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"Two Brothers Fight #15" Topic


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Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP10 Mar 2021 7:47 a.m. PST

All,

2300 Local Time
4 March 1966
Near Hill 50, Quang Ngai Province, RVN
Operation Utah

2nd Battalion, 7th Marines had been in contact all day, for the first time in a stand-up, knockdown drag-out fight with the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) in and around Hill 50. The Marines had been in heavy combat, and while they'd certainly put a hurtin' on the NVA, they'd taken a pretty good beating themselves. They'd managed to break contact, fall back to the south, and establish a night defensive position, where they could treat and evacuate their wounded, replenish their ammo, and grab a bit of grub and rest. But while things were relatively quiet on the ground, Marine Air was having a helluva time, drawing heavy fire every time they came near Hill 50. Three helos and an F-4 Phantom had already been shot down, and approximately thirty more choppers shot up by NVA antiaircraft weapons, mostly Dshk 12.7mm heavy machine guns, which the Marines often referred to as ".51-cals".

But the Marines cut a lucky break; firing to the southwest drew the attention of one of the battalion officers, who grabbed a few Marines and headed over to check it out. "I'll be damned," he thought, somehow the NVA gotten a .51-cal HMG in behind them, dug into a trench and expertly camouflaged. The officer headed back into the Marine perimeter to inform the Colonel what they'd found. The decision was made to launch a raiding party to destroy the NVA anti-aircraft emplacement. Not long after, Corporal Little was informed he'd be leading the raiding party.

picture

Overview, north is up. 2/7's night defensive position in Chau Nhai (4) is off camera to top right. At top right is a small knoll that Corporal Little used to screen the squad's approach on the enemy AA Position, which is located to the south (bottom center/left). There is a thick patch of jungle in the southeast (bottom right), while the rest of the table is covered with scattered rice paddies, one of which has a stand of trees located nearby (center top).

Overview, this time with troops. The NVA are manning their AA emplacement, with everyone in the trench except a single sentry out on foot, to the south (in the trees at bottom left center), while Cpl Little has placed his base of fire element in the copse of trees in the center, and led the assault element up to the dense stand of trees to the east (center right).

The plan is for the base of fire element to get into place while Cpl Little and the assault element cover from the knoll. Once Jackson signals Cpl Little the base of fire element is in place, Cpl Little will begin moving the assault element into their jump-off positions at the corner of the western point of the patch of jungle in the southeast under the cover of a pre-arranged fire mission by the battalion's 81mm mortars. Once the mortars lift the base of fire element will engage the AA position while Cpl Little leads the assault element into the east end of the enemy trench, clearing west to destroy the NVA's HMG.

picture

A look at the NVA position: two riflemen in the west (bottom left), the HMG in its emplacement (center left), two riflemen in the east (far right), a picket to the south (in the trees at center right), and the NCO, LMG, and a rifleman in the center (center top).

picture

The base of fire element gets into the copse of trees in the center (right), signals Cpl Little, and he begins moving the assault element up (bottom left).

picture

The battalion mortars begin pounding the NVA trenchline…

picture

Covering the approach of Cpl Little and the assault element (bottom left, with the base of fire element off camera to far right and the NVA position at left/top). Cpl Little peers out around the copse of trees. "Well, I guess we're ready," he murmurs as he signals Jackson with a red penlight, letting the base of fire element know the assault element is ready to jump off.

picture

The mortars lift and the base of fire element (bottom right, with the assault element at bottom left) cuts loose, Rivera on the M-60 and McCaffrey pumping 40mm HE rounds and flares out of his M-79…

picture

Corporal Little leads the assault element forward (right, from far right), at the NVA trenchline.

picture

But NVA fire catches them in the open, hitting White and Floyd while pinning Nik and suppressing Cpl Little!

picture

Only one Marine would make it into the NVA trench, for which he would be awarded the Silver Star.

Please check the blog for the whole story:
link

More to follow.

V/R,
Jack

Wolfhag12 Mar 2021 9:26 a.m. PST

Pretty exciting again. I never heard about using the pen light for communication. We used a flare gun if we needed to.

The NVA kicking the grenade away, how is that worked into the rules? Did they have a grenade sump dug in?

In the next one I'm expecting the brass to downgrade the Silver Star, that was pretty much SOP for the lower enlisted especially when not observed by an officer. The Marines are stingy on awards. In VN 3x WIA got you a ticket home. In I Corps for a while, so many guys were being hit, but not seriously, that the word from above went out that you needed to be medivacked to the hospital ship offshore to qualify for being wounded. Getting hit by a few mortar fragments that they could leave in for later didn't count.

When I was in if we saw an enlisted with a Bronze Star we assumed an officer would have gotten a Silver Star for the same thing. It's still the same today in some units. My son's unit detached guys on Individual Assignment to grunt, Spec Op, and support units. Many times that unit didn't bother writing them up for awards because they were from a different unit. When they did his parent unit normally downgraded it.

One of his friends was written up for a Navy Cross two years ago, nothing. Sometimes the excuse was they can't document the operation or mission they were on by giving them a decoration, this included Purple Hearts. My son was WIA 3x and no PH award and written up for other awards rating a "V" that will go nowhere and he's not the only one. At least one WIA showed up on his DD-214 discharge so he can get VA benefits. When he left all they gave him was a "thank you for your service" form letter, he trashed it when he got home.

So you probably heard about the Marine Afro-American Col Henderson that was passed over 3x for General and recently finally made it. He was my son's MEU commander when he was on the USS Boxer.

Write up here: link

My son got to know Col Henderson because they both play WH 40k and (Henderson with his 10-year-old son) read the books and spent time discussing them. He said Henderson was probably passed over because he wouldn't be a good "player" because he cared too much about his men and is too outspoken and not PC. It has nothing to do about the color of his skin.

Sorry for the off-topic rant.

Wolfhag

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2021 8:21 p.m. PST

Thanks man!

"I never heard about using the pen light for communication. We used a flare gun if we needed to."
I know pen lights were available during Vietnam War, not sure if Marine units ever used them as part of a signal plan. Could have been a flare, doesn't really matter in terms of the story. Did you guys use actual flare guns/pistols? We always had the ‘pop-ups,' AKA the green/white/red star clusters. Could also fire flares from the -203s, but we only really used those for illum (back before NVGs were widespread), not for signaling.

"The NVA kicking the grenade away, how is that worked into the rules?"
Just a horrible die roll for the grenade that didn't hit any of the bad guys. I could have written it as he missed the trench instead, but given how close he was, it made more sense to me that he got the frag into the trench, just the NVA saw it and kicked it away.

"The Marines are stingy on awards."
So I've heard! ;)

"In I Corps for a while, so many guys were being hit, but not seriously, that the word from above went out that you needed to be medivacked to the hospital ship offshore to qualify for being wounded."
Yes, the squad is definitely moving that direction!

"When I was in if we saw an enlisted with a Bronze Star we assumed an officer would have gotten a Silver Star for the same thing."
It's been a long time and I should just shut up, but I can tell you it was very… interesting to get around HQ elements and see all the Bronze Stars without Vs…

"When they did his parent unit normally downgraded it."
They pretty much have to, since they didn't get the witness statements. I understand all too well; I actually received my Navy Comm (with V) AFTER I was out of the Corps!

V/R,
Jack

Bismarck14 Mar 2021 9:58 a.m. PST

Jack,
This one read like an historical account! Pretty tough mission . Surprised that Contreras wasn't hauled off to a court martial and some brig time. Got a sneaky suspicion he is going to spend a lot of time walking point.

Reading Wolf's post and your following comments, there were a lot of injustices regarding awards during Vietnam. Sad that a lot of that still happens.

I too had mentioned earlier that the Corps was more stingy
with medals than other branches of service. There was one kid where I worked that was in the National Guard. His unit
had been deployed when he returned from his initial training. He showed me a photo from a dress ball, wearing his blues. He had six ribbons and three others on his right
breast. The kid had only served 6 months active duty and never left the states. Now this was two or three years after
his initial training.

I didn't say anything, but times sure have changed. This
was probably back around 2009. I remember one of my drill
instructors only had four, the highest being the PUC.

Again, drifting off topic. Had my son and family in town,
so late again. Another great tense account.

Sam

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP14 Mar 2021 7:23 p.m. PST

Sam,

"Had my son and family in town,
so late again."
No sweat man, hope all is well.

"This one read like an historical account! Pretty tough mission."
Yeah, it was based on a real fight. My understanding is that in real life the BC sent a reinforced platoon/understrength company to take out the magically-appeared .50-cal HMG position.

"Surprised that Contreras wasn't hauled off to a court martial and some brig time. Got a sneaky suspicion he is going to spend a lot of time walking point."
Yeah, I figure Sergeant Garcia cut him some slack since it was his first fight, we'll see how he gets on ;)

"I remember one of my drill
instructors only had four, the highest being the PUC."
Yeah, it's always a trip to see pics of WWII Marines and they've got two or three ribbons… after fighting through Tarawa, Guam, and Okinawa!

V/R,
Jack

Wolfhag15 Mar 2021 8:19 a.m. PST

Have Contreas burn sh------ during the day and LP all night.

Having one guy assault a fortification or trench line and take out the entire position is actually very real and historic, especially if flanking. Many times it was easier for one man to sneak up without being seen. You can find many accounts of it from WWI to the present day.

One more thing about awards. His unit's officers and Sr NCO's never went on missions, they stayed behind on the boat or in Kuwait because they didn't have the tech training another reason for fewer awards, that's just the way it is. He did speak very highly of 2nd LT platoon leaders and other combat MOS leaders he was attached to.

But he said that was one of the best things about being deployed, no officers so his team was on their own. When officers did snoop around he told them they didn't have the clearance to ask them questions or look at their gear.

He was able to get a chopper to make beer runs for his team when he was in Yemen and they stayed in nice hotels like the Ritz and Trump Tower in Kuwait that comped all of their drinks and there was a large group of high school girls on a tour there. He had a civilian passport and on some assignments he traveled in civilian clothes. Nice gig.

I could get people to follow up on awards he was recommended for but he declined, he said he doesn't want anyone checking into what he did. When he came back from deployment Col Henderson looked him up and asked if he re-enlisting, he declined. Henderson said, "Too bad, we need more good Marines like you". He said that was more validation than any medal so he's cool about the whole thing. The VA offered to submit the paperwork for the PH medal and other monthly benefits but he declined. He's just taking medical and education.

Wolfhag

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