Three hours later we had been cleared out of the holding pattern to land and were landing at La Paz International Airport. It had been an interesting flight in more ways than one.
Weeks ago when we had accepted the contracts for the M&M colleges, I tried to get Vicky or Ching Lee to be more involved the security department.
At the time both wanted to stay where they were, with Vicky in charge of advertising and sharing duties over the gym with Ching Lee over the corporate web site.
On this morning’s flight I started giving Vicky an in-depth training on the VCATS system and the use of the manuals, along with the programs that Cindy had put together for me. She even responded to the pages for embassy chats on the system.
Then she finally said it, “I can help you with more of the security department now. My clerks have improved enough with the advertising that with just a little oversite, they can do just fine. The trainers in the gym haven’t needed any guidance for the last couple months, even though new membership continues to grow,”
“Three days ago you were shot at and managed to get hit not once but twice. We were lucky that we walked away from that one. A few inches in either direction and the outcome could have been a lot different for us,” I replied then added. “You know that is something we are going to face over and over again at some of the places we are going to have to go. Are you ready for that kind of risk?”
“Well I have to admit that I was scared at the first shots but then the training that you repeatedly pounded into my head started to take over. I will not make the mistake of letting my guard down anymore. You never told me about the adrenaline rush after it was over. It was something like I have never had before,” Vicky said.
“I think by splitting up and using two jets we can get these onsite visits over a lot faster. We are going to have to add a couple more administrators to handle all of this anyhow. One thing for sure, I know we need to keep Cindy in the office; she is just too valuable in the big picture to have out of the office,” Vicky added.
“You’re right on that. We will know a whole lot more in a few days with this embassy adventure. We need to bring Ching Lee into the discussion, do you want to take on this kind of role,” I replied.
We had just finished taxing to a stop on the general aviation tarmac. I looked out the window to see our C130 and the newer Blackhawk and Bell 407 choppers with a crowd around them. I knew they were the newer ones; the 407 was NN730G that Adam wanted and the Blackhawk had the JBG decal on it.
As we stepped to the tarmac the mechanics and the C130 pilots waved us over as we stepped onto the tarmac. I recognized Adam right away. There were all smiles as they walked to meet us.
“It’s great to finally see you two in person. I was a little worried whether we would get to meet you girls after we started getting reports that you were at Bogota embassy, I thought another Benghazi was coming before you even got out of the gate, no pun intended. Each report was getting worse and worse; add that to the video feeds, I didn’t know what to think of that mess you ladies fell into. Your final solution was quite effective,” Adam replied.
“It was tough going for a few minutes but it is never good to piss off two women with guns,” I replied with a grin.
“Yeah, I think they found that out the hard way,” Adam replied with a hard laugh. “It’s true, you are one tough bird”.
“No, just an old marine, I replied.
“We just finished the check ride in the 407; it was as nice as the chopper looks. My pilot is over here – let’s go for a sightseeing tour of La Paz. There are some great scenic views from the air then we can get down to business,” Adam replied.
“Sure, just give me a minute to greet my crew,” I replied.
I walked over and shook the hands of all my men who had worked so hard to make this chopper exchange work out in the allotted time frame. I asked all the normal questions. “How is everything going? Are the accommodations satisfactory? Are you getting enough to eat?”
After the usual head nods and verbal responses I said, “Missions like this are going to happen a lot more than we like. When we get back we need to do a roundtable this. We need to develop a plan from developing the flight plan to landing back at Morton field and everything in between.”
I continued by saying, “It needs to be quickly adaptable to any emergency JBG security may encounter any where in the world. It also needs to be both plug and play with fill in the blank. You guys have been on two of these; I want you to work with Lorrie and Vicky to get it done. Vicky is going to be doing more in security,” I said.
Adam introduced Vicky and me to Melvin Johnson – the pilot we now supplied to the La Paz embassy – as we climbed into the rear seats of the 407. I had flown in choppers many times, specifically Blackhawks.
The 407 was much smaller but lavish compared to the Blackhawks I rode in the sand box. The 407 seats were the best there was to make it a comfortable ride. The Blackhawk had a plywood floor and no seats to make it multipurpose, flying gun mount, carrying soldiers, freight or bodies.
Vicky had never flown in a chopper before. When the rotors started to pick up enough speed and lift, there was always some shaking and vibration. She grabbed my hand and squeezed tight. I looked at her and winked. As soon as we cleared the ground to get away from the rotor wash things started too smoothed out.
We put on the David Clarke noise canceling headsets – the best on the market you can buy- so talking was easy and normal. Adam told us about the city as we flew over and around it, he described the geography and explained about the rich history.
After the aerial tour of the city, Melvin flew toward a nearby snow-capped mountain. As we closed the distance Adam pointed out a beautiful waterfall that fed into a small stream that later on turned into a river as it made its way to the ocean. At first the waterfall looked like a silver paint brush stroke on a magnificent painting by Bob Ross.
As we flew closer I could see the water mist and vapor rising from the water’s angry descent onto the rocks below the waterfalls and then we came upon the rapids as it moved downstream. It was breath-taking scenery. Vicky had overcome her fears quickly and was talking excitedly over the headset as she took pictures with her smarter than smart phone. She had recovered quickly enough to even taken a lot of pictures over the city.
After landing it was back to the business at hand. Vicky and I interviewed our employees, chatted with the embassy staff and asked the same questions that we had at the other stops and unfortunately, received the same troubling answers.
I promised that JBG would meet their needs and go beyond whenever necessary.
We enjoyed another State dinner, Vicky and I both needed extra time in the gym after this trip. It was near 10 pm when we climbed into the seats of the G5 to gladly go home. The C130 and her crew had left for home in the early afternoon.
It was four thousand miles as the crow flies back to Morton Field. The G5LR could make the trip without refueling. We were going to sleep during the flight and arrive at Morton field by 0630.
The plan was to have some family time before festivities at the airport started. Today was the grand opening of the Morton field restaurant to the public.
Two hours later the six of us girls, Jason, Lisa, Cindy, Mark, Judge Slaughter and more would be departing on the Bombardier bound for Rochester to publicly announce that the Rochester College Police force was taking its place as part of the college security force.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Joe H.