- 05/05/2021 at 17:55 #155934
1400 Local Time
18 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, and about 1930 local time the NVA mad their push. The Marines were once again able to hold on, but Doc Eakle was killed, and two more Marines were wounded and had to be evacuated, bringing the squad down to a total of six bodies, seven including Holland, the attached machine gunner.
Kilo 3/4 was 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. At some point 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.
Lima 3/4 took off not longer after they got back to LZ Crowe, and the plan was for Kilo Company to hang around and blow up all the NVA weapons and ammunition that had been captured, as well as the three damaged helicopters still sitting on the east end of the LZ. So that’s what the Marines were doing, split up into squad-sized elements they were packing up gear and prepping stuff for demolition, when all of a sudden, at about 1400 local time, gunfire was heard from multiple directions. Sergeant Little, with the squad at the far western end of the LZ and substantially distant from the rest of Kilo Company, further east, ordered the rest of the squad to grab their gear and get ready to move in a hurry!
*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 of the west end of LZ Crowe (which actually extends further east, off camera to right-top), with hills and trees in the northwest (to left) and southeast (bottom right). There is a cache of enemy weapons and munitions in the southwest (bottom left), which is where the squad was located when the NVA attacked, and the rest of Kilo Company, 3/4, is to the northeast (top right), which is where the squad needs to get.
The squad is in the southwest (bottom left), salvation (in the form of Kilo Company’s perimeter) is in the northeast (top right), and there are NVA squads pressing in from the northwest (top left) and southeast (bottom right), meaning the squad has to run the gauntlet in order to reach safety.
Here is the squad’s initial dispositions: Sergeant Little and LCpl Jackson, the RTO, are at top center, with Pvt Holland, the machine gunner, just to their left. Corporal Benavides is at far left, Pvt McCaffrey, the grenadier, is at bottom center, and Danny and Nikki are at far right.
Sergeant Little and Jackson (bottom center left) are standing there arguing about which targets rate priority of fire for fire missions as the rest of the squad wires captured enemy weapons and munitions for demo, when the rattle of gunfire to the northeast (top left) startles them both back to the moment. Rob stops mid-sentence. Looking to the east (top), he is taken aback when NVA soldiers suddenly pop into the LZ (left top and center right), between them and the rest of Kilo, 3/4 (top left)!!!
The Marines (bottom left) immediately open fire, quickly realizing they are in immediate danger of being cut off by NVA between them and the nearest friendlies.
The Marines move out, but they’re in a bad way; Sergeant Little makes the tactical decision to stay in the center, using fire and maneuver to advance across the LZ to reach Marine lines but exposing the squad to fire from both flanks, rather than move into the dense brush on either side of the LZ, which would provide cover and concealment, but would put the Marines face to face with an enemy of unknown strength at point-blank range and thus unable to utilize supporting arms, with another enemy element of unknown strength coming in behind them, albeit in a position of having to cross the open LZ in order to get at the Marines.
Casualties begin to mount as Sgt Little lays down fire with his M-14 and Jackson calls for arty.
The NVA continue to assault the beleaguered Marines.
But the squad keeps going, bringing their casualties out with them! Nikki (far right) continues laying down fire to the north as Jackson moves up behind the lumbering Holland (center, carrying Corporal Benavides) and Sergeant Little covers Danny (bottom left), who lifts the wounded McCaffrey onto his shoulders and begins moving east.
Marine arty begins to fall…
As the squad (left bottom) nears friendly lines (top right)…
But the NVA (bottom right and off camera to left bottom) aren’t finished with them (top left) yet!
Driving Nik to perform some (more) heroics, driving into close assault the NVA positions…
To see the whole fight, please check the blog at:
So that’s the end of Operation Hastings. I hope you enjoyed it; all five fights were based on real fights that Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, took part in, to include the getting left at LZ Crowe and almost being overrun. I really enjoyed the games using KR-16, particularly the river crossings and the first hilltop defense (and was proud of my DMZ tables), they were lots of fun, and it felt like I was able to still keep some personality in the games despite playing with elements, rather than individual troops. It actually felt kinda strange going back to 5MAK after playing KR-16, but the next fight proved it didn’t take me long to get back to normal.
Last fight of the boys’ first tour coming right up!
Jack06/05/2021 at 16:34 #155958ThomastonParticipant
I miss when Little was usless, he was the comic relief of the show.
Tired is enough.
R-rated narcissism06/05/2021 at 20:58 #155972
Ha! Not me man, life has been so much better since Rob got his stuff together. Him and Correa will be sticking with the boys into their second tour.
Jack19/05/2021 at 22:26 #156551
Well, here we are, the final fight of the boys’ first tour!
1330 Local Time
26 September 1966
Near Mo Duc, Quang Ngai Province, RVN
Operation Golden Fleece
When Sergeant Little walked into the squadbay and announced the Warning Order on 14 September 1966, only 22 days before the boys were set to rotate back to the States, neither Nikki nor Danny said a word. First, Danny didn’t care, running ops was why he was in Vietnam, and though Nik was pissed, he knew better than to voice it in front of the junior Marines. And he knew it wouldn’t change anything anyway. Danny had kept bringing up the idea of shipping over for another tour, and Nikki had kept ignoring it or pooh-poohing it.
But Rob could tell Nik wasn’t happy, so he pitched it the same way the Lieutenant had to him: Operation Golden Fleece is set to be a piece of cake. Eleven days in the field, down south, with 1st Battalion, 7th Marines and the ARVN, providing security in some village called Mo Duc for the annual rice harvest, no sweat! The squad packed its gear and reported in to 1/7, trucking down south to Mo Duc, approximately 170 kilometers down the coast from Da Nang, which brought Nik much happiness, as it was about as far away from the DMZ as a Marine in I Corps could get!
The Marines hit the ground running on 16 September 1966, working closely with the ARVN and local villagers to clean out suspected Viet Cong weapons caches and safeguard the rice harvest. Even Danny had to admit this was much more fulfilling work than anything else they’d done since arriving in Vietnam. They’d arrived young and idealistic, helping the people of Vietnam by keeping them safe from Communism; things hadn’t really worked out that way, and the villagers they interfaced with on a regular basis sure didn’t seem to appreciate the American’s presence. But this was different: here the Viet Cong actually had a history of coming in, stealing the rice, and pressing youngsters into service, and so the Marines, actually keeping the villagers from being mistreated by the VC, were finally finding a local population that was welcoming and actually helping them to root out the Viet Cong. The villagers were actually pointing out Viet Cong cadre members, as well as booby traps and weapons caches! The Marines, working closely with the ARVN, would then cordon off the area and politely conduct a search of the area, with no preparatory airstrikes or artillery barrages, rather than their normal ‘Hammer and Anvil’ tactics on Search and Destroy missions. Hell, the docs and dentists were even here giving vaccinations, setting broken bones, stitching up lacerations, and checking teeth! Several times Nik actually caught himself smiling; he was helping people, and they were making a real dent in the local Viet Cong forces and infrastructure. Over the past ten days the battalion had arrested over 100 suspected Viet Cong members, people the locals villagers had pointed out, and had uncovered hundreds of weapons and tons of ammunition and explosives.
But with all that success, the Marines had to know the Viet Cong weren’t going to take it lying down. The squad was out, conducting a presence patrol in one of the nearby villages; this village had been a problem for a number of years now. The ARVN had originally wrested control of the area back from the VC in 1962 and installed a militia unit there (known as “Ruff-Puffs”), which had fortified the village with bunkers and trenches. But the VC had infiltrated the village, killed the village chief and Ruff-Puff commander, and demanded fealty. There was an uneasy peace for a bit, a truce between the two sides or, closer to the truth, an agreement by the Ruff-Puffs not to interfere with the Viet Cong, but the problem was that every now and again ARVN infantry would return to the area, and fighting would again break out. Under one of President Ky’s Pacification initiatives, the village was relocated and the area left unoccupied, with regular ARVN operations to ensure it stayed that way. The last ARVN operation had been more than a year ago, and it had been very quiet, but this morning villagers in the closest village reported Viet Cong activity in the area. The squad was dispatched to investigate…
Overview, north is up, and back to the tropical tables again! There is a creek visible in the northeast (top right), which is the direction the Marines will enter from, and the fortified, abandoned village is visible in the southwest (bottom left). There are slight rises in the northwest (top left) and southwest, more important for their dense foliage than their elevation, with more dense vegetation spread around the perimeter of an area dominated by open rice paddies. You can see the VC occupying the fortified village at bottom left, and the Marines have reached the creek at top right.
Sergeant Little gets the squad to the river and then calls a halt, pulling a set of field glasses up to his eyes. “Damn, I don’t like the looks of this at all; look at those brazen bastards, you can see’em running back and forth, and lots of’em, like a damn ant colony. Lamont, give me the RT.”
Rob got on the radio with battalion, then was handed over to a FAC. Twenty minutes later the Marines were treated to a good old-fashioned barbecue…
The Marines cross the creek…
And fan out into skirmish line as they approach the village. “God bless, it’s hot, little brother,” complained Nik (far right). “You bet yer sweet ass it is,” Danny smirked back. Sergeant Little jumped in: “Knock off the chit-chat, ladies, stay frosty,” he demanded, when something caught his eye. “Hey, I got moov…”
But before he could even finish the word, the heavy, oppressive, still air was disturbed by the ‘pop’ of a B-40 rocket being launched, coming straight in at the squad…
To see how the final fight of the boys’ 1st tour turned out, please check the blog at:
If you’d like to see my thoughts on the first tour, and where we’re headed for the second tour, please check the blog here:
More coming soon, but first I have some other wargaming business to attend to. I hope you enjoyed the boys’ first tour as much as I did.
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