After we landed and exited the choppers, they flew on to Entebbe International. The spare was going back into the hangar fully fueled; it would receive a thorough post trip inspection – by the book – tomorrow, since the flight today was over 500 miles and the first long flight since leaving the shop.
The other one was coming back fully fueled in case it was needed for emergency embassy business. It needed a full tank.
After a long hot shower at the Hilltop Hilton and a change of clothes to much better clothes and get rid of the camp stench that followed you, we went back to the embassy.
There was a big dinner at the embassy tonight in our honor in traditional embassy style, with all the bells and whistles. This was the last evening for such activities; tomorrow night was the gala that we were going to. We were leaving early Saturday morning.
Ambassador Bernardi’s staff put on a five star five course meal; Ambassadors Dansky, Fauntroy and Morrison along with their wives and Fauntroy‘s daughters Caroline, Casey and Agatha were the only invited guest.
There was before dinner wine; even Rachel and Fauntroy’s daughters were given a small glass of wine. I was going to say something but didn’t because with Fauntroy’s daughters each having a small glass, I figured it was a customary thing and acceptable.
Ambassador Bernardi added with the toast, “I’d like to thank Ambassador Dansky and others for the fine selection of spirits used for tonight’s celebration.” I smiled and winked at ambassador Dansky.
Salad, steak, lobster and crab with all the fixings and luscious sweet desert made it a fantastic meal, with great conversation among old and new friends made it a wonderful evening.
Rachel, Robin, Caroline, Casey, and Agatha quickly became friends and were at the same table. There was chatter and laughter all night from them.
Vicky – on the other hand – was getting OJT on the other side of diplomacy by interacting with the Ambassadors and their wives in an official capacity.
Off to the side of the social conversations Ambassador Dansky thanked me again for the information they were getting from Randolph’s capture. Then he added, “My associate said there were some things you needed to continue your work. They will be placed in 17 tomorrow night for you to take on the return flight home.”
“Again I thank you for all the assistance you have given me; I don’t know how I shall ever be able to repay you,” I replied.
“The information we are getting connects many gaps in things very important to us,” he replied.
“When you get to Tel Aviv to see your security team at the US embassy, plan an extra day or two there. I have friends in high places who want to give you a private tour of historic Israel and Ben-David has friends there who would like to demonstrate some equipment to you and have other discussions,” he said.
“I will look forward to making the trip and I will plan on several extra days,” I replied.
We were joined by the other ambassadors and the talk turned to the war in South Sudan. I found out I was not the only one worried; all of them thought that the Ugandan government was too slow in responding to the approaching border threat.
Each day was going to be a challenge in the area going forward. I added more things on my list to do tomorrow and that was to have a conversation with Ambassador Furnell; he was closest to the fighting.
The socializing lasted another couple hours. Bob was keeping the adults entertained with the stories of his time in the Marines after the Vietnam War. Bob had a world of experiences as an officer at some of the best billets in the world. London, Italy, France, Spain Hong Kong, Manila, Seoul, South Korea, Osaka and Tokyo were only a few.
Some of those places I served at and the memories were not fond.
Things were winding down at 2200 so I asked Ambassador if I could use VCATS to call home. I could have made the connections at the motel but the embassy connection was a lot more secure.
I logged into my email and sent one announcing I was on the system. As I waited for them to key in, I looked at the email. Lorrie had sent one labeled important; it contained several jpgs; they were of the new plane with the JBG aviation decal on the tail.
“Is this what you wanted to see?” the email read.
The screen went live with the group around the meeting table. Lorrie was pumped; I could see she was going to be the first to talk.
“Did you get the picture I sent?” Lorrie asked.
“Looks great,” I replied.
“Can you send it to pick us up? We have too many things to fit in a G5 and it would give it a good shake down flight,” I said.
“It will be there Saturday morning; I have two flights early next week for it and another possible one on Friday,” Lorrie replied.
Jason and Jenny discussed the attorneys who were going with us to Minneapolis on Monday to the investigation; I was glad that one of them was Curtis Warren. He had a Perry Mason demeanor in the courtroom and shrewd sense of humor. At 6ft 8 and 250 lbs, he easily intimidated most people in the court.
The fact that Grandpa was a former chief justice and that Curtis had turned down a nomination to the court to stay in private practice said a lot about where his values were. He often said he loved to win cases and had no interest deciding arguments between lawyers who were not prepared.
I did not know it at the time, but Curtis had joined Jason deer hunting in the scrub in Robin’s absence and they were getting deer every night.
I listened and talked for another half hour before I signed off. Adam had been keeping Lorrie updated on the Air Force flight. Plans were made for Victor and Joni’s wedding. Joni had asked Jason to walk her down the isle.
I wondered what was going to happen with Alica; so far there had been no mention of what she was planning to do. She and Joni had been close. I hoped that there had been some discussion. I finally called Jenny asking that question.
After that I called it a night and the night crew carried us to the Hilltop Hilton.
0600 came early with my phone ringing. It was Ambassador Fauntroy informing that cots and tents had shown up during the night at Entebbe. Andy and I discussed the issue over breakfast and a few minutes later, the truck and trailer were headed to Entebbe.
Five of my men and five from the embassy were going to make the trip from Entebbe to Nimule with one SUV. Gordon was staying because he was my escort for the gala tonight.
A few minutes after that Ambassador Dansky called, “The pilots capable of flying the chopper arrived last night. If you want to send your pilots to do a check-out flight I will send them to 17.”
“Have them there in an hour,” I replied.
I sent the senior mechanic and the senior pilot from the embassy to check them out and spend time in the air with them.
One of the first things I wanted to do today was VCATS with Ambassador Furnell. I wanted to know the status of the embassy and my forty men there.
I spent all morning talking to every ambassador and my team leaders in the area. After lunch it was more.
At 1500 the hair dresser arrived at the hotel. Vicky and Robin were first and second. Rachael and I were next. The gala started with social hour at 1800 at the German embassy; Ambassador Schmitt was hosting. The German embassy was huge.
We were dressed and ready to party! We followed the truck and trailer into the rear entrance to the embassy. We were going to the German embassy as a group with Ambassador Bernardi and his wife.
They had had a productive trip and day; they had been able to carry all the tents and cots that the aid agency had sent. There weren’t enough for everyone, but it was a start.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.