I was up early; maybe it was because there was so much riding on today’s outcome. Receiving the contract to provide embassy security personnel for the State Department in my mind was a turning point for JBG. Today was the biggest test for JBG since we had formed the business. It could be another shining achievement or a colossal failure.
It was bigger than when we took on MAAR or the vacation homes division. I thought we would stop growing with the eight colleges and now we were adding two more, not to mention the college police force. This was bigger than all of those achievements combined. The outcome would decide our future in so many ways. It was a joint effort by two departments of our company supporting one another on an international scale. The parts were aviation and security – totally dependent on each other for a successful outcome.
If the next three to four days were successful it would quiet all the Doubting Thomas’s within the State Department and the rest of the agency that we were worthy of having the security contract. No one had come forth to challenge the awarding of the contract to us in bold print. In big government they were always there with campaign contributions to sway opinions and gain influence.
There were so many things that could go wrong with the planned flight. If the in-flight refueling went bad there was no choice but to crash land in the ocean, thousands of miles from nowhere. It was not a comfortable thought.
My people had been checked and double checked to the last possible detail. I had comfort in that they were the best anyone could have in our business. The C130 had flown multiple flights for us with no problems. It had been checked out by our C130 certified mechanics. The pilots had double checked everything they could yesterday.
The flight plans had been sent to DOD and the agency for approval to make the refueling schedule workable. Everyone had signed off on it so it must have been well planned. I was not qualified to look at it and make changes. In fact, we had no one in our senior management who was qualified. I needed to look at all the qualified pilots we had on board to see if anyone was qualified for such a position. Jack has his plate full as out chief pilot and recertification instructor.
It was early enough that I made the normal big Sunday breakfast on a Wednesday morning. I called Dad to see if everyone was up and if they were, to invite them to breakfast. It was just in time – they were trying to decide what to do for breakfast. 15 minutes later they were walking in the door.
The percolating coffee aroma had all the girls and Crash up and at the table with my folks as I was taking the food off the stove.
I knew what everyone liked: eggs, bacon, sausage, scrapple, pancakes, an omelet for Ching Lee and Marcy, plenty of toast with orange juice and coffee made it a morning power meal. I asked Jake and Mindy if anyone wanted anything fixed differently for them.
I watch as Jake made a breakfast sandwich, a slice of buttered toast, layered with bacon then an egg, then two slices of crispy scrapple and three sausage patties, two slices of cheese, another egg, and all covered with another slice of toast.
Jake was smiling as he finished putting it together, “You cannot find a sandwich like this anywhere in the world,” and then took a big bite of it.
Mindy asked, “What is scrapple?” All of us had at least one slice and a couple of us two.
“It’s good – try it, you will like it – if we tell you what’s in it, you won’t eat it like some Japanese foods,” Jake replied as he took another bite of his sandwich.
By the time we finished all the food was gone and everyone was full. With the dishes in the dishwasher and full coffee mugs, we went over to the gym to do our own things.
Jake connected to our wireless to do some research while everything else was getting started.
Jenny was in her office doing her state work, making conference calls to her associates. Tomorrow she was going to Annapolis to work on the next set of cases that were going to trial. Because she was so pregnant, the other prosecutors were going to handle the actual trials for her.
The VCATS was pinging as soon as I signed in just like yesterday; I only had to do updates today, no serious problems for me to deal with. Amy was one of them. She asked if I had notified the embassy at Bamako to tell them that the chopper was on its way.
“No, I want the plane safely on the ground there before I make the call. It will be 8PM there before the plane lands, too late to unload the chopper tonight anyhow,” I replied.
It was 10:30 AM before I heard from the flight, six and a half hours after takeoff. At six hours the flight should have been past the halfway point. I had been concerned for an hour. The refueling should have happened by now.
Charlie Campbell called on the satellite phone Marcy had given him. Where they were going, who knows what kind of cell service was available.
`”BJ, the tanker just pulled away. We have been making good time, even with two engines feathered. We have had one heck of a tail wind for the first five hours but we are going to loose some of it soon. We are 800 hundred miles past halfway. The one refuel should be enough. Buddy brought his good camera equipment. He is going to have some great video and still shots for Ching Lee and Vicky to put on the web site,” he said.
“Give me the numbers where you are at now, so I can mark it on the map, and then call me when you land. Oh, keep taking the pictures – that is a good idea that slipped by us,” I replied.
I marked the spot on the map and went looking for girls to show them the location and give an update. I was informed that Lorrie and Marcy had gone to the airport with Jake. They were to meet Bob from Bob’s Construction. They had left with a copy of the blueprints for our hangar.
I wondered what they were looking at that was that important when Jake and Mindy should be leaving for Pennsylvania in an hour and a half. I did not get to think long about it.
The VCATS pinged me back to reality as I accepted the call. It was Ambassador Adam Cartwright from the embassy at La Paz, Bolivia. There was a sizable detachment of future JBG security there, including two armored Suburbans, a Bell 407 and the Blackhawk that was out of service.
“I am hearing through the grapevine that you are working feverishly to be in command and take over well before the contract officially starts. Is there any truth to that rumor?” Adam asked.
“Yes, that is correct, two of the out of service Bell 407’s are being replaced this week. We have a replacement Blackhawk for you, but it is going to be next week before that happens. The logistics are going to be a nightmare on that. I did not get the defect list from your pilot yet – there is a possibility it can be repaired on site much easier and faster,” I replied.
“He was given that request yesterday. You will have it today or I will have his ass on my shoe. To be honest, I am not very satisfied with him or the one before him. If you have any qualified pilots I would be open for a trade,” Adam replied.
“I have plenty of qualified chopper pilots, but if you don’t want him I know I don’t either,” I replied then added, “If you want us to supply a pilot it has to start through channels on your side first.”
“Did I understand you that the Bell we have is going to be replaced with a new one as well?” Adam asked.
“They are not new but have very low hours and are in pristine condition. The Bell factory techs have been here inspecting each one before we bought them. I think you will be very pleased. There is several different paint schemes, if you want I will have pictures sent to you and you can chose one,” I added.
“You would do that for me, that would be great! I will be watching for them. You will have that defect list today,” Adam replied as he cut the conversation.
I called Vicky and explained that I wanted her to take the video camera and make a short video of each Bell 407 outside and of the interior to send to Adam. I did not care where the choppers went so Adam picking out one he liked would be a PR plus.
I headed to the coffee pot for a refill and met Jake, Marcy, Lorrie and Bob stepping out of the elevator. Each with a fresh mug, they followed me to my office where Jake spread out some hand drawn diagrams and a couple of brochures.
“I was thinking about that inventory that we put in the storage trailer and how you needed to secure it, here is what I came up with. I built one similar to this in Japan to store radioactive materials until they could be picked up.” Jake said.
“I figured 32 x 32 by 8 ft high. Put a course of 12 inch blocks nine feet high with rebar drilled 6 inches into the floor then filled with concrete. Line the inside walls with hardox 500 hardened steel plates 1 inch thick welded together then line the inside with another filled and reinforced course of block. Then plate the top with the hardox and place supports for the top to intersect with the plate joints. Then we pour a foot of concrete on top the plate,” Jake said.
“For the door, this is the same one I used. It is a 5 ft wide electronic bank vault door. It weighs 10 tons and level with the floor on the bottom so you can use roll carts or a small forklift to move things in and out. The door is in stock in Ohio, they can ship it out today. It will also to be welded to the plate and offset to be flush with the concrete blocks.
“The beauty of the door is it takes two people with three ID features to open it. Punch in your ID number, then a palm print and finally a retina scan, and then the other person does the same thing. It is very secure,” Jake said.
“Lorrie suggested that it be built in the parts room with the door opening into the pilot’s room. The parts room is more than big enough for it,” Jake added.
“This time of the year block work is scarce. Get the materials here, and then it can be up in a week. Building it inside the hangar means there is no weather issue. The pilots won’t like the noise when we cut the hole for the vault door. It might be a good time to move the clerical people into your offices in the terminal. It is finished,” Bob said.
“It will give me a project to do while I am here,” Jake said.
A glance at Marcy and Lorrie and I said, “Ok, have at it.”
Edit by Alfmeister
proof read by Joe H.