Scenario - Knee High In Nhi Ha

Knee High in Nhi Ha - Page Title
USMC in the DMZ


Situation Report

 
On Monday, April 29th, 1968 the second battalion, 4th Marines nicknamed the "Magnificent Bastards" became embroiled in a major offensive by the 320th NVA division across the DMZ. This would be known collectively as the battle of Dong Ha. The NVA objective was the Dong Ha combat base (DHCB), the logistics centre and headquarters for the 3rd Marine Division. During the first two days of the offensive the Marines met the NVA head on in a series of bloody, over the top assaults against a number of villages located along the banks of the Cua Viet river and Jones Creek. The Marine's objective was to take these villages and drive off the NVA that were heavily entrenched among the hedgerows, burial mounds, and hootches of Dong Huan, Dai Do, and Dinh To.
 
Over the course of the battle the Marines took Dong Huan and Dai Do only to be forced back by the intense firepower and overwhelming numbers of the NVA. They also made several failed attempts to seize Dinh To but were unable to due to lack of support and available manpower. When the offensive began BLT (Battalion Landing Team) 2/4 had several companies in Nhi Ha, Lam Xuan West, and Mai Xa Chanh East monitoring NVA infiltration routes along Jones Creek and screening the battalion CP. On April 30th, 1968 these companies were committed in the assault on Dai Do.
 
Lieutenant Colonel Weise, the commander of the "Magnificent Bastards" expressed concern about the vulnerability of these two positions. Regiment forwarded a request through 3rd Marine Division to III MAF (Marine Amphibious Force) asking that a Battalion from II MAF be placed opcon to the Marines to help defend Jones Creek. The III MAF reserve was an Army unit, the 196th Light Infantry Brigade "Americal" Division. The Americal selected one of its battalions, the 3-21st (better known as 'The Gimlets') to loan to the Marines.
 
The battalion had been in the process of constructing Fire Support Base Belcher near Camp Evans when it was suddenly airlifted to the Mai Xa Chanh. By May 2, 1968 the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division was plunged into a world of hurt just 9 clicks away from the DMZ and were engaged in Lam Xuan West and Nhi Ha by fanatical hard core NVA units. The mission of Lieutenant Colonel Snyder's 3 - 21st Infantry was to take and hold Nhi Ha and Lam Xuan West in order to check NVA infiltration along Jones Creek. The Gimlets had no trouble taking Lam Xuan West but met heavy resistance in Nhi Ha. Elements of the 270th Independent NVA Regiment had entrenched themselves in Nhi Ha and intended to fight.
 
Lt. Colonel Snyder sent Captain Osborn's Alpha Company (codenamed Alpha Annihilator), Captain Corrigan's Beta Company (Barracuda), Captain Humphries's Delta Company (Black Death), and Charlie Company (Charlie Tiger) into Nhi Ha. The attack was preceded by the usual artillery prep fires; Marine and Air Force fighter-bombers plastered Nhi Ha with 250 lb bombs and napalm. Over the next two days the Gimlets fought unsuccessfully in an attempt to dislodge the heavily entrenched NVA. The last of the 10 TAC AIR strikes made by Phantoms carrying 2000 lb Blockbusters finally broke the deadlock and the 3 - 21st was able to occupy Nhi Ha with light casualties and was ordered to settle in there.
 
Shortly thereafter Lieutenant Colonel Snyder ordered the Captain of Alpha Company to conduct a reconnaissance in force along the NVA's route of withdrawal. The target of the sweep was Xom Phuong, a ville northwest of Nhi Ha, on the eastern bank of Jones Creek. A footpath connected Nhi Ha with Xom Phong. The terrain between the two consisted of wide-open rice paddies.
 
Note: This is usually a bloody scenario, not recommended for campaign play unless it is used as the final battle of a campaign. It is best as a one off.
 
The scenario is set up for use with Charlie Company rules.
 

Map of Table (4' x 8')

 
 
 
Table Set Up
 
Jones Creek runs North-South down left edge of board. Paddy fields cover the southern half of the playing area and are bounded to the East by a treeline. The fields are pock-marked by shell/bomb craters.
 
A raised trail runs North-South with a junction running directly East and bisecting the board. To the North of the trail are a series of burial mounds. Beyond the burial mounds is a dense treeline.
 
In the North-West corner are the outlaying hootches of Xom Phuong ville.
 
U.S. Army Forces
 
3rd Platoon "Alpha Annihilator" Alpha Co, 3 - 21st Infantry (Gimlets), 196th Light Infantry Brigade.
+ Reinforcements 1st squad, 1st Platoon.
Roll for expertise normally but count any roll less than 7 as 7 for initial commanders.
 
US Forces enter from the southern table edge.
 
U.S. Support
 
Operational Orders: Recon in force.
 
The American objective is to secure the right flank of the company's sweep and check for any signs of the enemy's withdrawal along the footpath.

Players do not read any further!

 

NVA Forces

Elements of the 270th Independent NVA Regiment:

Forces are deployed amongst the burial mounds and the eastern treeline.

Infantry squads will take 5 casualties each before withdrawing. The RPG team will take 1 casualty before withdrawing. The HMG crew will take 2 casualties before withdrawing. The command squad will take 1 casualty before withdrawing (with radio).
 
NVA Support
 
2 82mm mortars (off board).
 
NVA Operational Orders:
 
On turn 2 the runner from the 1st NVA squad (position X on the map) will leave his starting position and head for the treeline in full view of the Americans. If he survives he will disappear into the treeline and fire two shots at the Americans and then flee. His purpose is to lure the Americans into watching the treeline and, if possible get them to attack it instead of the burial mounds.
 
The defence should give the attackers time to do this before opening up on them, letting the Americans get well into the open terrain. Mortars will begin firing on turn two. If the command squad is forced to retreat for any reason or is killed the mortars will continue to blind fire on their last impact zone for three turns. The mortar fire should be used to harass the Americans into moving forward into the killing zone or going to ground behind a paddy dike. The NVA forward observer knows to look for radios and command sections and if these stop moving he will direct his rounds there. Otherwise, he will aim at the largest group of slow moving or stationary Americans.
 
The Infantry squads are in camouflaged bunkers (hard cover, 1/2 expertise to spot); the RPG team is in a weapons pits because of their backblasts (medium cover, 1/2 expertise to spot) and the HMG is also in a weapons pit to allow it to fire at ground and air targets. Given the chance, the AAMG gunners will shoot at aircraft, especially a helicopter, but will cheerfully gun down infantry too.
 
The burial mounds are earthen barrows approximately 4 - 8 feet high. The NVA have dug bunkers into them, the ref may choose which ones have NVA inside. The raised footpath acts as a paddy dike for cover purposes.
 
Special Rules
 
Terrain: Craters offer light cover to troops sheltering inside them. The rice paddies are dry, but the rice is thigh high and impedes movement by 1/2. U.S. reinforcements will arrive on board 2 + D3 turns after communist fire breaks out. Fire by or at the runner does not count.
 
Due to heavy demands placed on support elements by other U.S. units engaged at this time, U.S. support may not be called until absolutely necessary i.e. until heavy concentrations of the enemy have been positively identified. Remember aircraft and artillery may not be on board at the same time. 
 
G.M.'s can impose a D6 roll after each fire request. On a 5 or 6 the battery is already on a fire-mission somewhere else. Aircraft become available after turn 5. The A1 will arrive 1 turn after being called; the F -4 will arrive 3 turns after being requested.
 
Historically another company of NVA enters the board on around turn 10 from behind the treeline. This would be about 6 10-man squads armed appropriately. If you are going to do this add a second U.S. Platoon (2nd Platoon) and two more defending NVA squads and a HMG to the force behind the burial mounds.
 
After Action Report
 
The sweep commenced at 1330 with Lieutenant Smith's Alpha two on the left and Lieutenant Kimball's Alpha three on the right. The Captain moved behind the two platoons with Alpha One in reserve. Alpha two and three were about a hundred yards across the paddies when a grunt from Alpha three spotted a lone NVA sprinting from a burial mound towards the treeline. Lieutenant Kimball was convinced that an NVA ambush waited for them within the treeline and quickened his platoon's pace towards the cover of the burial mounds located in front of the ville. The running soldier had been a lure and the assault line of Alpha three ran straight into the NVA, who were actually deployed among the very same burial mounds that Alpha three was heading for.
 
The GI's of Alpha Annihilator Two and Three were completely surprised by the NVA ambush and became pinned down behind the dikes of the rice paddy. They were unable to react to the vicious fire from the entrenched NVA machine guns and 82mm mortar fire that was pounding the Americans. As the men in Alpha three scrambled for cover another assault force of NVA charged out of the treeline on the right, catching Alpha two and three in a crossfire, the Captain detached a squad from Alpha One in a attempt to counter the sudden assault from the right. Lt. Kimball made several attempts to call in an artillery strike but his transmission was cut off in the confusion. Completely disorganised; Alpha Company began a withdrawal and the attached FO called down smoke and HE rounds and two fighters finally began running air strikes on the enemy positions to cover their retreat back to Nhi Ha. The NVA were filled with victorious enthusiasm, not caring who saw them; some were shouting and discharging their weapons while jumping up and down on their bunkers. The final official bodycount was fifty NVA but the command staff was sceptical of this number because of the inability to gauge the amount of kills attributed to artillery and air strikes. Alpha Annihilator lost 12 men in the action.
 

 
SOURCES: 
 
Nolan, Keith William. , The Magnificent Bastards, Presidio Press, Novato 1994
 
See Also Keith Nolan's account Fourteen Days at Nhi Ha
 
This scenario first appeared on Pete Jones' Dustoff site which is no longer available and is reproduced here with Pete's permission.
 
Map by Mike R
 

 

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