Book 3 Chapter 40

            I walked to the door of Marine One and had a change of mind.

            ‘’Its going to be a few hours, you can leave it here or take it back to Andrews,’’ I said.

            In the White House I went down to the Joint Chief’s command center to see if it had been activated. Normally the night shift was light on duty officers. The incident in the East China Sea had raised the alert status level up by several steps and for tonight, the chairs at every position were filled.

‘’Have you been able to establish a continuous communication link to the Nevada?’’ I asked.

            ‘’Yes, there is a delay caused by the satellite, but we can communicate with the Nevada. It is sailing with just the conning tower above the water for stability and to reduce pressure on the hull, plus it allows all the antennas to work more effectively,’’ Rear Admiral Barnes answered.

            ‘’The antennas are undamaged and radar is working. The Nevada is reporting that several Chinese ships are approaching the area at high speed, confirming what the aircraft are saying. The Chinese ships are one hundred and fifty miles away from the Nevada’s current position,’’ he said.

            ‘’At one hundred and fifty miles they were five hours away,’’ I thought. All that indicated that it may have been a Chinese sub.

            ‘’The forward torpedo outer doors are damaged as is the outer hull from the bow to the D post. The pressure hull appears to be intact and undamaged and was holding pressure when tested,’’ he said.

            ‘’The collision damaged the forward-looking sonar on the bow. All the reactor checks are within normal limits, the missile tubes and missiles are being individually checked but so far, all test come back OK,’’ he added.

‘’When you get a break in the damage reports, I would like to know if there were any indication that whatever they hit broke apart or sank. I need to go upstairs for a bit, but I will be back in a while,” I said.

            I had just walked into the Oval Office when Secretary of State Amos Dean called on the office phone.

‘’None of our allies have lost communications with any submarines and none have any in the East China Sea,’’ he said.

‘’OK, thanks for the call,’’ I said. Well, at least that is one answer so far.

I wondered what they had hit that acoustics or sonar did not pick up? Maybe they were not using active sonar if they were ordered to run silent. That was another question to ask – what were their mission orders?

Could it have been a North Korean sub? Intelligence had not reported that they were venturing that far from North Korea. Reporting always said they were staying close to home, maybe China had sold them some improved equipment or were helping with training, causing them to venture that far.

But why were the Chinese rushing ships to the area, another good question.

The sea was thousands of feet deep in that area, and the Navy did routine surveys to find any underseas volcano that could have made an undersea pinnacle peak since the last survey.

Several ships in the past had hit uncharted pinnacle rocks with bad results. In WW2 one of the battle ships had hit one and opened a gash in one of its oil storage tanks, taking it out of the war for months.

It was sent to the Puget Sound Navy Yard for repairs and they were notoriously slow. The aircraft carrier Saratoga was sent there to repair Japanese torpedo damage; it took over a year for the repairs to be made, just from one torpedo hit.

In 2020 one of our submarines hit one in a different area of the Pacific causing serious damage that took years to repair and injured half of the crew. Reports said they were using the wrong charts for the area.

I texted the girls for a VCATS to tell them I was delayed and may not make it tonight, I needed to stay in Washington for a while. We talked for over an hour and I got a few of my questions answered.

If I did not get home tonight, three of them and the boys were coming over tomorrow.

I went back to the military command center for an update.

Rear Admiral Barnes gave me the latest update.

‘’The Nevada had increased speed by a couple knots. They responded yes to your question, they did hear sounds that whatever they hit sank and was crushed by the pressure as it sank,’’ he said.

‘’They immediately surfaced and searched the area for survivors but found only debris which they brought a lot onboard for the investigation. The ship’s divers inspected the bow damage, including sending photographs. Then they headed for Japan because it was their original destination after completion of their patrol and has better repair facilities,’’ he said.

‘’A copy of the photographs should be here soon,’’ he added.

‘’Tell them to send photographs of the debris they kept so they can be immediately analyzed at the first opportunity,’’ I said.

I went to the CIA office in Section Four of the basement.

‘’Pull up the satellite video of the last pass over this area,’’ I said as I gave him the GPS numbers of the area of the Nevada’s last position.

I watched as the operator brought the information up, sent it to the big screen and then maximized the image as large as possible.

‘’Lock on that area while keeping the Nevada in the center of the screen and start backing it up at double time,’’ I said.

It was three hours earlier when the Nevada had surfaced. There was nothing and then the submarine on the surface of the ocean. With the enlarged images we could see the crew inspecting the bow of the sub. It was only a few minutes later divers were in the water looking at the bow.

Lookouts could be seen scanning the ocean. Several inflatables went over board to an area that looked to be a debris field.

The more I looked at the video the more questions came to mind.

  • What were the mission orders? I wanted a copy of them to read myself.
  • Why was the Nevada sailing at seven hundred feet? Would the answer be in the orders? Was it captains’ discretion? I wanted a copy of the Nevada log book for this mission. It was not that I did not trust the Navy, but I did not trust the brass not to cover their collective asses if things were amiss.

The test depth on the Nevada class of submarine was two thousand feet with a crush depth of twenty-eight hundred feet. That’s a lot of ocean to play with. Why seven hundred feet?

  • Was the Nevada performing a clandestine mission for the CIA?
  • What was the makeup of the crew for this mission? What was the normal crew make up? Were there any specialists aboard that would indicate clandestine operations?
  • I understood why they could not use active sonar; it would be like a beacon to their location. But passive sonar could have been used.
  • Was the Nevada having some mechanical or electrical problems on this assignment? More things a look at the logbook should answer.

I wrote down all the questions and would give it to General Ingram tomorrow. I wanted answers immediately, not the months from now that it would take for the Navy to issue a final investigation and report.

I ordered supper from the cafeteria and waited for it to be made. After supper I went back to the Oval Office and started reviewing instructions given to the agencies that reported to me.

After the election, the debate and final negotiations over the final budget last year, the agencies were to begin making the changes. To date I had not seen any changes nor any post in the federal register to make the changes.

It was simple; the flunkies at the agencies (the people that thought they had a ticket to retirement) were doing to me the same as they did with any presidential order from any president they did not agree with.

They simply buried the orders and instructions in their desk and when questioned, “We have scheduled meetings, or it is before the committee” or one of dozens of other excuses.

Monday I would have my staff do a little research and then all those department heads would be called in for a meeting they would not like.

Rear Admiral Barnes was back in with another update. ‘’The Nevada has had to slow back down for rough water. They are making five knots. We have ordered them to do a couple of shallow test dives to fifty feet, to check out all the systems. If they can travel at fifty feet, they can eliminate the rough water problem and may be able to pick up speed.’’

‘’We have been working with the CIA because of their location to see if their reporting stations picked up anything. North Korea has been looking for one of their subs for thirty-six hours but the search has been close to NK coastal waters.’’ He said.

‘’Could it have drifted that far? Although it could have been under power for a while and then drifted with the current, ‘I said.

That was more questions to ask, ‘’How did the currents flow in the China Sea? What happened that the North Koreans lost contact with their sub? Would the currents have carried it that far?”

‘’Frank will be here in a few minutes with the latest. The Nevada has sent hundreds of pictures of the debris they were able to pick up. The captain wanted to send everything before they did the test dives,’’ he said and then turned and left.

I worked on other issues for an hour before Frank arrived.

‘’Listening stations have reported a massive increase in radio traffic between Chinese Coast guard and NK vessels. The increase started thirty hours ago. Reporting stations in the area are saying they are looking for a sub that failed to return from a shakedown dive and equipment upgrades,’’ Frank said.

‘’Satellites show several NK subs missing from the docks. The last Romeo class sub they built in the nineties has been in the dry dock for eight months; a lot of that time was undercover,’’ Frank said.

‘’When it has been visible it looked like they have added thirty to fifty feet to the sub’s length. The length is either vertical launch tubes or an API, air-independent propulsion system. We suspect it was the API system,’’ Frank said.

‘’From intercepts, the Chinese have been supplying technical and possibly engineers. This was the fourth test dive for the sub and to be the longest yet – a ten-day test. It was due back four days ago. Five days ago there was a garbled transmission that they were having problems – nothing since,’’ Frank said.

‘’If the Chinese engineers and technicians were aboard that would explain China’s interest. A ten-day test would have given it enough range to be in the area it was in then,’’ I said.

‘’Frank, what is the maximum operating depth for that Romeo class?’’ I asked.

‘’Nine hundred with crush depth we suspect to be around twelve hundred feet,’’ Frank said.

‘’As soon as the Navy gets all the pictures from the debris field and the damage, I want to see them,’’ I said to Rear Admiral Barnes who had accompanied Frank into my office.

‘’Another hour and they will all be printed. One of the files from the debris field is a large one,’’ he said.

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Book 3 Chapter 39

I went into the passenger area lounge where I could hear the radio transmissions with the Orbatch’s presidential plane.

Even though Andrews was a military base, there were many VIP passenger flights in government and military planes. The Air Force had dozens of Gulf Stream and Boeing planes for VIP services.

Generals, Admirals, department heads and Congressional leaders – especially committee chairs and special investigative committee members – could not fly commercial, afraid someone would recognize them and give them hell or attempt to assault them. All those people expected plush accommodations and demanded it.

Plus – now with all the taxpayer provided bodyguards and aides – the government would end up buying a dozen tickets for each member of Congress.

I listened to the conversations between the plane and Andrew’s tower and there were technicians in the lobby talking about the plane problems. Apparently, the engine problems started two hundred miles from the USA coast.

Number one engine started smoking and burst into flames. The fire suppression system had put out the fire three different times and was now running out of suppression material. If the plane did not get on the ground soon, there was a fear that a portion of the wing could collapse – especially under the stress of landing.

All the fire apparatus was staged on the field and taxiways at various points. A few minutes later the plane was three miles out and closing fast. I could see a trail of smoke from number one engine. The pilots declared they were coming in hot to get it on the ground as quickly as possible.

Then it was a mile and the smoke trail from the engine was growing. Smoke was rolling from the main gear as the pilots braked hard, trying to get it stopped.

As soon as it stopped rolling three Striker airport rescue vehicles were pouring foam on the engine and water on the wing to cool it off. While that was being done emergency slides had opened and the passengers were getting out fast.

I walked to the plane to greet the Russian delegation that was obviously stressed out. President Orbatch and Anton Pavlenko were at the bottom of one of the emergency chutes.

‘’That was a close call! Are all your people OK or do you have some that need medical attention?” I asked.

‘’Everyone is fine, scared a little bit but fine. Worst thing is I need to be back in Russia in three days and I don’t think I want it to be on this plane,’’ President Orbatch said.

‘’They would normally send the backup plane, but it is down for repairs and maintenance,’’ he added.

By now all the foam had been rinsed off the wing and towards the storm drains. I walked with Orbatch and Anton to look at the wing. The underside looked a mess. In places the aluminum was melted and sagged. I sent one of the maintenance men to get a man lift so we could look at the top of the wing.

The top was worse. I could see into the interior of the wing and see the spars and engine attachments and mounting.

‘’I think this plane is going to be on the ground for a while,’’ I said with Anton and Orbatch agreeing.

‘’Have you had problems with this plane before?’’ I asked.

‘’Minor problems, but nothing like this,’’ Orbatch replied.

‘’At least you are on the ground safe and sound, I can send you home in one of ours,’’ I said.

President Orbatch and Anton were on time for the big fancy lunch the chefs had put together for us. Lunch was a relaxed affair with discussions about the flight from Russia and how we were going to get them back to Russia.

 Limos and Suburbans carried his party to the Blair House to freshen up for the lunch at the White House and talks. Then we were to go to Aberdeen Proving Grounds to cut the last fuel tank, signifying compete destruction of that missile group. The agenda for their visit had been planned for weeks and gave them only a few hours a day for unplanned events.

The trip to Aberdeen in a fifty vehicle convoy was slow; the roads were so busy that the police were complaining about the traffic backups that were being caused along the way in the communities and towns.

It was a media event with hundreds of news people there from many countries. The UN Secretariat even had representatives there. At one time I even toyed with denying them access to the event.

The UN was still trying to insert itself into the process. They were even trying to pass a resolution and accompanying rules that would block international treaties and agreements unless the UN was leader in the process.

With the remote controls to the big power saw in hand, we each cut a fuel tank apart. The tanks had been cleaned and purged of all the harmful chemicals from the exotic fuels the missile engines used.

Then I cut a one-inch-wide band to present to President Orbatch as a token to signify that this class of missiles was finished as required by the treaty.

After that, we finished with the media asking questions by the dozen and then the press departed.

‘’Our research shows that there is a very large armor museum here. Do we have time to walk through and look at it?’’ Orbatch asked.

I wondered why at first but in the conversation, it came out that Orbach’s grandfather had been a tank commander in the great war and one of his hobbies was the study of military armor.

The Aberdeen Army Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen Proving Ground had exhibits that dated back to colonial times and practically a copy of every piece used by all sides in WW1, WW2 and others.

Some of the tank displays had portions removed so visitors could look inside and see just how cramped the operators were. The museum gave the visitor a look at the simple arms of ancient times to the powerful battlefield weapons of today.

It clearly showed that whatever man built to fight a war, someone else could build ways to blow it up with enough time. Even the best weapon that gave one army an advantage was only short lived.

That was why countries spent hundreds of billions of dollars on research and development to have the next best gadget of war for that short-lived advantage.

As we walked the displays, museum guides showed up to describe and answer questions about them.

Dad carried Jake and me to the museum when we were teenagers for a Saturday trip and another time to the Navy yard at Norfolk when a carrier task force had returned from sea duty and was open for tours. I have often wondered if the sights at the museum and the carrier had anything to do with me joining the Marines after I graduated from school.

We returned to the White House with Orbatch returning to the Guest house. In an hour there was the state dinner.

The state dinner was an extravagant affair as usual when put on by the state department.

 Tomorrow there were more talks. There had been meetings for weeks and finally there had been a lot of progress with getting many manufactures to agree to moving their off shore manufacturing from China to Russia.

I was even more determined to get as much manufacturing out of China as I could. Mexico, The Philippines, and Russia were at the top of my list depending on the industry. Russia was winning the heavy manufacturing with Mexico second.

The Philippines was wanting light industry and electronics. Mexico was experiencing its own problems with heavy industry. Now that the cartel was on the run and the dead in the streets was nearly eliminated, they were pushing tourism. The country was rich in history and they were wanting to capitalize on that segment. The cruise ships were returning in numbers, things were definitely improving for Mexico.

Russia had plenty of heavy manufacturing factories and equipment to handle that kind of business. Getting the oil and coal to run those factories was no problem to them.

There had been giant steps in returning oil and coal production to previous levels with parts to repair equipment and new equipment being manufactured in the factories. Exports were beginning to recover.

Our meetings lasted the into the wee hours of the night and more agreements were signed. The Russian delegation left Friday morning in one of the executive planes for home, after the normal news conference.

A Russian group of aircraft mechanics were coming to evaluate the wing, make repairs and also replacing the engine.

I was leaving for the island to be with my family tonight. I wanted to hear all the pieces of the contracts again and to see my mates. I was worried about Marcy after all the hours on the plane and the long hours negotiating the new contracts.

I was packing, getting ready to leave when General Ingram came in with a handful of papers, not looking happy.

‘’There has been an incident in the East China Sea. The SSBN Nevada struck an underwater object traveling at fifteen knots at a depth of seven hundred feet. We think the object was another submarine, there are no undersea mountains at that depth in the area. There is substantial damage to the outer hull, however the pressure hull remained intact,’’ General Ingram said before continuing.

‘’Twenty submariners were injured, none life threating. The reactor is operating normally and the missile tubes are still water tight. The sub surfaced to do damage assessment and control,’’ he said.

‘’Several Navy destroyers are on the way along with the Coast Guard from Japan and the Philippines’’ he said.

‘’Were they playing cat and mouse games with another sub?’’ I asked.

Submarines playing cat and mouse with other submarines was a normal thing. Other nations tried to find ours and we theirs and sometimes they got to close to one another. Details of such contacts were classified for all kinds of reasons unless someone died, or the damage was substantial. It was viewed as normal training for a sub crew. If a major event happened, we needed to be able to sink the enemy subs before they sunk ours.

‘’What nationality was the sub?’’ I asked.

‘’China, we think – we do not know,’’ General Ingram said.

‘’No, no operations; they were on normal patrol and there were no reported contacts of any other subs or underwater objects,’’ he added.

‘’Discretely contact our allies to see if they had any submarines in the area and if they have lost contact with any,’’ I said.

‘’Has any debris been spotted or any bodies?’’ I asked.

‘’Did the Nevada report any sounds of a submarine being crushed by the pressure?’’ I asked.

‘’No, nothing yet, but search planes are just getting into the area,’’ General Ingram answered.

‘’Was there equipment failure that the other sub was not detected or has China developed a cloaking device? Those are questions the investigation needs to answer,’’ I said.

An aid knocked on the door and then handed the General a note.

‘’The ‘Nevada’ is making five knots towards Japan; escort ships will meet up in four to six hours. One of the ships is the assault landing ship ‘Wausau’, its helicopters will be in range in a couple hours and its F37s will do air cover until it meets with the Nevada. China is rushing ships to the area,’’ General Ingram said.

‘’Keep an open channel to the Nevada if you can. Keep me informed,’’ I said.

‘’If the Chinese ships attempt to interfere with the Nevada’s travel – sink them,’’ I said.

I finished packing up and walked out to Marine One that was waiting.

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Book 3 Chapter 38

The ride back to Washington in the G5 was quiet and fast. Troy and I talked about today and how things went. We were both happy but the Secret Service not so – much – they felt they had given up too much control over me; little did they know this was just the beginning of the changes I was going to make.

            Russian President Orbatch was coming tomorrow. I had people checking on the final arrangements for the meeting. We were going to destroy the last of the Jupiter short range nuclear missiles class by cutting the fuel tank in two as we had done to the medium range Russian missiles last fall.

            There was a major news conference planned, I intended for it to be a media event to rub it in the face of the UN secretariat – just had to gig him one more time.

            After that, I was holding a state dinner for him and his wife Wednesday evening. They were flying back to Russia on Thursday.

            The last of that class of missile had been carried to Aberdeen to be disassembled, the warheads made the trip first by truck to Dover Delaware Air Force Base and then by C17 to the nuclear weapons storage depot in Pyote, Texas. They were slated to be disassembled this winter and then the nuclear ball was to be sent to Waco, Texas. This was the third step of the treaty that was completed.

            The first step – The Treaty of the Arctic – was moving along nicely. Research teams from all the countries were in there testing the assigned areas for things of value. Real work could go on now as to how much of the promised minerals and wealth was there and if it was worth the cost of mining for it.

            I made phone calls and read emails while I was waiting on Marine One to arrive to carry me home for the night. Everyone had been busy for the last couple of days working and traveling. Screw the ethics rules – I was going home to be with my mates for a mini reunion and to hear about all the excitement of their travels.

            The news media was going about all the normal things with faux rage about my travels today. The reporters that had accompanied me today had been restricted on going public until after the G5 was back on the ground at Andrews and they had to share the raw report and video plus still pictures with the other media outlets before going on the air for their own networks.

Not one but none were happy with the arrangement. I was sure Harry was going to have his hands full tomorrow. They were going to have to bear the unhappiness because I was going to visit every state where I had won a majority, and where I had campaigned for the governors and legislators that stood with the things I was trying to do. The G5 was going to be the mode of transportation for all that were close.

I had told Vicky and Ching Lee that I was going to come home for the night. The Secret Service wanted Marine One to land at Morton and then a down sized convoy home. When I walked in all the family was there, Marcy and Jenny had only arrived a few minutes before me. Both looked refreshed from when I had VCATS with them earlier today. They must have slept on the flight back.

The chefs had been called and a light supper would be ready in a few minutes. We had a quiet supper – except for the kids who wanted to be kids – at the supper table. JJ and RJ were able to carry on a conversation that required that we listened to in order not to agree to some play idea that they had.

After supper we retreated to the living room and the agents disappeared, some to the gym for the exercise and others to look at the scenery. Ching Lee had said that there were more and more ‘dolls’ as she put it exercising in the late afternoon and evening slots and running into what was once the men’s exercise time.

That had become a blurred area as time went on. I wondered if the ladies were getting their kicks out of teasing or were on the prowl hunting for new cocks to play with. I was pretty sure that a few men would have little problem sliding a hard tool into a willing sweaty orifice if it was offered.

Although some of the ladies were on the young side wanting tans for spring break and eventually prom, age meant little difference any more. With horny cocks and hungry pussies, all sense went away and they would find a way to play. Vicky had said I needed to find some time to look at the secret video of the gym in the evenings to watch some of the flirting and positioning going on.

After the conversation turned from gym gossip, I asked Marcy about the trip to Africa.

‘’Black and Bear were in Cameroon and were to make a trip to Nigeria following up on the logistics for a new possible oil pipeline that was to be a joint venture between the two countries. The pipelines would have fed our second refinery that has only been running at twenty five percent production levels and be fed by several new wells,’’ Marcy said.

‘’While they were there for the meetings, Boko-haram attacked and destroyed a pipeline in each country that merged into a much larger single pipeline – a joint pipeline owned by the Congo Petroleum Company and the Republic of Gabon. They hit both pipelines within five miles of the merging point,’’ Marcy said.

‘’Boko-haram wanted five million a month for each pipe line in protection money. They killed the fire fighters and kidnapped the repair crews. They finally released the repair crews after a few days,’’ Marcy said.

‘’Gabon’s Prime Minister Turnaile Imaril and Congo President Bandile Thabo were scheduled to meet with Emir Bello the following day about other regional matters. All conversations immediately turned to pipeline security,’’ Marcy said.

‘’Black and Bear were called in and the negotiations started from there. When they finished there was a preliminary contract for five hundred miles of pipelines from the oil fields to their refinery and oil terminals at N’Dindo. They needed to complete the negotiations with senior management. That is why Jenny and I went on the rush flight,’’ Marcy said.

‘’What about their militaries? They should be able to handle Boko-haram without problem,’’ I said.

‘’Their military is small and all the elite forces are committed to UN peace keeping missions in Chad, Somalia and Sudan. The remainder are local reservists with little training and – it is feared – easily influenced by Boko-haram fighters,’’ Jenny said.

The last thing I wanted was to expand the remaining soldier of fortune part of B&B. But my impression of this contract looked like this could easily go in that direction. I said nothing but would talk with Andy for his thoughts.

‘’We have a good contract that covers all the pipeline and the production wells, all the way to the refineries and terminals. They ship out refined product and some crude in excess of their refinery capacity,’’ Marcy said.

‘’We wrote all the normal exclusions and protections for our men into the agreement,” Jenny said.

“We have a six month prepayment. Andy is pulling the on-call B&B men in tomorrow. There is an airport that will handle the C5s and has plenty of fuel to get all the logistics in place. Several of the 802s from Mexico are having the wings removed and crated for the trip to Gabon in a C5 tomorrow. The flight will be finished out with new right of way clearing equipment,’’ Marcy said.

‘’Some of the right of way clearing equipment is going to be temporally moved from Cameroon to Gabon in the next few days while new is located and shipped. The drones will be there in the next few days. I rented several large hangers to keep equipment and men in as things are put in place,’’ Marcy said.

‘’It is a good contract with good profit and working room,’’ Jenny said. It was a statement that I would have expected to come from Marcy.

I was satisfied for now and told Marcy and Jenny how worried I was about them in that part of the world and glad they had taken all the extra security.

‘’There are possible changes coming to Morton Field. UPS wants to move their Baltimore air freight operation to Morton. BWI has repeatedly raised landing fees and fuel charges to the point it is driving non-passenger operations away,’’ Lorrie said. ‘’Plus, they are delaying commercial landings in holding patterns to accommodate the passenger planes,” Lorrie added.

‘’They want a big hanger for the larger sorting needs. It must be big enough and high enough to be able to handle the air freighters they are using. Some of them, the nose opens and others are side access. They want it covered for all weather operation,’’ Lorrie said.

‘’I do not want us to sell any land for that so it will have to be a lease. Are they wanting us to build the hangar and lease it to them or they wanting to own the hangar?” I asked.

‘’We build it and lease it back, long term lease with a penalty for early exit provision. They are getting the plans they want drawn up. Our landing fees are a lot cheaper than BWI and currently our fuel is a dollar a gallon cheaper, and that was after we added a nice margin to it,’’ Lorrie said.

‘’The plan we are looking at will extend the taxiway out into the field past the ILS system on the heated runway beside the C5 tarmac and then a left to the new UPS sorting hangar and its tarmac,’’ Lorrie said.

‘’All we can do is look at their final plans and see how it fits in ours,’’ I said.

It was time for the hot tub and then fun and games in the bedroom. I needed to be back in Washington by 0700. I was eating breakfast at 0600 and Marine One was sitting on the pad behind the gym waiting for me at 0630.

I stepped out of Marine One at 0655 and my office was already humming. Today’s CIA and NSA updates were on my desk. There was another new item on my desk – a mug warmer. It would keep my coffee hot when the mug was sitting on it. I did learn there were several mugs that came with it so there could always be a fresh hot mug of coffee for me.

I read all the updates before Frank and Ben came in for the oral part of the updates. General Ingram came in as they were finishing up. The General had all the necessary parts for the President Orbatch visit; everything was set up at Aberdeen. The Secret Service had the route already planned as well as the decoy convoy.

General Ingram had more pictures and updates on Hawaii. Fifty percent of the nuclear weapons were aboard carriers, the rest would be by the weekend. The armored aircraft hangers – both air force and navy – had been entered and all the aircraft in them were undamaged. There were four of the latest fighter jets in each, fifty-seven billion dollars worth.

We decided to have the Navy construction unit open one runway so they could be flown out. The rains and winds would keep blowing the ash and covering the runway if we tried to keep them open long term.

The next topic involved the Secretary of Defense. Things were moving on the agreement with the Philippines, construction was beginning on the replacement buildings for the Navy and Air Force. There were fifty Navy ships in Subic Bay or anchored in the nearby waters – three of them were carrier task forces. The Air Force had one hundred planes and bombers at our former bases. China was not happy.

‘’I want all the exhibits from all the service museums at Pearl Harbor and Hickman Field brought back to Washington. I want an immediate assessment of the condition of the Arizona and the possibility of removing all artifacts from the ship and it makes no difference if it has collapsed or not,’’ I said to General Ingram and the Navy chief who had responded to Troy’s call.

‘’You will have it in writing tomorrow,’’ I said.

I went to meet Orbatch at Andrews. His plane was five miles out when it developed engine problems with the number one engine. The next ten minutes were full of concern!

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Book 3 Chapter 37

After the looks of surprise, ’’Hello Boss, we never expected to see you here,’’ Jerry Collins said.

            I remembered Jerry from the hiring – training sessions; he spent a lot of time picking himself up off the mats in the early stages. I refilled my mug as did others.

            ‘’I have to make surprise visits now, you never know where or when I will turn up,’’ I said.

            ‘’Meeting still going on?’’ I added.

            ‘’Yeah, everything is running a little late, food is not going to be ready until 1215’’ Jerry said.

            ‘’Things have changed a lot since I was here last. Which meeting room are they in? I will go sit in,’’ I said.

            ‘’Meeting room 2, it’s the big one, ‘’ Jerry said.

            I knocked on the door and went in with several Secret Service agents.

            ‘’Mayor Dorsey – good to see you again! Captain Peters, Captain Hamilton, Chief Johnston – good to see all of you again,’’ I said.

            ‘’How did you get away from Washington?” Mayor Dorsey asked.

            ‘’You know I have learned as a politician never to miss free meals, sometimes I have to sneak away to do it,’’ I answered.

            ‘’Besides, I wanted to have a generic conversation with you about how the changes with government rules were affecting Rochester,’’ I said.

            ‘’I also wanted to find out from Chief Johnston how cooperation with federal law enforcement agencies could be improved. I have plenty of questions for all of you after we eat if you have time,’’ I said.

            ‘’Vicky, how are you doing after the flight?’’ I asked.

            ‘’We got into some turbulence on the way, that was a little rough,’’ Vicky answered.

            ‘’We had a great morning session and finished everything, we were going to leave after lunch,’’ Ching Lee said.

            ‘’I talked with Marcy and Jenny – they should be finished up and back tonight. They say they have negotiated a good contract,’’ I said.

            ‘’We have a meeting with all the parties tomorrow for the final planning session on the first three of the companies Marcy was looking at, so I hope they get back before it gets too late. Things are moving fast and the stock holder’s meetings for those three are in thirty days,’’ Vicky said.

            ‘’Kelly, how are you doing? I haven’t been able to talk with you very much lately.”

            ‘’Doing good overall. Things are a little tense at home – the wife’s parents have moved in with us – their health is failing. She wanted them close by to watch over them. Just a matter of getting used to the minor issues,’’ Kelly said.

            ‘’Is she still working for us or has she quit to stay home?’’ I said.

            ‘’Working right now to give time to sort things out; then we will evaluate if she needs to be home with them all the time,” Kelly answered.

            ‘’Don’t forget about the family leave policy; you can request that, she can qualify to take one day at a time as needed,’’ I said.

            ‘’OK, I hadn’t thought about that,’’ Kelly replied.

            ‘’You both can use it, that would give you one hundred and twenty days that one of you could be there during the day if needed, more than what you would need if one of you worked split shifts,’’ I said.

            ‘’BJ, are you expecting a guest?’’ came over the intercom.

            I walked to the lobby, ‘’Hello Abdul Wakil, it’s good to see you again,’’ I said in Arabic.

            ‘’Lunch is not ready yet, but soon. After we finish eating, I have some questions I need to ask you if you can stay around,’’ I said.

            ‘’Yes, I can stay,’’ Abdul said.

            ‘’Lunch is ready to be served in about five minutes,’’ the caterer announced.

            ‘’That was perfect timing,’’ I said.

            It was elegant self-serve as all these kinds of meals were. I was in line behind Vicky and Ching Lee, Troy was behind me. There was a line on both sides of the food table.

            The line at the food was nearly through and the tables were nearly filled when the duty man asked if we were expecting more visitors. A Secret Service agent was with the duty man and another went out to check out the visitors.

            The Secret Service agent came to me and said, ’’Governor Stallworth, Lt. Governor Snodgrass and six staff are here, plus half a dozen state police for bodyguards,’’ Agent Tull said.

            I stood and counted the empty seats, there were enough for the governor and his staff but not for the state police.

            ‘’The governor and his staff can come in and get food and sit in here. The state police will have to wait until people leave, then eat,’’ I said knowing that Stallworth would be pissed. But it is what it is.

            Thirty minutes later Ching Lee, Vicky, Troy, Connie and agents Todd, Carter, Tull, Abdul and I were finished.

            I asked Abdul, Connie, Troy and agents Carter and Tull to follow me to the smaller meeting room. I stopped by the governor, shook his hand and told him I had a short meeting and then I would be back.

            ‘’Abdul, have you contacted your family in Iran since the war ended? By now most of the phone systems have been repaired over there,’’ I said.

            I had the answers to all the questions I was going to ask. Between Robert’s group, the CIA and the NSA, the surveillance of the Rochester group was being closely watched and all communications monitored and recorded.

With all the arrests of the radical members by the task force and other federal agencies, the group had become model citizens. By the agency and Robert’s groups, all indications were good.

            ‘’Yes, we have talked several times,’’ he said.

            ‘’Did you lose any family members?’’ I asked.

            ‘’One brother and several cousins, Father, Mother and the rest of the family lived in a village away from all the military installations. Why do you ask?’’ he said.

            ‘’I have a special project I would like you to help me with. Repairs to several airports are nearly complete and limited international service will soon be restored. I have access to other flights as you well know,” I said.

            ‘’The international hotels are soon reopening; some are already open. The public transportation systems have been operating since the end of the war,’’ I said.

            ‘’I would like you and your family members to take a trip to Iran to see how the reconstruction is going. I also want to be sure that all the aid, food supplies and transportation services are reaching all the people and not a selected few,’’ I said.

            ‘’I want you to take plenty of pictures to document what you see, then when you come back I would want a report from you,’’ I said.

            ‘’At my level lots of things get sugar coated so all the right people look good. I want a true and accurate report by someone that is not worried about their job or salary,’’ I said.

            ‘’You don’t have to let me know right now, think about it for a day or two. Just tell Kelly and he can get your answer to me. If you decide to go, it will only take a couple weeks to get everything in order,’’ I said.

            We talked a few more minutes about general things before Abdul left, I needed to talk to the other people and time was moving on.

            ‘’Mayor Dorsey, Captain Peters, Captain Hamilton, Chief Johnston – you’re next. Governor Snodgrass, you can call your security unit in so they can get something to eat,” I said.

            In the meeting room I started with the questions I wanted answers to. ‘’Mayor, how have the interactions been between the city and the Dept of Health and Human Services been going, with all the changes that have been coming into play?’ I asked.

            ‘’Streamlining the applications helped with that part, but there were reductions in funding in some spots. At the end we found out that recordkeeping record-keeping simply wasn’t up to par and that was what cost us the funding,’’ he said.

            ‘’Next year we should do better,’’ he said.

            ‘’You didn’t say anything about the changes in the transportation grants. I know you got increases there. Every state and their major jurisdictions did,’’ I said.

‘’Stopping the EPA from using the transportation fund as a cash cow to fund the EPA portion for things they wanted done on road, bridge, airport and infrastructure construction instead of their own budget has made a difference,’’ I said.

The EPA was using its power of project rejection to get its way. Having to build ten miles of green walking trails somewhere else to get approval to resurface a road was extortion.

‘’Another difference was locking down the highway trust fund for highway projects only. Even though the orders were sent out two years ago, it took threats of project rejection and audits to make that happen. There were still states using green accounting for cover to slip things in,’’ I said.

I knew that the governor was listening – the state of New York was one of the worst according to the Secretary of Transportation.

We had a good talk about a lot of subjects with the Mayor and the Rochester police department about interaction between the departments and federal agencies. The day was moving on as the governor was called in to meet. Connie was taking pages of notes.

‘’I was expecting to see senior staff here by the invitation but not the President herself. I am a little disturbed by the short nondescript notice,” Governor Stallworth said.

‘’Since things have settled down, the agency has given me a little more freedom to move around as long as it is not published or broadcast, and the destinations are close. This was the first test of the new agreement,’’ I said.

‘’I like it, I can make visits to a lot of places on short notice, without caravans, convoys, road closures, no fly zones and the like. The media is not going to like it – even those with us – because they cannot broadcast any information until I’m back in Washington,’’ I said.

‘’I know there have been several disagreements with my administration and agencies in the past and I am sure there will be going forward,’’ I said. ‘’What would you like to talk about while you have some one-on-one time with me?’’ I said.

‘’The border with Canada is still under the enhanced security protocol that was put in place at the start of the Iran war. My administration believes it is time to return to the pre-war security levels,’’ Governor Stallworth said then he added “The Mexico security zone should be ended as well.’’

‘’Department of Homeland Security and Department of Immigration are still picking up several terrorists on the watch list trying to gain access to our country from Canada on a regular basis. Until those numbers stop, I see no changes coming to the security stance,” I said.

‘’As for the southern border, Mexico is so satisfied with the northern border security zone agreement that they are in discussions with JBG about the same arrangement on their border with Guatemala,’’ I said.

 ‘’Mexico and JBG are still arresting hundreds of cartel terrorists and they are going before real judges, not cartel-controlled judges and police,’’ I said.

‘’In the last ninety days, there has been only four bodies found that were cartel related. Arrest of the murders was made within hours. The people are no longer afraid to point out the cartel members. They know they will be arrested and stay in jail,’’ I said.

‘‘We need more federal funding for programs, our coffers are running low,’’ the Governor said.

‘’Most people when they start running out of money tighten the purse strings, your response was to spend even more for programs you could have done without. A hiring freeze and a contractor freeze should have been put in place, the pay raise for state workers should have been downsized or even postponed at least temporally,’’ I said.

‘’We are doing those things in the federal government; announcements will be made tomorrow. The Hawaii Island thing is going to put a serious strain on the budget, not just this year but for several years.’’ I said.

‘’We have over a million people to furnish temporary housing and jobs and the list goes on and on. Many have health issues and none of the doctors can give any realistic answer on how soon or if they will recover fully,’’ I said.

‘’To put it bluntly, short of a national emergency, I wouldn’t expect any additional funds coming from the federal government,’’ I said.

‘’You could always raise taxes, a little here and a little there at the federal level would equal big bucks to help deserving states,’’ Governor Stallworth said.

‘’All the states would feel they are deserving. I am strictly opposed to raising taxes that benefit a few,’’ I said.

‘’I do know that in total New York State is scheduled to receive more federal aid this year than last,’’ I said.

After the money conversation ended, we talked about more streamlining and better response between state and federal agencies. A big discussion was over the continued sanctuary status of New York and refusal to work with Department of Immigration over illegals and those that were criminals.

What I knew that he didn’t know was there was going to be legislation introduced in both houses that would reduce funding for those states that chose to be sanctuary states for whatever cause.

I was going to support the legislation. It didn’t make sense to me that crimes in one state was a free walk in another, I further believed that in all fifty states criminal laws should be uniform.

Troy handed me a note, ‘’We need to head back, you have paper to look at on your desk and calls to make.’’ It was my code to end today’s meetings.

‘’I need to go back to Washington, duty calls, I am hoping to make a lot more trips like this and hope to get back here and meet with you soon,’’ I said as my aids started packing.

A goodbye hug and kiss with Vicky and Ching Lee,’’ I will see you tonight,’’ and we were headed back to Washington.

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Book 3 Chapter 36

            I had a restless night and was eating breakfast at 0600. At 0700 I received a text from Marcy that negotiations were going well, and they would do a VCATS from there at 1600 their time (that was 0900 Eastern).

            At 0800 I was in the Section Two meeting with the national security team. North Korea was saber rattling again – that was almost an everyday occurrence. It seems like every day there was a missile launch or artillery barrage near the border or over the border with South Korea.

            Putting the NSA and CIA rep on the spot I asked, ’’What have you learned from all the missile launches? You should be collecting data from everyone and the communications from the missile to the ground controllers. You should have plenty of information by now, you should be able to break down the coding by now.’’

            ‘’We are working on it, but they are changing the codes frequently,’’ Frank replied.

            ‘’Do you think they are testing missiles from other countries is the reason for the different codes?’’ I asked.

            ‘’That’s a possibility, there have been suspicions that Afghanistan was looking for a missile supplier since Iran is out of the picture. We know China is back in the arms business; they have replaced the arms dealer you killed in South Africa several months ago,’’ Frank said.

            ‘’Since it has become an everyday occurrence, move a couple of spy ships with escorts to the area and develop some real time information. That would make motormouth shift gears and hopefully get sloppy with their communications, ‘’ I said.

            ‘’Another thing would be to sea launch an anti-missile missile at one of theirs after it passes over head, just to see how close we can follow it before hitting the destruct button. That or as soon as they test launch theirs, giving us a free target to train with. That should unnerve the little gremlins,’’ I said.

            ‘’Just make sure the escorts are well armed and well equipped,’’ I added.

            ‘’That would just give the Chinese pieces of our missiles to analyze,’’ Ben said.

            ‘’Be ahead of their game – they are always trying to get to ours first, we just have to beat them to picking up the pieces, including picking up the pieces of the N Korean rocket. That’s what they are really after,’’ I said.

            ‘’That begs to wonder why the Chinese are so aggressive to recover the North Korean missile parts? Are they supplying the components and don’t want anyone else to find out or are they interested to see what the NK has developed?’’ I asked.

            The Chinese had been trying to interfere for years in our operations in the South China Sea, from ship movements, ocean mapping or recovering our spent missile test components.

            ‘’They would not be doing testing for the Chinese – they have desolate areas to test them on their own,’’ Frank said.

‘’There are four squadrons of JBG fast boats available. Place them in the suspected track with a tender, so they can stay on station for a couple of weeks and have them patrol the area. They will be able to quickly pick up the pieces,’’ I said.

Marcy had continued the fast boat purchase contracts even after JBG had met the contract numbers for the OPEC group. Thirty had been damaged during the Iranian war and needed repair; some were extensive repairs so spare boats made sense.

Then there were the other contracts that we had to utilize the fast boats. There were thirty assigned to Mexican waters; most were in the Gulf to protect the oil well support groups.

There were thirty more supplying security as part of the Nigerian and Cameroon oil field security package. They patrolled off shore loading platforms and the harbors. Logistics to support all that was another challenge that required another group of people. Those logistics also required extra crews for vacations and training exchanges.

Marcy had a lot of spare parts for planes, trucks, boats and everything else we owned; parts books came with everything – either in paper of or computer programs – or she wouldn’t accept the equipment. Every piece required a build list of every part used to make it to go in its equipment file. It only took getting burned on a specialized piece of equipment for Marcy to implement that requirement.

‘’We know they are trying to intimidate Japan. We know the approximate range they are getting. You said that they were getting consistent with all that. The fast boats can run down the pieces before the Chinese can get to them,’’ I said.

            ‘’Andy said you like playing with fire, aren’t you afraid it might grow to be a big bonfire? That might make North Korea and China both a little peeved,’’ Frank said.

            ‘’I think it may be more like pouring cold water on the issue. Every time they push the limit and don’t get challenged; they get braver. It’s time for some challenges to happen and maybe rough them up a little,’’ I said.

            I was in the private Presidential den in my living area looking at the new MTAC screen that the maintenance group had installed this morning while I was in meetings. I was waiting for Marcy’s page. I didn’t have to wait long, it came a few minutes later.

            My first question was ‘’How are you doing with the long flight and long hours?’’

            ‘’Doing really good! Better than I thought I would,’’ Marcy answered.

            ‘’We have a good long-term contract; we only have a few more small items to work through. They needed to get some more information for us to put things onto paper,’’ Marcy said with Jenny agreeing.

            ‘’I’m going to send three hundred of the call-up men from Fort Dean. They have been home from Mexico for over a month, they should have their beer drinking and sex life caught up by now and be ready to go back to work,’’ Andy said.

            ‘’I’m also sending two AT802s and two Blackhawks for air cover for now, and possibly a couple of the drones,’’ Andy said.

            ‘’Marcy has agreed to buy four more Blackhawks from the surplus system and the aviation shop has the four they were rebuilding nearly complete. We are good on choppers for a while,’’ Andy added.

            ‘’We have decided to buy new Raptors and new skid steers with front mounted bush hog mulchers for the right of way clearing. They want a really wide and clean right of way along the pipelines,’’ Marcy said and added, ‘’They are to supply fuel.’’

            ‘’I will order all the equipment after they sign. Andy will have the logistics and people on the way tomorrow. We will put everything together on the flight back,’’ Marcy said.

            ‘’OK, call me when you get to Morton,’’ I said.

            ‘’OK, we will,’’ Jenny said.

            After months of intense and very heated conversations with the Secret Service, I had won another little battle with them. I had argued repeatedly that all the travel issues with me going back and forth to Summers Lane was unnecessary.

            ‘’The bounties are gone and the days of Iranian sponsored terrorist are over, the Russians were friendly again – at least for a while – and the security zone was keeping all the riffraff out of the country. And, all the incoming air travelers are subjected to close scrutiny, including facial recognition, cross checked with Interpol,’’ I had said.

            The travel issues initially had been immense; they weren’t satisfied with one fifty car convoy with air cover. There had to be another one for a decoy. They closed down lanes on all the bridges – even in rush hour – causing massive backups.

            After pulling rank on them, they finally decided using Marine One from the White House lawn to Morton or behind the office was adequate for security.

            The next thing was trips in Air Force One; there were two of them, exactly the same. One I flew on with fighter support and one was a decoy complete with fighter support. If I landed at an airport a no-fly zone was applied to the airport, grounding all aircraft operations and creating massive problems for travelers.

            The logistics were crazy for my official travels; if I scheduled a flight to Texas for an event it took seven C17 flights to carry the necessary logistics. The beast had to go plus one of the spare beasts. The rest were Suburbans for the Secret Service, DHS, FBI and CIA. An ambulance and medical equipment were pre-staged at every place I landed. The White House doc and a staff traveled with me on Air Force One.

            I finally won another concession from the service. For unannounced – unpublished travels within five hundred air miles from DC that didn’t have mass public speaking events – I could travel in a G5, actually two of them would make the trip. One would carry me, Troy and the football, finished out with Secret Service and JBG. The other would carry a few of my staff, one reporter and a cameraperson. In other words, I could make a few low-key trips without the mass mess. I was going to test the arrangement today.

            After my video meeting with Marcy, I told the Secret Service travel coordinator that I wanted to go to Rochester and be there 1130 at the latest. There was a quick discussion with the powers-that-be of the Secret Service but the two G5s that were at Andrews were ordered to be ready to fly in thirty minutes.

            I sent a text to Ching Lee, ‘’Call the caterer for today’s meal and to add additional food for thirty people; you may have unexpected guest or plenty of leftovers for the night shift. Send both college armored Suburbans to the airport at 1100.”

            All JBG colleges now had the upgrades that were demonstrated at KCC and the security departments expanded. Rochester – being so large – the security department had been nicely expanded.

They had a large meeting room, now that the administration found a reason to use it often, but then the best coffee on campus was there – or so they said. That meeting room was big enough to hold all the extra people coming today. The lunch room was equally as large.

            I logged into Maar’s website and ordered four more cars for the additional people to use when we arrived.

            Then I had a thought while my staff that was accompanying us got their things together.

            ‘’Invite Abdul Wakil to the luncheon,’’ I sent to Ching Lee said, ‘’I have some questions for him if I can steer the conversation in that direction.’’

            I explained to Troy that the mayor, the police chief and college officials would be there.

            ‘’You’d better invite Governor Stallworth, I know he is still angry about you ordering his National Guard to the war zone and digs you every time in the media he can. If you don’t invite him, he will go on a tirade and it is normal procedure, ’’ Troy said.

            ‘’I don’t really want to listen to his sarcastic attitude and how his state deserves trillions in federal aid,’’ I said.

            ‘’I will non-descript his invite after we get airborne, that way time for him to arrive will be short, ‘’ Troy said.

            ‘’OK,’’ I replied.

            Five minutes later we were headed to Andrews.

            Not long after taking off Troy sent the message to the governor.

            ‘’To the Honorable Governor Stallworth.

            “You are invited to a luncheon followed up by a meet and greet with question-and-answer session with the Executive White House staff at 1200. The meal and sessions will be held in the security meeting rooms at Rochester State College. Other local leaders will be there,’’ he signed it as, “The advisor to the Executive staff.‘’

            I laughed when I read it – it was about as non-descript as one could get. The plane with the media person left Andrews first so they could be on the ground, they were instructed to not take fill pictures of the planes while showing the N numbers.         

            We were in the landing pattern at 1055 and departing the plane at 1110. There were surprised people at several places – the MAAR site when I signed the cars out and chatted a couple minutes and the drivers of the two college Suburbans.

            It was 1145 when we walked into the college security office bringing things to a halt.

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Book 3 Chapter 35

Book 3 Chapter 35

            There were startled faces all around the table as I stood and walked out into the hall. I leaned against wall waiting for the complete conversation.

            I listened while Vicky explained that Marcy, Jenny, Andy and the Special Ops team – including the Mossad ladies for added security – had left for Africa on the 737. They were going to the Congo and then to Gabon.

            ‘’Black and Bear have been working with the leaders of those two countries on logistics for pipeline security, it was a rush contract request. They contacted us a couple months ago. The talks weren’t productive at the time. We thought it was a dead end and a waste of time at the time. They don’t produce a terrible amount of crude by OPEC standards, but have steady production that the majors count on,’’ Vicky said.

            ‘’Three weeks ago, Boko Haram blew up one of their pipelines in each country and then killed the fire fighters and repair crews. Now they want millions a month for insurance to guarantee safety for the pipelines and crews,’’ Vicky said.

            ‘’Apparently, they contacted Emir Bello of Nigeria about pipeline safety knowing Nigeria had problems in the past; they also contacted President Garcia of Mexico,’’ Vicky said.

‘’They are wanting the complete package after the attacks. Forestry, right of way clearing, security for the pipelines. They understand about the possibility of collateral damage and the need for legal exclusions, judicial exemptions and aviation authorization,’’ Vicky said.

            ‘’I don’t like it that Marcy went this late in her pregnancy, even though you two have had all the shots. As you girls like to say, we pay people to do these kinds of things,’’ I said.

            ‘’They wanted to talk directly – face to face – with the executives, plus Jenny and Marcy needed to be there to finalize quickly changing costs and contract language. Both Andy and Paul Drake went for logistics and the security end,’’ Vicky said.

            ‘’Call the embassy teams in both countries to make sure they supply transportation and secure hotels if they have to stay overnight,’’ I said. As an afterthought, ‘’Have the embassy teams supply extra security,’’ I added.

            ‘’So, it is just Lorrie, Ching Lee and you running the show for a couple days then?’’ I asked.

            ‘’Ching Lee and me, along with a couple of her VPs are going to Rochester tomorrow for updates and review with Mayor Dorsey, Police Chief Johnston and Captain Peters on the College police force. We should be back by 1700,’’ Vicky said.

            ‘’Where is the meeting taking place and what time? If I am free, I will do a VCATS call to say hello,’’ I said.

            ‘’We are to be there at 0900 its to be held at the college security meeting room. Ching Lee ordered a big fancy catered meal for everyone to be delivered at 1200. There is a VCATS screen in that room with a new fancy broadcasting camera,’’ Vicky said then added,’’ There is to be an afternoon session for follow up and to tie up loose ends.’’

            ‘’OK, keep me informed please,’’ I said.

            I walked to the Oval Office and logged into the State Department alert system and looked at all the active alerts for Africa. I felt a little better after reading them. There were the alerts about the pipeline sabotage that took place three weeks ago. But there was nothing that was flagged as urgent in the last ten days.

            Then I went to the CIA broadcast alerts, again there was nothing; it seemed out of the way in the area.

            Just as I was closing them out, General Ingram asked if there was anything he could help with.

            I explained the trip the group was making and my feelings that I was not too keen on it.

            ‘’I think we have a carrier task force making port call visits in the area. Let me check on it and move it closer to the area,’’ General Ingram said.

            ‘’That could lead to trouble if a few in Congress found about it. Just let it go, they will be alright; they should have enough security. It’s that family thing, I am overly protective of them, ‘’ I said.

            One thing was for sure. Tomorrow the communications group was going to widescreen TV in my living quarters with a camera so I could attend the nightly planning sessions with the girls. I would end my day an hour earlier so I could sit in. Then I would go back to the Oval Office if I needed to, if not I would go to the gym. To hell with the ethics rules.

            I sent the request to the White House building engineer and instructions that I wanted to see him immediately. I was going to have the screen put in the Presidential den in the private end of the White House.

            Troy came into my office with a handful of papers, they were from the Justice Department. The DOJ was representing the administration in the suits to gain access to Hawaii. The first hearings were this morning. The court ruled against the groups trying to get access to Hawaii.

            The UN had scheduled a full chamber debate at the request of its scientific and environmental section, they were trying to apply pressure to gain access, even to the point of petitioning the world court.

            I was expecting reports from the Navy later today, the fleet should arrive back there some time this afternoon. The reports should cover a second look at all the military bases and the effects of the storm on them.

            I looked at all the pictures again that the spy plane had taken yesterday. I didn’t like a lot of things they showed. For one thing – at Hickman field and other air bases – they were now leveled where before the storm just sections were collapsed.

            That meant that any aircraft in them was now destroyed for sure, as well as parts and equipment.

            There were fifty or so armored and blast resistant hangars that so far, I had received no information on their condition or of the aircraft in them. I wondered if the earthquakes had caused them enough damage that access into them was not possible.

            Another issue was that with no power and no fuel to run the generators, could they even be opened manually after the ash was moved out of the way? I was reasonably sure that the doors weighed hundreds of tons in order to be blast resistant. All this resulted in more written questions to ask in the 0800 staff meeting tomorrow.

            I decided not to put any more thoughts into this until the reports from the Navy were in. I suspected it would be here tomorrow. I headed to my next meeting and it was about the Hawaiian survivors.

            It was a short meeting. Ten thousand of those that bad breathing problems had been released from the hospitals in the last couple of days. There were a lot more to go.

            The Navy report came over MTAC from the command carrier station keeping just a mile off Oahu. Troy and I with General Ingram listened to the to the report. It was being recorded so Kitty could put it into paper tomorrow.

            General Mitchell and General Emory, along with their staff, looking at the pictures taken today made a bleak assessment of both Oahu and the big island Hawaii. The underground living bunkers had water damage, a few with marginal flooding.

            The nuclear weapons storage was still dry – it should have been because it was designed for the worst. The nuclear weapons stored there would begin transferring to the carriers in a couple days after clearing some roads and other changes.

            In more bad news, Pearl Harbor had lost ten feet of depth or more in places to ash. Before any major ships could dock, it would have to be dredged. The rain in some places had washed ash into the harbor. The ash everywhere else in the blistering sun was turning into concrete.

            I asked that they do a physical assessment of all the airfields tomorrow and follow up with me. I also asked when they thought the bases could be restored and how long it would take.

            I asked about the condition of the Arizona and the memorial.

            ‘’I will have divers check it out tomorrow, but we think both have collapsed,’’ was the response.

            What to do with the Arizona had been under debate since Dec 7, 1941. After much debate it was decided to make it a Memorial to those that had died. As the years went by the internals of the ship were left untouched. Remote cameras were sent in at times to check on the condition of the ship.

Those cameras also revealed that there were thousands of artifacts which were still salvageable, but the condition of the ship was deteriorating. Since it was considered a war grave, law forbade anyone to enter and remove anything.

In my mind, if archaeologists and the world had no problem with them digging up ancient Egyptians and any other people, we could recover the remains of the men and the artifacts could be recovered to be placed in a nearby museum for eternity. If the ship had collapsed, all was lost forever and everyone knew sooner or later it would collapse. Even the Titanic was now just a flat pile of rusting steel. It was one more debate I would start immediately.

After the report, the general consensus was no one would be going back to the Hawaiian Island chain to live for decades if ever. I just didn’t see spending hundreds of billions of dollars that would be needed to dump the ash in the sea, when the volcanoes there had been erupting almost continually for decades.

            I left the meeting after telling the experts to start work on a policy directive for the prudent agencies to move public opinion and awareness in that direction. In other words, begin the government’s normal unofficial propaganda campaign by starting various news leaks.

Along with that, a memo would be sent out to all the temporary camps that held the victims informing them that return was not looking probable for decades – if ever – and the need to begin thinking about finding permanent housing and jobs.

I went to the gym and worked out until my Secret Service agents were exhausted and forced me to quit.

After a light supper, I did a long video call with Vicky and Ching Lee. Marcy, Jenny nor Andy had called back to the office. I was tempted to take Marine One and land at Morton, but the wind was blowing a gale and the Secret Service wouldn’t allow it.

            I read reports until 2200 then turned out the lights and went to sleep.

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Book 3 Chapter 34

 Tuesday morning, I was reading the conflicting updates about Hawaii. There were six different versions about what had taken place there with the storm. To top it all off, the scientific community was filing more lawsuits for access.

            NASA, NOAA, the UN and the EU were all wanting unlimited access for scientific study and had sent detailed reports and demands.

 I called General Ingram to come to my office.

‘’I want a spy plane to take me a complete video and still pictures of the Hawaii and Oahu Islands and I want it on my desk by noon time,’’ I said.

My meetings were to start at 1300 with all the screaming parties and agencies. I wanted to be sure of my position before I dropped the hammer on them.

What should have been a quiet morning went down the tubes pretty quickly. All the Japanese rescue ships that had transported victims of the volcano to the mainland were leaving California, now that the storm was gone.

The Kobayashi Maru and the Nippon Maru had left at 0100 Pacific time. The Akagi Maru and the Diamond Princess left the California coast at 0300. At 0500 the Kobayashi Maru and the Nippon collided in fog one hundred and twenty miles from California.

Just how in the hell did two nine hundred foot ships that had plied most of the western Pacific, around the thousands of islands that made up Japan, the Philippines and even the treacherous waters of Australia and equipped with the latest radar collide in what was described as light fog?

But no matter, the Nippon was taking on a thousand gallons of sea water a minute. The pumps were keeping up with it and the captain was wanting to continue the voyage home for repairs. The Coast Guard was going to deliver extra pumps.

I was opposed to it continuing on even if the pumps were keeping up, a thousand gallon a minute was a big hole and the sea had a habit of making holes bigger. I called my Navy and Coast Guard representatives for a briefing. After an hour on the phone to Japanese officials, the Nippon was returning to California to the BAE shipyard to allow divers to inspect the damage and the shipyard to plan temporary repairs. BAE had a floating drydock large enough, if it was necessary. Engineers hired by the company were flying to the US as were investigators representing the ship owner.

The Kobayashi Maru was said to have some damage, but was not taking on water and was going back to Japan after the Coast Guard investigation. It was just one more distraction in the day.

I had intended to look at the budget again and was waiting on the OMG to come forward with the cost so far with the Hawaiian mess – even though we were just beginning – but they should have had two weeks’ worth of numbers to work with.

To my dismay they said it would take two months before they would get and could tabulate the numbers.

‘’Federal agencies are in no hurry to get the data to OMB because they don’t want the bean counters to know too closely what they are doing,’’ Derrick Shaw – the director of OMB – said when I questioned him on the cost.

OMG had spent billions last year upgrading the systems for faster and more accurate data. I wondered what the money had actually been spent on?

I issued an executive order for all agencies involved with the Hawaiian effort to submit daily manpower and material cost to OMB with special notations of the charges that were outside their normal budget. I knew – without a doubt – the agencies were doing it on their own, even if they delayed sending to OMB. Without accountability, they were going to wait until some point and then scream they needed emergency funding because they were broke.

I wondered how Marcy would feel about cracking her whip at OMB.

Lunch was a salad – I was eating alone today. Marcy was at the office trying to catch up from our vacation and was sending me emails she thought I may want to have input on.

There were growing issues with the property we owned in Montana that we got in the Black Bear takeover. B&B used it for mountain warfare training – visions of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. We had no contracts for mountain training and therefore had no need to continue mountain warfare training there.

It had been a huge cattle ranch and there were fifty thousand on the rolling hill – flat land southern portion of the property. After reviewing the property and discussions with the farm manager there, we let it continue as a cattle ranch.

They were selling eight to ten thousand head a year, depending on growth and the breeding cycle.

The ranch portion was on eight hundred thousand acres with two hundred thousand acres mountainous terrain, scrub timber and some old growth. At the time, we wondered why B&B never sold the old growth timber, it was worth a fortune even then. It was certainly a missed opportunity for a company that was desperate for money.

The issues now were wild life, moose, elk,  grizzly bear, black bear, big horn sheep, mule deer, white tail deer – and now with reintroduction of the gray wolf – wolf packs.

There had been no commercial hunts since we bought it, we just didn’t have the time and we weren’t really interested in hunting at the time. We ordered the two hunting lodges closed and winterized but to be maintained. The guides that worked the lodges were also the ranch hands.

With no hunts except natural predators, all those species were getting out of control and several of them were actively bothering or hunting the cattle herds. We were losing several hundred cattle to the bears, wolves and coyotes packs each year. The cows and their young offspring were no match for the varmints. The ranch hands were allowed to shoot them if they caught them in the herds.

Now the moose, elk, bear and deer populations were exploding as well. The moose, elk and deer were raiding the cattle feeders and hay feeders in the pastures.

Every year Dad and Jason with the farming operations were under them, purchased thousands of bales of hay from Pennsylvania and Ohio and had it shipped to Montana and stored in the hay sheds. It was used to feed the cattle when the heavy snows made finding enough grass under the snow impossible and we always came up short as the herds were growing.

We had learned that lesson the first year. There had been a monstrous snow and then another one just days after. A thousand cattle had perished to starvation.

Dad and Jason had the hay sheds expanded and ordered two big diesel snow cats with flat bodies to carry hay into the pastures and a Bell helicopter to scout out where the groups of cattle were stranded.

The solution to some of those problems was to begin operating the hunting lodges again. With all the family – including my mates – bitten with the outdoors bug including hunting it was easy. Then there was the gun club we owned that still booked hunts worldwide along with camera hunts for many places in Africa. Real hunts where it was allowed, if one had enough money for the permits that cost thousands.

The club was now offering hunts to south Africa, Cameroon and Nigeria. They offered guided hunts to all the western states and Canada. It was only logical to add Montana hunts to the gun club.

Last summer when the problems became obvious, Jason, Dad and James Clown – the gun club manager – made a special trip to the ranch to set the wheels in motion. After reviewing the condition of the two enormous lodges, Dad ordered the ranch manager to locate contractors to upgrade the lodges to first class accommodations.

James was going to handle all the legal issues with Montana Game and Fish to get the commercial hunting permits and everything else needed. When completed, the club would be able issue Montana hunting licenses and everything else needed for the package, including the necessary firearms safety course required by Montana.

The four took a helicopter inspection of the proposed hunt area. In just a couple hours they counted over one hundred different moose, elk, bighorn sheep and mountain goat herds. Bear, mountain lion, cougar and other predators were too numerous to count. The men were ready to go hunting; wherever they looked, wild game was very abundant.

It was on this trip that Jason learned that there were two other massive ranches that joined our property were up for sale. Jason collected the information and met with the realtors, made inspections of the properties and forwarded the information to Pam Westfield in Lorrie’s property division with the recommendation to buy immediately.

One property was six hundred thousand acres, the other seven hundred thousand acres. Both were similar properties like the one we already owned, ranch with fair grazing and high elevation brush and timber, a perfect fit for what we already owned and were planning to do. An investor in Atlanta owned both parcels.

My staff was already going through the logistics needed for an official visit to Mexico City for the Americas’ anti-drug collation kickoff. This was going to be the first summit meeting of the anti-drug collation that I had started while JBG was working on the first pipeline contract.

All the countries of the Americas had signed on to participate in the anti-drug push. I was scheduled to be there a week, three days for the drug meeting and then four days with meetings with all the different leaders of the nations of the Americas.

There was a list of proposed new international regulations to meet new illegal drug challenges. Asian countries were still sending all kinds of drugs and ingredients to make drugs in shipping containers to every port on the Pacific coast, hoping some of it would get through and some did. But things were going to change. New tracking methods and new pressures on those arrested would lead to the source.

At noon General Ingram was in with video and the pictures I wanted of Hawaii while I was eating lunch at my desk. With all my mates away, I always ate and piddled at work in the Oval Office, even though the White House wanted me to eat in the formal dining room.

Hawaii was still a disaster, the storm did little with all the ash other than pack it tight. Near the shore, the rivers and streams it was determined some was washed away by comparing some of the earlier pictures. There were areas that the ash looked a lot deeper from the eruption during the storm on Hawaii proper. Oahu looked to be spared from additional ash. The General, Troy and I looked over the pictures and video until it was near 1300.

At 1300 I went to the big executive meeting room with the fancy chairs and all the MTAC screens. A dozen of the participants were already there as the MTAC screens lit up.

For two hours we chased the topic around the table about letting groups onto the Hawaiian Islands. It ended with NO for now, but we would reevaluate in ninety days. That would give the military time to remove most weapons systems, if it came down to that.

The meeting had just ended when my phone blasted out a burst of tones announcing multiple texts.

‘’I still don’t like it when your phone does that,’’ Ben said.

I read all the texts then called Vicky.


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Book 3 Chapter 33

Book 3 Chapter 33

            The South Carolina fundraiser was a barn burner. People were pumped up ready for something different than the doom and gloom that the media was pushing because of the volcano. I gave it to them with promises that the energy crunch would soon be ending. Progress was being made getting the Midwest and South West wind turbines back into operation with the ash being removed faster than was anticipated.

            Early reports on the North West solar panels were disappointing, many were simply going to have to be replaced. Another thing that happened the big battery farms that were to store all the wind and solar generated power to last for days, didn’t. When they were discharged below the minimum voltage for extended periods they shorted out and started fires that were impossible to put out.

            One thing that saved many regions was that the utilities saved those gas, oil and coal power plants placing them on stand- by reserve for emergencies. Some areas wanted the publicity of destroying the plants and were now begging to get the electric power those plants were producing.

Many utilities, counties and states were expecting hundreds of billions in handouts. That was not going to happen. I remembered what they had done with all the COVID, monkey pox, bat-fever and homeless fever monies of the past. It was used for everything else. Estimates of damage and needs were horribly inflated.  I was sure they had insurance on all that equipment anyhow.

            Several nuclear power plants that were slated to close had been given new life after all the rolling blackouts in the west. That new life was a twenty – year extension to their operating license. The anti- nuke people quickly changed their minds after a few weeks of rolling blackouts hit their area with the weather near freezing and high winds.

            New nuclear plants were suddenly on the drawing boards and permits applications were in the process for the first time in decades.

Of course, it took some arm twisting at the Nuclear Regulatory commission and the Department of Energy. I was getting really good at twisting arms of long- term bureaucrats. Taking away their agency slush funds and audits by the new Executive investigative Agency ‘EIA’ were beginning to have an effect.

They quickly decided they didn’t want to be in that hot seat. My investigative group made that seat too hot for many to sit in. Especially after several agency heads found out handcuffs did fit their wrist easily for not responding to the subpoenas they were sent.

 Several lower courts had ruled that subpoenas were indeed valid. My agency handled things differently than congress. One of the things that happened with the guidance of Curtis Warren was a judge assigned to the executive branch.

The system of prosecutors I had chosen was modeled after the one congress had implemented during the Biden Administration. The speaker of the house and Senate thought they needed prosecutors and a judge. If the congress thought they needed that set up so did the executive branch I reasoned. It didn’t sit too well with congress but they were unwilling to give up theirs so opposition slowly disappeared.

 Congress just made news print when someone didn’t show. The EIA sent someone with handcuffs to bring them before the investigators. No agency attorneys were allowed.

Congress asked childish questions as not to offend anyone and get good media. My people asked questions that went to the root of the inquiry to hell with the politics and the media.

            We had two more days left on our vacation and we spent both of them on the beach and swimming with the kids. It was on Friday that Lorrie took a call from the Stryker airport sales division.  I knew Lorrie had been in several big meetings with them. For a while there had been on – going discussions about having our own crash/ fire trucks at Morton airfield. All large airports had their own fire department.

We had always been confident that the fire truck that the agency had at their hanger was sufficient for our need, that and the closeness of the two local town that both had volunteer fire departments.

 But there were delays with the local fire departments under the best conditions it could be ten minutes.    With all the growth at Morton in the last three years there were doubts and ten minutes was no longer acceptable. There were too many flights in and out of Morton field with big aircraft with thousands of gallons of fuel.

Then the insurance company started asking questions and that had settled the issue. My mates decided it was time for a Morton field fire and rescue department. I was heavily involved in the task force at the time and let them handle it. That was over a year ago.

‘’ That was our sales man from Oshkosh the maker of Stryker fire and rescue equipment we ordered. Our fire trucks are on the assembly line and should be completed in six months or sooner,’ Lorrie said.

‘’The hangar for the fire equipment will be started in a few weeks and be completed by the time they are finished. It’s going to be 6 six bays. Bob’s Construction is going to finish out the interior building a kitchen, bunk and rec rooms,’’ Lorrie Said.

‘’What trucks did you finally end up ordering? I knew there were several different ones you were looking at,’ I said.

            ‘’After looking at what several other airports had I decided on getting two Stryker 8X8 Airport fire trucks and two regular run of the mill Pierce fire trucks.’’ Lorrie Said.

‘’ Marcy had the truck salesman from dealer in on the conversations. The 8X8 has dual steering front axles and dual rear axles with aggressive size tires to handle the weight. It’s on a heavy- duty crane chassis,’’ Lorrie Said.

            ‘’The big tires and four axles will allow it to go in the fields at the ends of the runway if a plane over shoots the runways and crashes even if it is wet,’’ Lorrie Said.

            ‘’The 8X8 carries 4500 gallons of water– the same as the local fire department tankers carry but also carry six hundred and fifty gallons of the concentrate to make foam. It has a boom with a spear for puncturing the fuselage or containers, it can pump water or foam through the spear,’’ Lorrie Said.

 ‘’ It takes just two to operate with center drive and everything else to operate the truck is push button from that position. There are three different nozzles he can control all with water or foam the view from the cab seat is amazing. The wraparound doors are part of the windshield, like 254-degree visibility from the seat,’’ Lorrie Said.

            ‘’I elected to get the high – pressure version (1200 psi) so the water nozzles would be able to sweep the entire length of a C5 or the 747 without moving from a mid- position. It will go from 0 to 50 miles per hour in 25 seconds. That’s quick got an 80,000-pound truck,’’ Lorrie Said.

            ‘’ I want to take one for a test drive when they come in,’ I said.

            ‘’They were expensive 8 million apiece but should last us forever. The other two trucks were a million apiece. We seem to think we need six full time men a shift 24/7 to put the two Strykers and one other truck at the scene. There are enough volunteer firemen working at Morton that have volunteered to man the other fire truck if needed,’’ Marcy said.

 Sunday morning was spent packing and by noon time we were landing at Morton. I was spending the night at home and then going back to the white house on Monday. All the repairs were complete to the security gates and the now historic tunnel had been added to the list of historic places.

There was a big job ahead for the park service, the Secret Service and the FBI to decide how to handle it as a visitor’s attraction. All the agencies were wanting to just place a photograph display the Smithsonian and seal the tunnel permanently, I was pushing for that outcome.

Even though I enjoyed the vacation in the sun I was ready to get back to the White House. My mates wanted all those extra people out of the basement and I did too. All but a couple packed up their offices and moved back to Washington on Friday.

Marine one landed on the White House lawn at 0700. Monday was going to be filled with updates about everything dealing with Hawaii and none of it was going to be good news.

I spent an hour looking over the weekend national security briefs. At 0800 I was sitting in the first meeting- the hot topic was Hawaii. The volcano had started erupting again sometime during the storm. The storm had moved northwest and away from Hawaii.

The navy fleet of heavy carriers and assault landing ships was ordered back to the former assigned reporting area to begin a new survey of Hawaii and the Pearl Harbor military bases. They were to begin to remove all the nuclear weapons that were in the secure storage bunkers. It would be three days before all the ships were in position.

I went over my schedule for the next month with Troy and my staff. In two -weeks President Orbatch was coming for a state visit this time and to cut the final fuel tank of one of our classes of missiles.

The treaty was moving ahead towards completion. The disassembly of the reactor sections of the Russian submarines in storage was done.  The nuclear fuel rods had been removed from the reactors and was in the storage depot in Texas. The reactors themselves were encased in a thousand tons of concrete in steel containers and carried to the Atlantic trench. They were the lowered to the bottom of the trench some fifteen thousand feet deep.

The rest of the submarines were melted down to eventually make replacement disc blades for John Deere, Ford and International farm discs and plow mold boards as part of the import export agreements.

The following week there was a four- day meeting with emir Bello of Nigeria. This meeting was to review the progress of the infrastructure work our aid package was paying for and to talk about adding more to the plans that they were going to pay for.

JBG was now owner of both of the refineries with the second one in overhaul that should be complete soon. The one refinery was producing all the fuel needed with the excess being exported. Two hundred and fifty thousand barrels of jet a and low sulfur diesel had been shipped to the storage tanks at Pig Iron Point in the last few months in lieu of cash payment for the management agreement.

When the second refinery came on line, after the completion of the overhaul, exports would double there by increasing the number of infrastructure projects next year. Emir Bello and staff were happy.

As in all things with progress there were problem and complications for JBG especially with the companies Marcy was in the process of buying.

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Book 3 Chapter 32

Book 3 Chapter 32

            I was up early reviewing the latest updates. Dock workers had gone back to work but there was a backlog of ships waiting to unload passenger from the Hawaii mess. To ease the backlog several ships had been sent to the Navy docks.

            Troops that had been at Camp Parks were transferred to Camp Pendleton to assist in expanding the camp even further. How much more was needed I would find out at the 1100 conference call to Admiral Petty on the USS Reagan.

            The perfect storm of the century was still growing, although the growth had slowed in the last 24 hours. We were down to moving all the ships out in 48 hours. The Naval experts said the ships needed a day to be out of the dangerous leading edge of the storm. The 1100 conference call was going to be a big one with all the experts joining in.

            By the time I finished all the updates, the rest of the family and guest s were in the cafeteria. We had a great breakfast – even the boys, Takeo and Sara ate everything on their plate. Marcy and Vicky went back for second helpings. They were eating a lot, but they were eating nowhere near as much as Jenny did.

            We walked the beach and sunned, working on our tans. At 1030 I left my mates and kids to make my way to the helicopter pad where the helicopter was going to carry me and my immediate staff to the airport that was fifteen minutes away. Air Force 1 was waiting there. I was going to use the MTAC and secure command link to do the conference.

            I was a few minutes early and placed a video call to the Department of Defense’s worldwide weather reporting and forecasting system. I wanted the latest unbiased weather report and forecast for Hawaii.

            The storm was moving and was growing again, but its speed remained constant. Sustained winds were clocked by the C130 hurricane hunters at more than one hundred and seventy-five miles an hour, that was as high as the onboard equipment would register. It was a class 5 + storm. The islands would start feeling the effects of the leading edge in forty-eight hours with increasing seas and winds.

            High gusting winds were bad news for helicopters and heavy seas were bad news for the landing craft.

            At 1100 all the staff and agency heads were on the split screens; it took all the screens in the communications center split multiple ways to accommodate everyone.

            First up was Admiral Petty and Generals Mitchell and Emory. The news was better. The four cruise ships from Japan ships left for the California coast at 0600 Hawaii time; that was another twenty-four thousand survivors.

‘’By the end of the day, all those that had survived would be on board ships, there would be no one left in the bunkers and shelters on any of the islands. The thirty scientists and researchers on Midway would be picked up tomorrow morning by a C130,’’ Admiral Petty said.

‘’At first, they were refusing to leave but orders from the National Parks service and the threat of jail time with the loss of any future approvals for scientific missions on federal lands convinced them to leave. The extra time was to give them time to secure their experiments and properly secure equipment,’’ Admiral Petty said.      

‘’The destroyers Downes and Shaw left for the California coast yesterday afternoon after taking on supplies from the US Kroger and each taking two hundred and fifty survivors,’’ Admiral Perry added.

‘’How many more are on ships waiting to transport to the mainland?’’ I asked.

‘’Close to one hundred thousand, forty thousand are on cruise ships waiting to be filled to capacity and that should happen before noon, leaving fifty thousand on the Navy ships,’’ Admiral Petty answered.

‘’The graves units and assigned troops were still hard at work burying the dead. The two hundred thousand body bags had arrived. With the rescue efforts now officially over, those troops and equipment were assigned to help the graves units. The commanders promised to have all the dead buried before noon tomorrow,’’ General Mitchel said.

‘’There are no more body bags available. If you run out, just place the dead in blankets or just put them in the trench as is. There is nothing else we can do at this time,’’ I said.

‘’Chester, it looks like there are another one hundred and twenty- five thousand on the way; are there enough the tents at Pendleton to handle this influx?’’ I asked.

‘’Ten thousand today are being moved to hospitals around the nation so that will be a little help. The numbers will be close,’’ he said.

Chester Dickerson was the onsite administer from FEMA.

‘’There are no more large tents available anywhere in the US,’’ Eric said.

‘’Why can’t the healthy ones or those less sick be moved into hotels?’’ someone asked.

‘’I can answer that for you. In lots of states the homeless and immigrants who were temporarily housed in many hotels are taking up fifty percent of the rooms. When bleeding heart lawyers and the courts became involved, the temporary part went away. The funding for all that ends in October with the end of this fiscal year, but the lawyers are still trying the courts for extensions. So far, the courts have denied the appeals,’’ I said.

‘’People travel, especially business people – there must be a certain number of rooms available for that. We cannot fill the rooms up with people who could be there for months,’’ I said.

‘’Another thing is simple logistics. They require medical attention – the hospitals are full – they will be waiting in ER for hours on end. We have medical personnel at the tent cities. Critical care will be faster and better. Food and clothing are supplied there, the restaurants simply cannot handle this influx of people,’’ I said.

The MTAC meeting went on for two more hours. The chef brought me several cups of coffee and a note that said lunch would be ready when I was finished. I expected the meeting to run past lunch and left word for the chef that I wanted a loaded salad and soup.

When all the parties had finally finished, I said “Here are the orders for the military.”

“The survivors on the assault ships are to be the first transported to the cruise ships. Tomorrow at 1200 call off the graves operation and load all the landing craft back on the assault ships. The Seabee equipment is to be parked tightly together so it could be easily found,’’ I said.

‘’At 1800 all ships are to depart the area with the assault ships sailing east-north-east to a distance to be safe from the storm. Any fleet carriers that don’t have survivors are to join with the assault ships,’’ I said.

‘’When the storm has passed the assault ships and fleet carriers with them are to sail back to Oahu and investigate what the storm did to the island and if it is necessary to continue the graves operation. At that time the nuclear weapons are to be removed from storage and loaded onto the fleet carriers,’’ I said.

‘’All the ships carrying survivors are to sail to California. At that time all the cruise ships are to be released,’’ I said.

‘’General Ingram, Eric – we need to plan a survey crew to access what needs to be done on the military bases on Oahu,’’ I said.

‘’Eric you may want to consider taking a couple of Senators from the armed services committees and the DHS committees as part of the survey group. They will be staying on one of the fleet carriers. They are to get no special accommodations and there should be no staff, just the senators and representatives. There will soon be political pressure for answers,’’ I said.

‘’Is there anything that I have missed or any better suggestions?” I asked.

There were no suggestions. ‘’Well then, I guess we are past this part of the tragedy, depending on that the storm reveals. We need to be thinking about a long-term solution for the survivors and what’s left of the island.”  

‘’I have one more thing to bring to your attention.’’

“The scientific community has filed a lawsuit in federal court to gain immediate access to the islands, including an injunction to halt your restrictions to gain immediate access. The DOJ is handling the suit for you,’’ Eric said.

‘’That’s all we can do for the time being,’’ I said.

‘’BJ, stay on the line a minute. I need a private chat,’’ Frank said.

‘’OK,’’ I said as the windows were being closed.

‘’Andy and my people finished with the four brought back from Korea, looks like they have adopted the old Iran method of operation. They are planning on kidnapping ambassadors or killing them and support staff. Ours was not the only embassy they were watching. Andy has been updating Vicky while we have been discussing Hawaii,’’ Frank said.

‘’I will notify the other countries intelligence groups and Robert has a lot of data to work with,’’ Frank said.

‘’OK, I will see Vicky in a few minutes,’’ I said.

‘’Oh, according to a note, I saw the White House gate repairs should be finished by the time you return from your vacation,’’ Frank said.

‘’That’s good news, it was nice to work from home but a pain in the ass with all the extra people in the office,” I said.

The helicopter carried me back to the beach house. A Gator carried me down to where my mates and the kids were sunning and playing in the sand. The employees were stacking logs on the beach for a bonfire tonight after the sun went down.

It was a good night with family and friends on the beach. In the cottage I talked with Vicky about the North Korean problem.

‘’I’m going to send ten more security there for a while and Robert is going to send an intelligence person to add some more equipment. What do you want to do with the four we have?’’ Vicky asked.

‘’How high up in the political chain do you think they are?’’ I asked.

‘’Three of them are at the bottom rung – the other was a supervisor,’’ Vicky said.

‘’Off the three, hold off on the supervisor a couple days so I can think about it,’’ I said.

‘’Andy suggested to off all four of them, it took a lot of drugs to get them to talk. Doc Burns thinks their heart and brains are severely damaged,’’ Vicky said.

’’That’s your answer then, have Andy put them in the furnace,’’ I said.

Tomorrow was the last fundraiser while we were on vacation. This one was a short distance away in South Carolina. Three days later it was time to move back to Washington White House.

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Book 3 Chapter 31

It was a good night; even though it was not our normal super-sized bed, we had fun. Marcy and Vicky were well teased and pleased. The rest of us were all smiles. Thankfully there were no hickeys we needed to cover.

            I was up early before everyone else, drinking coffee and reading the updates. Between the UK, Germany and the US military bases there were two hundred thousand body bags on a C5 somewhere over the US heading west. It was to land around daybreak. C130s would have them on the carriers by noon-time.

            I wasn’t going to bother the military there until 1700 – to them, a full day to do things. I did look at the weather forecast – the storm was getting bigger and stronger and was on a collision course. There was no doubt that all ships and men needed to be away from there before it hit.

            The smell of coffee and breakfast had the rest of my family up. The kids made it clear they were hungry. JJ and RJ were ready to go exploring, snorkeling and hunting for pirates.

            I could tell that half of the Secret Service detachment were fighting hangovers. Bobs Construction group was no better. They were being fed from the buffet in one of the side rooms. That was another of Lorrie’s arrangements to offset the crappy temporary living arrangements. Her idea was to keep them happy and they will be more productive.

It was an offshore oil rig support barge. I did learn it was air conditioned and had fair living quarters with a rec room, showers and kitchen, but none were cooks. The Cay’s housekeepers were doing laundry for them.

I learned from the banter that they had gone to the casinos and had a good night, leaving with more money than they went in with and then went to a couple floor shows.

The Secret Service agents needed to be careful, I was sure the agency had strict rules about such activity.

We were going snorkeling to keep the boys happy for a couple hours then to the beach. In the afternoon we were going to Low Island to view upgrades. Lorrie had rented the big house to a wealthy European family for the months of November and December and again for February and March. Not only the house, but they wanted a helicopter with pilot to ferry them around the islands and a boat with captain, crew and a cook and several maids for the house.

While they were gone improvements were being done. A hangar for the helicopter was in the finishing stages with a lighted landing pad and a nice dock for the boat. The hangar was rated for a category 5 hurricane, but Lorrie ordered extra bracing and double screw anchoring for the sheet metal and double gauge thickness to make it even better and stronger.

‘’After I put all the information on the rental website, we have been getting hit after hit – all of them from Europe or the Middle East. This one is leased continuously until the end of July. Its already leased for next November, December and January. I could have rented a dozen of them,’’ Lorrie said.

‘’ There is a place two miles south that is perfect to build another mansion just like this – the complete set up,’’ Lorrie said.

‘’But is it going to be cost effective? It is going to cost a lot of money,’’ I said.

‘’The cottage with staff rented for twelve thousand a week, the exclusive use of the helicopter with pilot added five thousand a week, the boat with crew added three thousand a week, that’s twenty thousand a week and I have rented it for eight months,’’ Lorrie said.

‘’That’s between you and Marcy then. Have you brought Bob over to look at it, so his engineers can draw it up and begin the process? It needs to be fancy,’’ I said.

‘’Yes, he has been over several times and so have his people, taking measurements and making blueprints,” Lorrie said.

Back at our cottage Troy gave me several notes to look at. I added my notes to them and handed them back.

‘’Did you hear about the news group last night?’’ Troy said.

‘’No, what happened with them?’’ I said.

‘’They got drunk and rowdy in one of the casinos. Eight of them spent the night in the jail and were charged by the magistrate today. They are not happy campers,’’ Troy said.

‘’The media starting an international crisis – who would have thought it?’’ I said before we both started laughing.

We went snorkeling with the boys again, back through all the sunken boats and artifacts placed to be interesting. A little further out in the shallow lagoon was a more challenging area for more advanced snorkelers, depending on the tides.

Concrete replica-looking old cannon, old ships anchors and a concrete treasure chest or two – some open – had been placed to give the appearance an old pirate’s shipwreck. Last time the boys were here they had not found it. Today we carried them there, they were ready for the advanced area. We played in the sand and water until 1400.

At the main cottage Troy handed me several notes, one of them was that the west coast dockworkers started the work slowdown and strike. I called Marty and Eric and ordered the legal process to start. The first step was with Judge Hovator. I signed the federal orders decertifying the union. Judge Hovator ordered the arrest of all the union leaders and officials by FBI and US marshals.

Another note was from the Department of Defense, the C130s had left California two hours ago with the body bags and more supplies from Europe. There was one from the weather service about the growing Pacific storm – the ships absolutely had to be out of there in ninety-six hours – after that the seas would be running eight feet, possibly to forty feet before the storm passed.

I sent a note to several agencies asking if all the researchers had been evacuated from the Midway Island wildlife refuge. Normally there were about thirty staying there studying sea turtles and goony birds. The earthquakes and tsunami had spared the island – this storm would not.

Supper tonight was cooked on the big outdoor open grill with hickory and maple wood. There were steaks, bigger steaks and pork barbecue, also Maine lobster and Georgia blue crabs. Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes were butter brushed as they were slow cooked. There were buckets of vegetables and tubs of cold beer, wine coolers, ice tea and lemonade. After the food there was a bonfire on the beach.

Morning came before we wanted it to; we were flying to Houston Texas for a fund raiser. There were two, one in the afternoon and one this evening. The party was taking my advice and pressure to start building the war chest for the midterm elections, now less than two years away.

We were leaving at 0900 and all the family was going. We were going to tour the Johnson Space Center while we were there. The Mars mission was still progressing successfully.

The astronauts had successfully assembled four of the tube modules and were just days away from moving permanently into residential wing. Solar panels had been attached on top of the tubes at a much faster pace than the engineers thought possible. The equipment to anchor the module to the Mars surface had been more efficient than thought and the project completed ahead of schedule.

Between the solar panels, battery storage, hydrogen generator and a nuclear power generator, NASA was confident that the astronauts could now survive the Mars surface storms.

There were four more modules to be connected that contained additional science workstations and more berthing areas for astronauts. When completed, sixteen astronauts could comfortably live on the station.

With this much successful progress NASA was going to launch more modules, including one that could produce vegetables and other foods. Another launch was also delivering more advanced rechargeable rovers. Ice had been discovered less than a mile away in what was thought to be a former lake.

From the Johnson Center I would to give a congratulatory call on the progress and be able to wish the mission commander a Happy Birthday. It took four hours to walk the museum and look at all the displays and the time on the call to the Mars station.

We had time to go see one more museum before I needed to go on stage and it was not that far away. The USS Texas battleship had finally been returned to its museum berth. There had been a series of repairs done to its hull in stages over the past decade as funding was supplied by donations. All the hull below the waterline had been finally replaced, making her watertight once again.

The USS Texas was the first battleship to be a permanent museum ship and the first to be named a National Historic Landmark. The Texas also had other firsts; the first to have anti-aircraft guns, radar, a catapult to launch and recover a spotter plane, the first to control the big guns with directors and range finders.

Built in 1912 it saw service in WW1 and WW2. In WW2 it shelled the beaches for the North Africa campaign and the Normandy landing before being transferred to the Pacific in late 1944. In the Pacific it participated in the Naval bombardment for the Iwo Jima and Okinawa battles. The USS Texas is the only surviving WW1 era Dreadnought class of battleships.

I could have spent hours walking the decks, looking at all the big guns and the display of those big shells on deck. I could just imagine the roar and concussion of those guns firing. I had been close to artillery firing many times – these guns were three times bigger.

The room with the range finders and directors was nothing short of mind boggling as it was used to aim the big guns. It was basically a manual mechanical computer. Ships speed, target speed, distance, bow angles – all were entered manually – threw rows of knobs that sent information to the fire directors to put the shells on target.

We arrived at the stadium in time to do the meet and greet with all the right people. For each session Andrew and I worked up a gangbuster of a speech, the place was packed for both events.

We were back on the island, walking towards the bonfire on the sand at 2230. I read the updates on the flight back, leaving me with things to do tomorrow and several important decisions to make.

Edit by Alfmeister

Proof read by Bob W.

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