Wednesday morning Ed met me in the garage to put me in the heavy vest and walk me to the Suburban.
“Ed, the hair on the back of my neck feels like it is standing on end, not a good sign,” I said.
“I have an itch where I don’t normally have an itch and I haven’t had that since I left the sand box,” he replied.
“Bill said he feels like he was being watched a couple times in the last few days,” Ed said.
“We decided that both Blackhawks are going to make the trip starting today. Both will be flying high,” Ed added.
“When you get back this morning, check in with Robert to see if they have made any progress with the new coding the Prince is using,” I replied.
The trip to 1600 was uneventful and the day so busy I did not think any more about our conversation.
Ed carried the vest inside the White House for me to put on, “Robert said, they are randomly varying the codes in the same transmission; checking with his contacts he thinks it is of Iranian origin and sequencing.”
“That would not be surprising with all the IED’s they had that were Iranian,” I replied.
“That also means that an supposedly trustworthy ally in the Middle East may be on the verge of being flipped, on the verge of civil war or maybe Iran has an arrangement with the Prince,” I said as we were walking out.
The ride home was uneventful until the 301 North intersected route 50; that intersection and ramp was a hi-speed merge into six lanes gradually dropping to three lanes.
The convoy was made up of two Maryland State police cars in the lead, then the four Suburbans, and then two Transit Authority cars bringing up the rear. The convoy was in the hi-speed lane.
From the 301 south ramp four dump trucks merged onto US 50 in the outside slow lanes doing anything but slow. When the convoy started to pass the slower trucks, the trucks steered hard to the left crossing four lanes of traffic. Each truck had taken a Suburban to plow into the side.
Even before the impact the Blackhawk with the mini guns saw what was happening. The pilot started screaming into the radios.
“The convoy is being attacked! We need backup up now at the Bowie 301/ 50 merge.”
What I did not know was that with the three of us being uncomfortable this morning, Ed had changed protocol today. When the convoy was traveling this afternoon, the other two Blackhawks and two Bell 407s were to be in the air over the shore, fully manned with heavily armed security personnel.
They were flying a controlled approach practice to the small Bay Bridge airport where we first started our business as cover for being in the air a couple miles from the Bay Bridge.
The dump trucks hit the Suburbans so hard that it shoved them into the guard rail separating the highway.
With all the armor in the body and the high dump truck bumper, when the chassis came hard against the guard rail, the weight of the dump trucks and momentum sheared the body off and it went over the guard rail into the other west-bound lane of traffic.
The body rolled at least once – possibly more – into the oncoming traffic that I could hear crashing into other cars and Suburban. I was hanging upside down by the seat belts, so was everyone else in the truck. It is impossible to release the seat belt latch with your body weight hanging on it.
Rescue crews have a tool to cut the seat belt but they usually have someone in there to help you get oriented feet down; to have your body weight drive your head and neck into what is now the floor with all the other junk that was now resting on it is not a good thing. It kills you or you run the risk of being a quad.
I was going to grab the seat in front of me with one hand and cut the belt with the other to let me fall on my side.
Just as I was reaching for my knife there was a tremendous explosion that rolled the body one more time and buckled the side. The armor plate on the inside of the side and rear windows had saved me from the one inch thick pieces of flying glass.
I was now back upright in the seat and ready to get out and fight back.
One of the dump trucks had been a truck bomb. They had to know that in a four vehicle convoy, the VIP would be in one of the center two vehicles.
The hand-held aviation company radio was still working and screaming, “Stay in the trucks, stay in the trucks.”
I could hear bullets hitting the Suburban’s body; we were being shot at with semiautomatic rifles. The armor in the body was still intact even after being sheared off the chassis and being rolled at least twice.
Moments later there was a definite change in the gunfire and then all of it stopped. The change had been the Blackhawk with the mini gun. There had been four cars following the dump trucks with fighters to pick off survivors. That was what the first shots were.
The gunner in the Blackhawk had opened fire on the shooters with the mini gun. A few quick burst ended that problem. Traffic was now completely stopped on a major highway in both directions with debris filling the roads.
Ed had been in the front passenger seat, “Is everyone in here OK?” he asked.
“I think my arm is broken,” came from the back, everyone else answered, “OK.”
“BJ stay in here, we will check things outside. Other helicopters from Morton are on their way and should be here in a few minutes. As soon as they get here I will get you in one and get you away from here,” Ed said.
My mind was racing, trying to think how to turn this fiasco into an advantage.
“Ed, if they think I am dead it may lead to a bonanza in communications to our advantage. Work this as if I am dead but make no official statement to that effect,” I said.
I waited while things were checked out. I could hear the helicopters coming in the distance.
I could hear the Blackhawk pilot talking to a news helicopter over the hand held aviation radio lying on the floor on the general frequency, ordering him out of the immediate area. The media helicopter refused.
“You have 10 seconds to clear out of the area or I will order my gunner to shoot off ten inches of your main rotor blades. Your call; ten, nine, eight, seven, six,” the pilot stopped counting so I assumed the news helicopter withdrew a distance.
Ed was directing the JBG helicopters where to land and where the men were to set up security. A Blackhawk and a 407 were directed to land in the highway in front of the stopped traffic in each direction.
Ed , with several of my men assisting, forced open the door enough to crawl in and talk to me. “I have six men hurt.”
“Do they need to be life star or can they go in one of our helicopters?” I asked.
“Two are going to need life star and they are on the way,” Ed replied.
“Put the other four in one of the 407s and send Bill to be the company representative until I get an administrator there,” I instructed.
The news helicopter had pulled back but was still sending video of the aftermath and it was being broadcast. The media also had been listening to 911 call center radio traffic and quickly figured out that it was my convoy that had been attacked.
They were broadcasting what they knew with exaggerations and speculation. What was once one news helicopter was now six. Looking at the carnage and Suburbans, they were speculating I was seriously injured.
Ed and I decided on a plan to get me out of the area with as little risk as possible. No one had any idea if more terrorists were waiting in cars in the traffic jam. A person lying is a lot harder to hit than one walking – for the average shooter – and it would work just fine with the planning.
Ambulances were now filling any space they could get into. Ed sent several men to borrow a striker stretcher from them and a hospital blanket. It was rolled to the door that had now been pried open. Ed quietly informed only the men necessary of the plan.
Then with those men assisting or standing to block as much view as possible, I was pulled out like a rag doll, placed on the stretcher and covered completely with a blanket including my head, playing dead for the media.
Then they openly rolled the stretcher to one of the Blackhawks. I lay on the stretcher completely covered while a couple seats were removed. Then the men slid me off the stretcher onto the floor. As soon as the door closed I was on the phone – the phone to the office. My portable office was placed in with me and three men.
“Jenny, don’t say anything until everyone is out of your office, close the door and then connect me on a conference call with Lorrie and Marcy,”
“BJ, they are saying you are dead on ZNN,” Jenny said.
“That’s the way I want it to stay until tomorrow morning,” I replied.
I filled them in on the plans.
“There are six JBG personnel hurt on the way to AAGH. I will call Vicky and I will be at Morton very soon; I will get out of the helicopter in the hangar and into your Suburban,” I said.
“We don’t know how tight the surveillance is that they are doing. Get a hold of Doc Burns to meet the helicopter; that will make it look like he is there to write a death certificate.”
“Have the Doc call the funeral home he is connected with to send a hearse. We need to make it as real as possible and you know the media will be watching closely.”
I called Vicky and Ching Lee in Korea and filled them in. Then I called the President’s phone that someone else always answers first.
“Troy, get the President somewhere private; do not announce who is on the phone! I need to talk to both of you,” I said.
I talked to the President and then to the security team to plan out tomorrow or the day after, if intelligence gathering was still productive.
All four helicopters took off at the same time. The gunship had stayed airborne; one to AAGH and three to Morton. I left a skeleton crew at the wreck site to account for all the weapons, JBG equipment and the remains of Suburbans that were going to be delivered to the junk pile at Camp Smith.
Ed also tasked the men with taking as many pictures of the terrorists and as many IDs as they could before the police ran them away.
After the change to Marcy’s Suburban in the hangar, she drove into the garage, closed the big door and turned the power to it off.
When we walked into the command center to meet with Robert, ZNN was still broadcasting from the wreck site, only now with land crew and a helicopter, and they were still speculating I was dead. Speculation that was helped by the MSP marking out an outline of my Suburban in the paint to indicate a fatality. MSP did not know I was alive, Ed had told them to make no statements that I was dead. He also told them there was an official blackout on any news or statements about JBG.
I had been right; one of the news helicopters had followed us back to Morton. They had landed and broadcast footage of the Doc and the hearse. They even followed the hearse to the funeral home.
Jenny, Marcy, Lorrie and I stayed in the command center. We were doing a VCATS with Vicky and the rest of my family that was in Korea.
All fifteen members of Robert’s team were busy. The Prince’s phone and dozens more from the group went active. The Prince even made a conference call to a dozen phones in the US that we did not know about until now.
Marcy answered a call from the lobby attendant, “Send them down, we are in the command center,” she replied.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.