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"Two Brothers Concept and Fight #1" Topic


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Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP03 Jan 2021 9:26 p.m. PST

All,

Yet another long-haul campaign, something I've wanted to do for a long time but hadn't made time for. This time following two buddies from boots arriving in Vietnam in October 1965, through multiple tours as line grunts, into Force Recon, finishing as advisors to the South Vietnamese Marine Corps in 1972.

The idea of 'Two Brothers' is that Nikki Jacobs, a big, 19-year old, corn-fed boy from Middle O'Nowhere, Texas, and Danny Thomas, a tall, lanky, 18-year old high school football star from Big City, Texas, both were yearning for action and adventure so they signed up for the only war they had. They actually met at MEPS in Dallas, TX, when they swore their oaths of enlistment and shipped out to Boot Camp at the Recruit Depot, San Diego, CA. There they were assigned to the same platoon (1089, A Company, 1st Battalion). They became fast friends and were delighted to find out at graduation that they were both to become infantrymen. Following two weeks' 'Boot Leave,' they were back together at Camp Pendleton, CA, for two weeks of Guard Duty (52 Area) before heading off the the School of Infantry (SOI), where both were assigned to become riflemen (0311s) in 3rd Platoon, Hotel Company. Being a bigger Marine, Nikki was originally assigned to become a machine gunner, an 0331, but finagled his way into the 0311 line in order to stay with Danny.

Upon completion of SOI they were given another two weeks' leave prior to deployment, after which they met back up at Camp Pendleton for shipment to the Republic of Vietnam, arriving 5 October 1965. Once there they again managed to stick together, ending up in the same squad. They were now members of 9th Marines (I hate getting tied to actual historical units, because I want to do what I want to do, not be tied to the historical record and, even more importantly, I wouldn't want to dishonor the memory of troops that actually fought and died there, so I'm just going to leave it at that). They are now two FNGs (ahem, 'rookies') in an understrength squad of veterans that came ashore in March 1965, two replacements doing their best to fit in and not get killed.

They settled into Da Nang and began patrolling around the base's perimeter, learning their craft, learning how to survive. Two weeks went by with no contact, with the boys beginning to fret they'd never 'see the elephant,' until the Platoon Sergeant walked in, rounded up the Marines, and provided a Warning Order: stand by for action, tomorrow we kick off Operation 'Red Snapper,' which would see the boys finally get their cherries busted.

So we shall follow the exploits of young Nikki and Danny, seeing how they react to their first experiences under fire and mature as combat Marines. They cannot die, and probably cannot even be seriously wounded, as I want to keep their stories going, but they'll be punished for mistakes (not sure how, but I'll figure out something) and lauded for their heroism and leadership, through medals and promotions.

The Table of Organization and Equipment for a US Marine rifle squad was 1 Sergeant, 3 Corporals, 3 Lance Corporals, 4 PFCs, and 3 Privates with 13 M-14 service rifles, 1 M-79 grenade launcher, and one M1911 service pistol (carried by the grenadier). But the boys are joining a squad that's been in action since March of 1965, so it's understrength, having only the Squad Leader, Grenadier, and two fireteams.

So, that's the concept, now for the first fight.

1130 Local Time
22 October 1965
Phu Gia Peninsula, RVN
Operation Red Snapper

Having patrolled for two weeks in the Da Nang area without finding even a hint of the enemy, the boys are excited out of their minds, taking part in their first combat operation. It seems the Viet Cong (VC) have been making trouble up on the Phu Gia Peninsula, about 36 klicks north of Da Nang, hitting Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and Regional Force/Popular Force (RFPF, a type of South Vietnamese militia, commonly referred to as "Ruff-Puffs") base camps and threatening to cut Route 1 between Da Nang and Phu Bai. So III Marine Amphibious Force (MAF) HQ decided to do something about it: in conjunction with four ARVN-RF/PF battalions, two companies from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment (2/3) and one company from 3rd Bn, 4th Marines (3/4) launched Operation Red Snapper. The ARVN forces set up the anvil west of Route 1 while Fox Company, 2/3 (F/2/3) trucked up from Da Nang and G/2/3 came ashore from landing craft on Orange Beach, forming the hammer and pushing west to east, with a rifle company from 3/4 scheduled to helo down on G/2/3's right (northern) flank the following day.

The boys' platoon ended up being attached to G/2/3, getting quite seasick in the flat-bottomed landing craft before finally putting ashore about 0600 local time. Excitement was high, very adventurous times for the two young Marines, with grunts running to and fro, landing craft and Amtracs zipping up to/along the beach, trucks and tanks coming up the road, helicopters thwacking and fast movers zooming past overhead. Everything was there… except the enemy. The Marines formed up and began pushing east, careful to mind their phase and control lines so as to avoid any friendly fire incidents, which is always a risk when units are maneuvering about without having been afforded the opportunity for reconnaissance (which couldn't be done, for fear of tipping the operation to the enemy).

At about 1045 the platoon was called to a halt. Sweaty and breathing hard from the exertion of humping through the broken terrain with all their gear, they took a knee and rested. And with that they could just hear it; the distant 'pop-pop-pop' of gunfire. The boys inched closer to PFC Griffin, the squad's Radio Telephone Operator (RTO), who whispered updates to them: "Golf Company's 2nd Platoon is taking fire, about a klick up ahead… Golf's CO is trying get a SITREP out of them, but the Lootenat pretty much told him to Bleeped text off, he's busy… The CO is trying to get 3rd Platoon over to them… The Lootenat says he's got four men down, needs MEDEVAC… The CO says the LT's gotta get them outta the kill zone… The Lootenat says he can't, they're pinned down… Uh-oh!"

Nikki asked, "what's uh-oh?" Griffin responded: "uh-oh is, they wanna call in arty on the VC, and Lootenat Ward (the boys' platoon commander) wants us to escort the FO (Forward Observer) team up there!"

And here came the Platoon Sergeant, Staff Sergeant Dunn, to confirm that. He grabbed Corporal Little, the Squad Leader, and the two Fireteam Leaders, and briefed them up. "As soon as the FO gets up here, you boys head out." "Aye-aye, Staff Sergeant." A few minutes later the FO, 1st Lieutenant Dyson and his two RTOs showed up. "I hear you fellas are my escort?" "Yes, Sir," replied Cpl Little. "3rd Squad, saddle up!"

picture

Overview, north is up. The US starting point is in the southwest (bottom left), and the objective area is the old, bombed out French colonial building in the northeast (top right). There's a dirt/gravel road that runs north-south, with a spur splitting off to run east-west just south of Hill 65, which the French building sits atop. There is a medium-sized village in the northwest (top left) and a small village in the southeast (bottom right), with neither village showing any signs of life at the moment. There are numerous treelines and bamboo thickets dotting the landscape, with a cluster of rice paddies dominating the center of the battle area. I apologize, I don't have any real rice paddies, so I'm having to use cultivated fields to show them, with hedges denoting the Bleeped texts. So please understand that the 'dykes' are not blocking line of sight or providing any sort of cover/concealment for troops that are moving/standing up.

A couple admin notes: I'm playing this game using a modified version of Ivan Sorensen's "Five Men at Kursk," but I've also modified Joe Legan's "Platoon Forward" to a card version to figure out the US mission, assets available, enemy location, strength, activity, etc… I'm also playing as the umpire, controlling the VC force, with my two boys controlling the US Marines.

I'm playing in lovely 15mm with individually-based troops.
The Marines are from Jimmi's Flashpoint Minis.
The Viet Cong 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 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 "French Colonial Building" is from JR Miniatures.

picture

At top, Corporal Little, the Squad leader, is at right, while PFC Nelson, the M-79 Grenadier, is at left.

1st Fireteam is at center, 2nd Fireteam is at bottom. From top right: LCpl Devers, the fireteam leader, PFC Griffin, who carries the squad's PRC-25 radio, then two riflemen, Pvt Masterson and Pvt Jacobs, AKA Nikki.
From bottom right: PFC Ed Marks, the fireteam leader, then riflemen Privates Hendricks, Ryder, and Thomas, AKA Danny.
So the squad's got nine M-14s, an M-79, an M-1911 (carried by the grenadier), and each Marine is carrying a couple frags.

picture

The squad sets off up the road, looking to get the FO up on top of the hill (top right), but as they enter the village (top left)…

picture

A Viet Cong bunker (top right) opens fire on the Marines (far left and bottom left)!

picture

Masterson is hit and goes down!

picture

Nikki (far let) lays down fire as Devers throws Masterson over his shoulder and lurches for cover…

picture

But the bunker (bottom right) spots Marines (top left) moving to flank it and opens fire on them…

picture

Dropping Hendricks and pinning Marks!

picture

Nelson pops up and fires a 40mm HE round at the bunker from his M-79!

picture

As VC mortar rounds begin slamming into the Marine positions!

To see how the fight turns out, please check the blog at:
link

So that was fight number one. I've actually played out the boys' entire first tour, a total of 24 tabletop fights. I'm still working on the batreps, of course, but my plan is to post one each Monday. Let me know what you think.

V/R,
Jack

mjkerner Supporting Member of TMP03 Jan 2021 10:43 p.m. PST

Always love your creativity and your AARs, Jack!

blacksmith04 Jan 2021 2:54 a.m. PST

The table looks awesome and you put a lot of work and love in your AARs. Thanks for sharing.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP04 Jan 2021 9:01 a.m. PST

WOW !!!!! x 10 !!! thumbs up

Wolfhag04 Jan 2021 9:50 a.m. PST

Very nice Jack. I'm waiting for the flamethrowers.

Wolfhag

Bismarck04 Jan 2021 10:19 a.m. PST

Awesome table and great AAR. You put a lot of work and love into this. Thanks for sharing.

Sam

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP04 Jan 2021 11:50 a.m. PST

Thanks everyone, I really appreciate your support, it's my pleasure!

Wolf – Sorry man, no Zippos, at least not in this first tour. It's kinda hard keeping everything at the squad level, with the rest of the platoon/company/battalion just off table.

Wolf and Sam – Semper Fidelis. It's a little strange doing Marines at such a personal level within recent memory, feels a little sacrilegious, but I hope I'm doing the subject justice. On a side note, I wonder how much Marine lingo I'm using that everyone won't understand ;)

I've played out the entire first tour, and these early fights are cool, but just wait, I think you'll really enjoy the fights (five of them) I did for Operation Utah, the first big fights with the NVA.

And I've been painting stuff up for the second tour. The boys are going to ship over, take a month in Bangkok, then head out for a six-month pump with a CAP. I gotta have them back with 9th Marines for Operation Buffalo in July '67 though, no way I'm missing that.

V/R,
Jack

Wolfhag05 Jan 2021 12:07 p.m. PST

Jack,
OK, I'll wait for the Zippo. Do you have a Corpsman? Will FNG Pvt Schumckatelli be walking point?

You are doing a great job, just don't get dragged into any of the stupid politics.

I'm waiting patiently for the AAR on the Bangkok R&R. Be sure the guys get their shots first and no one goes AWOL.

Wolfhag

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2021 7:11 p.m. PST

Wolf,

Yes, you'll see the platoon Doc in some of the fights in the future, and there's nothing political here, just a gaggle of raggedy-ass Marines taking it to the enemy. Along those lines, it's a bit strange, purposefully kept civilians out of the campaign as well, for that very reason.

I won't be able to do that in the second tour though, not with the boys becoming part of a Combined Action Platoon. I can tell you that all interactions with civilians will show the VC acting heinously and the Americans acting honorably, and that's all there is to that.

Anyway, I've got to get busy typing; there are 23 more of these to go, plus my boys and I have been playing some Battle of the Bulge games that I need to write up as well…

V/R,
Jack

Raynman Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2021 8:52 p.m. PST

Excellent!

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2021 7:47 a.m. PST

Thanks, Raynman, glad you liked it.

V/R,
Jack

Wolfhag06 Jan 2021 8:44 a.m. PST

Jack,
With a CAP unit there are a lot of interesting possibilities for modeling the vil defenses.

I've been working on a game where a reinforced Rifle Company operates from a firebase near the DMZ. It's more of an operatiional boardgame where the objective is for the NVA to move men and supplies through the Marine AO and the Marines to stop them. The Marines need to perform aggressive patrolling to stop them and keep their firebase from being mortared and attacked.

Since it's the Marines they are always short of assets but can get some help from the local US Army units. There is a Force Recon unit at the firebase that conducts deep patrols up to the Ben Ha river and can call in air interdiction, gather intel, spring ambushes, etc. There will be a heavy cruiser on call most of the time for Naval Gunfire Support.

I'll be using a military 1:50,000 scale map of the DMZ area with potential engagements in grid squads the Marines occupy or move through. It will be a soltaire card activated game with abstracted combat engagements but you could fight them out in miniature if you wanted. I'll probably use one day turns but there may not be any real activity in each turn. I'm hoping to make it playable for a 13 month tour of duty. It's on the back burner for now until I move to TN.

Wolfhag

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2021 9:32 a.m. PST

Wolf,

Regarding the CAP, my plan is to have maybe one fight where the VC get worked up enough to actually outright attack the village, but the rest of the fights will revolve around the Marines having trained the locals and using them rather aggressively, even in sort of a "Mike Force" concept as a QRF for recon and ARVN units that have gotten themselves into trouble.

That sounds like a cool idea for a game. My campaign will be focused on very small-scale engagements for the first few tours, but then I plan on working up to platoon-level, maybe even company-level, if I can figure out how to make it work, and your idea sounds perfect in order to drive the overall situation.

Moving to Tennessee, eh? Beats the hell out of Cali, but Texas is even better ;)

V/R,
Jack

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