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"Two Brothers Fight #20" Topic


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Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2021 8:28 p.m. PST

All,

2015 Local Time
15 July 1966
Ngan Valley, Quang Tri Province, RVN
Operation Hastings

The boys are with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment (K/3/4), on their first trip up to the DMZ. They were helo'ed into the area this morning, 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.

The squad is tasked with holding a section of the company's perimeter on the northeast side of the hill, and it's gonna be a long night…

picture

Overview, north is up. The squad's section of the hill is at bottom left, with its highest point in that corner and fingers jutting out to the north (far left) and east (bottom), a steep draw pushing into their center (the cluster of trees at center marks the point where the draw comes together and the hill begins rising to the southwest (bottom left). There's nothing but trees, grass, and some scattered brush out here.

The Marines are set up thusly: Sergeant Little and his Command Element are in the center bunker, looking down into the draw (left bottom); Danny and the 2nd Fireteam are in reserve, not dug-in, just chilling behind a hedge further up the hill (bottom left), while Nik's 3rd Fireteam is holding down the northern finger (far left) and Cpl Benavides' 1st Fireteam is holding down the southern finger (bottom center). I didn't put out Claymore or wire because 1) I'm stupid and 2) I wasn't sure how to handle Claymores, afraid of making them too powerful.

The Marines are currently at 50% (half are sleeping, half are on watch), and they will have off-table arty support, subject to availability rolls.

The NVA are spread across the table from the northwest (top left) to southeast (bottom right), with rifle squads in their assault positions at top left, top center left, center, right bottom, and bottom right, while their mortar and MG teams are positioned atop the knoll at top right.

picture

Another look a the Marine positions, giving you a better idea of the topography (the finger running to the north at far left, the steep draw at top center/right).

picture

Another look to the north, from behind 2nd Fireteam's reserve position. Nice and lumpy, starting to look like some real terrain ;) Notice the fall off on the back side of the northern finger, far left.

picture

The NVA cut loose with a B-40 rocket…

picture

And the rocket slams into a bunker, pinning the Marines inside!

picture

The NVA move up the slope of the north finger (left bottom), silencing the Marine machine gun and overunning Nik's bunker! With the gun out of action the NVA immediately exploit the situation by rushing to the bunker and opening fire on Sergeant Little's command bunker (top right, with 1st Fireteam's bunker visible at top center).

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

More coming soon.

V/R,
Jack

Bismarck14 Apr 2021 12:32 p.m. PST

Jack,
I swear I thought they were all going to be overrun. This was
another breath taker. Even worse when you keep realizing it
was a night attack. This one is as tough as some of the earlier nailbiters. Great scenario, contours and terrain
dead on the money and as usual, your well written AAR.
These are just superb.

Again, thanks for sharing your great work. Looking back over
your earlier scenarios, one thing for sure, nobody can say
this campaign is boring.

Sam

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP14 Apr 2021 5:11 p.m. PST

Sam,

"I swear I thought they were all going to be overrun."
You and me both!

I originally read the Operation Buffalo book in the late 90s, I'm re-reading it right now and it's really getting me locked in. I now realize that my terrain is a bit off though; Leatherneck Square is much flatter than I was using for Operation Hastings (the tallest of the three hills at Con Thien was only 158m, and it was said to dominate the area), so my 400m hills are much more suited to the landscape out further west. So with it being flatter I need to have more rice paddies and hedgerows, too, and I figured out a lot of the buildings up there were made of concrete.

Certainly hasn't been boring for me! ;) I appreciate all your support, thanks a bunch Sam.

V/R,
Jack

Bismarck15 Apr 2021 6:57 a.m. PST

Jack,
In your first Hastings scenario, the squad came into Helicopter Valley from LZ Crow. That is a pretty good
distance from Con Thien. Not sure how you were scaling
your hills in your current ruleset. But reading the AARS
and looking at the table, the heights seem about right to
portray what the grunts were faced with. I never looked at your hill contours thinking they were 400 meter hills.. If you look at the 1:50,000 map, there were no rice paddies in your current AO. I still say your terrain representation if on the money. Now when you get closer to Con Thien, it is
a whole new ball game terrain wise.

Sam

Bismarck15 Apr 2021 5:24 p.m. PST

Hey Jack,
I do not have or read the book on Operation Buffalo, so I
can't compare its terrain descriptions to that of Hastings. If you google
Ray's Map Room, it is a great reference source. Scroll down
to the I Corps maps and click on Central DMZ, map 6342-1.
If you scroll down to the arrow at 06 and click on the arrow,
when the description of Helicopter Valley, which is Song Ngan
Valley comes up, click off and there will be a blue line
outlining the Valley. This also shows LZ Crow and Hill 208.
At the top of the map, upper right hand corner just under
the large A-4, you will find another orange arrow indicating
Con Thien. The Song Ngan Valley is southwest of Con Thien.
It is actually near Leatherneck Square, but not within its
confines. I hope you take a look at the map and it will
give you a pretty good basis for terrain in the Hastings AO,
or at least Song Ngan Valley.

Just an FYI for your Hastings terrain. Note the absence of
villages, rice, swamp or even bamboo. He doesn't sell maps,
but can direct you to the proper government printing sources.

Semper Fi,

Sam

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP16 Apr 2021 6:54 a.m. PST

Sam,

Ah, yes, of course, I'm a knucklehead ;) I misread/misunderstood your initial comments on the first Operation Hastings batrep, thinking you were telling me the Ngan Valley was in Leatherneck Square, but I see now that was not the case. With that understanding I began re-reading the book "Operation Buffalo," which is completely within Leatherneck Square and, as you pointed out, much different terrain than that to the west.

"Just an FYI for your Hastings terrain. Note the absence of
villages, rice, swamp or even bamboo."
Yes, it looks like I inadvertently nailed it! ;) Not exactly, I built the table to what I'd read in the "Marines in Vietnam" green books, just got thrown off by the Leatherneck Square discussion, but looks like it's all worked out.

My plan was for the boys to get somewhat of a break in their second tour by going on CAP, but I'm reading so much I want to do on the DMZ in early 67 I'm rethinking that (I didn't realize the NVA pushed a full two-battalion assault on Con Thien on the anniversary of Dien Bien Phu falling, penetrated the damn perimeter, and Operation Hickory looks like a real motherBleeped texter, too!), just don't know how I can guarantee anyone will survive the damn tour… Maybe I'll reverse the order, keep them in the field through Operation Buffalo and then send to CAP.

And thanks for pointing me at Ray's map room, that's a great resource and I'm locked on. I've got:
LZ Crow at 038649
Cam Lo at 128595
Con Thien at 113703

So, I can finally say I've got a decent grasp of the big-bone geography of the DMZ. I feel like a Lieutenant…

V/R,
Jack

Bismarck16 Apr 2021 1:36 p.m. PST

Hey Jack,
No, you aren't a knucklehead. Cognitive functions decline with age and looking at my old post, I misled you. Most of my detail about Hastings came from scuttlebutt two years later.
I knew that some units moved north and were engaged around
the Rockpile, also west of Leatherneck Square, while there was still intense fighting in Helicopter Valley. I did think one unit did get pulled south to Cam Lo toward the end of the operation, but again memory fades and this was sea story legends two years after.

It is funny that after talking with Marines who served in '67 including the Hill Fights, I always felt they had it worse than we did in '68. One member of our local MCL was a mortarman at Con
Thien. That place had to be hell on earth.
Glad you found Ray's map room helpful. Not sure if I can say it here, but the maps are available from the USGS store and
are only around $9. USD I have ones for all the areas I served in.
So don't feel like a Lieutenant. You probably taught more of them what to do than all the ones I ever saluted! :-) I say let the squad stay with a CAP for a while. After the past two operations, they probably would have been rotated out to
recover anyway. Then look at Buffalo. Not sure how your timetable will fit the two. If you get chance, look at the area around RC9, the Rockpile and Huong Hoa District if
you want to see some godawful terrain. Then you see some jungle covered hills and bamboo thickets.

Hope I didn't confuse you further. Besides, this is your
campaign and a darned good one. I will just shut up. read
and enjoy.

Semper Fidelis

Sam

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2021 7:44 p.m. PST

Sam,

"No, you aren't a knucklehead."
We signed our asses over to Uncle Sam so he could send us to faraway lands where people shot at us, I think we're both knuckleheads! ;)

"One member of our local MCL was a mortarman at Con
Thien. That place had to be hell on earth."
That's the feeling I'm getting from reading, rifle companies rotating in and out of there, referring to it as 'their time in the barrel,' in range of NVA arty across the DMZ! That is incredible! How about we bulldoze 'The Trace' wide enough to put our bases OUT of range of NVA artillery! Yeah, I know it's pretty much logistically impossible, but good grief…

"Glad you found Ray's map room helpful. Not sure if I can say it here, but the maps are available from the USGS store and are only around $9. USD USD I have ones for all the areas I served in."
Yes, very useful, and that's cool man.

"So don't feel like a Lieutenant."
I'm getting locked on, I had spent all the previous time reading up on the coast, hadn't gotten very familiar with the DMZ, but you've helped me get a handle on it. Prior to all this, I also didn't realize that there became a solid unit boundary with 3rd MarDiv on the DMZ and 1st MarDiv on the coast.

"You probably taught more of them what to do than all the ones I ever saluted! :-)"
I did what I could ;)

"I say let the squad stay with a CAP for a while. After the past two operations, they probably would have been rotated out to recover anyway. Then look at Buffalo. Not sure how your timetable will fit the two."
Cool, thanks for the perspective. Like I said, I'm starting to wonder how I can keep the group alive through all this intense contact.

"If you get chance, look at the area around RC9, the Rockpile and Huong Hoa District if you want to see some godawful terrain. Then you see some jungle covered hills and bamboo thickets."
Will do.

"Hope I didn't confuse you further. Besides, this is your
campaign and a darned good one."
Nah man, not your fault at all, I just needed to bone up on the area, dispositions, and friendly/enemy OOBs.

"I will just shut up. read and enjoy."
Please don't shut up, you're keeping me motivated. The only issue is that I've got a bunch of WWII stuff I'm dying to get to as well. So many projects, so little time…

V/R,
Jack

Bismarck19 Apr 2021 1:05 p.m. PST

Hey Jack,
Thought I had put a smiley face after the shut up, read and enjoy comment. I just didn't want to suggest a change in your campaign plans. And yes, you will still be stuck with
my comments! :-)

You told me something that I didn't know. 3/26 actually was part of the 5th Mar Div, but we served in Vietnam with the
3rd Mar Div and were opcon to the 1st in May of '68. This was right before Mameluke Thrust. We were at Quang Tri City then. Always thought that was a matter of expediency. Never knew there was a solid boundary!

I read some of your WWII AARs on one of your blogs and am
curious as to what YOU are chomping at the bit to start. Hope we get to follow those actions as well.

Glad I am keeping you motivated. Being a widower living alone with no family nearby, the pandemic bringing local gaming to a halt, veterans organizations not meeting, and being cut off from friends and fellow gamers other than via email or phone, you don't know how much your campaign has helped me and what's left of my mental health.

For both the pure enjoyment of your AARs and reducing the
feeling of isolation, I owe you one, buddy. Big Time.

Thanks always Jack!

Sam

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP20 Apr 2021 1:31 p.m. PST

Sam,

"Thought I had put a smiley face after the shut up, read and enjoy comment. I just didn't want to suggest a change in your campaign plans. And yes, you will still be stuck with my comments! :-)"
Glad to hear it, wouldn't be the same without ya!

"You told me something that I didn't know. 3/26 actually was part of the 5th Mar Div, but we served in Vietnam with the 3rd Mar Div and were opcon to the 1st in May of '68. This was right before Mameluke Thrust. We were at Quang Tri City then. Always thought that was a matter of expediency. Never knew there was a solid boundary!"
Hell, don't give me too much credit, I'm not saying there was a bon fide boundary there, it just certainly appears so. And discussions of OPCON/ADCON/TACON always made my head hurt ;)

"I read some of your WWII AARs on one of your blogs and am
curious as to what YOU are chomping at the bit to start. Hope we get to follow those actions as well."
Oh yeah, which ones did ya find? I'm itching to get back to my WWII Marines, my Kampfgruppe Klink (starting Barbarossa), and some British, both Western Desert and/or Caen. So little time…

"Glad I am keeping you motivated."
Absolutely.

"Being a widower living alone with no family nearby, the pandemic bringing local gaming to a halt, veterans organizations not meeting, and being cut off from friends and fellow gamers other than via email or phone, you don't know how much your campaign has helped me and what's left of my mental health."
Dammit man, I'm sorry to hear that, and I'm always here for a brother. If you ever need it, my email is b i g j a c k m a c "at" h o t m a i l "dot" c o m
And I know you're an old bastid, so I'll remind you to take out all the spaces and use the @ and . symbols instead of "at" and "dot" ;)

"For both the pure enjoyment of your AARs and reducing the
feeling of isolation, I owe you one, buddy. Big Time."
No sweat, and Semper Fi.

V/R,
Jack

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