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.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Sweep of the Dole plantation 1966

 So I played my biggest game yet with my battalion/company system.  I had 2 US, 1 ARVN and 2 NVA companies on the board at the same time.  This was a air, land and sea game.  It was great fun and only took 30 miutes more than my other games, I am getting quicker.

LtCol Du received a call from Corps.  Intel had pinpointed the where the NVA that attacked Rock Hill had gone.  They had headed west/northwest about 2 klicks to the Dole plantation.  He was to coordinate with the 1st Cav Units nearby and destroy whatever the enemy was hiding up there.  He would have artillery and ACAV support.  Rangers would be on call if things got hot but don't push it with asking for too much.  He hung up the phone.  He didn't like this new way of waging war.  It took time and wasted precious resources.  While he wouldn't tip the enemy off, he was too smart for that, he figured someone else would.  With any luck there wouldn't be anyone at the plantation when his battalion arrived.  He pressed a button on his desk, please get me my american advisor.  He would play to the american's ego.  With luck he could get the 1st Cav to do all the heavy lifting for this operation.  

LtCol Duval sat his young captains down.  "They think they found Charlie.  He is resting at some pineapple plantation 2 clicks from rock hill.  Supposedly the hills around there have tunnels with supplies so this time he has to fight!  Here is a aeral photo from yesterday...


Now I have marked where we think tunnels are in blue...

here, here, here and up at the plantation. [ 4 blue markers on picture.  2 north and 1 south of river.]  We have to play nice with ARVN so they will attack the plantation.  When they fail we can help them out.  Chuck, you take "B" squadron and land north of the river with all 3 platoons in between the 2 blue markers.  Search both areas.  If it is hot we have air and can bring you more bodies.  Jaroze, since you were banged  up  a bit around rock hill I am giving you only 1 spot to search; south of the river.  You will land 2 full platoons about 10 minutes after Chuck and search.  If you need your third platoon or help just call.  There are some riverine craft helping land ARVN so they are around call sign Neptune.  Questions?  Good, now lets go get some bad guys!"

For those of you with Grunts Forward this is a variant of "Village Sweep" upscaled for a battalion game.  

You might want to get a flavor for the characters by reading the last 3 Rock Hill posts but if you don't I will list them all here again.

1 Cav trained

A Squadron Capt Theodore Jaroze commanding   New in country    Avg ldr

1st Sgt Mathews   Avg ldr

1st Platoon Lt Hendricks  Father a 2 star general.  Moved pretty slow last mission  Avg ldr

2nd Plt Lt Alvarez  from the wrong side of the tracks.  ROTC grad New Mexico State U.  Platoon shot up last mission, down to 2 squads.  Avg ldr

3rd Platoon  Lt DeRoos   ROTC Iowa.  Saved Jaroze last mission with timely artillery call.  Good ldr

B Squadron Capt Chuck Rainer commanding   ROTC  Georgia Tech  can be foolish sometimes   Avg 

1st Platoon Lt Robertston  football star at West Point.  thinks he is God's gift to the Army. poor ldr

2nd Platoon Lt Carlson  Up from the ranks.  Doesn't really like anybody       Good ldr though

3rd Platoon Lt Schaffer  Drafted after completing engineering degree from Colorado School of Mines.  Doing his 2 years and going home.  poor leader

3rd Division, Army of South Vietnam Raw except for armored units are trained

A company Capt Ly Tong commanding      Avg ldr

1st Platoon Lt Pham Chu  poor leader

2nd platoon Lt Dan Tong  avg ldr

3rd platoon [under strength] Lt Tran Can  poor ldr 

1 platoon of Walker bulldogs attached.  ACAV on call.    


Capt Ly's plan was to make a frontal assault of the compound with 1st platoon and the tanks.  Meanwhile, 3rd platoon would ride the riverine craft and flank the compound from the left.  2nd platoon with Dan, his best leader, would be held in reserve.  

Temple not in play today but I thought it looked cool.

B Squadron's LZ looking back towards the river and the 2 areas of jungle they will need to search

A squadron's LZ looking towards the river and the hill on the right that they will need to search.

A shot of the back of the plantation looking towards the river.


My ARVN HMG unit I painted up.  This is actually a resistant rooster japanese unit.  I sanded down the one helmet to look more like a bush hat.

An ARVN officer ( Lt Dang) recently painted.  I think this is old glory.

An NVA officer.  The picture doesn't do it justice.  These are the new peter pig sculps and they are nice.  

Lay out my blinds as per Grunt Forward.  I then rolled for each blue marker to see just if it was real or not.  If real each blind in that section would have a +1.  If fake then a -1. 


 NVA battalion HQ ends up at the plantation which makes sense.  They roll up 2 platoons and a RCL.  

Capt Ly arrives at the plantation.  The bulldogs scan for enemy while the 1st platoon offloads.  Where are those boats? [ not enough orders!]  He will send 1st platoon towards the right and hope the boats show up.  

Meanwhile key Ride of the Valkyries!  

It is a cold LZ for B squadron but that doesn't mean that no one is watching. 
 

Capt Rainer quickly sends 1st platoon under his football star to check out the jungle to his right.  They don't want to tarry with patrols as Charlie could slip away.   He also sends 2nd platoon under his grumpy Lt Carlson to check out the jungle to his left.  Lt Schaffer, sets up a perimeter.  


 Lt Robertson's 2nd squad is cut down by a VC ambush!  1st squad quickly becomes pinned.  This wasn't in the playbooks at West Point.  

Meanwhile...


 Capt Jaroze once again drops down into Indian country!


A cold LZ.  He deploys Hendricks on the left and DeRoos on the right.  The hills look ominous. 

About 30 minutes after B squadron touches down...

Capt Rainer has his hands full. 2nd platoon has taken some LMG fire from the left but they are progressing nicely into the jungle.   1st platoon is stuck.  He calls in some hogs to rocket the tree line.  He tells Lt Robertson to assault the trees right after the rockets but it becomes clear 1st platoon isn't going anywhere.  " Schaffer!  Our star is stuck.  Take your platoon and hit the right edge of the tree line with your squads.  You should be able to roll up their line from there."  


 Lt Schaffer takes 3rd platoon and assaults into the VC.  His platoon becomes strung out but it works!  He has a foothold in the jungle. 

Meanwhile, back at the plantation...


 1st platoon has hit the first NVA line and is doing well.  

1st platoon is hit by mortars. Lt Pham is wounded but carries on.  

PBRs finally make their way towards the plantation.  Here they fight off several RPGs while they go up river.


 

Situation 40 minutes after battle started.  Sq B (top) Lt Scaffer is battling VC in the jungle upper left hand corner with hog support and making progress.  Lt Robertson has rallied his platoon and is starting to assist.  Lt Carlson is clearing jungle in center and starting to search for tunnels.  

Sq A (bottom) Lt DeRoos is moving to top of target hill on right.  I have rolled up 2 platoons of NVA, 1 on each hill with LMGs and a 60mm mtr.  Jaroz is sending a combat patrol [ green marker] to scout the hill to his left. 

ARVN is stalled at the entrance to the plantation.  A NVA squad has advanced to attack the  tanks from the flank.


 Capt Ly can't wait for the PBRs anymore.  1st platoon is stuck at the wall.  He still can't reach the 105 battery and now RPG teams are advancing on the tanks!  He sends out Lt Dang and 2nd platoon to sweep left.  


As he is doing this the NVA morale breaks in front of 1st platoon and they gain the wall uncontested!  Lt Pham, wounds bandaged, rallies the rest of his platoon. 

Meanwhile on Hill 424 Sq A...

Lt DeRoos' squad makes it to the top where they are met with a withering ambush.

Over the radio, DeRoos and Jaroze can tell it is not going well.  The squad is in danger of being overrun.


 

Lt DeRoos, rolls up an extra action because he is a good leader, and uses it now to bring up some M60s!  They keep Charlie at bay. 


Charlie, sensing blood, moves up additional squads as a fierce firefight develops on hill 424.  Lt DeRoos rallies the original squad.  Capt Jaroze tells DeRoos to get out of there and they will just bomb the hill.  


As 3rd platoon breaks contact Lt DeRoos goes down, hit in the chest.  Morale plummets in 3rd platoon as their beloved leader falls.  NCOs step up and move the platoon off hill 424.  

Jaroze is nervous now.  Even 1stSgt Mathews agrees they need to bring in 2nd platoon as their combat patrol confirms NVA on the hill to their left.  Lt DeRoos is loaded on a chopper out.  105s hit hill 424 while Jaroze waits for an air strike.  

Meanwhile, Sq A is having a better time of it.  Lt Carlson has completed his sweep of the central jungle and found nothing.  The VC have broken contact from Lt Schaffer and 3rd platoon so he is actively searching the jungle up at the corner of the AO. Lt Robertson, his platoon rallied is back on perimeter defense.   At the plantation... 

the PBRs finally deliver 3rd platoon and skirmish with some NVA, pinning them.  


Just at this time 2nd platoon shows up.  The NVA squad is caught in a cross fire.  


ARVN troops in a close assault!  They carry the day.  Lt Dang is genus.        At this point Capt Ly has cleared the first line of NVA.  He hasn't entered the plantation proper yet.  1st platoon is beat up and 3rd platoon is understrength.  Before crossing the open ground he will flank the house with the ACAV! 

A platoon of ACAV with supporting 106RCL arrive!


The NVA RCL has been waiting  an hour for this moment! They miss and are actually wiped out by MG fire.  

Now this is what is facing the NVA battalion commander.  He has a platoon left.  I know they are ARVN but that is still a lot of firepower.  

Meanwhile, back at hill 424...

The LZ is now under fire from both hills and mortars are dropping.  Phantoms are on the way which is good, because the 105s don't seem to be doing much.  Capt Jaroze finally overcomes his dread of asking for help from Duval and radios for reinforcements.  Duval sighs and says, "Don't worry son.  Chuck is bored across the river. We will send him over to play."    Well at least I will get some help thinks Jaroze.  Suddenly a roar is heard across the valley...

A grunt's most beautiful sight...

From Jaroze's viewpoint.  3 squads KIA.  

Hill 424 is quiet after the phantoms leave.  There is still firering from the other hill but Charlie keeps his head down.  

Sq B arrives.  Jaroze agrees to guard the LZ while Capt Rainer will go back up hill 424.  What they find are dead bodies and a few NVA too far gone to leave.  

Meanwhile back at the plantation...

Capt Ly sends 3rd platoon up around the left of the plantation to encircle it from the left.  


A firefight breaks out pinning 3rd platoon.  At this point ACAVS are circling from the right as is 1st platoon. A combat patrol is moving up to the front of the house.  The NVA battalion commander realizes he needs to leave before he is surrounded.  Their best chance is to make for the jungle to the left.  He gives the word...


With 3rd platoon pinned there is little to stop the breakout.   A couple of tank shells whine overhead in protest.   


Great game!  As Capt Ly's forces searched the plantation they never found any tunnels.  It was still a win as they met the NVA forces and won.  A much needed boost to morale and LtCol Du was happy.  Post game Lt Pham makes his leadership role and becomes average.  Also 2nd platoon under Lt Dang's leadership make their roll and become trained.  Capt Ly is ready for a leadership roll but you can only roll for 1 leader per game.  

For the US nothing changes for Squadron B, Lt Roberson is still not liked, Lt Schaffer did well but did not make his leadership role.  For Squadron A, tunnels are found on hill 424 along with significant equipment.  LtCol Duval realizes that Jaroze had his head in a hornet's nest.  It is a win for 1st Cav [and the USAF].  1st and 2nd platoon did fine but nothing special.  Lt DeRoos is hurt bad requiring operations and is invalided home.  He will be sorely missed.  Since he was not involved in a close assault he doesn't make the die roll for a Bronze Star.  LtCol Duval knows of him however even before Capt Jaroze so he promises that he will make it happen.   

A fantastic, complex game!   Using Grunts Forward as a template for Battalion Forward seems to be working.  The scenario with sites to search and unknown enemy worked well.  My fog of war events haven't translated though.  Will need to come up with new events appropriate to company level.  More to come for sure as this is a blast!

Enjoy

 

Joe  








 















 


Friday, April 29, 2022

LtCol Du's dilemma Battle of Rock Hill pt III

Awaiting arrival of my french armor from Old Glory 15s.  So this gave me a chance to play the third part of my Battle of Rock Hill.  The first two parts of the battle concern Capt Jaroze and his company from the 1st Cavalry and you can find it March 4 and Feb 27th.  Today we will look at ARVN.   

Intermediate Grade Superior Officer [ LtCol] Du Can had a problem.  One of his company's had failed to take Duc Bien yesterday and it had rankled his superiors.  They had held off the americans so that the South Vietnamese army could take it and now had lost face.  He was told he better take it today.  

He hadn't given it too much thought yesterday.  He had sent a company with 2 armored cars to make a show of it.  That is what he always did and no one seemed to mind.  As long as everyone was making some money skimming off the top no one seemed to care.  What had happened yesterday at Corps HQ to get everyone upset? So now all of a sudden he was suppose to actually take a town from the VC? How?  With what?  That was his problem.  

Senior Grade Junior Officer [capt] Ly Tong left the office shaking his head.  He had never seen Du so upset or so intent on taking a town before.  He was given a platoon of tanks, artillery as well as permission to draw as much ammo as needed.  He needed to be in place to attack the town by 10 am as the americans were to act as a blocking force up north.  Remnants of his sister company would join his attack.  There were also US forces on Rock Hill to the west of the town.   

ARVN forces    Raw except for the tanks which are trained.   US equivalent ranks used for ease of typing.

Capt Ly Tong       CO    Avg

1st Plt  Lt Pham Chu   Avg      3 squads + 30cal mmg

2nd Plt Lt Dang Tong  Poor    3 squads + bazooka

3rd Plt Lt Tran Can  Poor  3 squads including 1 with M60 MG 

2 sections walker bulldog tanks, 1 section of armored trucks [ for battlefront armor is 1] 1 battery of 105s

1 section of greyhounds at CIDG base available

1 platoon from Capt Jaroze's company available to assist if needed.

1 company from 1st Cav available to assist if needed.   

ARVN forces under Capt Ly

CIDG basecamp.   Too lazy to place all the barbed wire just like the CIDG.

Rock Hill with Lt Hendrick's platoon.  Capt Jaroze on the highest point.


Overview of the board.  I have extended the board south.  What the free world forces don't know is that the NVA took heavy loses so they are not keen to go toe to toe with the 1st Cav today.  The VC beat ARVN yesterday and they are aware of the new attack coming.  They have abandoned Duc Bien during the night and will attempt to ambush the ARVN forces before they can consolidate around the town.  [ That is why I didn't put wire around the camp.  It shouldn't be in play.]   Capt Ly is somewhat concerned about a small ambush in the village but plans to drive through it if possible.  If not he will detach a platoon to deal with it and press on.  

I placed blinds per the ambuscale scenario in Grunts Forward substituting platoons for squads.  This way I don't know if the VC will have an up front ambush or wait until we are in the village.  Odds are in the village as that makes the most sense to me but you never know. There will be a 33% chance that 1 platoon will be NVA otherwise this is a VC show.   

Capt Ly leads with his tanks.   We will slow down just before the village to recon a bit but speed here is important. We have 10-12 turns to be in position or 90 minutes at most. 


 

Stung by my own scenario!  Partial NVA platoon with RPGs right off the bat.  Don't even want to calculate the odds!    Each section is disrupted which to me means they lose 1 tank.  


Capt Ly gets on the board with his advisor.  The gun truck starts laying down fire into the pineapple grove.  Capt Ly orders...

2nd platoon to deploy and take the pineapple grove.  He can't have RPGs running around with trucks coming up.  


Shot of my new bazooka team in action.  They are PP US paras.  In retrospect should have sanded off the first aid kit but you can't tell on the table usually.  


End of the first 8 minutes. 2nd platoon and guntrucks engaging NVA trying to save our tanks.  VC forces on this side of the road are hidden.


  So Capt Ly tries to call for artillery and can't make the connection.  He sends a patrol ahead to see if the bamboo has any VC. [ The patrol fails to find any!] He also pushes 2nd platoon to attack which takes 2 orders since Lt Dang is a poor leader.  But Dang duly attacks...

    

and succeeds!  The NVA are weakened and pushed out of the grove and into the bamboo beyond.

Lt Dang, on a roll, attacks again...


 and the sole NVA squad, tired from the night before, breaks and leaves. 

24 minutes into the fight.  The Tanks are still recovering from the ambush.  2nd platoon, fresh from their victory in the pineapple grove is being mortared which is enough to disrupt them.  Capt Ly is pushing up the armored trucks to the village to check it out since there are no VC in the bamboo and is bringing up 3rd platoon to drive through the village with 2nd platoon ordered to sweep the village.  

Waiting for either the armored trucks or tanks to get to the village!  

The trucks get there first.  It is not pretty.  


32 minutes into the fight.  LtCol Du is not happy with Capt Ly's progress.  Col Du finally gets the tanks moving since Capt Ly couldn't.  A sniper in the jungle has halted 2nd platoon's "progress" and they are back in the pineapple grove.  Capt Ly asks Col Du to get some 105 help as he can't get any.  [ I was unable to roll any 6's during the order phase in which to order artillery!]  Seeing his timetable slipping away Capt Ly orders 3rd platoon to swing around the tanks and take out the RCL and proceed to the jump off point on foot.  LtCol Du orders the Greyhounds from the CIDG to support the breakthrough through the village.  


As 3rd platoon moves past the "empty" bamboo their trucks are riddled with bullets stopping the trucks.

Capt Jaroze is given a warning order to prepare to sweep the village south of rock hill.  He sends a patrol to the jungle and of course they don't find anything.  

48 minutes after jump off.  2nd platoon is once again moving towards the village. [top]  A tank is finally reconing the village.  The second tank has driven off the RCL.  3rd platoon is disorganized and under heavy VC attack.[ center]  Capt Ly is almost crying wishing he could call down 105 shells. 

The VC close assault 3rd platoon...


 

I am starting to think of that figure with the red base as "death" instead of disrupted.  Whenever he show up things don't go well.  3rd platoon and Lt Tran is obliterated.  

Capt Ly has to acknowledge that without help he will not make his rendovouz time.  He still has his best platoon in trucks but he wants to save them for the assault on Duc Bien.  LtCol Du allows 1st Cav to assist but he isn't pleased.   



Almost an hour after the shooting starts Lt Hendrick's platoon moves towards the village south of Rock Hill.   Suddenly, the jungle that was empty...

rings out with gunfire.  M60s manage to suppress the VC but 2nd squad takes some casualties and is disrupted.


  An hour and 5 minutes after contact.  Capt Ly moves up to personally take charge of 2nd platoon to get them to sweep the village from one side as the americans sweep from the other side.  Tanks will support.  1st platoon will then race to the jump off with the surviving tanks.  Not a great plan but what other choices are there?  

Capt Jaroze has no trouble calling 105s down on the VC in the jungle.  Hendricks stays with 2nd squad to rally.  He tells Sgt Jenson to take 1st squad into the fringe of the village and check it out.  Hendricks suspects it is clear since they haven't take fire from that direction.  3rd squad moves up.


 


Sgt Jenson runs into the VC Company HQ.  [ US got initiative.  If VC had initiative they would have moved!]  HQ personnel supress the squad but Jenson presses on.  [ He could have stopped but what is the fun in that?]   For close assaults I have switched to a D6 to have less extreme results and have toned the table down a bit.

New table

Even suppressed the US have a +1 advantage in the assault.   This could be really cool for Sgt Jenson...

Yesssss!   They take the building and the HQ retreats in disorder.  


Unfortunately they took their flag.  That would have made a cool trophy. 


 With their HQ disordered in the jungle and 2 squads in the village about to be swept from 2 sides the VC withdraw quickly while they can.  It has been 80 minutes since the battle was joined. [ 10 turns.] 

So the beat up ARVN forces just make it to Duc Bien in time to launch the assault with the 1st Cav blocking but of course they find the town empty.  Technically a win for the ARVN as they made it and lost only 6 stands compared to 4 for the VC but it sure felt like a loss.  They did need US help as well. LtCol Du  isn't happy with Capt Ly but knows Ly is his best commander so what is he going to do?  Du explained to Corps that he fought through significant forces  as exemplified by how much of his own force was engaged at once and still managed to meet the scheduled timeline.  He didn't think he needed US help but his company commander was skitish and called prematurely. He would mentor Capt Ly because he does see a good officer in there.  He does needs Corps help in fixing the response time for artillery however.   I decided it was unlikely [ on AKOT] that LtCol Du would be sacked and he wasn't.   


Great fun!  It played fast with smaller forces involved.  I gave the VC 6 command dice as they really only had 2 platoons in play at any one time.  ARVN had 8 to start but they I added a 9th once the greyhound and US became involved.  It was amazing to me how handling the ARVN was so frustrating.  I couldn't get the tanks and 2nd platoon to move!  Conversely Lt Hendrick's platoon who is trained seemed like a snap in comparison.  I do think that having poor leaders lose an order in 1-3 is too harsh however.  I will reduce that to 1-2 and see if that works.  The Grunt Forward's set up rules worked very well and laid out a credible, if somewhat forward, defense.  It is fun to not know what you are facing.   For those of you interested GF generated:

1 reduced NVA platoon

2 VC platoons 1 with LMG

1 RCL

1 60mm MTR

I considered VC as trained on the combat table but experienced on the morale table.  

 

Enjoy!

 

Joe