We were just getting ready to look at the progress at the radar site when I heard the tires of a large plane touching the runway. It was one of our C5s. Lorrie had said that the plane was leaving the Georgia plant late yesterday.
We watched it maneuver to the tarmac in front of the hangars. After the normal shut down process, the big door at the rear of the plane opened and men exited.
The C5 was carrying the six partially disassembled Air Tractor At802Us we had purchased for patrol duty. The wings had been removed and placed in special crates to prevent damage during the flight and to get them in the plane.
Along with the planes were all the maintenance jacks and equipment to put them back together. Jacks and equipment are worthless without aviation techs to use them.
On board the C5 were four techs from the Air Tractor factory and four from our aviation shop, along the four pilots who had been training at the factory.
A talk with the group informed us that it would take a week to assemble and test the six 802s. One thing that I knew they didn’t was that an Israeli C130 was delivering the armaments for the planes at noon.
Adriyel Dorin – the director of Mossad – and I had worked out an agreement for eight mini guns, seventy five Hellfire missiles and three hundred Hydra 70 rockets; enough for each of the pilots to test the planes and weapons systems out before all the techs left.
I had been able to buy the hardware mounts for the Hellfire, Hydra 70s and the mini guns from the manufacture without any special licenses or permits. I thought that was strange, given the nature of the equipment, but they were considered hard items and not weapons.
We went to look at the radar site and its installation. When the General finalized his request it was for ten acres. The Air Force was to supply the chain link fence; ten feet high with razor wire on top and the gating and controls to surround the entire ten acres.
The living quarters were to be built outside the fence inside the now access controlled airport. I was to supply the labor for the install at US union labor prices plus the normal add-on. There was a huge markup and – as expected – Marcy jumped at the contract.
As usual there was a Marcy SAP account for all materials and labor associated with USAF radar base Polokwane. The Air Force agreed in the contract to do vectoring for all arriving planes; one less headache for JBG to worry about.
The biggest glitch in the contract was the Air Force wanted the walls to be small arms and small explosive devices resistant. I wondered how that was going to be achievable in this environment. I also wondered if they knew something I didn’t or were just being unusually cautious.
I estimated that it would take two more C5 flights to get all the fence here and wondered if anyone had tried to purchase any in the big city three hundred miles away. It would have to be cheaper than the freight cost in a C5 or a c17.
But then with the war winding down in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan maybe the Air Force needed flight time to keep the pilots and crews busy and certified. It was not like the government needed to say something was worn out in order to ask for replacement funding.
Two of the footer and block crews were working on the foundation for the Air Force crew buildings. I estimated they would be finished by darkness then the framers could begin in a couple of days. The mortar joints that secured the blocks together needed time to dry and harden. Raymond implied the building would be ready in less than sixty days. Sixty days was within the Air Force General’s deadline.
We finally ended up at the mines, starting with the gold mine. Mr. Chetty knew we were coming. I had sent him a message when we were inbound.
“It is so good to see you. I am pleased that you take the time to respond to my messages personally. In the twelve years of Arab control not once did anyone in upper levels respond to any messages I sent,” he said.
”I am glad you have been able to bring the operation back so quickly. As you can see, my people are trying hard to keep my promises to you,” I replied.
With safety glasses and face shields on, we watched them place scoops of nuggets into the smelters to turn it into liquid. After several more steps it was poured into the 12.5 kilo molds. When we were here before, there had been six pots and electric furnaces waiting to be used. Today I counted twelve in use.
Mr. Chetty noticed I was counting, ”Even before the Arabs came, we never had enough electricity to run the six kilns at one time. Since the new plant we can and they work much faster and hotter. Before the kilns were working mostly at night. For the last week we have been going around the clock.”
A pair of molds were beside each kiln; when the gold was in the proper molten state it was poured into them. When filled they went onto the cooling racks. When they had cooled enough, the gold bars were removed and weighed.
A worker drilled or added gold with a torch to make the bars weigh 25 pounds. Then they were stamped with the mine mark, a SF for South Africa, the final weight and a serial number. We watched six gold bars every ten minutes make the trip from the kilns to the cooling racks.
The look on Marcy’s face was one of relief. The mine survey and the promises from Mr. Chetty and Mr. Jordaan were apparently true. There would be enough income to pay for this venture and allow for some profit.
We had spent millions in just a few weeks here. With the delivery of the six Air Tractors and the arms for them, we spent thirty million just today. JBG spent half a million in fuel and support for each round trip C5 flight.
“The carpenters made wooden crates from the instructions Raymond gave them. Each crate – when filled – weighs in at two thousand pounds plus the weight of the crate.”
”They also made the two special boxes you wanted to hold four bars each. I am waiting for your special instructions on what to do with them,” Mr. Chetty said.
”I need to make the trip to the diamond mine first, then I will explain,” I said.
Next up was the trip to the diamond mine office that everyone had called the shack. It was more than a shack; there were six small concrete cells with heavy locked doors.
Mr. Jordaan opened doors to show us the result of the digs they had started at the locations where they had hid the diamonds from the Arabs. On the shelves that lined the walls of each cell were cloth bags the size of a small bag of flour.
”Wow, I didn’t realize there would be this much so soon,” I said.
”Things happened a lot faster than I thought they would. In another few weeks we will be back to the full number of miners in the diamond mine. Are you able to carry all this back with you? It is too much to be kept here,” Mr. Jordaan said.
”Yes, one of our big planes is here, it can carry all the gold bars made so far and these diamonds back with them. I will have one of the shipping crates brought over for you to pack them in,” I said.
”I need two bags, each half full. Do you have a bag handy that we can split one of these into?” I asked.
We just stepped outside in time to hear a C130 landing. It was the IDF delivering the weapons we had agreed upon.
Back at the gold mine Mr. Chetty and I placed four gold bars and one half bag of uncut diamonds in each of the special boxes that had been made. Then we securely nailed and screwed the cover on it. With his help we loaded them on the back of the Humvee we were being driven around in.
We went directly to the airfield. The weapons were already being unloaded from the C130 and placed into the storage building by the forklift. We watched as they finished the unloading.
Ariel Dohan was the senior Mossad agent assigned to the delivery.
”Are you returning directly to Israel or making another stop?” I asked him.
”As soon as we are refueled, it is a direct flight back to Tel Aviv,” he replied.
”I have two crates and a letter I need delivered directly to Director Dorin as soon as you land. Are you able to handle that?”
”Yes, I can do that,” he said.
The two crates were brought to the C130 and secured while I wrote the letter.
Bond 007 says diamonds and gold are makers and movers of all nations and I have been told a girl’s best friend. This should be close to the payment we agreed upon. Diamonds are Forever and Gold Finger still rules, but Octopussy was my favorite.
Send me a picture of you with the goods to verify you received them. Thank you for the shipment, we shall use them wisely.
Gold Finger lives on. BJ”
Less than an hour later the IDF C130 took off headed back to Israel. It was soon after that the C5 was empty of Air Tractor parts. They were being replaced with crates from the mines. The C5 would depart later today if the trucks showed up in time to resupply the fuel farm.
In a week some of the aircraft mechanics would need to catch a flight home. Two from our shop and all the tools were staying to maintain the growing JBG fleet.
In a few weeks a freighter was arriving at the coastal port with more Humvees and a couple MRAPs along with two more Blackhawks fresh from the military surplus auction and a quick trip through the rehab shop. The freighter had been leased and loaded out at the Baltimore marine terminal. Once they arrived I would have some extra confidence about security.
It was also carrying hundreds of tons of other supplies and equipment for Polokwane in shipping containers that would be used for long term storage.
We brought all the managers together for one last meeting before we left. It was a pat them on the back and question session.
”Everything seems to be working well. Is there anything we in Maryland can do to make it work better?”
It was an informed discussion that lasted an hour. C5 flights would be every two weeks – sooner if needed – to bring supplies, swap out security personnel and return with whatever bars and diamonds that were ready to be shipped. It was in this meeting that I informed them about the freighter coming in to Maputo.
”I will get you a manifest of everything on it and how it is loaded or packaged. I do know there are one hundred shipping containers that will have to be transported. There is a truck dealer there and Marcy has ordered a few truck with flatbed trailers.”
”We were also told there are contract haulers that will help. As soon as there is a confirmed docking date, one of the flights will bring extra security as drivers to help with getting everything here.” I said.
An hour later my G5 was headed to north east with a fuel stop in Morocco. The C5 was leaving several hours later and was having in flight refueling off the Madeira Islands.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.