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"Two Brothers Fight #9" Topic


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Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP07 Feb 2021 8:50 p.m. PST

All,

1430 Local Time
13 January 1966
An Hoa, RVN
Operation Mallard

Some old faces, Nelson and Griffin, had returned to the squad, and some new faces, Rivera and Tate, were picked up as replacements, bringing the squad strength to twelve Marines, nearly their T/O strength. They'd been patrolling in and around Da Nang for a little over a week when Sergeant Garcia walked into the squadbay and gave them a Warning Order: they were heading about 20 klicks south of Da Nang to support a sweep by 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines (1/3) and 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines (3/7) in and around a village named An Hoa. It seemed An Hoa was a burgeoning industrial center (or at least he South Vietnamese government hoped so), with the country's only functioning coal mine and a newly completed railway spur located there. But the Viet Cong R-20 Battalion, recently reinforced by the 5th Main Force Viet Cong Battalion, was causing big trouble there for the ARVN assigned to protect An Hoa, so the Marines were being sent in find, fix, and destroy the VC forces in the area and evacuate about 300 villagers from small hamlets in the surrounding area into the (allegedly) better protected An Hoa village proper.

The Marines kicked off Operation Mallard on 11 January 1966, having been trucked into staging areas the previous night. The first two days and nights were relatively uneventful, the Marines following the long established routine of humping all day before stopping about an hour before sunset to dig their night defensive positions, eat their evening chow, then spend a long, uneventful night interrupted by standing watch and sometimes a couple hours out on OP/LP before getting up the next morning to piss, brush their teeth, eat morning chow, stomp in their holes, and set off in search of the Viet Cong again.

But on the third day of the operation they were humping the bush when local Ruff-Puffs (members of the ARVN) reported Viet Cong had occupied Hill 108 looking down on the western end of An Hoa. The boys' platoon was attached to a company from 3/7 and dispatched to destroy the VC threatening An Hoa from Hill 108, the fear being the VC would infiltrate An Hoa and damage or destroy (again) coal mining infrastructure in the village. As the company moved west on Hill 108 it took contact from the north; the main body of the Marine company wheeled to deal with this contact, but the boys' platoon was ordered to continue west at the double in order to cut off and prevent the VC from entering An Hoa, taking Hill 108 in the process.

picture

Overview, north is up. The southeast corner of Hill 108 is visible running across the top of the battle area, from top left to top center right, with the An Hoa railway spur running just below it, with a river bend in the east and southeast (bottom right). A portion of the northwest corner of An Hoa Village is visible in the southwest (bottom left), to include a concrete refinery building VC sappers had previously snuck in and blow up. The center of the tactical area is dominated by rice paddies, devoid of cover. The Marines are hustling into the area from the southeast (bottom right), where they were patrolling east of the river bend, so they'll have to require that large open area at center.

picture

The Marines push across the rice paddies, towards the hill.

picture

The Viet Cong open fire as the Marines cross the railroad tracks.

picture

Nik and Danny stand tall and return fire.

picture

As Corporal Zamora's fireteam (bottom center, with the rest of the squad at top left and the VC atop the hill at top right) move to flank the enemy positions.

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

Next fight coming Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

V/R,
Jack

Prince Alberts Revenge07 Feb 2021 9:52 p.m. PST

Great AAR Jack. I was curious if you ever came up with ambush or hidden rules for Company Commander. I plan to use the for French Indo China in 10mm.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP08 Feb 2021 10:38 a.m. PST

Great-looking table and miniatures! Looking forward to reading the AAR when I have time.

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP08 Feb 2021 5:21 p.m. PST

Prince – Thanks, I appreciate it!! Sorry, I haven't really done hidden/ambush stuff with Company Command because I tend to start the on table action at the point of contact, so if it's an ambush scenario, I set the table and troops up the way they'd be when the ambush was initiated. I have had a few scenario or game-specific occasions to roll to determine if a unit can spot an enemy unit, and I keep it simple: if target is in cover need a 1 or 6, if target in open need a 2-5.

Oberlindes – Thanks, hope you enjoy it!

V/R,
Jack

Bismarck09 Feb 2021 12:29 p.m. PST

Another great AAR, Jack!
By '68 the railroad track had been destroyed and the Viets
had used the railroad ties to fortify bunkers. Darn near
impervious to artillery. The French had also a brick factory
there back in the day. Your boys were south of Dodge City
and east of what became to be known as the Arizona Territory. Wonder if Duc Duc resettlement camp was started back then. By '68 it had over 1000 inhabitants and was just
southwest of An Hoa combat and air bases.

Meant to mention on your last AAR, how well you portray troops being wounded or KIA. You get the point across without getting too graphic. Hard to do.

I am curious how long your solo game runs in real time and you have to put in a bunch of time just designing the scenarios.

Really enjoying these. Thanks for sharing them.
Semper Fi
Sam

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2021 5:13 p.m. PST

Sam,

"By '68 the railroad track had been destroyed and the Viets had used the railroad ties to fortify bunkers. Darn near impervious to artillery. The French had also a brick factory there back in the day. Your boys were south of Dodge City and east of what became to be known as the Arizona Territory. Wonder if Duc Duc resettlement camp was started back then. By '68 it had over 1000 inhabitants and was just southwest of An Hoa combat and air bases."
Damn man, nothing beats the detail like someone who was there, thanks for the insight, I appreciate it! Being a Marine, I know some of the geography/history, but by no means am I an expert, and it's tough for me to wrap my head around sometimes. With the way I'm putting the boys in various operations all over South Vietnam it's hard to keep straight. I want there to be that element of linkage, like "yeah, we were just here a few months ago, but look, the bastids blew up the railway," but it's hard to keep it in context with all the skipping around. I'm doing my best!

"Meant to mention on your last AAR, how well you portray troops being wounded or KIA. You get the point across without getting too graphic. Hard to do."
Thanks man. I'm sure someone else could do it better, but I'm just trying to keep it at the personal level, without becoming gratuitous or vulgar.

"I am curious how long your solo game runs in real time and you have to put in a bunch of time just designing the scenarios."
Okay, so here's how it all goes down. I went online and got a list of all the major Marine operations from Oct '65 to Oct '66, then I kinda sketched out a roadmap of all the operations I figured the boys could be involved in. Nothing sophisticated, just looking at "okay, that operation took place from 23 May to 30 May, they'll go on that one, and then there's one from 10 June to 20 June, so that fits, they'll do that one, then there's one from 30 June to 10 July, so there we go."

Then I go online and read up on the actual operation (the green books, "Marines in Vietnam," have been invaluable), try to get a feel of what happened, who was where, how long it lasted, how much contact there was, and the nature of it. That helps me plan out what I'll have the boys do: Operation XXX was only five days long and didn't have much contact, so I'll just play one tabletop fight for it, but Operation ZZZ was ten days long and had a tremendous amount of fighting on days 6 and 7, so I'll plan to fight two or three tabletop games there, kinda following what happened in real life.

The scenarios themselves are a breeze, pretty much canned. I've got cards made up with a bunch of simple scenarios on them, like "hasty attack," "hasty defense," "ambush," "sniper," "escort," etc…, and I just draw a card for each game. I also have cards to tell me enemy strength, disposition, how they'll act (in general and at the climax of the fight, typically when the Marines reach the objective area), and cards to throw in 'random events' like booby traps, reinforcements, VC mortars, etc…

The games generally take about an hour and a half to play, and the reports take 2-3 hours to write up, and I can't quantify it because I haven't really tracked it and it pops up in different phases of what I'm doing (pre-battle, during the battle, post-battle), but for this campaign I have been spending a TREMENDOUS amount of time reading those 'green books' to learn about the operations and try to tie in what the boys are doing with real life.

"Really enjoying these. Thanks for sharing them."
It's my pleasure, and I'm really enjoying the whole thing, too, it's great to talk to folks about them, particularly a Marine that was there.

Semper Fidelis,
Jack

Bismarck10 Feb 2021 7:12 a.m. PST

Jack,

Your work definitely goes "above and beyond". I was impressed
with your description of the An Hoa area, so I knew you had
done a bunch of homework. I am surprised that your games are that short in duration.

Another resource you might take a look at is the University of Texas Vietnam Archives. If you google US Marine Corps in Vietnam University of Texas, it will take you to a page that
can trace the activity of individual battalions. These are
actual declassified Marine Corps documents. I was stunned finding them and tracing my battalion during my tour. Seeing
our bn. commanders signature on them really made me think..wow..it is like it was just yesterday. Some things I didn't remember, but other times I remembered things that were not in the reports.

Again, this is a perfect way to run a campaign. Thanks a ton for sharing them with us and all your diligence.

Semper Fi,
Sam

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP10 Feb 2021 9:49 a.m. PST

Sam,

Thanks man, and yeah, the actual games are the quickest aspect of the whole shebang! And yeah, I've seen the stuff at UT, have read a few of the After Action Reports regarding operations I'm interested in.

And that's very cool, reading about your own battalion, stuff you were involved in. It's kind of a weird feeling, isn't it? A couple years ago I read a book about Operation Anaconda (eastern Afghanistan, early 2002), and it was a trip. Like you said, some of the stuff, particularly in the beginning/planning phase of the book, I'm like ‘nah, that's not who was in there, that's not how that went down,' and then later, once the fight started, there was a lot of stuff where I was thinking, ‘wow, I had no idea that was happening over there.' The world shrinks quite a bit once rounds start coming in ;)

And I can't believe I haven't asked before: who were you with in Vietnam?

And I don't know if it's the perfect way to run a campaign, but it's working for me and has been a lot of fun. Also, I just finished up painting my Ruff Puffs, so I'm ready to move into the boys' second tour. In any case, it's great chatting with you about this stuff, I'm very appreciative of the support.

V/R,
Jack

Bismarck10 Feb 2021 2:12 p.m. PST

Jack,
Comm Platoon, H&S Company, 3/26
15 Dec 1967- 19 Jan 1969
Unit went afloat on 31 Dec '68, those of us who had less than 6 months remaining in country remained in Vietnam. My last 3 weeks were spent with 7th Comm Bn in Danang.

Out of curiosity, why did you choose 1965 for the brothers
starting point in your campaign?

One thing I did want to mention when you started this. Not criticizing, but the term SOI came into existence after
Vietnam. It was referred to as ITR(Infantry Training Regiment) back in the day. Locations were the same as today.
Grunts went 6 weeks, us non combat arms folks were there for 4. That was training time, actual time there was usually
two weeks longer.

Your comment about the world getting smaller when the xxxx hits the fan is an understatement. As to my support, you really don't need any! Its nice sharing the conversations and sort of going
back in time via the game table.

Looking forward to #10. Wait a minute, numbah 10 just don't
sound right and certainly doesn't fit your AARs! :-)

Sam

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP10 Feb 2021 7:03 p.m. PST

Sam,

Awesome man. 3/26, eh? I spent time with a lot of grunt battalions, but never had the pleasure, as I'm sure you know, they ended up becoming a Reserve unit after Vietnam. I'm assuming going afloat as the BLT was to serve as MAF reserve?

And don't ever worry about pointing out something that's not right or doesn't seem right, no sweat man. I should have known it wasn't called SOI back then, but damn, I can't believe it was only six weeks. It's funny to me how the necessities of combat drive training time down, at exactly the time you need more training than ever (I.e., when you're shipping to a combat zone immediately following). I think we did like 9 weeks or so, then a trip to Division schools for more training when you arrived in the Fleet. This was after I did 10 days' Recruiter's Assistance and two weeks of 52 Area Guard Duty out at San Onofre. Plenty of time in the mid-90s when we weren't at war ;)

Yeah, "you numbah 10, cheap Charlie!" It's funny how much Vietnam-era lingo stuck around the Corps. I still remember hearing didi mau, ricky tic, dinky dau, beaucoups, mamasan, heading out to the ville, etc…, but then again, all the Sergeants Major and Master Gunnies (and 0-5 and above) were Vietnam vets. On a side note, I actually had occasion to travel to Vietnam back in 2003 (I was stationed in Japan for seven years, travelled all over Asia).

Why did I choose 1965? In the overall scheme of things, I knew I wanted to play out numerous tours in Vietnam, so I figured I should get the boys in nice and early in order to give myself plenty of space to operate. I also kind of make sure the boys had some rank, weren't boots anymore, by the time the heavy fighting up on the DMZ occurred against the NVA. And the last piece is, I wanted to be able to field the entire unit with M-14s. I'm thinking to have Danny embrace the M-16, but Nik hold on to his M-14 as long as possible ;)

And regarding support, you're my morale support (it's always nice to know someone is out there actually reading and enjoying these), you're my technical advisor, keeping me at least reasonably accurate ;)

Thanks Sam, it's great chatting with you about all this. As always, Semper Fidelis, and I'll be posting the next fight later tonight (once I get home, I'm at my older boy's basketball practice).

V/R,
Jack

Bismarck11 Feb 2021 7:19 a.m. PST

Jack,
3/26 was designated as a BLT in Dec '68. The battalion
stayed afloat for about a month then returned in country.
They left Vietnam in March '70 and were deactivated at
Pendleton on 19 March '70.

Talking with a fellow local gamer last evening who was
an 0311 in Vietnam, I was corrected about the length of
their ITR. It was 8 weeks, not 6. We all went through
additional combat training during staging prior to going
to Vietnam.

Going back to your campaign, it is funny how when you name
the individual figures you seem to game more cautiously
than if not. That became apparent to me playing TSATF decades ago.

As to Nick holding on to his M-14, OORAH! :-)

Another question, how far are you from Lake Jackson, TX?
My son lives there. Looking forward to your next post.
stay safe and be well,
Sam

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP11 Feb 2021 2:09 p.m. PST

Sam,

Very interesting. My dad (Navy) was on the Tripoli and the Okinawa (he cross-decked from one to the other, not sure of the order) in ‘68 to ‘69. He said he was very happy with his decision to join the Navy. I don't know all the details (and he's gone, passed in 2012), but he was an Electrician's Mate or some such nonsense in the Heavy Lift Squadron, fixing TACANs on the CH-53s, and once he made 3rd Class he began flying on them. He flew lots of sorties but said only two of them were combat missions, in both cases dropping Marines in to rescue ARVN units being pummeled. He talked about getting back to the ship and counting bullet holes in the aircraft, and being able to stick your arm through the holes caused by the ".51-calibers," as you old folks like to call the 12.7mm HMGs ;)

Good info on ITR, and I'd heard the Corps had established some sort of pre-deployment "jungle training" as well. You're right about trying to protect the guys; I'm still pissed about Washington, and there's another guy I had big plans for who doesn't make it, which you'll see later. And yeah, gotta keep the M-14 around as long as possible, maybe even all the way to the end.

Lake Jackson? Sorry man, I'm up north, smack dab in the middle of Dallas/Ft Worth, about a five-hour drive.

Moving over to reply on fight #10.

V/R,
Jack

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