Sunday, April 22, 2012

February 3rd: The Walking Wounded

1st Squad was "lucky" enough to pick up another assignment patrolling the central highlands of II Corps. Sgt. Cooper and his two remaining veterans lead 6 FNG's into the jungle where they would pop their cherries and make contact with the enemy. Coop was becoming cynical at this point and it was beginning to affect his leadership. A heavy blanket of dread had settled over the men and he gave up trying to tear a hole through it. At least they'd suffocate together. February 3rd was another rainy day, slogging heavy gear through thick mud under dense canopy jungle. Connecting up with a shallow stream, the squad pushed up along the flank of a river bed.

View from a Huey.

With a meager Support Level of 1, and an Enemy Activity Level of 4, the mission could go either way. 2 PEF's started on the table and we agreed on a 16 turn limit (added 2 additional turns due to larger than default table size) in order to patrol each sector and eliminate any enemy forces. No buildings or civilians were present, which was abnormal for our Platoon's experiences thus far.

One of the contacts lurked on a hill in the North-west sector of the board, not far from our initial deployment.

We decided to split into two groups from the start, as a cluster of hills lay between us and the nearest PEF. One group was lead by Cooper, consisting of mainly riflemen, and would push directly towards the PEF to draw it out. The second group (M60 and M79 included) was going to head up the middle of the table to the right, and engage the enemy from the flank. This was slightly risky as a PEF on the Eastern end of the map could possibly hit the second group from their own flank.

The second PEF, entrenched on the East side of the table.

Contact was made briskly, despite the fact that vision was limited due to the thick undergrowth in the double-canopy jungle. The first PEF ended up being an NVA squad led by a VC guide.

After several short bursts of fire between the front ranks of the squads, green point-man Jefferson was down, but so was the lead VC. Jefferson's screams are still haunting some of the new recruits, but luckily he ended up surviving and earning a Purple Heart.

Our men seized the initiative and formed a firing wall that cut through the NVA, piece by piece, forcing them back behind the crest of the hill they had occupied. Knowing all too-well the limits of mission length and pressure of time, we left the NVA to scatter in the jungle while we pivoted East towards the remaining PEF.

The remaining PEF peers across the riverbed, clearly reacting to the sound of automatic fire and dying screams of Vietnamese.

We fanned into another line so that we could hit the PEF head on when it crossed the riverbed.

When the rustling in the brush ended up being a false alarm, the men let out a huge sigh of relief. With only a single Free World Forces casualty, and several NVA (including a prisoner we were in the process of escorting off the table in the rear), it looked like we may actually accomplish a mission. As we were booking it across the jungle to patrol the remaining areas of the table, a nearby Huey came screaming overhead, acting as a spotter for a mortar barrage. This took Sgt. Cooper's men by surprise as the Platoon RTO was not on the mission and none of the squad members called it in.

When the 3 mortar rounds landed amongst the retired NVA squad, only smoke and charred corpses remained.

With the clock ticking down, we escorted our single casualty off the table along with an NVA prisoner and called it a day. 19 victory points was our only positive score thus far in the campaign and it was just shy of (6 points) of a major victory. This led to McDonald, our Pigman, receiving an increase in Rep from 3 to 4. This was sorely needed as the vast majority of our squad was Rep 3, which was hurting our firepower. 1st Squad finally found its sweet revenge.