I opened the e-mails and started reading the first file labeled Albert Koons JBG service number SD1601695. Albert Koons 40, married, wife Linda and 2 kids, both girls, Mindy age 8, Caroline 12. The family lived in Lancaster PA. They had a mortgage, a car payment and credit card debt like most families. They were members of the Lancaster Methodist Church.
According to Jeanna there was one life insurance policy for $75,000, not enough to pay off the house or their debts. He also had the JBG life insurance policy that we carried over from Black Water for $275,000.
Albert had spent 15 years in the army before joining Black Water. The record from both his military (the army) and the evaluations from Black Water were in good standings.
I opened the next file labeled Phil Adams JBG service number SD160194. Phil had a similar had a similar life history with a few exceptions. He was orphaned at an early age and had been an only child. HR could not find any records in regards to any living relatives. Like Albert he had joined the Army and went to war in the first Desert Storm and had done a couple tours in Afghanistan before joining Black Water. The beneficiary on the $275,000 for the company life insurance was the Army’s Childrens College Fund.
First I called Amy at the State Department, “Has anyone notified the families yet?” I asked it was now two in the afternoon on the Eastern Shore.
“No; no one has been notified yet. There has been no detailed information released to the media yet either, a press briefing is scheduled before tonight’s 6PM news cycle. The media is pushing hard for information,” she replied.
“It is not looking like the bodies will be flown out for another day at least,” Amy added.
“I am sending representatives to Albert Koons house. I want them to hear the news from us, not a news person knocking on their door,” I said.
I called the office; it was 2:30 in the afternoon on the shore. On the conference call I decided to send Ching Lee and Lisa to Lancaster. Marcy and Lorrie needed to stay in the office and there was no way I would let Jenny go there, she was under enough stress as it is. Lisa knew her way around Lancaster like the back of her hand; she had every antique shop etched in her memory and she was compassionate, understanding and caring.
Plus Lisa had volunteered almost before I had a chance to finish what I wanted to say on the mater.
“Take clothes for a week – you need to be there as soon as you can get there. Call the Lancaster Methodist Church, talk directly to the Pastor and ask him if the Albert Koons family is a member of his church. If they are, tell him or her that there is a family emergency and you need their assistance as soon as you arrive there,” I said.
“As it stands, it is going to be a couple of days before the bodies will leave Morocco and I assume to Dover AFB. As for Phil Adams, we will most likely have to work with the VA to have him buried at the Veterans Cemetery in Preston, unless some family member comes forward. See if he has any type of will registered anywhere, maybe we can find some answers there,” I replied
Four hours later I received an e-mail.
“BJ; Lisa and I met Pastor Timothy Bounds at the church at 4PM. We explained the tragedy and our desire to inform the family before the news broke the story. Pastor Bounds followed us to the Koons house. BJ that was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Linda turned into a basket case, it was really bad. I am really glad we had Pastor Bounds with us; he was a miracle worker. I hope I never have to do something like this again.”
“Pastor Bounds and we are going to stay for a couple more hours then return in the morning. We have a room at Holiday North Motel. Let us know as soon as you get any more information.” Love C Lee.
My heart ached for the family, Ching Lee and Linda. I had seen and been involved with so much death – so many places – my emotions were hardened to its effects.
Morning came quickly after a troubled night of sleep. We were up early and enjoyed a good American breakfast by the ambassador’s personal chef. I wondered how they got the bacon into a land that considered pork the kiss of death. Then the reminder of our first day here cam back as we rode past yesterday’s attack on our way to the jet. The bodies were gone, the fence repaired, all the vehicles gone too, the only things left were the carcasses of the three jetliners.
It looked like they were in the process of scrapping them in place. There were dumpsters next to them and it looked like they were pumping the remaining fuel out of them as well. A big excavator with some kind of shear on the end of the boom was parked near by.
Capt. Horsey met us at the gate. The base had double downed on security after yesterday’s attack. It took two levels of approval for non-military personnel to get on base even with our ID’s.
It was eight hundred miles to Masqat Oman – our next stop on this trip – no more than a two hour flight. Masqat international Airport was spared the latest round of attacks. It was no wonder; they ran a very tight ship as far as security.
The process continued with more interviews with our employees and the embassy staff. After yesterday I was able to sit in on the newly ordered Embassy Security Review. Every embassy world wide was ordered to complete a review today and upgrade their security protocol as best as they could.
It was three in the afternoon – Oman time – when I made the first call of many to the states: to the gym, to Washington and then to Lancaster on this day, it was 7AM eastern time when I started the calls.
My first call was to Jenny to see how she was doing and feeling. She had a good restful night and that made me feel a lot better. Then I asked about the mood in the office.
“Solemn, Marcy is sending an all employee email this morning with what we know along with family information. It is also going to have a link to donate for the Koons family,” Jenny said.
My next call was to Marcy for a general update on everything. “Everything is good, just wanting you two home soon,” she replied.
“We will hopefully be home Tuesday morning. I think the Koons funeral will before the end of the week I want to be there for that if I can. What kind of progress is Jake and Dad making on the bullet stops for the airport target range? We are going to need them sooner than expected if we hire for the rapid response team with any kind of speed,” I replied.
“I know that some of the materials came yesterday and Bob’s Construction and the J&J welders are coming Friday,” Marcy replied.
Next on the list was Lorrie, even though I could look online I asked for an update on flights. Then I asked if either of the C130s would be back Wednesday and after.
“One will be back Wednesday morning but leaves again on Sunday, the other one is on an extended mission and won’t be back until midweek next week,” Lorrie replied.
The next call was to Amy for an update from the State Department.
“A C17 will pick up the four bodies from Morocco tomorrow and will go to Rhine Mein Air Force Base. The morgue there will do their best with what they have to work with. They will be there at least two days, then flown to Dover on Tuesday,” Amy replied.
I had to remind myself that today was Friday. The bodies would be picked up on Saturday with two days in Germany, so the earliest a funeral could be held would be Wednesday or Thursday.
The next call was to Ching Lee to fill her and Lisa in with what I knew, “Please be delicate but find out what funeral home the family wants to use,” I said.
The next call was to General McJames. I needed information and permissions that only he could arrange and I knew it could take several days to get the approvals.
The day was nearly finished – one last duty to do and that was another state dinner with Oman’s rulers as guest.
Then Vicky and I spent the night as guest of the ambassador in the embassy guest room.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Joe H.