Section 12 was busy when we got back. The questions I had asked about Saif and his entry were yielding results. When the Exxon Val Diageo left the New Jersey oil terminals, the records showed the tanker was carrying three fewer crewmen.
That prompted a search of all the Exxon Val Diageo trips in the last two years. Each time it left port to return to the Middle East oil terminals, it left with fewer crewmen; sometimes three, sometimes four or more.
That prompted a search of all tankers that came into the East coast. It was a search process that was going to take days, let alone the other questions; who were they and where are they now.
It was easy to understand why a tanker would not wait in port for a missing crewman. Daily lease rates for a supertanker were $95,000 a day. Not only that, when a departure time was posted, as many as four tugs were contracted to get the ship away from the terminal and the river pilot was already on board.
The vessel to pick up the river pilot was also contracted and enroute to take him off the ship. Departing and arriving was an expensive exercise. The captain was given strict orders to get underway at the appointed time or else.
The simple numbers said that these were not crewman missing the ship; these were people paying to be carried into the US illegally. The Exxon Val Diageo had dropped off 90 in the last two years.
The question was where were they now? This had been going on a year before Saif made the trip. That meant that Saif was not the leader but a middle man. Was he recruited and paid to build vests and bombs? Had he muscled his way to be the leader?
The next question was, were they all part of the same terrorist group? If they were, we had a much bigger problem than anyone imagined.
The men were poring over Coast Guard records, looking for other tankers and other freighters that may have been doing the same thing.
The Friday traffic home was miserable. Thanksgiving weekend was just two weekends away and the weather was still Indian summer, chilly nights and warm days.
One pour had been done on the new tarmac, 50 feet deep by 400 feet wide. Another one would be done tomorrow. Twenty – four left after tomorrow, twelve weeks’ worth and add in the holidays – it was not looking good to be finished by bad weather.
Saturday started off with a big home cooked breakfast for my mates and the boys. My first since last Sunday, it was a pleasure to watch the boys in the highchairs eating little bits of eggs, bacon and scrapple. They loved Sugar Smacks.
After breakfast we went to Morton Field to see the second pour that Jake’s crew was doing. I expected to see the new pour next to the one done Thursday; it was not. It was on the far end. Other crews were digging for the next pours and welders were putting rebar together; two more trenches scattered along the new tarmac pad.
I did not understand this process. I would have to get Jake to explain it to me sometime.
Back at the office, the girls and I had a relaxing conversation. The basement was done as Bob promised, including the command center that I wanted with the theater seating. Marcy and the girls were going to plan what and who to put down there next week.
Robert had all the screens for the command center room installed and checked out by the manufacturer’s representatives. Marcy did jokingly ask if we could put a popcorn machine in the kitchen, “Robert says we can have movie night in there with the sound system that came with it.”
The new equipment Robert had ordered was already down there and hooked up. Whatever he ordered must have been big. All the data on the mainframes had been transferred to one new computer and he had ordered several. They moved the existing computers down there Sunday morning.
Marcy commented on how fast all the computers were working, like a bullet. Even the remote MAAR sites noticed the difference in speed.
All Bob’s men had finished their passport applications and visited the doc for the shots. Four weeks was pushing the minimum limit on the shots, but it had to be done.
Bob thought he would have trouble finding 75 men to go over the holidays. When they found out the pay, some had to be turned down even though they would be gone from mid December to the end of January.
Bob had ordered all the materials on the list and they would start being delivered in the coming weeks. They were to be stored in one of the hangars. Marcy had already confirmed all the rooms for the men.
The men going through the simulator at Dover had finished on Friday and were flying to Tucson on Monday; the second C5 was ready.
A couple of quick calls verified things for Monday’s 9 AM trip to KCC with all the task force. The fire department was confirmed; an engine, rescue and one ambulance needed to be close to the landing site.
The College Board wanted to be there for the PR, Hanna and Sylvester were going to be there (another scoop for her), and Elaine Summers from the Kent County Gazette for the local paper. Everything was as ready as it could be unless the President or his staff decided to come.
We finished working out Saturday in the gym. I damn near got my ass whipped on the mats and with the pogo sticks. No matter what, I needed to spend more time in the gym and less at the free donut table.
Sunday was a downsized family breakfast. Then, off to the gym; we went to the gym via the elevator and the tunnel. I immediately fell in love with it. No waiting on traffic to cross the road and we could go straight to the office without everyone wanting to stop you us the gym level.
The extra fresh air venting from the elevator room at the house and the tunnel junction improved the quality of air in the basement.
We worked a couple hours in the office and then back in the gym. I was bound and determined not to lose any more of my physical edge. Damn the soft easy jobs – they made me fat and lazy.
Sunday we went to KCC. Ching Lee ran me through all the things that had been changed and how to work the equipment for Monday.
Monday I stopped by the Oval Office before I went to Section 12 to extend again the invitation to the President and his staff to join us. Before I got in the door I was met by several agents and a couple staff members, and then ushered into a side office.
“We assume the trip to KCC is still on, the President has decided he wants join you and take his staff. Have you made any arrangement at the site?”
“I have the local fire department scheduled to be at the landing site with an engine, rescue and an ambulance. Hanna Page from the local channel 34 TV station and Elaine Summers from the Kent County Gazette will be there for media coverage,” I replied’ than added, “The College Board, the town police chief, county sheriff and the state police are to be there. KCC has made a major commitment and investment to be the pilot college for this equipment and so have the local police agencies,” I said.
“The barracks Commander there is Charles Ashley, one of the good guys, I have been through some training with him in the past,” the senior agent Charles Brewer replied.
“Yes I know, he is taking early retirement and goes to work for JBG on January 1 in our Human Relations department,” I responded then added, “His replacement is Major Brandon Zigler, another good one. He and Ashley will both be there,” I said.
“Both Marine 1 for the President and the media chopper that carries the Press Corps will be flying, including the normal fighter cover. The President told us on Saturday he wanted to go, so we do have some resources in place around the perimeter of the college grounds.”
I explained the timeline to the agents with my group’s departure time from Reagan National and arrival time at KCC. I also showed them where we were going to land the choppers on the College lawn. I suggested that my chopper be on the ground first to confirm everything was ready.
“I have one extra seat if you want an agent to accompany us for an early arrival, Agent Brewer,” I said.
“That would be great! Agent Damien Carter will go with you,” Brewer replied.
I went into the Oval Office to speak to the President about the trip and what to expect, and then to Section 12.
I had just settled into my seat when Graham Tull called from the chopper, “I will be on the ground in 15 minutes,” he said.
The 14 of us were at National in 20 minutes, it was an 80 mile flight as the crow flies, 30 minutes in the Blackhawk.
I called Patti, “Make sure the coffee pots are fresh and full.” It was code to tell her we were airborne and on the way.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.