AAR : THE MARKETPLACE MASSACRE
A USMC Rifle Company advances to contact to deal with reported snipers. Unknown to them an NVA unit awaits.
As Capt Peters moves his company up in search of a sniper team, they are about to find more…
As Peters and the lead platoon clears the last of a cluster of huts in the north, a volley of small arms fire to the east rings out. To the right, a squad of LT Reagin’s platoon eagerly opens fire on an NVA squad rushing in behind them (hex 2M8), but fails to inflict any noticeable casualties. Distracted, Peters and his men nearly fall victim to another opening volley directed their way. Ducking for cover, accurate sniper and small arms fire from 200 meters north (in a treeline and two abandoned buildings) rapidly chews into the men’s cover. As both sides move to cover, only inaccurate harassing fire continues to target the Marines and NVA regulars.
After a brief period of calm a squad of Marines moves back from an exposed position (2H4) but is shaken by a heavy volume of AK fire (in 2H5). Trying to exploit the move, an NVA squad rushes the recently abandoned position but are caught and pinned in the open just short of their goal. Caught up in the rush a second NVA squad charges ahead but is battered by M60 fire as they move into the trees (2H4) adjacent to the Marine positions. Watching the assault bog down, LT Thien orders two more squads into action. Bounding across 100m of open terrain they attack an isolated Marine squad holding an small building (2K3). A vicious clash ensues, but within 2-3 minutes all the defenders have been wiped out.
As both sides take stock of the engagement, fighting intensifies. Small arms fire from 2 Marine squads cuts down several NVA troops pinned in the open near Cpt Peters position (2I4) as well as breaking up an attack by another group of NVA attempting to close on the shaken Marines and medic in a small grouping of huts (2H5). Peters, angered at the loss of his squad to his northeast, brings 60mm mortar fire on the lost building quickly demoralizing the 2 squads sheltered there. At about the same time NVA mortar fire takes a toll on LT Reagin and his squad (2K6) in the main hut complex. Several men are killed but only after their sustained M16 and M60 fire rakes over 3 NVA squads (2L8) trying to split the US line.
As his commands seem to have a positive effect on the battle, Peters is stunned by devastating sniper and RPD fire that kills or wounds the entire squad with him and lodges 2 bullets in his chest.
In a poor turn for the Marines, LT Khai finally gets his platoon in action in the south. As his squads move into position near a small hut (1M4) a quick firefight breaks out with SGT Ash and a rifle squad as the Marines move up. Quickly overwhelmed by firepower, only Ash stumbles out of the disaster.
Back at Peters position, the nearby medic follows a soon to be fateful decision by a squad leader to move up an assist the wounded commander and recover an M60. As the group crawls forward, heavy firing is directed into the area killing Peters, wounding the medic, and rattling the squad. Lastly, combined mortar and RPG fire allows an NVA squad to rapidly roll up LT Reagin’s position (2K6) killing the surviving Marines held out there.
With their leadership gone, the individual squads begin to fight individual fights. SGT Ash and 1 squad manage to kill several NVA near their area (1I3) but collapse under a shower of grenades as LT Khai and an RPD-armed squad close assault their firing line. The last man in LT Reagin’s area (a hero for sure) is spotted and shot to pieces by the NVA 12.7mm MG that had finally set up on some high ground to the east. Laying low, even the 60mm mortar team is spotted by the rampaging NVA and hit hard by AK and RPG fire as they try to move back out of an exposed position.
Out of contact but determined, a Marine squad moves into some abandoned trenches (2F4) and kills off several NVA stragglers, but is almost immediately counterattacked in the defensive works leading to a prolonged melee. Feeling their chances shrinking, the medic, a shaken squad, and one final squad decide to break contact and withdraw.
A brutal scenario for the USMC (this lasted only about 50% of the turns that it could). Outgunned and largely surrounded, they must execute a fighting withdrawal and try not to get pinned down. Not sure if the best plan is to move south and set up before LT Khai can get into the action, but holding in front of the dug in NVA to the north (and possibly a sniper) is a bad idea.
Leaders are key for the USMC here more so than some other scenarios as the mortars are key to breaking up melee-minded NVA regulars.
For the NVA, I think you can only go slow for 1-2 turns before having to press into close combat and accept some chewed up squads in the fire lanes as letting the Marines pull back south will take the NVA firepower & defensive position advantage out of the picture.
Comment on VPs – don’t let that discourage you. The Marines here tried doggedly to hold on to their positions and had 3 exposed squads picked off in quick order. My use of smoke also failed, but if it had worked, could have saved some guys for a later turn…