about six weeks.  And I cheated a bit: both Nik and Danny ended up rolling "light wounds," out of action for seven and ten days, respectively, but I wanted to keep going with Operation Hastings and so I'm saying the wounds are superficial enough that both boys are going to stay in the field.

The platoon dashed up Hill 212, reporting they found seven dead NVA but no live ones, and by the time they got back down the hill the rest of Kilo Company had been engaged and was falling back, so the squad grabbed their wounded and joined them on the hump back to their previous night defensive position.

Doc Eakle dressed Danny and Nikki's wounds, and they got to chat for a moment before the platoon fell back.  "How ya doin', little brother?" Nik asked.  "'Bout the same as you, I suppose.  They hit me up here...  I believe it is called your 'trapezius muscle,' but it went straight through and I feel fine.  Well, not fine, but ya know... How are you?"  "My ass hurts... again.  Man, that mortar round came right in and I swear that bastard went off right in my shorts!  I'll be picking little pieces o'Commie metal outta my ass for the rest of my life!"  Danny laughed, "can we call ya 'Three-Bung Jacobs' now, then?"  "Oh kiss my ass, Danny!  You know, I'm gettin' just a little bit tired of these @#$holes putting holes in my body.  It's July man, how much longer we got left in this @#$%hole?" Nik asked.  "Aww, I don't believe that for one second, this is more fun then you ever had back in 'Chickendick, Texas,' that's for damn sure!  And how much more time?  The rest of your stinkin' life, Marine, we ain't never leavin' this place!" Danny replied, laughing his butt off.  "Dammit I'm serious, how much time we got left?" Nikki growled.  "I dunno, I guess probably about two and a half months, something like that.  But we ain't going anywhere, this is the place to be, and you know it!" Danny scoffed.  "Yeah, we'll just see about that!  I swear, you're gonna be the death of me!"

And on a side note, once the squad got back to Da Nang, Doc Eakle was awarded the Bronze Star w/V for his heroics in dashing forward under fire to pull Danny and Stidham out of the line of fire.

The squad saddled up and began humping back to their hill from last night, as Marine Skyhawks and Phantoms rolled in to pound Hills 104 and 212, between arty fire missions.  With darkness coming, Kilo Company immediately dug in atop the hill again; the weary Marines were hoping for a respite, but their OP/LPs were painting a picture of another night of hostile intent on the part of the North Vietnamese Army.

Coming soon!



  1. Another action packed skirmish...brilliant!

  2. I thought you were going to need to pull out the artillery again as you were running short of active Marines. But as you said, then the NVA dropped like flies due to good dice rolling! Great report. If not for the Marines and great dice it could have easily gone bad.

    1. Shaun,

      Yes Sir, arty was on the way to save the day, probably going to have to pull it in 'danger close,' but some incredibly fortuitous die rolls saved the day before the rounds started dropping.

      Thanks man, I appreciate your commentary.