When approached by Adan from Xtreme Airsoft about coming on board and hosting the second installment of the Vietnam Era MILSIM event called Rolling Thunder, the TCA Staff jumped at it. We had a blast at Rolling Thunder 1 in 2016. We ran as VC/NVA at that one, and although being outnumbered at that one, VC/NVA fought and earned a win. 878 Airsoft came on board with their excellent field (if you haven't played there, you need to). That field, along with their vehicles, really made the event the second day.
Coming into this one, we formed units on each side, with the Allies having the 3rd Marine Division, 1st Cavalry Division, and MACV SOG. On the communist side, the NVA and VC. An additional game mechanic was introduced with having only MACV SOG being able to cross into Cambodia during certain mission sets, inflatable helicopters that could be shot down preventing Allied respawn, and aide bags which could be carried forward to allow KIA players to be regen-ed forward (avoiding a long walk back to their TOCs).
Mission 1 SEARCH AND DESTROY
The first mission was a classic search and destroy mission, with 1st Cavalry moving out from the TOC at LZ DIXIE towards the cluster of villages to secure and destroy VC/NVA caches of weapons and supplies, 3rd Marine Division also from LZ DIXIE attacking parallel with the Cambodian border to interdict caches as they crossed the border, and SOG conducted a cross border infil to locate NVA HQs or cache drops.
For the VC/NVA to win the phase, they had a choice to make, defend the caches in place (in the villages, hidden well) or attempt to move the supplies back to their command posts in Cambodia along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The caches could only be destroyed with demolition charges (actual) set off with issued detonators. The NVA/VC really put up a hell of a fight, holding the CAV back, ambushing 3 MARDIV on the island, stopping the Marines from encircling the villages. MACV SOG had success crossing the border, pushing through NVA patrols and locating/destroying a NVA basecamp. The round ended with all of the VC caches intact and still hidden inside the village cluster.
Mission 2 The Rockpile
In response to the NVA and VC's successful defense of their caches and to prevent future caches from being brought it, 3rd MARDIV established a Firebase south of Ky May, with 1st CAV conducting a classic air mobile assault to secure the Marines flank, in the South, SOG would establish a Radio Transmitter which would allow them to continue to conduct deep reconnaissance missions into Cambodia. A secondary mission for the CAV would be to fight through the village cluster and continue to search and destroy any found caches (at the time, Allies did not know that the VC/NVA had left them behind or moved them). The Communists would have to destroy the Firebase, destroy the Radio transmitter location, and/or shoot down any helicopters at LZ Yankee, which would force allied troops to regen at LZ Dixie.
SOG moved quickly to establish the transmitter, then sent patrols into Cambodia to continue searches for caches and other enemy base camps, running into several NVA/VC patrols but not determined resistance, 3rd MARDIV experienced a tough perimeter defense, at times fighting off VC grenadiers very close to the mortar positions, 1st CAV thoroughly searched the villages and successfully destroyed 3 caches, then guarded the southern flank of the Marines by pushing up to the Island (the previous Marine terrain from Mission 1).
The VC felt out allied positions, and were able to infil past heavily defended locations, driving off the helicopters at LZ YANKEE 3/4 of the way into the mission window. Zmonster and Coach had linked up on the ground at the Transmitter and one of the SOG men pointed to the sky over LZ YANKEE and saw the hueys pulling away, Zmonster quickly redirected his 1st CAV troops off the island and back towards the Rockpile and LZ to ensure that the Marines did not get overrun. Just as his men pushed up to the Rockpile, he got a report that VC were attacking the transmitter with grenades and small arms, the CAV moved back towards the transmitter and with the assistance of Marine Snipers
picked off the lone surviving VC at the base of the radio tower (nice try Xtreme Adan).
So after mission windows 1 and 2, Free world forces were winning by a narrow margin,
Mission 3 "Entering Cambodia"
US and ARVN command had decided that the time was right for a limited ground incursion into the grey area, the Vietnamese/Cambodian border in some areas was hard to discern, and with the high level of enemy activity identified by SOG earlier in the day, a medium scale ground movement to contact patrol could have a direct impact to limiting NVA/VC activity in what they called safe areas. Additionally, mortar attacks had begun from NVA positions in the grey area, a A-1 Skyraider had also killed a water buffalo convoy spilling NVA supplies on part of the trail network near an abandoned village West of the Island. Additionally inside South Vietnam, north of Bear Cat, was a suspected VC Propaganda Radio Station. Free world forces would have to attempt to locate and destroy all three OBJs, with the VC and NVA having to defend them.
What the NVA and VC didn't account for was the decision by the Allies to conduct one of the largest ground patrols, with SOG leading the way (thanks to some great recon by A-Dub and other SOG men earlier in Mission 3), 3rd MARDIV and 1CAV conducted an airmobile insertion north of the rockpile at LZ HORSE, crossed by ground into the grey zone, and conducted a movement to contact destroying a mortar base, the water buffalo cache, then withdrawing under pressure back across by An Loc. The radio transmitter was intact and the communists were able to destroy a supply dump at An Loc, leaving them in the losing by a narrow margin.
The "Tet" Cease Fire
After mission 3, an extended break was taken, negotiations were done, and a holiday cease fire went into effect, Allied Troops withdrew into bases at An Loc and Bear Cat, and suspected VC/NVA were observed moving in and around several villages in both the Grey Zone and in the village cluster. Suddenly, rockets and mortars along with gunfire ended this "holiday" and Allies attacked out from their 2 bases in an attempt to retake 5 vital key terrain OBJs, needless to say, many Allied Troops had been on out of country R&R, and it was difficult to focus on taking back and holding more than 2 out of the 5 points. In the end, the VC and NVA held 3 out of the 5 points, with the Allies holding the border crossing at LZ ROY and the village of BEAR CAT.
Sunday morning brought a refreshed player base, with all elements ready for the last two phases, the Free World Forces executed Operation Endgame, a massive air mobile assault into the Cambodian border areas to seize vital terrain OBJs from an unexpected direction (West) and as SOG, 3rd MARDIV, and 1 CAV conducted their attacks from LZ MORGAN towards the terrain OBJs, cut the NVA and VC off from their support bases. Meanwhile, the NVA and VC executed their own version of Endgame, using trucks to transport their troops to a central point along the border in order to better attack to seize/hold terrain point.
The push off LZ MORGAN saw SOG followed by 3rd Marines flank around the large patties, attacking enemy in Tay Ninh, 1st CAV troops pushed out from LZ MORGAN had run into significant enemy that were moving to support their communist troops embattled with SOG and the Marines, Coach had to send marines and SOG to push through Tay Ninh, seizing a point and finally affecting a link up with Zmonster and his Cavalry Troops.
1st CAV relieved the SOG/Marine troops holding Tay Ninh, allowing Coach to push the SOG/Marine Forces back towards LZ ROY and the Village clusters. What none of the Allies knew was that the VC/NVA had massed for a large attack to retake Tay Ninh and they had also established a field hospital on the island. Zmonster established a LZ in a clearing near Tay Ninh in order to bring out the wounded and bring in fresh troops, but ammunition was limited. With SOG and the Marines pushing hard on LZ ROY and the villages, it was the Cavalry's toughest moment.
The VC and NVA came in hard and fast with VC Dan and Chav conducting suicide charges into the CAV perimeter, Zmonster shrank the perimeter, and the Cavalry troops kept their eyes glued to the grass, taking several casualties to low crawling VC (Tim), attached 3rd Marine Snipers picked off VC in the grass at long range.
The hour plus fight at the Tay Ninh LZ was give and take, ending just as Troopers were down to their last mags. The second (and final) phase picked up were Endgame left off, and every player put it all out there knowing that it was going to be a close win or loss. In the end, the NVA/VC took the overall win for Rolling Thunder 2.
Overall, despite the heat, a total of 80 players came out, looked and got into the part, and more importantly, had a great time. Players, you guys really delivered on the look on both sides (big shout out to Easy Company from Louisiana). For the guys that missed this one, keep a look out for our next one. As the combined staff got together and asked players and each other about hosting another one, the answer was quick, "Hell YES!" Major thanks to 878 Airsoft for the awesome field, Xtreme Airsoft for the patch and raffle support, Wolverine Airsoft, and Airsoft Junkiez. We will see you guys at ROLLING THUNDER 3.