The day was quiet for the most part. Near noon Robin, Phil and Bob came to see me. I wondered if they were having second thoughts now.
“Is there anything that we need to do to prepare for the trip?” Robin asked.
“You need to get yourselves in good physical shape. You are going to have close to 60 or more hours in airplanes in just six days with a double dose of jet lag. The jet lag is going to be bad as well as 14 time zone changes in the same period of time. It will make adjusting hard.”
“The truck ride from Entebbe to Kampala to Nimule is six to seven hours each way plus the unload time. And that may have to be done two days in a row, depending on how people come through with donations,” I replied.
“Bob, I know you know how to shoot but I would like you to go to the gun club and qualify with one of our company Glocks. You just never know when you might have to pick one up and use it in that part of the world,” I said.
“What about us?” Phil asked.
“Maryland law says you have to be 21 to buy, but you can take hunting and gun safety training,” I replied.
“I have already had hunter safety and hold a hunting license in Kentucky. My Dad and I went pheasant and deer hunting all the time. I was a better hunter than he was; I killed more deer. It always made him upset,” Robin replied.
“Maybe you should go deer hunting with my Dad. He goes a lot and I know there are deer where he goes but he never gets one,” I said.
“Ask him if he would like a hunting partner, I miss the outdoors!” she replied.
“What about you, Phil?”
“I’m not into guns – never shot one – but I will come to watch just for the heck of it.”
“I have seen you compete at sports. I bet if you did some trap or skeet, you would fall in love with it,” Robin replied.
“We have both at the gun club, that can happen but he needs basics first,” I replied.
I received a text from Lorrie that the refueling was completed on schedule. I breathed a sigh of relief on that one; I’m sure it was like falling off a log to the pilots but I still worried something would go wrong.
I also worried about revolutionaries, terrorists and radical governments shooting the plane down. To say some of the territory it was flying over was hostile would be putting it mildly. It was flying established commercial routes and it was silver and that was a good thing.
It was almost three when Marcy called. She and a couple of her administrators found the two trucks in Washington and the two trailers like the ones destroyed in Delaware. The drivers were carried to Washington to pick them up and then they were driving to pick up the trailers.
The decal shop we used was making up new decals to put on the trucks. Federal law and the dot inspectors looked for the identifying name and numbers on road side inspections.
Soon all trucks would have electronic driver logs, weights, inspection, insurance and cargo information that would be transmitted to the weigh stations and portable enforcement as the truck neared the sites.
The inspectors would know if they needed to flag the truck in for closer scrutiny or let it go by before it ever got there.
Marcy had called the auto shop that services the MAAR cars to remove that and the GPS equipment from the trucks. One more thing that was boxed up and given to the driver to be installed later.
Luckily both trucks were tagged in states that the tags could be transferred to new trucks with a phone call, a credit card and insurance numbers. Marcy paid off the remaining loan balance on the wrecks. The titles were coming to her.
It was an expensive lesson. The two trailers would be scrapped and the tractors would go the truck auction in Wilmington. Next time the takeoff would either be from the other end of the runway, or we would get the police to stop traffic on the road for five minutes. We had been lucky that this had not happened before with the C17 and the 787 takeoffs in the last month.
I was just about to leave when I got a cryptic email from a friend abroad on my State Depart Email system. It was a request that I immediately forwarded to Robert after removing all the gibberish and things that I did not want him to see and added TOP SECRET in the subject line. Top secret meant that it was strictly between Robert and me.
The email was full of diplomatic speak that I had gotten rid of. I was so glad that Ambassador Furnell had worked many hours with me on interpreting the hidden meanings in words and language that were used in diplomatic cables, speeches and press releases. I could just imagine the questions I was going to get from Robert when I got to the office.
I stopped by Morton Field on my way to the office; I wanted an update on the flight for my peace of mind. They were two hours from their destination and they were 30 minutes behind schedule because of trouble with the KC130 tanker plane.
I went straight to Robert’s office, looked in and then closed the door behind me.
“Everything should be here Thursday morning. I ordered all of it by special delivery to make sure,” he said.
Then he asked, “Can you tell me what’s going on?”
“I’m not exactly in a position to say for sure right now. I have ideas but we will both find out the details Friday morning at 8. Do you have a place to put it after all the other stuff you ordered was put in?”
“Yes, after that wall into the other office was removed, we have plenty of room. You do know we have plenty of room on the new system.”
“Like I said there is a reason, I just can’t tell you everything I know right now and I am sure there is a lot more I do not know.”
“Follow the setup instructions in the email,” I replied.
I headed for the meeting; I really wanted to listen closely to Marcy’s financial report tonight. We were hiring a lot of people every week and now every week a number was being added to the charges to the State department. I hoped that we were back to maintaining a balance between the two in the revenue stream.
By the time our meeting was finished there should be another update on the flight.
Adam called in on the satellite phone and it was all good news. The refueling boom on the tanker had stuck in the stowed position and required some unconventional tactics to get it working.
The hangar lived up to the pictures and specs; all the electric controlled doors opened and closed, all the locks were in working order, it was visible by the control tower and was on the airports security check every 4 hours list as I had asked it to be placed.
The other part of the news was that they were making better time unloading the choppers than they thought it would take. Adam thought they would be done unloading when the fuel trucks started the fill up for trip home and would be airborne in a couple hours. That would put them back at Morton 9 AM Thursday.
There would be just enough time to load, go home and get some sleep, and then leave Friday morning for South America.
Frank knocked on the door just as we were finishing up, “Afternoon Ambassador, when you finish up I need a couple minutes.”
In my office behind closed doors, “The freight for the Friday flight is going to be delivered tomorrow. The C5 is going to Guarani Paraguay. They will be met at the airport by our people.”
“There may be a stop in Arizona on the return trip but right now it doesn’t look promising for that to happen,” Frank added.
“By the way, there is nothing new on the 515 group. I have to go to another meeting at the hangar; as soon as I hear something I’ll let you know,” he said as he headed for the door.
As we walked across the street to the house, I informed Lorrie where the next flight for the C5 was going so she could start the process. Part of that assessment now was a close monitoring of our fuel supplies.
Lorrie had assigned someone to monitor the fuel farm and now there was a daily fuel usage estimate based on daily and weekly flights. There was a delay from the order to delivery, sometimes two or three days. Preorders were based on the usage estimate routine.
To go along with the refueling, we now had three trucks of our own. With the daily freight flights, a fuel truck breakdown that could shut down the operation was unacceptable. Lorrie had bought new truck and a second used one to match the one we had gotten from the military surplus site. Everybody hated the new one with a passion; just too many bells and whistles.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.