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.

‘’WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?’’

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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.

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Book 3 Chapter 30

            Even after all the time on the planes, I was up at a reasonable time. I had slept with Marcy. She wanted to cuddle for a while and I felt the baby kick a couple of times. We were affectionate, lightly talking and holding for the better part of an hour.

            Today’s dress was another tee shirt and a pair of shorts over a bikini bottom. I had promised the boys I would go snorkeling with them.

            All of us went to the cafeteria for breakfast. Today it was cooked under the watchful eye of the White House chef with an agent looking on.

            I was surprised to see Bob Short – owner of Bob’s Construction – sitting at one of the tables, drinking coffee and looking at building plans.

            While the chef was making our breakfast, I took my cup and sat at his table.

            ‘’I see Lorrie got some strings pulled to get your men here to work on our project,’’ I said.

            ‘’Yes, she wants the four cottages finished as soon as possible. The Island approved contractor had to hire us as subcontractors. It got us away from the cold ass crappy weather we are having at home. They do have some strange construction practices here to deal with for the storms, took a little getting used to,’’ he said.

            ‘’Three quarter plywood with half inch concrete board on top of that, adhesive back rubber shield and the vertical laths with concrete siding over that on two by eight wall studs on twelve-inch centers seems like overkill. And then there are the galvanized metal brackets at every joint on top of driven piling with steel plating and double cross bracing. And, the roof system is even heaver,’’ he said.

            ‘’They need these building codes in our hurricane zones. It would eliminate most hurricane damage,’’ he said.

            ‘’That would kill the building trades in the south-east, the storms supply steady work and billions for insurance companies,’’ I said.

            ‘’The accommodations could be a little better, but no-one is complaining. What is that, an off-shore oil rig support barge Lorrie has us staying on?’’ he said.

            ‘’You will have to ask her; I was out of details for that loop,’’ I said.

            I had not seen what they were talking about, but I did know it was tied up over by the maintenance building so the paying customers would not be complaining.

‘’Did I tell you I love working for you? I never know where we will be working or how much rush it will be under, but it is always interesting, working here is a nice break,’’ he said.

‘’I have a bunch of jealous crews at home. The guys have been sending them pictures of the progress. Of course, they have been sending them pictures of working in shorts, and bonfires on the beach and an occasional scantily clad lady or two. Pictures of the fishing trips didn’t help either. Then again, no-one has complained about not getting overtime,’’ he said.

‘’I may have to rotate crews out to keep the peace at home,’’ he added.

‘’Do whatever you have to do,’’ I said.

            ‘’Just keep your passports up to date. There may be some management type things for you to oversee in Nigeria and Cameroon later in the year,’’ I said.

            Breakfast was ready and that ended the conversation. I had just finished eating when an agent placed today’s updates and intelligence reports on my table.

            I took a table that had been vacated and cleaned and read the updates. Two more cruise ships – filled to capacity and over – had left Hawaii for California last night and two more would make the trip this morning. One pair of the Japanese ships had unloaded survivors last night and had left port for the return trip at 0400.

            The second pair of Japanese ships would arrive from Hawaii at 1000 today. Camp Parks was full. Last night’s arrivals and all from now on were going to Camp Pendleton. Sixty thousand had been transported to the states in the last twenty – four hours with ten thousand on ventilators sent to various Midwest hospitals. on ventilators

Camp Pendleton was still putting up tents and scrounging the nation for equipment. So far food was not a problem – medical equipment and staff was.

Another report said that the Longshoreman union was walking off the ports and going on strike at 1200 California time. Now was not a good time for them to try my administration.

 The executive order and the national emergency declaration I had signed extended the existing contract for one hundred and eighty days. They were quickly going to find out I was not beholding to the unions as other presidents had been.

I made a conference call to the Justice Department that included Marty Coeburn of the FBI, Eric Roberson DHS and Tim Hayes of the Federal Marshal service. Federal Judge Dwayne Hovator would sign several orders if they did strike after my call to activate the process.

One was the arrest all the union leadership of all three unions. They were to be placed in solitary confinement and were to be held under a no bail order.

The other was an order decertifying the three Longshoreman’s unions. Decertifying them would end union dues, union provided health benefits and most of all, union work rules.

Another judge would reinstate all of that under appeal in a few days, but it would be an immediate wakeup call for the unions.

            With all the family and security along, we went to the dock. It took all six of the clear bottom boats for all of us. Two of the boats were Secret Service and two were Navy Seals.

 Ziva, Abra, Farah and Sanaz – the four former Mossad ladies who were my JBG personal body guards – were along. It was the first time all four of them were together in a while. Usually, they were split on different shifts. Today was the first time I had seen all of them in bikinis with gear on.

They had a combat knife strapped to each thigh, on a belt at their waist was a semiautomatic pistol in some kind of thin tearaway plastic wrap – it could not be fired underwater. With the characteristics of the water a bullet would only travel a few feet and the shock wave from the explosion could be deadly. But the instant they above the water they were armed, ready to fight.

For three hours we snorkeled with the boys showing me all the new things they found yesterday. We swam all around and in the newly sunken boats. They still had the steering wheels and controls in them.

We took turns staying in the boat with Sara and Takeo. It would be a couple more years before they would be big enough to snorkel.

As a group we had a lot of fun. The Secret Service agents swapped out with the ones in the boats so they could all spend time in the water.

After the swimming and lunch, it was down the beach so the kids could build sand castles and play in the shallow water. We made sure we were away from the cottages – far enough so we would not offend anyone – and we girls worked on our all over natural.

We talked a lot of JBG business and how Marcy’s acquisitions were coming along. I found out Lorrie and Vicky were now involved in some additional pieces. I listened as they described the companies they were after.

They had plans to move all the corporate offices of all those companies to the new towers when they were completed. Marcy had plans to sell all the high dollar real estate those companies owned in some of the most lucrative markets in the world.

She was planning on recouping as much capital out of those companies as possible. Those decisions were always driven by the needs to impress stockholders and major investors. Then I begin to wonder if the two towers were going to be enough.

We played and sunned all afternoon on the beach, finally going to our cottage at 1800. The boys were dog tired. Takeo and Sara had napped for a couple hours in the back of a gator with a sun canopy on it in the breeze. It felt good to lay in the sun even though we went through a full bottle of sunscreen. A natural tan was just so much better than the tanning booth.

The chefs were working on supper, the salad was on the table waiting for us to sit down. The boys were big enough to sit at the table. Sara and Takeo were in high chairs getting finely cut up salad and doing their best to master forks.

I was surprised when the waiter brought out several Texas onions cooked to perfection. I guess that meant that Lorrie had upgraded the kitchen. The cooker in there before could only do the small things like fries and onion rings because of the tray size.

To do Texas onions one had to have a large tray, so the onion could relax and spread out while it was cooking and to do several at a time took a big tray.

Jenny must have chosen tonight’s menu – it was steak – large ones with sweet potatoes, green beans, peas and warm rolls. I would need to use the exercise room tomorrow for sure.

After supper and a period to relax, it was time to MTAC with the leadership of Camp Parks and Camp Pendleton for today’s progress on the evacuations. I added Eric to the MTAC because DHS and FEMA were under his office.

First up was the team at Camp Parks. Army General Samuel Paulson was the new commander of Camp Parks. Also sitting in on the MTAC was Dr. Davidson from John Hopkins – who had sent every doctor from their respiratory unit and their burn unit to Camp Parks and Pendleton.

‘’An experienced rated estimate of those we have seen that require use of respirators for therapy, they will need to use them for two to four weeks, maybe four to six more weeks for full recovery,” the doctor said.

‘’The patients that the burn unit has seen are six months to a year to recovery,’’ he said.

‘’The NIH has put together a team to coordinate with burn units nationwide to take the burn patients, dozens were flown out today and several hundred will be tomorrow and more the following day. That process will open up about a thousand cots at Parks. Things are tough and there is a lot of despair and pain,’’ he said.

At Camp Pendleton, two star General Lacy Williams oversaw the new camp for the volcano survivors.

‘’Forty thousand have been placed here in the last two days. We currently have tents set up and logistics in place for sixty thousand more. We are out of the hurricane tents and will begin to assemble all the military battlefield MASH tents we have. The Marine bases are sending all they have. Some are arriving tonight and more tomorrow. Cots are running low as are hospital type beds and we simply aren’t finding any more,’’ General Williams said.

The next call was to the USS Reagan for the commanders to give an update. ‘’The USS Shaw and the USS Downes will be out of the dry dock in three days. The repairs to both were nearly complete. There is enough fuel on them for two days sailing and enough fresh water in the tanks to get the boilers up and running. Once they are out to sea they can make more water,’’ Admiral Petty said.

‘’The emergency generators for the dry dock were not running when the volcano hit. They are manual start up with manual transfer switches; they were started and checked out today. They are removing repair equipment that was still in the dock tomorrow. Then the dock will be flooded and the gates removed. Manpower to operate them will be pulled from the destroyers that are escorts for the carriers,’’ he said.

‘’Cruise ships left for the west coast with twenty five thousand today. There are still fifty thousand on the carriers and the Seabees located another fifty thousand in buildings today, MRE’s and bottled water were dropped by helicopter to them. They will be carried to ships tomorrow. The troops will finish the search area tomorrow,’’ he said.

‘’With the cruise ships returning tomorrow and the ones we have here, there will be eight that we can transfer survivors to – or about forty thousand people,’’ he said.

‘’So, you are still going to have sixty thousand to put on ships. I’m not sure there will be enough cruise ships to make the circle before the storms hit. You may end up making the run to the west coast with them on the carriers,’’ I said.

‘’We are watching the storm, it’s going to be tight for everything,’’ he replied.

‘’We will run out of body bags tomorrow and there are still thousands to bury. They have already buried two hundred thousand,’’ he said.

‘’All the body bags in all the US warehouses have been shipped to you. I will make some calls to our European allies to see what’s available. I would hate to order the graves people to physically handle badly decomposed bodies into the trench, it’s bad enough to have to do it with the bodies in body bags,’’ I said.

‘’I understand the C130 deliveries worked out well,’’ I said.

‘’Yes, quite impressive! Everyone was pleasantly surprised. Every carrier received at least two deliveries by C130,’’ he said.

‘’If I can get them, that is how you will get the body bags,’’ I said.

‘’By the way, I know everyone is busy but you need to keep a list of units involved in the graves units and body recovery, they are going to need psychological help and they need extra pay for dealing with that mess,’’ I said.

Even though it was pushing midnight I ordered calls made to NATO Command and had General Ingrams call US military bases in Europe looking for bags. I ordered them to get me the number available and then to get them loaded on a cargo plane immediately. I wanted them delivered to the MACS base in California tonight.

Then I called British Prime Minister Attenborough and German Chancellor Hermann and asked the same question.

I had more family time while I was waiting for responses and then I decided to let the night military duty team take a message. And then, I called it a night.

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Book 3 Chapter 29

Three hours into the flight I could tell we had slowed by the change in vibrations and then twenty minutes later we were back up to speed. Another inflight refueling had been completed. This time it was before we got out of the range of the carrier. I went back to sleep until I heard the gear go down again. We were landing at Travis Air Force Base where Air Force One was waiting.

            It took two hours to get clear of Travis Air Force Base. The two media who had been with us had been giving live reports over their satellite phones and there was a crowd of reporters waiting. I had to give a news conference or face the Wrath of Kahn – the media.

            ‘’As many of you now know I have spent the last two days talking with survivors of the Hawaii volcano tragedy, first at Camp Parks. Their stories of survival are horrific and their eye witness accounts to the massive eruption and death toll is unbelievable and the individual struggles to survive, heroic,’’ I said.

            ‘’As you also know I spent time at Hawaii and saw the devastation first hand. I visited the hospital ship ‘Mercy’ and other ships, talking with those that had just been transported from the main island of Hawaii. I also made a helicopter trip over the islands,’’ I said.

 “Based on the reports and observations, I believe the rescue of those still living will be completed in the next few days. There are still nearly one hundred thousand in bunkers and Navy ships waiting to be transferred to the cruise ships transporting them to the US,’’ I said.

‘’If the long-range weather prediction is correct, there is going to be a massive storm hitting the area in the next seven to ten days. If that holds true, all the ships will have to navigate to safer waters ending rescue and recovery efforts. Obviously, the push is on to find any remaining survivors and get all survivors on ships headed to the west coast, ‘’ I said.

‘’Two supply ships – the USS Acme and the Red Lion – resupplied critically low food and other supplies to all the ships working the tragedy. Thousands of extra people on board rapidly deplete ships stores. Two more should arrive late tomorrow; the USS Kroger and the USS Albertson. Those two will place additional supplies on the rescue ships in the event the Navy ships have to race to the coast to escape the storm with the survivors on them,’’ I said.

‘’We have to be thankful that with all the hours the helicopters are flying with little time for maintenance, the hours that the pilots, ship crews, doctors, nurses and the rescuers on land are putting in, that there have been no serious accidents or injuries,’’ I said.

‘’I know that just about every member of the military and civilian personnel are putting in, 12, 14 and 16 hour days to help the survivors get to America as fast as humanly possible,’’ I said.

‘’Recovery and burial will continue until the ships must leave the area. Currently there are about one hundred thousand Army, Navy and Marines involved in the rescue, recovery of the deceased and grave yard operations working every available daylight minute. Along with that is the challenge of identifying as many as possible to give the living closure,’’ I said.

‘’Crowding on the ships, feeding that many people, giving them the care that is needed has been a tremendous challenge. That is not just a shipboard challenge, those currently in the bunkers must also have water and be fed as some were days without either. As you can imagine, sewage is another issue. There is no power or water and the backup generators are failing because of the ash and fuel supplies are running out,’’ I said.

‘’The elephant in the room is going to be – ‘What happens to the state of Hawaii?’ Based on my observations given the pending storm, I think all of Hawaii will have to be abandoned for the short term,’’ I said.

‘’Another item in the list leading to that decision is four busses carrying the Governor and the entire state government were found today. All were deceased,’’ I said.

‘’That said, there is going to be an effort to get the remaining Hawaiians off all the other islands – even those lightly affected by the volcano – before the storm arrives. They have little food, fresh water, power, or medical assistance available to them. We are not going to air drop or make supply runs to them for months or years,’’ I said.

‘’As soon as time permits, before the ships leave all classified weapons system will be removed. A survey of the two ships that were caught in the Pearl drydocks to see if they can be removed and repairs completed at west coast shipyards will be done as soon as tomorrow,’’ I said.

There were 200 nuclear weapons including nuclear tipped cruise missile and bombs in storage that needed to be removed. They would be guarded until then. Hopefully the helicopters and landing ships could make the transfer before the ships run from the storm. The command team had been ordered before I left to remove or destroy all classified material from all military installations.

‘’All military equipment and personnel will be reassigned to other Pacific bases for an undetermined length of time,’’ I said.

‘’On another note, there have been a lot of requests from scientific community to go there. All those requests will be denied and strictly enforced. This is not Pompey two thousand years later. By best guess, there are seven hundred thousand people missing and presumed dead in the ash and rubble,’’ I said.

‘’I am determined that we are not going to see thousands of pictures and reports of bodies in the print or electronic media or scientific journals for weeks, months or decades,’’ I said.

‘’The severity of the storm may require the graves unit return to bury any exposed bodies,’’ I added.

‘’We must thank all the people of the United States that have helped getting materials, food and medicines to those affected by the volcano. We must give special thanks to all the medical personnel that have stepped up to provide care for the injured,’’ I said.

‘’We offer special thanks to all the countries that have rushed ships to the area to assist in the effort to transport the rescued to the US. Canada, Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Australia offered assistance immediately and we accepted that assistance,’’ I said.

‘’We must thank the doctors, nurses and support groups that have put aside their families and needs to rush to the west coast to care for injured.”

‘’The effect of this tragedy is only beginning. There are going to be long term health affects for thousands. Housing is going to be another issue along with the terrible strain on all services needed to support the affected,’’ I said.

‘’I understand that the hospitals in California, including the medical facilities on all military bases there, are filled to overflowing with the survivors with severe respiratory problems, dehydration, burns and other injuries. I know that many of the new arrivals are being sent to Arizona, New Mexico and Texas hospitals. C17’s and C5’s are acting as huge ambulances to deliver patients to other states,’’ I said.

‘’It has been an extremely long day so I will not take questions. This news conference is over,’’ I said and stepped away from the microphone and walked towards Air Force One.

I was going to take a shower and get the chef to make me a hot meal including a very chilled Budweiser, hopefully so chilled there would be ice chips in it. Yes, Air Force One had its own chef.

After the shower, I dug into my go bag and came out with a nearly worn-out gym tee shirt, shorts and a pair of tennis shoes. I was already in the mood for sand, salt water, cold beer and family.

I ate a bowl of tomato soup and half a cold cut sub. Then I began putting all the ideas on paper of additional orders I would need to give in the next few days. I had pages of questions I needed answers from the experts. I had put the questions to paper on the flight from the carrier.

We were just an hour into the six – hour flight back to Andrews. I started going through the pile of notes that accumulated on the flying Oval Office. Connie had stayed in Air Force One the entire time I was gone. It was a big pile.

Even worse, there were dozens of requests for meetings – some listed as urgent – from various agencies. All of the involved agencies wanted to get to the top of the list to get the billions of appropriations they imagined would be coming. I had a feeling my family vacation was not going to be an enjoyable one.

I went through the pile and sorted them based on my thoughts of importance and spent the next four hours attaching orders and notes for responses to them. Connie and her staff could type up the letters for me to sign when they had time tomorrow or the next day.

I sent Connie to sleep in the presidential bed – she was struggling to stay awake as I came aboard. I had slept on the return flight from the island, I was in good shape. I had to insist to get her to do it.

We were on the ground an hour at Andrews, part of it was taking on fuel for flight to East Water Cay. The other part was listening to more updates for the Midwest problems that I would deal with tomorrow.

Three hours later I was walking down the beach to the big bonfire that my mates had going. I had to walk through JBG security to get to them. Marcy had left strict orders than no one was allowed on that section of the beach tonight but us. The sun was setting, I was two days late for the start of my vacation.

Two naked little boys met me fifty yards from the bonfire, each carrying an unopened Bud for me with Sara and Takeo following. I sat down on the spot and hugged them and told them how much I missed and loved them.

The first question was, ‘’Why were you gone so long, we want you to go swimming and snorkeling with us. We found some new things to look at.” The next question was “What is that ship that keeps going back and forth? It has been out there all day,’’ they said.

‘’It is the Coast Guard patrol boat ‘Sea Dog’ from Little Creek, Virginia. They are keeping an eye out for pirates and other bad guys that might give us trouble,’’ I said.

‘’Pirates here? JJ, we have some searching to do tomorrow,’’ RJ said.

I knew there were some new things for swimmers to see. Lorrie had been excited when she received permission to sink several small derelict boats for the snorkelers to investigate and act as shelter for the bonefish. There was a lot of work that had to be done to them to make them safe for all ages.

 All door doors to the cabins had to be removed along with anything that could trap or hang up anyone, holes had to be cut in the decks and through the hulls so one could swim through. Then rocks were added as ballast to keep them in place after they were sunk.

I drank some out of each beer between hugs and kisses and then we walked to the bonfire. There were more hugs and kisses with my mates; I know it was just a few days but it seemed like forever. And after all I had seen today, being with my family meant more than ever.

One of the gators had a cooler with hot dogs, and the tailgate was filled with the fixings in bug proof containers. I put two dogs on long skewers and with both boys helping, waited for them to cook.

Maybe it was the salt air or the bonfire built with drift wood or the company of family, but the hot dogs were the best I had in a long time.

I swam in the water warmed by the by Gulf Stream – that ocean current that started in the Gulf of Mexico and made its way along the East Coast of the United States.

Even though it was dark, I swam with my mates and played in the shallow water with the children. It was midnight by the time we had showered and slid under the covers.

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Book 3 Chapter 28

Book 3 Chapter 28

            I sent Eric, General Ingram, Ziva, Abra, four of the Secret Service agents and the football carriers to get clothes they could get dirty with ash. I had come prepared; I was wearing CIC camo. I sent another agent with a quarter to eliminate the members of the news group until we he was down to two.

 A GEMs flight was carrying us to the command carrier off Hawaii. It would need in flight refueling to get us there. We were going in a group of four, taking medical equipment and more doctors. The pilots were from the Navy Seals group; the Secret Service group was pissed that the preferred pilots were not approved for the assignment.

The normal pilots that flew all presidents were Air Force and heavily investigated. GEMs flights carried VIPs all the time – this one had satellite connection. I worked on my laptop on MTAC and VCATS the whole flight.

I spent some time talking to the JBG security team at the South Korean embassy. James Foley was the senior JBG man at the site and also was the security team supervisor.

The team there thought the embassy was being watched a few weeks ago. I knew Vicky and Andy had dispatched a team to reinforce the men there.

I knew several of the men Andy sent were extraction specialists from the former Black Bear group. Extraction specialist was a nice name for a team that were experts at kidnapping and had the ability to cover their tracks.

They worked primarily in South America and Africa and worked mostly for the CIA.

‘’The special team completed their task last week and were to fly straight to Morton with the suspects for interrogation. Vicky or Andy should be able to give you the latest update,’’ James said.

‘’I will see both of them in a couple of days. That tells me what I need to know,’’ I said.

I called my mates to tell them to go ahead and go to Deep Water Cay without me. I would be there but arrive a day late

It was a six hour flight one way; at three hours the tempo changed, we were slowing down. Then, I remembered why; this plane did not have enough range to make the trip. It was an aerial refueling prior to the half way mark. If the refueling could not be completed because of a problem, we could turn around with enough fuel to get back to California.

We watched out the window as the plane played cat and mouse with the tanker and the refueling nozzle. A few minutes later we were back up to cruise speed. I did as I always did – leaned back and went to sleep for a three-hour nap. The gear going down was going to be my alarm.

For security reasons there had not been a general announcement that I was going to Hawaii. Only those with access to the military channels may have noticed all the unusual fighter escort. The fleet knew when the plane contacted flight control on board the USS Reagan with the call sign of ‘Navy 1’ when requesting landing instructions several miles out.

The gear operating and locking into position woke me up along with the instructions to check all seat belts and pull them tight as possible. The pilot caught the first cable on the first try.

I was the last to depart the plane – the first were the two Marine guards in dress blues who stood at attention at the door of the plane. The photographers were the next to deplane, so they could get set up to film for the news. I really didn’t want it, but Troy and the military men insisted. As I stepped out of the chopper to the deck the PA announced, ‘’Attention! All hands – CIC is now aboard.’’

There was a hastily put together welcoming committee coming my way – Admiral Petty, Rear Admiral Jenkins (commander of the Reagan Task Force), Marine General Mitchell and Army General Cummings. They had transferred their commands to the carrier by orders of the Secretary of Defense. The communications cables from the island had started to fail two days ago and now were useless.

After the row of salutes and handshakes, we were led to Admiral’s command center to get the latest updates.

‘’The Catalina Bay and the Mexican Pacific left the area four hours ago for the west coast. They had twelve thousand on them packed like sardines. The Kobayashi Maru and the Akagi Maru left an hour ago. We have gotten much better in the last 24 hours at getting people transferred to the cruise ships,’’ Admiral Petty said.

‘’The extra helicopters and landing craft from the assault ships that arrived yesterday have made a difference; that and the troops on them. Oahu is clear; the troops have knocked on every door. All the people are at staging sites and being carried to various ships awaiting transfer to a cruise ship and the trip to the west coast,’’ Admiral Petty said.

‘’Every passenger ship that is waiting are taking passengers and that is moving a lot of people every hour,’’ he added.

‘’The forecasters are saying a major storm is brewing and may be here in a week. I think that will put an end to the rescue efforts and most likely, any recovery efforts,’’ I said.

‘’The other two Japanese ships will leave for the coast before dark. They have two helicopter pads on them. Two Helicopters are landing every six minutes dropping off thirty two individuals. The crew is getting them off the helicopters and below decks faster. They also have a well in the stern that was used to transfer passengers to tour boats for all the island hopping they do. The landing craft are using them,’’ he said.

‘’The helicopters are ready to give you a fly-over of the islands,’’ General Mitchell said.

We started with Oahu; the ash with all the deep tracks looked like a picture of a mud hop. Pearl Harbor was a disaster – lots of buildings were damaged, the Arizona Memorial was damaged and broken. The dry docks looked like most of the equipment was in fair condition.

The two ships that were in the dry dock looked OK. I wondered what kind of repairs were being done on them? Was the hull still intact and able to float or had it been opened, and the internals of the ships now opened to damage?

The coming storm – without operating pumps – the dock would soon be filled with water and the acidic ash. I asked Admiral Petty to find out. I wanted those ships out of there if it was possible or at least made watertight.

All the carriers had repair crews on them. Could they be sent there to salvage those two ships? Another question to ask when we got back to the Reagan.

The Navy airfield was just as bad with hangars collapsed, dozens of planes sitting outside on the tarmac broken from the weight of the ash – wings broken, touching the ground, landing gear broken.

Hickam Field was no better; all the military installations looked the same. In some places the ash covered the equipment, masking what it actually was.

We flew as close to Molokai as the pilots dared, the volcano was back to belching gas and lave again thousands of feet into the air. Most of the island was gone. From ten thousand feet and five miles away, I could see the boiling lava. I would have to ask the experts if they thought it was building to another major eruption.

I could see the massive damage to the island of Hawaii long before we got there. I could see where the Seabees were using the equipment to follow the roads to get to the still standing buildings. It looked like in another day they would be to all of them.

There were all the houses and buildings that had collapsed from the weight of the ash. The hospitals were still standing and had paths to them. The patients and survivors had been evacuated in the last few days. With no water, sewage or electricity, the island was going to be abandoned as soon as it was determined that there was nothing living left.

We flew over the park grounds where the dead were being buried. One trench, several thousand feet long, had been completed and covered up. Another was partially filled. They were stacking bodies in rows on top of one another before being finally covered.

The historic palace was nothing but a pile of rubble. I wondered if the any of the royal family was rescued, more questions to ask. I was writing them on a pad.

We flew back to the Reagan; I had seen all I needed to see. I needed to have one more meeting with my staff and the command staff and then get headed back to California.

The first item was that more body bags were needed. The assault ships that had arrived today had ten thousand between them, but it was nowhere near enough. The cruise ships returning from California tomorrow would have fifty thousand on them.

Japan had agreed to leave the cruise ships here for as long as we needed them. More body bags would be loaded on them.

With the command staff in the Admiral’s conference room, I ordered plans to be drawn up to move all the military – ships, planes and troops assigned to Hawaii – to be moved west and assigned to Guam, Japan and the Philippines. I also wanted an immediate update on the two ships stranded in the dry dock

Before that was to be finished, a political decision would be made.

The next two hours was spent ship hopping- I was carried to each of the big carriers to see the staff and talk with survivors. The final ship was the ‘Mercy’ for an honest assessment from the doctors about the condition of the latest patients there and those not yet rescued.

Time was running out – a few more days, a week at the most – to find those living. The recovery crews were finding more and more bodies in large groups that had tried to find shelter together.

There were massive political decisions on the horizon.

The catapult launch was breathtaking; it was just getting dark. It was a six -hour flight back to California and then another seven to Andrews – and then Morton to unload those not going with me to the Cay. And then four more to East Water Cay and my family. It would be late tomorrow afternoon before sand and a beach bonfire.

I transcribed all the notes I had written, my impressions of what I saw and my thoughts going forward. Then I did my usual – went to sleep.

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Chapter 27

Book 3 Chapter 27

            The first MTAC was before the plane even got off the ground. It was a joint MTAC with Admiral Petty and General Mitchell. The Japanese ships had arrived and at first light, the helicopters would start ferrying the healthy to them.

            ‘’The Catalina Bay and Mexican Pacific both are nearly full, about five hundred more on each ship will finish them out. Then they will make the run to California. By the way, Rear Admiral Melvin sends his thanks for the respirators and says to keep them coming,’’ he said. Rear Admiral Melvin was the commander of the medical team on the ‘Mercy’.

            ‘’We are going to split some of the arriving medical staff and respirators up between the carriers and assault ships to ease the bed problems on the Mercy. We are also transferring about two hundred from the ‘Mercy’ to the Catalina Bay. The docs thought they are well enough to travel,’’ he said.

            ‘’According to the notes I have this morning, there are twenty GEMs flights today bringing more hospital equipment and doctors. Also, the supply ship USS Acme is to arrive with food and supplies. The USS Red Lion will arrive tomorrow. They were already at sea,’’ I said.

‘’Two more supply ships are loading as we speak and will depart before the end of the day. They are loading a lot or respirators and medical equipment on them,’’ I said.

            “That’s good – we need them – this many people are depleting our supplies. Supplies was one of the next topics I wanted to talk to you about,’’ he said.

            ‘’I understand they are looking at landing a C130 with respirators on one of the carriers,’’ I said.

            ‘’Isn’t that plane too large for carrier landing? Can they do that?’’ Admiral Petty asked.

            ‘’I asked the same question and was told it had been done before in 1963 on the USS Forrestal off Boston. It was an evaluation to decide what plane was going to be used for a carrier supply plane,’’ I answered.

‘’Apparently the C130 did touch and goes, full stops and takeoffs. Today’s carriers are bigger than the Forrestal. Today’s 130 has better ABS braking, better props and more powerful engines – the thinking is it will be a piece of cake,’’ I said.

            ‘’They are running confirming test this morning – they must verify drop rates and a few other things. If it works, the 130 will carry six times as many respirators as a GEMs flight,’’ I said.

‘’The Nugget and Silver Spoon will be returning with more medical equipment and doctors on board,’’ I added.

‘’We have fifty thousand on the ships and another ten thousand in the bunkers waiting to leave. The troops ashore at Hawaii have located about ten thousand more. Health-wise, they are in worse shape. We are transporting food and water to them until we can get them aboard ships,’’ Admiral Petty said.

            ’That would be roughly eighty-thousand out of one and a half million. These are not good numbers. If we didn’t find a lot of people soon and that had to be in the next few days, this was shaping up to be the worst disaster in history,’ I thought.

‘’It appears that there were dozens of structures that were built to withstand sizable earthquakes and cyclone force winds that have stood up to the ash. As soon as all this started, they were used as shelters and they are packed full of people. Some of them had several levels of underground basements.”

“Unfortunately, they are finding a lot of dead – the ash and gasses have taken their toll,’’ he added.

‘’We had that discussion a day ago about what to do with the bodies. The NCIS forensic team and the NCIS group is still in one of the bunkers. They are going to do the documentation,’’ I said.

‘’The thought is to place bodies in body bags after identifying them – if possible – or take facial photographs and start a mass grave, for the time being,’’ I said.

‘’The bodies are decomposing rapidly with the heat from the ash. Something must be done quickly,’’ Admiral Petty said.

‘’The assault ships have body bags on board – although I do not know how many – but I think it is a considerable number. Other than that, alternatives are few. We certainly can’t bury that many at sea or carry that many to the west coast for burial,’’ I said.

‘’The two carriers assigned from the Russia base agreement will arrive tomorrow as will four more assault landing ships from Okinawa. The assault landing ships will put ten thousand more men on the ground to search for survivors plus another ten helicopters and one hundred landing craft. Four more cruise ships will also arrive. Time is running out,’’ I said.

I finished with another MTAC to FEMA on the status and progress with the camps. There needed to be a place to put sixty thousand more people and possibly twice that many more. The closest thing I got to a firm answer was, ‘’We are working on it.’’

I met with my staff to discuss the body problem – and it was going to be a big problem very soon. Then we did another MTAC with the staffed command center of Admiral Petty, General Mitchell and General Emory. It was very early morning in Hawaii; in fact, it was 0200.           

The body issue was discussed in depth. Tomorrow morning all the body bags in storage would be sent to Hawaii. The Marines on the assault ships not directly involved in the rescue would be directed to assist NCIS in identifying the dead, placing them in body bags and transporting them to what had once been a 200-acre park for burial and cover them with ash.

The Seabees would use their heavy equipment as needed to push the ash aside, allowing mass graves to be dug and then cover the bodies.

With an unknown number of dead and the difficulty of all this, they were told to stack them several deep. The rescuers would be told to mark the locations where they found bodies so the BRU (body recovery unit) could locate them. I felt sorry for them – it was going to be a gut retching job, but somebody had to do it.

With all the assault ships at the location, there should be plenty of Marines to handle this additional task.

Troy handed me several reports that he had printed off while I was in meetings and on MTAC. One of them was from the Department of Energy. Rolling blackouts were expanding. First it was just Washington, Oregon and northern California. Now Idaho, Montana and parts of Minnesota were having them.

The winds were carrying the bulk of the ash over those states. Washington and parts of Oregon were reporting over an inch of accumulation. Idaho, Montana and northern Minnesota were reporting half an inch. Canada was reporting an inch and more.

The ash accumulation on solar panels was causing the problems. Light rains and heavy morning dew were turning the ash into a goo that was sticking to everything and in many places freezing; after all, it was early February and cold. The mess was going to have to be scrapped off with scrapers or washed off if possible. Either one was labor intensive with lots of the panels on residential roofs.

The commercial solar farms were a different story – but still labor intensive – with all the snow still in the farms and narrow roads between the rows of panels complicated the process. Many of them would not be producing electricity for weeks, possibly months. A very large concern was – what damage had the ash done to the special glass – would the output be anywhere near normal?

Another report was from the National Weather service and NOAA. It was a severe weather warning. The ash had reduced temperatures by blocking the sunlight by as much as three degrees and could possibly take them even lower. To go with that, there was a massive Siberian cold front joining with a Canadian clipper headed for the northern and north-eastern United States.

‘’Damn!” I thought, “We might have to issue winter clothes and get heat instead of air-conditioning and summer clothing for the tent dwellers.’’

Another report from the Agriculture Department was an advisory of severe damage to the US winter wheat and grain crop. The weight of the ash could destroy the crops creating shortages. I was damn glad the Russian grain deal was completed. If the temperatures didn’t rebound by spring planting, crops and yields could be in jeopardy.

Another paragraph in the report was the possible starving or poisoning caused by the ash of cattle feeding on the open range creating meat shortages and food shortages for all livestock.

I sent a note to Secretary of Agriculture to begin aggressive negotiations with Argentina and Brazil for increased beef imports immediately; both were large beef exporters. If the ash was affecting our western beef producers, it was also going to affect Canada beef producers as well. We imported a lot of beef and pork from Canada.

It was then I wondered if Nigeria and Cameroon could be convinced to get into beef production. That was another question to ask real soon. I wondered how developed the country was as a whole.

I finished up more calls then met with the congressional delegation that was with me on this flight. It was senators and representatives responsible for disaster agencies and emergency response along with those with over site for DHS. Also, there were the two senators and representatives from Hawaii.

Then we met with the Hawaii delegation and the first thing they asked for was hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild.

‘’We are a long way from discussing any rebuilding of Hawaii. The first priority is finding all the survivors and getting them away from the area to safety,’’ I said.

‘’From the reports I have seen, rebuilding may not be possible for much of the islands and the other areas could take decades if ever – certainly not in our lifetime,’’ I said.

            It was a six-hour flight to California and then a Humvee ride to Camp Parks. All the survivors were going there until it was full and then the rest of the newcomers would be sent to the new tent city at Camp Pendleton.

Culinary units from all the National Guard units were arriving at Pendleton, getting the kitchens and dining tent set up. There was no argument from any of the Governors this time about sending the guardsmen to California.

We arrived at an organized fiasco. Buses had just finished unloading people from the first ships. The people were in shock, bewildered, dazed, exhausted and many just wanting to crash on the cots.

Camp staff were trying to get them registered; we needed information for a lot of reasons. Progress was being made but it was slow. It was a good thing we had the homeless experience as a guide for operations.

Another fiasco was the media, they were worse than a starving pack of wolves. They were trying to intimidate the guards for entry, yelling and screaming, trying to get the survivors to come to the fence and talk. On top of that there were the local and national politicians trying to get their free time on a screen.

My group started with the people in charge and finally ended up talking with some of the first survivors. I listened to all kinds of horror stories. It had an awfully familiar ring to it – despair fear, desperation, the fight for survival, starving and the lost loved ones.

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Book 3 Chapter 26

Book 3 Chapter 26

            At 1700 I sent everyone home; it had been a mind-boggling day. I issued more executive orders today than any previous day of my presidency, but they were desperately needed to keep things moving in the direction I thought was necessary.

            As a result of all those orders, there were plenty of agencies, states, departments and unions unhappy with me. One of those orders that caused people to be unhappy was an expansion of national emergency directives.

            The first one was a change in the Department of Transportation rules for over the road truck drivers, allowing them to drive more hours before a mandatory rest period.

            Today’s trucks were like sitting in your easy chair and driving with controlled temperature, automatic transmissions and quiet in the cab. Most even had a sleeping birth and a bathroom. We needed emergency materials to the west coast, not sitting in the rest areas.

            Another part of that was the companies that had or controlled the electronic logging for the drivers and trucks. The electronic logging device simply shut off the truck when the driver’s time was up.

Even if it was in the middle of an intersection or traffic jam! It allowed one twenty- minute restart and run to allow the driver to get the truck off the road and then the engine had to be off for eight hours minimum. Those companies had to change the settings on tens of thousands of trucks. Those people were upset with me.

            The next was a waiver on Department of Transportation weight limits. Doing that allowed the trucks to carry more freight if there was room. It also required more changes to the electronic logging devices on the trucks.

Many of today’s trucks monitored the truck weight automatically by reading the air pressure in the air suspension systems. More weight on the truck required more air pressure in the system to keep the load and the truck somewhat level and a smooth ride for the freight. When the pressure hit the limit, buzzers and bells went ringing and the truck computer limited truck operation. More to be changed by the dealer’s shop tech people. They were unhappy.

The next part of the Department of Transportation waiver was the weigh station and portable over the road inspections. We have all seen them – a truck pulled over and several officers looking over the truck and the driver and another officer with a handful of papers.

The officer was checking the driver hours and comparing them to the logs, toll tickets, bills of lading – who sent the freight – where it was from – where it was going – what the freight was and to see if the placards displayed on the side of the truck matched the freight. Also, where the driver bought fuel last as fuel tax was an important revenue in some states.

There was even a system to divide up all the various taxes on trucks among member states.

Sometimes they even cut the security locks off the trailers to inspect the freight. Depending on conditions, each stop could take forty-five minutes. Cross three state lines and there was the possibility the truck could get stopped three times.

Two lights out on the same corner were a twenty-five dollar fine; a brake light was fifty. A tire that was at the wear bars was fifty dollars, two tires was a hundred and it was out of service – call a tire company at a thousand dollars for a road call in some places.

If a drop of oil fell on the officer while he was under the truck inspecting, it was out of service – fix it or call the tow truck. All those were upset with me, the officers were now doing other things, investigating accidents, playing cards whatever.

The states were upset – no more fine money for the politicians to spend. It was easy to write big fines for out of state truckers, they knew very few would be able to come back to court to contest the ticket. They would just pay the fines.

The west coast longshoreman union was upset with me. They were at the end of their contract, threatening a work slowdown and strike – the negotiations had been going on for months. The executive order I signed also extended further talks out one hundred and eighty days. They were upset because they saw the emergency as leverage in the talks.

Their attorneys were going to appeal the executive order and the unions were going to strike in two days – emergency or not. They were depending on their political clout influencing the judicial system there. ‘We shall see,’ I thought.

I was ready to close my office and walk through the tunnel when Troy called me back to a phone call from Japan. At first, I thought it was going to be Jake. He, Mindy and their kids were over there for two weeks.

The call was from Japan’s Prime Minister Shichirou Masao. I had made the call two days ago to ask if Japan would send any cruise ships to help move the former citizens of Hawaii to the mainland.

            Japanese cruise ship companies plied several popular routes for their business. The most popular one was to the Philippines and to Australia. Both of those countries had restricted travel. It took months in advance to schedule vacations and cruises there.

            Four cruise ships had returned to Japan in the last two days and they were headed to the Hawaiian Islands. They were available for two weeks before they needed to be back for the cruise schedule. They would be in area in two days by traveling at maximum speed.

            The Kobayashi Maru had a six thousand passenger capacity. The Akagi Maru had a capacity of three thousand. The Nippon Maru had a capacity of three thousand five hundred. And the last was the Diamond Princess, a British flagged ship owned by the Princess Cruise lines. The Diamond Princess sails Asia and Australia and has a two thousand six hundred passenger capacity.

            Those ships had a maximum speed of twenty-two knots and would take four days to make the trip to California after being loaded with passengers. They would only be able to make one trip, but it was a help. Every bit was going to help.     

            I sent a note to Eric and Admiral Petty that the four Japanese ships were coming and that they were only going to be available to us for two weeks. I wanted them moved to the front of the line so they could make at least one run to San Diego to keep an important ally happy.

            The Mercy was at full capacity with the sick and so were the sick bays on the carriers. There was a dire shortage of respirators and qualified people to do the treatments. The only way to cure this was Gems supply flights to the carriers.

            I issued orders for respirators from the national warehouse to be flown to the San Diego Navy base. Then a call for volunteer doctors and respiratory technicians in the area was sent out.

            The closest warehouse was in Nevada, so it was a short trip. By the time the respirators made the trip, doctors were waiting. Six hours after the calls went, Gems flights were on the way. It was going to take a lot of them.

            The Seabees had made it ashore on Hawaii at noon with their equipment. The ash was deeper than reported in places and not as deep in others. They were using GPS to stay on the roads, matching it to the maps. They were working into the areas where the most buildings were still standing. They began finding groups of survivors still alive. It was a sign of hope.

            Marine General Emory ordered the Marine detachment on Oahu to transfer two thousand Marines to Hawaii to assist the Seabees in getting people to the ships. More were going as soon as there was room for them as roads and space was cleared.

One of the Seabees large landing ships was to make the transfer. It was tasked to transfer more heavy equipment from Oahu to Hawaii to deal with the deep ash.

            On Oahu, General Mitchell ordered the Army troops there to knock on every door while looking for survivors and to use bull horns and airhorns air horns announcing they were in the area. Time was running out for survivors.      

            The ‘Golden Nugget’ and the ‘Silver Spoon’ was to dock in California tonight. Preparations were being made to deal with the sick. There was plenty of space available in the tents for the healthy. Buses and ambulances were ready and hospitals had stopped elective surgeries, making beds available.

            The ‘Oasis of the Seas’ and ‘Pacific Wave’ were to dock mid-morning with another twelve thousand on board. There would be plenty of action in California tomorrow.

            I had Troy set up a flight for the executive team for tomorrow. I needed to make an appearance and then fly to the Hawaiian Islands for a look out the window at the damage for the media to report on. The following day we were leaving for the Cay.

            I walked into the living room to join in a discussion with my mates about what to take to the Cay. Excitement was in the room; everyone wanted to get away for a few days. The temperatures here were in the mid-thirties; at the Cay it was eighty-five. The weather forecast was sunny with a mild ocean breeze for all fourteen days. It was perfect weather for swimming and working on all over natural tans and building sand castles with the kids.

            It was a wonderful evening with my mates and the kids. Together, they drove away the stress I had been under all day.

            Morning arrived too quickly – by the time breakfast was finished, Air Force One was already at Morton with all the important people from Washington, waiting for all the important people here to get aboard.

            I bid my family farewell, saying I would see them later tonight. I settled into my seat at the flying Oval Office to a desk full of updates to review. It was going to be a long morning some of it on video conference.

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Book 3 Chapter 25

Book 3 chapter 25

            Morning brought better news. Two fleet carriers from California and four more assault landing ships were off the coast of Oahu. Admiral Petty now had one hundred twenty landing craft to rescue people from the island.

            The landing crafts were carrying them to the assault ships for evaluation and then those that needed medical attention were the first to be carried to the carriers.

The hospital ship Mercy was to arrive on the scene later today. The Mercy has 1100 beds and five hundred medical people aboard to add to the doctors and staff. When it arrived those needing medical would be transferred to it.

The east coast hospital ship ‘Comfort’ was going to be a month or more. It had to undergo repairs before it could be used. That I was infuriated was an understatement. My new Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of Defense were going to be called to my office for a very unpleasant talk on their part.

Just to make sure they understood things, I sent a memo to SECNAV, a daily report was to be sent to the White House listing all Navy ships unavailable for immediate service, the reason why and an expected date they would be ready for service. The Air Force was sent a memo requiring the number of aircraft mission ready to be sent to the White House.

It also finalized my decision on what was going to happen to the USS Thomas as soon as the new nuclear-powered Thomas was ready for service. It would be the hospital ship the ‘Thomas’ and would be home ported in the Gulf for quick dispatch to either ocean. The Navy had already placed it on the SINKEX list to be sunk as a target.

Another deck could be built on the aft half of the flight deck adding hundreds of beds. The hangar deck could all be hospital rooms and the same with many other decks.

There were huge rooms for storage, it already had plenty of operating rooms and plenty of electrical power. It could travel to an emergency at thirty -five knots – twice the speed of the current hospital ships. It was the perfect ship.

When the helicopters were not needed for emergency medical transport, they were shuttling people to the carriers, which had enormous space in the hangar deck for cots.

Two of the cruise ships, ‘Silver Spoon’ and the ‘Golden Nugget’, had arrived at 1100 and began taking on the civilians from the carriers that the doctors deemed well enough to go. Helicopter flights from the carriers to the single helicopter pads on the cruise ship were continuous. It was anticipated that the Silver Soon and the Nugget would leave for California at 1600 with eight thousand survivors on board.

At 1630 two more cruise ships had made the journey ‘The ‘Pacific Wave’ and the ‘Catalina Bay’ were taking on passengers. At 1700 we had today’s planning session with all the departments. Reports from all the services at Hawaii gave a bleak picture; the volcano was still erupting but showing signs that it was possibly ending.

The lava output had dropped but the steam and gasses had increased. There were fears from the experts that a deep-water fissure had opened, allowing sea water to enter the core of the volcano. if that was the case, the lava flow would be cooled allowing it to solidify, possibly sealing the vent and temporally stopping the eruption, allowing it to build tremendous explosive pressure again.

The other possibly was it would open up an underseas path for the lava to escape. There was also the fear that a new volcano or volcanic island was in the making.

We had serious decisions to make regarding the survivors on the ships. It was determined that as soon as the cruise ships were filled to capacity, each would return to San Diego, unload and return. Camp Parks had thirty thousand empty cots. These would be used initially for the survivors. The hunt was on for places to house thousands long term.

A lot of the homeless that had been sent there had found jobs and recovered enough to be in housing other than the camp. The empty tents were still there; It wasn’t the Hilton, but they were going to have to put up with it – at least until we knew and understood the extent of damage to Hawaii.

They were going to need long term housing, but the big question was – how many survivors were there and where were we going to find it?

There were already those quietly saying the island of Hawaii would have to be abandoned and that it could be years before Oahu could be fully inhabited again. There were more questions than answers. I gave all those departments heads a list of questions I wanted answers to for tomorrow’s 0800 briefing. Troy had requested an hour at 1000 for a news conference.

To improve the possibility of finding survivors on island of Hawaii, there had to be a method of scouting the island and deal with the deep ash. The Seabees at the California Marine base had been ordered to deploy yesterday against opposition from the brass. They were a day away from arriving.

With breaks in the ash, steam and clouds, the satellites were able to collect some data. It was determined that the ash was between six feet and eight feet deep in places. MRAPS and tracked vehicles as well as helicopters were currently out of the question.

The only way to do a reconnaissance was going to be with front end loaders moving ash while making paths where the streets were thought to be. The consensus was that we had to deal with the ash like it was snow. Given the depth, front end loaders and bulldozers would be needed and the Seabees had them.

The Army and Marine troops were still using the bunkers on Oahu. Generals were wanting them withdrawn. I ended that thought; as long as there was food and sanitation, I wanted them to stay and not take up precious space on the rescue ships. Another thing was they were going to be needed to help search the island.

After the briefing my staff began the task of preparing for our vacation next week. Lorrie had left a block of two weeks that all the rental units would be empty for staff, security, Secret Service, limited media and our families.

During our stay at the Cay there were two fund raisers planned – one in Georgia and the other in South Carolina. It was a start to getting enough funds for the expensive midterms.

            There were two dozen of the opposition party I would like to see gone and if I could help do it, all the better.

            At 1700 the Secret Service came in with the report from the discovered tunnels by the White House. There were twenty seven pages of items discovered in the old tunnel.        

            ‘’The tunnel construction was started during James Monroe’s first term around September 1817 and closed at the beginning of Chester Arthur’s term in January 1881 – we think. Based on that, seventeen presidents could have used the tunnel.’’

            ‘’From the number of artifacts, the tunnel was used a lot more than as a secret escape for the president. We have found indications that the carriage house was the largest in Washington, having as many as one hundred stalls and storage for carriages.’’

            ‘’We found sixty seven coins with an 1812 penny being the oldest, lost by the miners – we think by its location – in between the floor planks that were covered with straw and sawdust. There were five gold pieces and then other coins.’’

            ‘’Halfway through there was a room that was added after the initial construction. To us it looked like a rest stop for all those overweight presidents during that time.’’

‘’We found several of the coins in there along with tools and what we think was a liquor cabinet. There were several whisky bottles in it, empty of course. There were some things that make us suspect it may have been as illicit meeting place. I won’t go into a description of what they were.’’

            ‘’There were also a few newspapers and campaign posters nailed to the wall from various presidents. The archives are going to try to save them, but we think they are too far gone.’’

            ‘’The door that opened into the White House basement that was removed when the entrance was closed off with brick was laying inside the side of the tunnel. It was still in good shape. The Smithsonian wants it for an exhibit. As they do all the artifacts along with all the photographs. I think you will have the final word on that,’’ Agent Finkelsburg said. Denton Finkelsburg was the White House Historian.

            We talked for the better part of an hour about what they had found before I sent him on his way.

            I was up at 0500 – my mates all had a busy day – myself included. At 0600 I was reading intelligence reports and the latest updates from Hawaii. There was an update from the CIA on the Africa Problem. The group headed towards Polokwane has slowed down their travel.

            On the Hawaii problem the ‘Golden Nugget’ and the ‘Silver Spoon were scheduled to dock after midnight tonight. Hundreds of school busses had been contracted to carry the survivors to camp parks. The ships were to refuel, take on food and supplies and then be sailing back towards Hawaii by noon

            I received an update from the general staff and Admiral Petty.  

            The two cruise ships that were there would be filled to capacity by 1000, the Navy thought. Aircraft operations has been suspended at 2000 for safety reasons. One was the small dangerous helicopter landing pads on the cruise ships and also the need for the helicopters to be inspected.

            The ‘Oasis of the Seas’ arrived after midnight – there were complications, it had no helicopter landing pad and no catwalk steps up the side. The shipfitters  ship fitters, machinist and welders on the carriers were planning and manufacturing and thought they had a solution. At daybreak they would know if it would work.

            The carriers had big machine and repair shops and welding equipment – anything necessary to keep the ship on its duty station and fighting.

            At daybreak two more cruise ships were arriving – the ‘Mexican Pacific Delight’ and the ‘Baja Express’ – both were capable of carrying 5500 passengers each and both had helipads.

            Twenty thousand had been carried to the cruise ships and another ten thousand were in bunkers and waiting on the assault landing ships and carriers.

            At 0100 Hawaii time the eruption petered out. The lava stopped, but the volcano was still belching steam and gasses that had picked up in volume. On the next satellite pass there should be pictures that we could work with.

            The 0800 staff meeting was filled with directors and the Secretary of Defense was in attendance. There was heated discussion about where to put all the people coming in on the ships. Camp parks were filling fast. By now thousands of cots, tents and supplies were showing up at the San Diego Navy base. It only made sense to build more in California.

            Camp parks were to be expanded using those materials. There was room to put up tents to house twenty-five thousand more people. It was decided that Camp Pendleton would be the next camp city. Pendleton base was on 130,000 acres. Building the tent city there for a hundred thousand people in a hurry would be an undertaking, but it needed to be done.

            All the forces were directed to start putting the city together as an all-hands effort. The leadership teams that had built Camp Parks were to lead the effort and get the logistics starting immediately.

There were a hundred thousand military members ordered to start work at daybreak. The materials needed to be moved from the Navy holding yard to the camps. Luckily, it was on pallets to speed things along

 FEMA was ordered to send the rest of their stockpile to Camp Pendleton today. The rest of vendors that the utilities used for hurricane recovery were waiting for orders to come to work. Dozens were already on site. Those vendors supplied everything to keep a tent city going. Thousands of good things were happening today.

Edit by Alfmeister

Proof read by Bob W.

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