Welcome to Platoon Forward!

Welcome to the site where the story of the battle is as important as the battle itself. Here we will focus on men thrust into extraordinary situations of life and death. They must lead other men with duty and honor to meet their countries objectives. Some will be blessed with great skill, some will carry great shortcomings. No matter what nation, no matter what war, no matter what theater, they are all called to move their Platoon or Squadron forward!

These are their individual stories as played out using my various campaign rules . Hopefully these stories will entertain and inspire you to use your own troops, airmen and sailors to accomplish your own great heroics.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Jack was one bullet away

 Greetings.  It has been awhile.  I have not been motivated to play many games since my dad died.  As I stated previously I hadn't realized how much of my gaming was tied to sharing with him; either at the table or talking about it after the fact.  I haven't really painted very much either as there is no one to show the figures to after I am done.  [ Have painted 1 trawler and 5 numidians in the last 2 months.] 

Good news is I have finished Flotilla Forward.  I have been seeking help with formatting and think I have found someone.  While I am at it thanks to all who have purchased my rules over the last year.  I was able to donate $1,000 to the local food bank on your behalf.  100% of sales goes to the county foodbank.  Hopefully you will see Flotilla Forward by Christmas.  

I have been reading a great book, One bullet away by  Nathaniel Fick.  I was briefly a platoon leader for an army combat MP platoon in Berlin and have commanded at squadron and group level in the Air Force.  Mr Fick, an ivy school graduate, explains his OCS transition into a Marine Corps officer brilliantly.  He describes the pressure and uncertainty of being a platoon leader well and he ends up in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.  



A good read


Inspired by the above book I decided to take my marine squad in Iraq on another mission.  You may remember this squad is led by Just Jack a brilliant squad leader who has already been put in for the bronze star for an attack on Afak on the second day of the war.  The squads morale is elite (12) when is in in charge. The platoon is commanded by Lt DeClines who graduated West Point and service transferred into the marines to be one of the toughest. Well the platoon sgt was wounded and evac ed out so Jack was the natural choice to step up into the job.   The title of Mr Fick's book comes from what all marine leaders are taught, "Your subordinate is just one bullet away from taking your job; train them well."  So Jack is the new platoon sgt.  

DeClines walks back to the platoon leadership from Capt Jackson.  "Recon just went through the town ahead and took fire after crossing the bridge.  We are to conduct a hasty attack and clear the road so the rest of the battalion can proceed.  We will have air assets.    We will have artillery only if necessary as we are to stick to the ROE and limit civilian casualties.  [ I rolled up "Hasty attack for the mission and also artillery.  I figured marines wouldn't go in there without air during the day.] 

 


 

Lt DeClines plan was to have 3rd squad flank from the left and 1st squad come over the bridge.  He would be on the near side of the river [ right] with the radios, HMG and 2nd squad in reserve.  Jack would go with his old 1st squad both he and DeClines weren't sure Cpl Jones was up to the task of leading it.  

Characters

Lt DeClines  Academy grad  Sensible/wealth      Avg

Just Jack      Jovial         Position                           Superb

1st squad  SL  Cpl "fast" Jones   orphaned     inept/ religious       poor  

Squad morale back to avg [10] with Jones in charge.

1st FT     Cpl "Koke"  Kokistranovich    race car driver     thrill addict      poor but improving

2nd FT     empty

3rd FT     Cpl Betts   ghetto of detroit    fickle hedonistic     avg

3rd squad SL  Sgt Lee     liberal/ govt                good

 


Lt Declines overseeing the platoon.

 


3rd squad runs into something unexpected immediately.   The weapons cache in the foreground is just a ;hot spot" marker used in FOF to mark reinforcement entry. 


A cobra helo is vectored in.  

 


  Meanwhile 1st squad crosses the bridge without incident ...


and offloads into a hail of RPGs and small arms.  Cpl Jones and Koke initiate a close assault on the building while Jack is still in the track...


the attack fails as marines mill about behind the track.  The enemy start to encircle from the right as well.   Jack had wanted to let Cpl Jones lead the squad but things are moving the wrong way.  As the track blows up he takes control and orders a retreat.   



Meanwhile 3rd squad offloads at the orchard and prepares to advance on the market...


A cool random event occurs.  One of the marines thinks he sees a booby trap ahead.  Sgt Lee decides to stay clear of the area.  He will send 2 fire teams through the orchard to flank the market.  



For situational awareness   1st squad middle of board just before track blows up and Jack leads them back to the scrub.  Sgt Lee offloads next to the orchard.    Cobra [ yes Jack that is a Cobra] in support about to blow up a MG position across the board.  The Iraqi MG position has managed to suppress the US HMG allowing the Iraq infantry to move up and threaten 1st squad.  


Goodbye MG position!


As Jack is trying to rally 1st squad mortars start to drop and an armored car shows up.  Not good.  


The SMAW attached to Jack takes care of the armored car and DeClines HMG causes the mortar men to flee. 


 

3rd squad finds the technical that hid from the Cobra and a brief firefight occurs.  

After that Sgt Lee leads an assault on the market.  Another random event gave it's defenders a morale boost so they plan to defend to their last breath...

which they do.  3rd squad continues to clear out the market.



Meanwhile, back at the scrub, Jack has sent Cpl Jones and 1st squad back to clear the original building after it has been mortared. He then goes to check on the progress of 3rd squad.  The Iraqis have managed to slip in fighters behind the marines into the orchard.  Please note the FT left in the orchard to cover 3rd squads assault.  They are suddenly badly outnumbered in the orchard.  As Jack hears firering in the orchard he starts to realize these 3 marines are in peril...


Jack sprints across the plaza telling Sgt Lee he needs a fireteam to follow him NOW!


By the time Jack arrives with a fireteam the support fireteam is broken outside the wall with 1 marine lying in the orchard.   The marine firepower is enough to push the Iraqis back.  They leave as silently as they arrived.   

 Great battle that was played over several days.   FOF really models asymmetrical engagements well and the Iraqis used hot spots to shift forces into the orchard and almost overwhelmed a fireteam.  1st squad performed even worse than I thought without Jack necessitating some hard decision post battle.

Post battle it was clear that Cpl Jones couldn't lead 1st squad.  There were even doubts if he could lead the FT. 2nd FT's morale drops to 8.   Sgt Alcantera will be brought in from the company to lead as Cpl Betts is too junior.  Squad morale stays at 10.  Capt Jackson is moved up to battalion to fill a vacancy so Lt DeClines becomes acting company commander.  [ post game event was Lt DeClines is transferred so that is how I handled that action.]  So guess who is acting platoon leader...?  Yep Jack is one bullet away.

 Enjoy

 

Joe    







Wednesday, July 1, 2020

ULT Volstadt's race for the bridge

Last weekend I set up a game and played; big step for me.  We had looked at some old family photos of a trip we had taken to Berlin back in 1987 so of course that fired me up for a cold war battle. 
I used my 1st platoon of the 7th Motorized Schutzen aka " Max Roscher".   They are East German which is different.  This is my 4th battle but the first time I have ever posted with these guys.  They have won most of their battles but the first squad has done poorly every time.  ULT Volstadt had threatened to replace their NCO when he had conveniently gotten KIA during a patrol to a factory.  That dropped the squad morale and he wasn't replaced.  The squad is now undermanned and led by Gefreiter Elbaum.  Volstadt is evil [ not taking sides here I just rolled it up!] and this war has been inconvenient so far but might help his progression either up the ranks or politically after the war if he can get his platoon to do what he wants.   Lets check in with this interesting unit...
Characters
ULT Volstadt  son of a govt official    evil/ hedonism        Avg ldr
1st squad  Gef Elbaum       temporary                                poor  morale of squad  poor  8/6 for FoF
2nd squad  Unteroffizer  Rossic  son of disgraced official   Volstad constantly questions his loyalty to the state.  Therefore he feels he must be twice as good as everyone else.   conformist/ technology  Avg leader which for Warsaw pact NCO is good.    morale  of squad avg   8/8 for FoF
1 BDRM
4 T-55s

Volstadt didn't mind the war but it had surprised him.  Did the Russians really think they could win?  He hoped so.  Being in a front line combat unit could certainly do him well as long as his unit didn't screw up this chance for him.  Either climbing in the military or back in the party would be fine with him and his father would certainly help where he could.  His unit was made up of dolts primarily; Rossic had some potential but the rest were sheep who wouldn't even get out of the rain.

He had a chance today to score some points with his CO Maj Kettler.  Kettler had been a problem up till now as he wasn't a political type.  " I don't care who your papa is.  I need you to be a good infantry officer and train your platoon!"
Well the company had been held in reserve and a small breakthrough had occurred.  Each platoon was to be sent through the breach to secure an objective!    Now was his time to shine.   He was to secure a bridge on the outskirts of the town of Lemm.  The situation was fluid and resistance was expected to be minimal so no artillery or air was allotted.   [ I rolled up the scenario Explotation and failed rolls for artillery and air.  I made the rolls for armor automatic. ]


The village of Lemm to the right.  1st platoon enters from the town.  I decreased the number of "As" and "Cs" by 1 to reflect NATO fighting outnumbered. 

I really enjoyed setting up the town!

The main road.

The East German's order of march was BDRM 60 yards to the front followed by 4 tanks then 2 BTR-60s, 1 AA unit and the last BTR-60. 
A shot range out as the BDRM neared the bridge.  "Nuts" thought Volstadt. this isn't going to be as easy as I hoped.   2 Tanks moved forward as 2 tanks swung right. 

A throwback to an earlier time...    A German panzer lies in ambush.   It took out the BDRM. 

The battle starts in earnest.   the 2 tanks engage the jadgpanzer while ULT Volstadt [brown square base] unloads his first 2 squads.  His sends 1st squad to the Rathaus to support a crossing and prepares his second squad to rush the bridge on foot.  [ Volstadt is not a man to lead from the front unless the Maj is watching.]

A MMG team opens up on first squad from a midevil tower.  The marker shows they are on overwatch. 
The Shika AA unit quickly sends them downstairs.  { West Germans had UNLIKELY chance of air support and missed their rolls as well.  In retrospect should have made that POSSIBLE to LIKELY.}

West Germans get their scenario driven reinforcements; 1 infantry squad and a Jaguar!  Sigh...

As the T-55s tangle with the jadgpanzer,  UO Rossi leads the way to the bridge.   ULT Volstadt has the medic standing by the back of the BDRM in case this wasn't his best decision.  He still has 3rd squad in their BTR.  They make it with no problem.

Meanwhile West German infantry deploy towards the bridge.  I see conflict arising...

UO Rossi creeping along the bridge as the tanks start to follow.    Just then a tank hunter team arises from an apartment and fires a panzerfaust at the lead tank...    It is too high.    Our friendly AA gun keeps the heads of the team down while Volstadt goes and tells 1st squad to root them out.

UO Rossi's unit starts to take fire from enemy infantry.  UO Palk's tank is the first across. 

Somethings never change.  On a spot where 400 years earlier men fought over political ideals brave men once again come face to face with each other in anger. 

Meanwhile, while FOF is not a tank game we have quite a parking lot all of a sudden on the west bank.  Everyone is missing everyone else; unusual. 

As the tanks waste a lot of ammo Rossi's men prevail in the garden and advance very cautiously.  [ In FOF warsaw pact NCOs will not advance unless in direct line of sight of their officer.]
The West Germans rally in the tower and then retreat.

The Leopard, facing 3 T-55s decides to retreat also.  It manages to destroy all 3 on the way out! 

As the fighting dwindles ULT Volstadt crosses the bridge triumphantly!



Fun battle that was bittersweat because I couldn't share it with my dad.    It should have been closer than it was but I misplaced the Leopard on set up.    I should have switched it with the jadgpanzer and given it more LOS over the board.  
Post battle Maj Kettler is impressed but not enough to promote Volstadt.  He and Rossi also miss their leadership roles to improve.  Interestingly, 2nd squad does not grow any closer to Rossi even though he is doing a great job.    Volstadt does meet the battalion S-4 Maj Rother and thinks he impresses him with his tale of the battle.  Actually Rother pegs Volstadt correctly as self serving but is politically astute enough to see which way the wind blows.  A new NCO is assigned to the platoon for first squad, Unteroffizer Weiler and they are brought up to full strength.   Hopefully that will help morale.  [ it didn't] 
Will Volstadt climb the ladder or be found out?
Will Weiler rally first squad?
Will Rossi take 2nd squad to the next level and continue to be the rock of the platoon?

we will have to wait and see my friends

Enjoy

Joe















 

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the Fathers out there.    I have been pretty silent on this blog for the past year or so.  My dad has been very sick and I have been trying to take care of him and my mom.  I try not to be personal or political on this blog as that is not its purpose.  It is to tell stories of people under fire to inspire you to do the same with your forces.  My gaming has always been about the narrative. 
Well forgive me this post today.  My dad, Col Joseph Legan, DC USAF passed away about 2 weeks ago.  The details are not important here.  What is important is I realized today how much of what I have been doing in miniature gaming was actually about sharing with him.  
My brother and I had been boardgamers for 15 years. My dad bought me my first boardgame, SPIs Moscow Campaign because he saw it in a store and he was interested in the history of what we were doing but he would never participate.  When I switched to miniatures he would actually play!  We would talk about what scenery to get and how to paint up the tanks, airplanes and ships.  He was an active participant.  Granted the games couldn't be too complex but the 2 of us or the 3 of us could play and it was great.   Those of you who normally read this blog know I normally wargame for escape from the world, not for social contact.  With my dad it was different.


3 e boats attacking tankers bound for London.  At this point my dad could only go for about 70 minutes so I had to make for a short scenario.  




  Dad's fairmiles lay down smoke. 


As an evil son I do get a shot at a trawler at 500 yards.  I missed fair and square!


It was sharing great experiences between father and son.  This became more important and poignant these last 17 months.   
My son will occasionally play a wargame with me but he is humoring me.  But my son and I share a love of baseball so we have that bond.  With my dad he really enjoyed the miniatures, the planning, painting, scenarios and playing. 
Yesterday I saw battlefront has a 15mm cafe out and my first thought was, "I can't wait to tell my dad!"  We would start to talk about did it look good enough. How could we use it?  Would I ( or we) use it enough to justify the cost even though we both knew I would get it.  Then of course I realized that I won't be having those discussions; at least the way I have had in the past.

So I get why people play wargames with other people; for the camaraderie. For those of you lucky enough to have fathers and sons ( and daughters) to share this hobby with you congratulations!  Enjoy the time you have with them.   

  Happy Father's Day Dad; thanks for all the memories!  You gave me much more than that of course.  I will keep the projects going for as long as I can and look forward to rolling some dice with you again.

Love your son

Joe

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Cpl Bett's walk in the moonlight USMC Iraq

Work continues to settle in.    Please continue to pray for those affected by this virus and for those on the frontlines.  Also, for those not working please do your part and stay home.  I have many patients in house who wish they had.
For some reason I am enamored with Formula 1 currently.  I picked up an interested while living in England and have been running some races


All solitaire of course.

But I did get to play a game using my marine platoon in Iraq.  It is really a squad that I am focusing on.  They lost their first battle and have kicked butt ever since.  Their squad leader has already earned a Bronze Star and the squad's morale is 12.  Their last battle was Dec 6 if you want to check it out! 

" All in imagery in the world won't tell us if the bridge will hold.  Apparently we need an engineer geek to run some tests.  It will be easy Jack." said Lt DeClines.  Just get him to the bridge.  Suppress the ragheads and bring him back.

Characters

SSgt Just Jack   mechanic before joining corps    Jovial/  position  above avg leader    Squad would walk through hell for him

1st Fire team  Cpl Koke" Kokistranovich     addicted to thrills   junior racing driver before joing corps   impulsive   below average leader   Fireteam doesn't trust him

2nd fire team  Cpl "fast" Jones  orphan  grew up on a ranch  very religious    below average leader  fire team neutral to him
3rd Fire team  Cpl Betts  Just promoted to Cpl from within FT.      lives for the moment.   fireteam somewhat trusts him average leader
    


I rolled an unusual mission; reconnaissance.   2 subrolls later and we had to get an engineer to a bridge and get a cumulative total of 14 on d6 rolls until we could leave.   I rolled up the board and placed the blinds

    Mission played at night.   Enemy should be irregulars.  Trenches identified through imagery in trees along river.  60% bridge will be guarded.

Jack's plan is to station MMG on hill to left.  Have 1st FT on overwatch in buildings overlooking bridge.  He will stay with Koke.   Betts will sneak up onto bridge with the Capt.  Jones will be in HUVEEs behind buildings as a reaction force.  Mortars are on call for extraction only!  Can't damage the bridge.

MMG in place

Koke gets into position.

Unfortunately there are 4 guards on the bridge. 


"Nuts" thought Jack.  [ He actually thought something else.]    He has the MMG open up to drive the guards off the bridge.   Surprise was gone but the guards had no chance without NVG against a MMG 200 yards away.    They backed off the bridge but didn't run.   The enemy prepared for an attack.

Instead Cpl Betts started his walk in the moonlight with the Capt and his NCO.

The Iraqi's dispatched a truck to take care of the MMG.

3rd FT makes it to the bridge undetected while the 2 MGs trade shots.

At this point everyone sees the bridge party and all hell breaks loose!  Jack, on the roof with Koke lays down suppressive fire into the trees.
Betts says " Hurry up sir!"

Cpls Bett's FT drives the guards away from the bridge and into the trees.  The MMG also drives away the Toyota.  Go Captain Go!

The Marines control the bridge for the moment while the captain does his thing.  Bullets ricochet around but without NVGs the Iraqi fire is poor.

Just when things look hopeful.... a 60mm mortar shell lands on the bridge.    Cpl Betts looks around; his team looks up but the engineer NCO ...

is listless with a rapidly expanding pool of blood.   Cpl Betts looks at the Captain but before he can say anything the captain says, " This bridge is crap boys. Let's get out of here!" Betts toggles the radio 3 times which signals Fast Jones to the bridge.

Fast Jones living up to his name as Cpl Betts withdraws under fire.

The NCO is loaded into the HUMVEE and the men retreat on foot using darkness for cover.

Mission success!


Exciting game that played fast.  I hit the 14 mark in 3 rolls so clearly the cpt figured out what he needed fast.    Unfortunately the NCO didn't make it.  5 Iraqi KIA.  The squad loses no one and post battle not much happens.   The FT continues to warm to Betts however.

Semper Fi

Joe