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"Two Brothers Fight #19" Topic


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Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP07 Apr 2021 6:52 a.m. PST

All,

1230 Local Time
15 July 1966
Ngan Valley, Quang Tri Province, RVN
Operation Hastings

This morning Marine A-4 Skyhawks and F-4 Phantoms pounded LZ Crowe, followed by an artillery barrage, before the CH-46s carrying 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment (3/4) descended into the valley and began disgorging their heavily-laden Marines. The LZ was too small and quickly three Marine helos were down, badly damaged; two collided, and the third hit a tree while trying to avoid the other two. Even worse, the incidents left two Marines dead and seven more injured, all before the enemy had even fired a shot.

Nevertheless, 3/4 formed up and began setting about its tasks: India Company was charged with holding the LZ's perimeter, while Lima Company marched off to occupy a nearby hill, Hill 200, which it took after some light skirmishing. Meanwhile, the boys set off with Kilo Company, which was charged with moving south to cross the Ngan River and establish blocking positions for 2/4, which was being lifted into LZ Dove a few klicks to the east and was scheduled to sweep west, into K/3/4 and Hill 200. As Kilo Company moved south there was a brief firefight as they encountered some lightly-armed North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regulars performing a rearguard action; when the dust cleared the Marines were hardly prepared for what they found: a building containing a 200-bed hospital, and an ammunition dump containing 1200 rounds of small arms ammunition. "Hold up," Nik begged. "How the hell did they get all this stuff down from North Vietnam, and how's it just sitting here, unmolested, like they're not in somebody else's country? And how many of them must be out there right now if they're comfortable enough to build permanent-ass buildings up here?"

The Marines destroyed all they found and then continued their trek south towards the river. Kilo Company halted and sent out scouts locate a river crossing, and that's where the squad ran into trouble.

picture

Overview, north is to bottom left. This is my first attempted rendition of the geography up near the DMZ; lots of hills, cuts, saddles, ravines, heavy forest in the draws, small, shallow rivers, with clumps of bush clinging to the hillsides/hilltops. It's hard to see here, but there are significant elevations in all four corners of the table, with forested draws at left, top center, right, and bottom center.

The hills are: Hill 110 at top left, Hill 155 at top right, Hill 142 at bottom right, and Hill 160 at bottom left. The Marines are clustered on the hill in the north (Hill 160, bottom left), while the NVA are clustered on the hill to the south (Hill 155, top right), across the river, though they have pushed a squad north across the river (in the trees at far right bottom, near Hill 142).

picture

A look south from the Marine Command Element's position on Hill 160. You can see the MG Team at far let, the fireteams in column moving down the hill and up to the river at right, and even some NVA on the far hill, Hill 155.

picture

As the sound of small arms fire reverberates throughout the valley! The NVA squad near the river crossing (bottom right) opens fire at point-blank range on Nik's 3rd Fireteam (top left)!

picture

And then a rocket comes screaming in from the west!

picture

Sergeant Little (bottom left) tries to assert control: he gets Jackson on the radio to call for support and directs Doc Eakle to move downhill to help 3rd Fireteam's casualties as he fires on Hill 155 with his M-14 and McCaffrey fires his M-79…

picture

The NVA at the base of Hill 155 (left) rally as their MG Team (bottom left) continues dueling with the US MG Team (top right)…

picture

A fierce fight breaks out at point-blank range ont he Marine right, atop Hill 142, trying to drive back the encroaching NVA squad in order to keep 3rd Fireteam (at the river, just off camera to top center) from being overrun.

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

More to come.

V/R,
Jack

Bismarck07 Apr 2021 11:10 a.m. PST

Welcome to Helicopter Valley!

Good Lord, Jack. I don't know where to start. Setting up the table had to take longer than the game AND your AAR. The pics
here don't do it justice as much as the ones on your blog.
That is an incredible representation. I can hear all the
"experts" cry "where was all the jungle and heavily forested
hills. Well, easy answer…there weren't any. If anybody looks at the map or photos, your table is dead on. The contours, scrub,sparse bush and forest, and saw grass forever really did the trick with your terrain.

The scenario was perfect. The new rules miss the "personality" aspect of your modification of FMAK, but at this scope and this many troops, the new rules worked like
a charm, and you still could get a connection with the
characters.

Operation Hastings was still getting talked about all way
through '68 and talking to chopper pilots they avoided that
valley as much as possible even two years later.

Jack, you did a great job covering this one, both with the
scenario and the table. Or should I have said, welcome to
Leatherneck Square.

looking forward to the next fight.

Semper Fi,

Sam

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP07 Apr 2021 12:06 p.m. PST

Great AAR, terrain and minis – looking forward to the next installment!

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP07 Apr 2021 8:27 p.m. PST

Thanks Frederick, I appreciate it. Next fight coming in a week.

Sam – This table is actually much easier to set up than the jungle-covered tables with all the trees. I just throw a bunch of towels under for hills, put trees in the non-windswept parts, throw out some bushes, and voila ;) I'm very happy to hear it's a good match to real life. Like I said, I just tried to throw out lots of hills and folds, with some dense trees packed into the valleys/draws, lots of open ground to cover.

I felt like the rules did a decent job, used them a few times in this operation. I've had a hard time finding a good set of platoon-level rules, and I feel like these did a decent job. The key for me is to be able to maneuver elements (fireteams), without losing the ability to have characters, but also without taking six hours to play through. This fight took about 90 minutes to play, which is good to go for me.

Leatherneck Square! See, this is where I need your help! I'm not as well read as I should be on Vietnam or, better yet, I've read lots of stuff but it's hard to contextualize it. You read about operations and the units involved and you hear a lot of places, but it's hard for me to put it into perspective; of course I've heard of Leatherneck Square, it definitely comes up in the 'Operation Buffalo' book, but I played out all these Operation Hastings fights without even realizing this was the same ground… Wikipedia is stating Operations Prairie III and IV, Hickory, Cimarron, Buffalo, Kingfisher, and Kentucky all occurred there between March '67 and Feb '69, 1,419 Marine/Navy KIA during that time.

Though I intend on the boys heading out to a CAP for their next tour, they will definitely be participating in Operation Buffalo in late summer of 1967.

Thanks a bunch for all your support, I really appreciate it.

V/R,
Jack

Bismarck08 Apr 2021 8:33 a.m. PST

Hey Jack,

yeah, that wasn't a place you wanted to be. Your scenario
was not that far from Cam Lo. Leatherneck Square's corners
were Gio Linh(NE), Con Thien(NW),Cam Lo(SW) and Dong Ha(SE).
As you mentioned. a lot of Marines lost there. By the time
I got to Cam Lo and Dong Ha, they were both pretty good size
bases with sizeable civilian population in the towns..Thankfully, I was never near Con Thien or Gio Linh. LZ Crow was Southeast of Khe Sanh.

This was a great job both as a scenario and historical
representation. Wonderful work Jack!

Sam

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP08 Apr 2021 10:03 a.m. PST

Sam,

No doubt, and I appreciate the insight.

Speaking of Leatherneck Square, "The Marketplace/The Market" figures prominently in a lot operations, particularly Buffalo, but I haven't been able to find any photos of it and the only description is "…a major NVA infiltration route lined with ruined buildings…" and the book Operation Buffalo also talks about an old, bombed out church. I'm trying to figure out what those areas looked like; I'm guessing it was all stone stuff from the French?

Anyway, just curious if you ever had occasion to make it up that way and, if so, could you enlighten me?

As always, thanks a bunch.

V/R,
Jack

Bismarck08 Apr 2021 3:13 p.m. PST

No help for you on this one, Jack. Buffalo took place way up
north near Con Thien. There was rt 561 running south from the DMZ past Con Thien to Cam Lo. No help on the market place.
I only passed through Cam Lo after Khe Sanh headed to
Dong Ha and then Quang Tri City. This was around mid April of '68.

Other than Dong Ha, which was the capitol of Quang Tri Province and the northernmost city in South Vietnam,, other
settlements and towns were very small. You did see some remains of French architecture such as churches or district office buildings.

Wish I could help, but never made it that far North.

Sam

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP09 Apr 2021 6:59 a.m. PST

No sweat, I appreciate it Sam. And we'll see about getting the boys out further west, too ;)

V/R,
Jack

boggler12 Apr 2021 1:18 a.m. PST

Excellent show as always Jack!

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP12 Apr 2021 5:29 p.m. PST

Thanks Jim!

V/R,
Jack

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