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"Two Brothers Fight #23" Topic


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Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP05 May 2021 9:50 a.m. PST

All,

1400 Local Time
18 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. Yesterday they were helo'ed into the area, 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. At approximately 2015 the NVA launched a full-scale assault on Kilo Company's hilltop, which the Marines threw back owing to some brutal close-in fighting buttressed by supporting fires, with both sides suffering significant casualties.

This morning the Marines of Kilo Company pried themselves out of their holes with the sunrise, and were greeted with an NVA mortar barrage for their efforts. It didn't last long and there were few casualties, so the rifle company got itself in order and not long after was back on the move, proving south towards the Ngan River. There was good news in that 2/4 had been told to hustle up and move west with all practical speed in order to effect a linkup with 3/4, owing to the tough resistance the Marines were running into, and radio traffic reported that 2/4 arrived at LZ Crowe* at approximately 1400. So there was a strong base behind Kilo Company, to the north, but it kind of left Kilo as the lone, dangling appendage to the south, still under orders to find and force a crossing to the south side of the Ngan River.

Needless to say the Marines were none too happy to be flung out so far to the south, without support, to an area they'd already gotten a good bloodying in, but order are orders, and so Kilo Company again attempted a crossing of the Ngan River, and again they were repulsed with casualties, by NVA on both sides of the river! The beleaguered company beat feet back to the hill they spent the previous night on and dug in, and it wasn't long before the NVA were making their presence felt, and about 1930 local time the NVA mad their push. The Marines were once again able to hold on, but Doc Eakle was killed, and two more Marines were wounded and had to be evacuated, bringing the squad down to a total of six bodies, seven including Holland, the attached machine gunner.

Kilo 3/4 was ordered to hold fast the next day (17 July 66), sitting in their holes all day as Lima Company, 3/4, was dispatched from LZ Crowe to move south and reinforce Kilo on the hill just north of the Ngan River. Lima Company arrived that afternoon and dug-in, taking over a share of the hilltop perimeter, which allowed Kilo to pull some men back into reserve, which meant more sleep for the beleaguered company as they finally had a relatively quiet night in the bush. At some point intel came in that the NVA, who had suffered their fair share of casualties too, had withdrawn from the Ngan Valley, so the new plan was for 2/4 and 3/4 to move out and exit the valley to the northeast, sweeping back towards the coast. So on the morning of 18 July 1966, Kilo and Lima 3/4 packed up, stomped in their holes, and trudged back north to LZ Crowe, arriving just as Mike 3/4 and all of 2/4 stepped off to the northeast.

Lima 3/4 took off not longer after they got back to LZ Crowe, and the plan was for Kilo Company to hang around and blow up all the NVA weapons and ammunition that had been captured, as well as the three damaged helicopters still sitting on the east end of the LZ. So that's what the Marines were doing, split up into squad-sized elements they were packing up gear and prepping stuff for demolition, when all of a sudden, at about 1400 local time, gunfire was heard from multiple directions. Sergeant Little, with the squad at the far western end of the LZ and substantially distant from the rest of Kilo Company, further east, ordered the rest of the squad to grab their gear and get ready to move in a hurry!

*With three helos already grounded there from damage caused by collisions, then the NVA shot down a Marine CH-46 yesterday evening, the LZ Crowe area was now being referred to as "Helicopter Valley."

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Overview of the west end of LZ Crowe (which actually extends further east, off camera to right-top), with hills and trees in the northwest (to left) and southeast (bottom right). There is a cache of enemy weapons and munitions in the southwest (bottom left), which is where the squad was located when the NVA attacked, and the rest of Kilo Company, 3/4, is to the northeast (top right), which is where the squad needs to get.

The squad is in the southwest (bottom left), salvation (in the form of Kilo Company's perimeter) is in the northeast (top right), and there are NVA squads pressing in from the northwest (top left) and southeast (bottom right), meaning the squad has to run the gauntlet in order to reach safety.

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Here is the squad's initial dispositions: Sergeant Little and LCpl Jackson, the RTO, are at top center, with Pvt Holland, the machine gunner, just to their left. Corporal Benavides is at far left, Pvt McCaffrey, the grenadier, is at bottom center, and Danny and Nikki are at far right.

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Sergeant Little and Jackson (bottom center left) are standing there arguing about which targets rate priority of fire for fire missions as the rest of the squad wires captured enemy weapons and munitions for demo, when the rattle of gunfire to the northeast (top left) startles them both back to the moment. Rob stops mid-sentence. Looking to the east (top), he is taken aback when NVA soldiers suddenly pop into the LZ (left top and center right), between them and the rest of Kilo, 3/4 (top left)!!!

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The Marines (bottom left) immediately open fire, quickly realizing they are in immediate danger of being cut off by NVA between them and the nearest friendlies.

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The Marines move out, but they're in a bad way; Sergeant Little makes the tactical decision to stay in the center, using fire and maneuver to advance across the LZ to reach Marine lines but exposing the squad to fire from both flanks, rather than move into the dense brush on either side of the LZ, which would provide cover and concealment, but would put the Marines face to face with an enemy of unknown strength at point-blank range and thus unable to utilize supporting arms, with another enemy element of unknown strength coming in behind them, albeit in a position of having to cross the open LZ in order to get at the Marines.

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Casualties begin to mount as Sgt Little lays down fire with his M-14 and Jackson calls for arty.

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The NVA continue to assault the beleaguered Marines.

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But the squad keeps going, bringing their casualties out with them! Nikki (far right) continues laying down fire to the north as Jackson moves up behind the lumbering Holland (center, carrying Corporal Benavides) and Sergeant Little covers Danny (bottom left), who lifts the wounded McCaffrey onto his shoulders and begins moving east.

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Marine arty begins to fall…

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As the squad (left bottom) nears friendly lines (top right)…

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But the NVA (bottom right and off camera to left bottom) aren't finished with them (top left) yet!

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Driving Nik to perform some (more) heroics, driving into close assault the NVA positions…

To see the whole fight, please check the blog at:
link

So that's the end of Operation Hastings. I hope you enjoyed it; all five fights were based on real fights that Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, took part in, to include the getting left at LZ Crowe and almost being overrun. I really enjoyed the games using KR-16, particularly the river crossings and the first hilltop defense (and was proud of my DMZ tables), they were lots of fun, and it felt like I was able to still keep some personality in the games despite playing with elements, rather than individual troops. It actually felt kinda strange going back to 5MAK after playing KR-16, but the next fight proved it didn't take me long to get back to normal.

Last fight of the boys' first tour coming right up!

V/R,
Jack

Bismarck09 May 2021 9:48 a.m. PST

Jack,
One heck of a way to finish up Operation Hastings. The boys
sure had the "commandant in the sky" looking over them in
this one' Scenario and terrain great as always. You did a
great job entwining personal dialogue with the new KR16
rules. I can easily see why this one was your favorite.
All the knuckle biters in this operation were so good, I
just can't call out a favorite. Beautiful blend of history
and scenarios. Sure have enjoyed these.

Am still recovering,fever broke, Friday test came back negative, but still got a ways to go,fatigue, aches.
shortness of breath still there along with some brain
fog.It looks like it's gonna take a while. I am a Marine,so I am fighting my way through this.

Sure enjoyed these Jack. Looking forward to the last
episode of the first tour. And what a tour it has been!

Great Job, Thanks for sharing these.

Semper Fi,

Sam

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP09 May 2021 4:05 p.m. PST

Sam,

Glad to hear you're feeling better Old Man, I know you can hack ;) And brain fog is just part of the game nowadays!

I'm glad you liked Operation Hastings, plenty of fun and hopefully gave a decent depiction of the meat grinder that was life on the DMZ. I'll look to get the last batrep up ASAP, but haven't finished typing it yet. It's a helluva fight, I think you'll like it.

On the hobby side, I've finished up some South Vietnamese villagers to use as Ruff-Puffs, working on an H-34 and an A-4 Skyhawk, have two H-46s on the way, so's I can beef up my forces for the second tour. I'm also working on finishing up WWII USMC and Japanese so I can get to the Solomons.

Semper Fidelis, my friend.

V/R,
Jack

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