Work continues on the Nam ’68 rules project. This was small play-test, with a US force of 1 squad with support moving up through the jungle scrub and elephant grass to investigated a downed Huey. The game was set on the middle (Mike) threat-level, which indicates how many and what quality opposition will be met, from Low (Lima) to High (Hotel).
The secret draw for VC forces (using playing cards) result in; a 3-man militia rifle team with bolt action rifles, a 3-man militia AT team with rifles and an RPG-2 launcher, and a 3-man militia LMG team with a DP LMG, which would start hidden in a tunnel and could emerge during the game, outside the VC normal deployment zone. So, in all, 9 VC fighters would be facing 13 GIs.
The helicopter counted as a Search Point, which are points of interested on the tabletop that US forces can search, which might help them win if they find anything.
The US deployed their lead fireteam ‘on point’, aided by a 2-man M60 MG team and accompanied by their Platoon Sergeant, up front at the dangerous end. Behind followed another small fireteam and the platoon HQ (the officer, his RTO and the combat medic).
The VC would go first and spring their ambush, opening up with some rifle shots that did zippo… elements of surprise wasted, the US returned fire, M16s blazing and caused some pinning. The M60 and his assistant gunner got down and got set-up with a good field of fire. As yet, the VC LMG team had not revealed themselves, they waited for a second surprise flank attack with their old DP LMG.
The lead fireteam’s Corporal Dzundza set-off running through the long grass for the helo, an hid behind the tail. A VC popped-up from the grass and hurled a grenade his way, it exploded but Corporal Dzundza was OK, ears ringing though. Platoon Sergeant Kennedy’s return fire pinned the VC down, helping his corporal out. M60 fire got some more VC riflemen pinned too. US firepower was hard to match with bolt action rifles. To aid Dzundza at the helo, Private Haen ran after him. They would work together to search the helo and keep that lurking VC guy’s head down.
The VC LMG team now emerged from their hide-out and set-up, opening fire from the US left-rear, and pinned Grenadier Scardino, who so far had missed twice with his blooper shots. The US returned fire as they could, M16 and Private Kaplan’s shotgun roaring back.
No casualties on either side yet, but the VC scored first blood. The RPG-2 fired a rocket in the general direction of the M60 team and by pure luck and shrapnel hit the assistant gunner, Private Jacobs was down and bleeding. Calling for the medic, he came sprinting forwards through the rifle fire to reach Jacobs and check him. He was bleeding heavily, but the medic stablised him. He’d live.
The firefight had so far seen the US have the better of it, but Jacob’s wound levelled the score on morale counters drawn. Lt Keats, the Platoon CO, had a choice, to call in for fire support, or medical evac for Jacobs. Hey, he was OK, at no risk of dying, so Keats radioed for helo fire support, rocket pods please! This was refused, as was his next helo request, no fire support available except for the battalion mortars. That would do, Keats got them targeted in on the VC LMG team to his left, and waited for the incoming stonk to hit.
Meanwhile, grenadier Private Scardino, now unpinned, launched a 40m grenade into the under growth and outright killed a VC rifleman in the blast. Corporal Dzundza had reached the helo cockpit and search it, finding nothing… the crew were dead. Nothing could be done here.
The final act of the game was the sudden impact of the 81mm mortar bombs. They dropped in, very accurate and as the dust cleared, 2 VC were pinned and another was down bleeding. Under mortar fire, the VC ambushers had had enough for today and melted away into the long grass and bushes. Game over.
The US had won, a solid victory. They could report 2 enemy KIA and had 1 lightly wounded man, Jacobs, in return.
We ran through the post-game sequence, for the campaign. Jacobs would miss the next game recovering from his shrapnel wound. 6 FNGs arrived to reinforce the platoon… a new fire team and some - about time, the platoon was down to just 20 men, now its 26 again even if one fire team is all rookies. Everybody was 1 month ‘shorter’ to going home. The bad news was, the platoon was now being sent to a High threat-level area, so next game would be a tough one. But, to aid them, a FOO was attached to the platoon HQ, for better fire support from arty and mortars next time. That FOO, Lt Curran, was added to the platoon roster with the FNGs.
|Huey down... we decided all 'open' grass was actually long elephant grass, and therefore counted as obscured and visual cover...
|Platoon Sergeant Kennedy leads the point fire team in. Brave man, at only 2 months short.
|VC fighter hurls a grenade as 2 GIs reached the helo. No effect though.
|The combat medic sprints up and tends to Jacob's wound, behind, the M60 keeps up a relentless suppressing fire, 'just keep the ammo coming!', oh yeah, that was Jacob's job.
|Incoming! 81mm mortar stonk leave the VC's LMG team in a mess. The VC ran after this, leaving 2 dead guys behind.