Wednesday morning Andy and I reviewed the latest communiqués from the General and Tiam. Things were heating up with all kinds of plans under discussion. The General was being a general. He was suggesting specific areas in France, Germany and England that he wanted suicide bombers placed for better political impact.
After saying goodbye to the girls and boys, the next stop was Morton Field. Many of the men were already there with their gear. I got there just as the customs agent was setting up a table to stamp the passports of the men and ladies.
It did not take long to stamp the seventy five passports but the 200 was going to be a mess. The 747 was 15 minutes out when I finished.
The fifteen minutes gave me time to hunt down my gear. Andy had taken all my gear along with all the girls’ gear to have the Velcro sown on the upper arm. Andy said since we all were in the field or had the potential to be in the field, our gear should be marked.
It was in the traditional big duffel bag. I put it on the top of the baggage cart. They were keeping the Morton group in a separate storage bay for easier unloading and sorting. That gave me three bags to control, one with the gear, my go bag with four days of camo, panties and socks and my portable office.
Andy’s group had found several seamstresses who brought their industrial sewing machines to the new offices and had all of the men’s uniforms altered over the week. The Velcro was put where the new unit and rank system was to be attached. The ranks were to be painted on helmets and safety gear.
On the shirt was the only permanently attached name and rank. It was on the right front – over the pocket – the same as the military used. My gear was camo but all of the security people were issued brown as it was not as hot as black uniforms. In the sun black uniforms cooked you – good in cold weather, not so much in hot.
All the other parts were also sewn to Velcro so they could be changed as needed.
There were six from customs who went up the stairs into the 747 with Lorrie and me. They started down the aisle first, stamping passports as they went and we followed. Thirty minutes later we were done and the seventy five from Morton were finding seats. All the gear had been stowed in the baggage compartments, including mine along with Malinda’s, Hanna’s and their camera men.
There were the final hugs and passionate kisses for my mates at the bottom of the stairs; all of them had shown up even after the goodbye at home and pecks on the cheeks for two little boys who were pouting because they could not go.
Ten minutes after that I walked up the stairs with a handful of notes from Eric and Dick James that had arrived by special messenger for the final time.
After we leveled off at 40000 feet I walked through the plane talking with men I had never seen before. They seemed like a good group of men, none seemed like I needed to worry about turning my back on them. My first impression was that Andy had chosen well.
After four hours of making the trip through the plane, speaking with everyone, I finally settled into my seat and read the notes Eric and Dick James had sent. There was nothing in them that I had not known about yesterday.
We were flying back in time; it was 1400 in Paris when we took off, it would be 2000 when we landed. Louis was going to have buses pick us up on the tarmac and carry us to the barracks a mile and a half from the runway.
I leaned my seat back and went to sleep. I doubted there would much sleep after we arrived. If there was, it would be a short night.
I was awakened by the landing gear going down and a few minutes later the screech of the tires contacting the runway.
There were ten buses carrying us back and forth to the empty section of the humongous barracks. France – as all European countries – had been downsizing their military for decades saving the money to pay for social programs.
This barracks was half empty. The airmen occupying the other half had spent the last three days cleaning it. It smelled of disinfectant and chlorine and the windows were opened to air it out. It was a good thing France was having an Indian summer like Maryland or this place would be cold.
The bunks were not made but there were clean sheets, blankets, pillow case, a towel and a face cloth stacked on the mattress. We had to make our own bunks – not a big deal, five minutes max.
The bunks were six rows wide and twelve long with storage above them – a piece of plywood. Then there were the open bathrooms; twenty four thrones with doors – that was a surprise – and open showers. It was a room with hooks on one wall to hang clothes and a dozen shower heads stuck out of the wall with 1940’s controls below them. A lot of chlorine had been used in here.
On the other side of the bathrooms were another seventy two bunks and building – a repeat of the other side.
Ziva, Abra and Sofia had picked six bunks in the corner for us girls. Andy and a bevy of his officers took the bunks around us. For now I threw my three bags on the upper storage. It was time to find something to eat; the plane food only went so far.
There was another building fifty feet away that doubled as a cafeteria / conference room center. There was plenty of coffee and the chefs readily obliged with whatever the men wanted.
It was too late for me to eat a big meal. I made a sandwich that made me want to laugh; German bologna, Italian ham, Swiss cheese and coffee in a French military barracks. There were French soldiers at other tables drinking coffee and eating pastries. I wondered if any of these were the drivers for the raid.
We headed back to the barracks where I made my bunk and found a gym tee shirt and shorts in my go bag and then I emptied my pockets into my go bag and headed for the showers with my men.
At 0700 all my men were in the cafeteria for breakfast. Pastries just was not my kind of food to start the day. I managed to talk the chef into making me eggs and bacon. I wasn’t alone; he ended up making several more.
At 0800 Andy announced the team leaders were now called majors, the unit leaders called captains and the squad leaders called lieutenants. I went over the general outline of why we were here.
That was new information for most of all of them – they knew they were all part of a mission that require French and Persian speaking men. They also knew we had chosen special ops persons who would follow orders to the letter and not let conscience or morality get in the way.
At 0900 Louis and several of his closest aides came for a scheduled meeting and to compare the latest intel for a final decision. I wouldn’t have the latest from Robert for a couple more hours. But yesterdays was enough for now.
Louis had updated info from the subway system and the transit traffic had picked up into the training center blocks. The transit buses had counters and so did the subway stops. Traffic was up thirty percent yesterday in the two block area where we were going to conduct raids.
Robert sent today’s translated intercepts at noon; it was 0530 at home. Robert and his group had come in early to get us these intercepts.
A final review locked in the raid. It was now 1300. Now for the final prep work.
Andy and I laid out the route we were going to take to get to the training center and the mosque. The mosque was assigned to Red Battalion 1 code name ‘Red 1’ under my command with fourteen heavily front end reinforced vehicles, one hundred twenty men and the Mossad ladies plus Melinda Schaffer and her camera man.
The remainder, two hundred and five men, were assigned to Blue Battalion 1, code name ‘Blue 1’ under Andy’s command with Hanna Page and her camera man using twenty four more armed vehicles.
The forty heavily front reinforced vehicles were outside the barracks with the drivers that were going to drive them.
We began the process of installing JBG decals on them, covering the French Army logos. The French drivers were not happy. The only thing Louis and a French one star General could tell them was that all would be explained tomorrow morning at 0500 when the mission was to be detailed. Breakfast was to be at 0400.
Their orders were that they were temporally assigned to JBG and were to bunk in our barracks. The second part of that order was a communications blackout. From this time until the mission was complete there were no phone calls – cell or otherwise.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.