Saturday morning there was a nervous tension in the air. If the Intel was accurate, the terrorists were going to make their play during the parade, but we still did not know which day of the two days there were parades scheduled.
Howie and the drone operators were out checking everything out early. Howie had assembled all 18 of the devices and they were behind the new wall that had been built. The only thing left was to install the battery and turn the key to arm them.
The two gun drones had been checked and rechecked; there were at least a dozen 500 round belts assembled.
All the drone batteries were fully charged as were the controllers and batteries for the laptop and cameras. The drone defense was ready.
On top of the embassy building were the stinger and javelin rockets to stop the truck, sitting in boxes ready to be used on a moments notice. The two 50 cal guns with full belts of armor piercing bullets were in place and covered with canvas. The two M60 machine guns were in place as well and covered.
The chopper was still sitting on the pad with the pilots ready to take off. As soon as the parade was started I was going send the chopper away.
Andy and I went to the front office to discuss assignments with Alice, Linda, and Ellen. We had talked with them and they understood they had a part in the embassy defense if our worst fears came to pass.
“What you need to do at the first sign of trouble is to lock down the front office by turning the electric locks off so the doors stay locked. Do not stand in front of the doors but take positions off to the side so that you can put them in a cross fire. Anyone that tries force their way in, you will have to stop them.”
“The counters you are behind are reinforced with steel plate. It was one of the things that was done after Morocco; stay behind them,” I said
“You cannot let anyone get by you; it will be the difference between life and death for all of us,” I said.
Andy and I went through different defensive firing positions behind the counters explaining the how and why and the advantages each had. Then I gave them a pep talk.
“You know you can hit the target, I know you can get the job done; now we are depending on you to do that. I know it will be hard but you have to stand your ground and do it,” I said.
“We understand; we can and will do it, you can count on us,” Linda replied with both Alice and Ellen nodding.
I went to the communications room to check on the latest alert updates and call the Washington emergency security desk for any items that were not considered valid enough to make the list.
There was nothing new in any of the reports or alerts. I went to find Andy to see if there was anything else he thought we needed to do.
Ambassador Morrison called to see if I wanted to come to the Canadian Embassy to watch the parade, but I politely told him I was under the weather and was not venturing out.
The parade started at noon and that was when I sent the chopper to make a high altitude sweeps over the city. The truth of the matter was I did not want the chopper on the ground to be destroyed by the blast, if it came to be.
The one last check was to walk the grounds and move everything that could become flying debris in the blast at the rear of the grounds. Then there was nothing to do to wait.
It was 2 PM before the first floats of the parade made their way through the city and negotiated the turn two blocks from our embassy. The route plan called for them to turn and continue on for 6 blocks, a left turn through another part of town and then back to the staging area.
About half of the parade column had made the turn when Bambi the copilot radioed that a very large space had opened up in the parade column after an unusual looking heavy truck. That gap was being filled with cars, pickups and pedestrians that did not look to be part of the parade and was about a mile away.
The chopper made a swing away from the parade route to do a 360 around the embassy location. Three miles from the embassy there was a truck headed towards the embassy and city from the east.
The truck was currently parked at an intersection on the road with several dozen pickups loaded with people. That route into the city and past the US embassy from the East at that intersection had been closed early this morning.
Bambi radioed again; the truck in the parade route was stopped while the parade participants ahead of it continued on. I knew then that it was going to wait until the road ahead of it was clear to make as much speed as it could to hit the west security fence and burst through.
I was on the roof with Andy looking through binoculars at the parade route; he and I both know knew that one truck was going to hit from the west first and then a few minutes later one from the east. Then all the fighters would come in to finish things off and pick up people for hostages.
The drones were behind the corner wall and going to stay there until after the explosions. If they were in the air the blast would most likely destroy them. It was still a waiting game; neither truck was moving.
We did not have to wait long; as soon as the last float made the turn the waiting truck blew the air horn – I guessed that was the start signal – and here it came gaining speed as it came down the street.
It ran through the barricades at North Street where the parade turned and over several police men manning them; with the binoculars I could people flying through the air that had assembled at that vantage point to view the parade.
“The truck on the East Road has started moving fast,” Bambi yelled into the radio.
The truck from the city side veered off the road and towards the security fence; it was running at least fifty miles an hour now. The momentum alone was going to bring it well into the yard, much further than we wanted.
The instant it burst through the security wall I fired the Stinger into the cab. Seconds later Andy fired the Javelin into the body, seconds later Tommy and Sylvester were firing the machine guns into the plating they had put around the engine trying to make it die.
The first sign of success was when there was the flash of bright light erupting from all the seams and openings in the tank of the truck and all the places they had opened the tank to install explosives and junk for shrapnel.
“Get down!” Andy yelled.
All of us crouched down beside the extended wall. The force of the explosion got to us before the sound; the force of the air blast coming up the inclined wall was ten times more than I ever imagined.
That rush of air and debris at hurricane speed lifted us and dropped me ten feet into the middle of the roof from where I was crouching. I on my back when I opened my eyes; I was looking at a piece of the truck bumper falling out of the air just over me. I rolled towards the edge just as the bumper landed on the roof beside me.
The bumper was followed by all kinds of debris, pieces of block, pipe, iron and anything else they could find, as I jumped to get to the edge of the roof again.
As I got to the edge, the sound of another Stinger and Javelin being fired and another massive explosion had more debris falling all around us. The truck from the east road had tried to come through the east stone wall.
When the debris – that was actually pieces of rock from the east wall – stopped falling, I raced to the east side to see if the truck had made it through.
A thirty foot section of the wall was gone, all except steel pilings that supported the rock. The remains of the truck were mangled amongst the H beams.
Just then Andy yelled, “Everybody down!” the explosion I recognized was from one of the anti-personnel devices dropped by the drone and that was followed by the distinct belt fed gunfire from the gun drone.
As I looked over the west wall, at least 20 cars had come in after the truck exploded; several were bunched together, trapping the occupants inside.
I began picking targets with one of the M16s, of the fighters firing from around and behind the cars.
Along with the cars, dozens of fighters – all with guns – had been shooting at us until the AP device fell and the pass of the gun drone.
Andy yelled again, “Everybody down!” seconds later as another AP device was dropped on the east side as fighters streamed in. The process was repeated again and again before all the shooting stopped.
I had missed the bumper but smaller pieces of debris had not, my face was bleeding. I could feel the dried blood on my face. There was shrapnel imbedded in the bullet proof vest but there was no time for that now.
“Andy, send the two Suburban to block the road. Keep everyone, including emergency response, out until we assess the situation,” I ordered.
ZNN NEWS BREAK developing story, “Kampala Embassy under attack, massive explosions, with multiple secondary explosions and heavy gunfire,” was now running in the media on every channel.
“Did anyone get killed? What are our injuries?” I asked.
“No dead; some serious injuries, nothing life threatening I think,” Andy replied then he added, “A couple of the guys are acting as medics as we speak.”
“Let’s check and make sure the ones on the ground are dead and get the chopper here to take the wounded to Kampala hospital,” I said.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.