Captain Warren Barnes sat back in his chair. Another evening of writing reports and letters back to families bereaved of their sons, fathers, brothers. What was there to show for it? All in all it was meant to be a quiet day, most of the company recouping from their efforts over the past week. Only the men of the battery toiled under the cloudy but dry sky, continuing to dig in their guns and create the basic artillery positions that would allow them to fire in support of the grunts in the field. Only two patrols went out, Barnes concerned that in the recent operations further afield, the perimeter had been neglected and close security was lacking.
The first patrol, the five men from 2nd Squad, 1st Plt called back into the firebase that all was well mid morning. But shortly after the firebase stirred as the sound of a flurry of shots rang out.
The eight men of 3rd Squad, 1st Plt were on their way back to the firebase their morning patrol having been uneventful. Perhaps attention levels were slipping, perhaps fatigue was setting in, whatever the reason when the patrol entered into an area of paddy fields they failed to notice the three NVA sappers who lurked in the scrub some distance away. The Vietnamese however were fully aware of the approaching patrol and in a well timed ambush their fusilade of shots dropped three GI’s. A fourth attempted to react by firing back but all he succeeded in drawing more return fire which again hit home. The rest of the squad reacted by diving for cover.
Another three sappers heard the firing, and began moving to take up their own ambush positions. It would take them some time to do, but once there they were in perfect position to enfilade any movement of the US troops towards their initial ambushers position.
An early activation allowed the US troops still capable of moving to check their casualties, turning over the chits revealed 2 wounded and two dead outright. The closest crawled over to perform some first aid while the M60 team crawled up the paddy dyke to try to get some payback. The movement drew fire from the Vietnamese but the shots sailed high, giving away the enemy positions. A sustained burst silenced the incoming fire but who knew if the shots had found their marks? The experience of the squad leader showed as he stabilised the man he was working on, stopping the bleeding and saving his life.
A series of turns saw no American activation as the wounded dice ticked down while the vietnamese continued to move around and fire with no effect at the M60 team, drawing repeated bursts in return.
And then the squad leader remembered the radio. At the same time as he was trying to get through, the men of 2nd Squad appeared close by. Having heard the firing they had moved to support their comrades. Bringing their own radio they were able to call in a mortar strike on the area where the Vietnamese were lurking. The wounded GI is finally patched up, perilously close to bleeding out.
Standing up to see if they could assess the effectiveness of the mortar strike, the survivors of 3rd squad trigger the ambush from the second NVA team. Hit 3 times, the squad leader is miraculously merely knocked down while the blooper man ignores the hail of bullets sent in his direction and sends a 40mm into the trees, the NVA are untouched but unnerved by the heavier weapon and decide to break contact especially as they can see the reinforcements starting to move out. The arrival of mortar rounds close to the initial ambushers convinces them to move out too.
After a cursory search for enemy bodies, the disconsolate Americans carry their dead and wounded home and wonder what they have to do to kill their opponents.
(Game fought with 28mm TAG figures, homemade terrain using plastic aquarium plants and Palm trees, Last Valley trees and a mix of FNG v1 , FNG:2nd Tour and my own house rules & amendments).