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Posted on Sep 10, 2007 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features

Interactive Combat Story: Korea: The Next War, Part II

By John Antal

Stone observes at least four enemy tanks and three VTT-323s heading straight for him.

“On the way!” Koslowsky screams as he fires a HEAT round.

An Abrams tank from the 7th Cavalry Regiment fires a round during gunnery training at the Korea Training Center. Image Credit: DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Striking a VTT-323 directly center-of-mass, the round penetrates the APC’s armor and burns into the vehicle with an awesome intensity. Stone watches in the thermal sight as the enemy vehicle turns into a burning mass of jagged metal.

“Target!” Stone announces, absorbed in the moment. The enemy is everywhere, and there’s no time for pity or remorse. He is fighting for the survival of his crew. If Stone is to get out of this position in one piece, he has to kill all the North Koreans in the engagement area.


Stone soon observes another enemy APC off to the left. “Left VTT, fire!” he shouts.

“On the way!” Koslowsky replies, taking aim at the VTT-323 that is now trying to break for cover. The gun fires, recoiling back in its carriage. The small metal stub of the expended shell clangs to the floor.

Stone observes the second VTT-323 take the high explosive shell hit. The round detonates against the left side of the thin-skinned infantry carrier. The energy from the explosion spins the crumpled hull 90 degrees. Torn and twisted pieces of an eight-man infantry squad that were seated inside are strewn all over the ground. The charred remains of the APC begin to burn furiously.

“Gunner!” Stone yells as he sits in his tank commander’s weapons station, his right hand gripping the override control tightly and his right eye pressed against the sight. “Where did the third one go? Find him.”

The third VTT-323 fires its 14.5 mm machine gun at Stone’s tank. The enemy gun rakes the front of the Abrams in vain, making a futile pinging sound against the tank’s superior armor.

Koslowsky fires another M-830 120 mm HEAT-MP-T round. The M-256 120 mm cannon moves back in its carriage, efficiently exercising its familiar routine of death. The third VTT-323 is obliterated by the tremendous power of the 120 mm HEAT round.

“Got the mother!” Koslowsky screams with delight in GI slang.

In the glow of Stone’s thermal sight, the battle takes on an eerie, unreal character. The lieutenant watches as the VTT’s fuel ignites in a burst of white heat against a cold green background. A few of the burning vehicle’s crewmen frantically try to escape, but they only manage to execute a short dance of death before becoming perfectly still. White flames soon engulf their bodies.

Four T-62s emerge from the smoke and immediately engage Stone’s tank at point-blank range. Koslowsky fires again at a tank less than 300 meters away, smashing a HEAT round right into the turret ring. The T-62 lurches backward as if snapped in two, its turret moving several feet to the rear of the hull. Black smoke billows from the hatches. Firing rapidly, Koslowsky disables another T-62 as the tank swerves into view. With a splash of sparks, the enemy vehicle jerks to a stop from the force of the explosion. It then spins to the left in a violent half circle, blocking the path of the other tanks. The T-62’s hatches open and the North Koreans quickly abandon their smoldering vehicle.

More North Korean vehicles advance west out of the valley, moving for Stone’s platoon at top speed.

Suddenly, Stone sees a bright flash to his left. He peeks out of his vision block and watches in horror as Tank Two, his wingman, is engulfed in flames. He then looks up at Hill 555 and observes the telltale flame from an ATGM back-blast.

“They have ATGMs on Hill 555 and 575!” Buckner reports over the radio. “They just took out Tank Three!”

Before Stone can reply to the loss of two of his tanks in rapid succession, a series of flares pop overhead. At nearly the same time, he sees the launch of two missiles from Hill 555. In a split second of realization, he understands what is happening. The North Koreans have sent their ATGM teams up the hills to pick off his tanks. The armored vehicles rushing toward him from the valley were designed to focus the Americans’ attention while the ATGM teams knocked out the tough M-1 Abrams tanks with pinpoint precision.

Before Stone can order his driver to back up, a missile hits his turret. The last thing he experiences before he dies is a horrific flash and an incredible but short wave of heat and pain.

Stone has fought and lost. As he waited for the enemy attack, he gave his opponent the initiative and time to devise a plan to counter the Americans’ superior tanks. The North Koreans were able to capitalize on their greater numbers, using their own vehicles and troops as decoys while their deadly ATGMs moved into perfect firing positions.

Go here and read Course of Action Two.

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