Book 2 Chapter 156

The first round of closed door meetings ended at 1700. There was the first official state dinner at 1900. It was a large dinner group with a number of influential guests and dignitaries.
There was plenty of food and drinks in the social hour after dinner. The meal was a northeast specialty of crab cakes, lobster and steak; the traditional surf and turf.
My guests included my mates; they arrived just before happy hour and were spending the night. Jenny and Marcy had stepped off the G5 returning from Thimble Shoals to a seat in the helicopter.
As usual politics prevailed before the meal was served and after. Toasts and more toasts kept the flow of the conversations going. It was late when the festivities ended.
I started my day as usual, reading the intelligence updates then back to meeting with Prime Minister Morris. Today’s meetings were with much of our combined staff.
By 1100 we were finished. The trade people were happy on both sides. The State Department was happy with many of the agreements just being extended with little or no changes.
The generals were satisfied; there were some new arrangements for additional port calls with both our Navies. Australia had been a partner in many navel excursions since WW1. Australia – as did the British – lost many capital ships to the Japanese Navy in the South Pacific during WW2, fighting side by side with the US Navy.
This agreement would allow the joint training exercises to continue and to be expanded. It was all in an effort to show China a united front against its continued attempt to claim more islands in the South China Sea.
Another big luncheon was in play with all the dignitaries plus ambassadors from the region.
After lunch we went outside to the east lawn to sign the agreements and make the public announcements, since it was a beautiful spring day.
After the question and answer about the security agreements were over, the Prime Minister turned the podium over to Edmond Montgomery – the minister of the Australia National Parks and Wildlife Service – and Fredrick O’Hare. Fred was director of the Australia National Forest Aviation Service.
They stepped up to the podium with Edmond speaking first.
”Many of you know how disastrous this year’s wild fires were in Australia. Over forty six million acres were burned with thousands of homes destroyed or threatened. The month of October was the worst fire season ever. We need help and need it desperately. ”
”When you are in trouble you call your friends. We knew that the US had been fighting big fires as long as we had. We made some calls and were directed to the US Forest Service part of your Agriculture Department.”
”We were directed to the agency chief Margret Hanson who understood our problem and offered to release ten of the twenty jumbo jet 747 air water tankers that were under contract to the Forest Service. The next issue was if they could travel the twelve thousand miles to us. That led to a conference call with Executive Vice President Lorrie Jones of JBG Aviation.”
”Three days later the ten water tankers and an air freighter with maintenance equipment and aviation mechanics landed at Sydney International. The next day they were dropping fire retardant on our fires.”
”Now for some statistics; the water tankers flew every day for one hundred and twenty days making two drops a day. 72 million gallons of retardant were dropped, requiring two thousand four hundred take off and landings. JBG Air Freight delivered thousands of gallons of concentrated fire retardant each week from the United States stockpile to help us continue to fight the fire.”
”Working with ground units they saved over one thousand small towns and villages from these terrible wild fires. We appreciate the great help of JBG, its pilots, crews and management,” Edmond said.
”While Prime Minister Morris was in meetings, Edmond and I were given a tour of Morton Field – the headquarters for JBG Aviation on the eastern shore. It was an education on just how many big and how many total aircraft are in JBG’s business arsenal for its customers’ needs anywhere in the world. They came twelve thousand miles to help us.”
”I was amazed to learn JBG supplied aviation resources in one hundred and eighty countries for the US government diplomatic missions,” Fredrick said.
”We are here to make a presentation of a plaque from the National Parks and Wildlife Service to JBG and its employees for their determined help this fire season. It includes the names of all the JBG members who came to help us.”
”Lorrie, Jenny, Vicky, Ching Lee and Marcy – would you step forward and accept this plaque as a token of our appreciation?”
”The employees at JBG take pride in fulfilling our customers’ needs worldwide. It is a one hundred percent effort through all of our business divisions. I am proud to accept this plaque on behalf of our aviation division,” Lorrie said.
”For the forty pilots and crew we have a shoulder patch for your uniforms making you an honorary member of the Australia National Parks and Wildlife Service.”
”From the National forest Service Aviation Division we have Pilots Wings for each of you for a job well done. Lorrie, would you call out the names for me,” Fredrick said.
”Ladies and gentlemen, you are welcome to fly for our forest service anytime – just come on over,” he said.
As Lorrie called out the names, I was proud of all the JBG men and ladies even though I could not step forward and tell them so. The media would be screaming about the conflict of interest. Out of the thirty pilots and flight engineers, ten were women. I wondered if the media would acknowledge that.
My mates went home – there was a backlog of work awaiting approvals. I was alone again until the weekend. Wednesday evening I was doing another fund raiser.
This one was in Milwaukee Wisconsin, the home of many famous brand products. Beer producers, heavy industry, grain silos, tool manufacturers, engineering, and many more had plants in Wisconsin. Then there were the famous sports teams.
The morning reports were full of all the normal information. It seemed doom and gloom came in five and sixes instead if twos and threes. Iran was saber rattling as usual; they were using their fast boats again. They were again running towards ships transiting the strait, then retreating into Iran’s waters when challenged by the JBG fast ships. There had been four near collisions in the last day.
They would cut across the front of moving ships within fifty feet and come to less than fifty feet of the sides.
I ordered the security perimeter expanded around all Navy ships in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. Our ships were to fire on any ship that came within fifty yards. I wanted no part of anything like a USS Cole incident of the past.
Then the mullahs announced that after the first of the month all cargo ships needed to have an Iranian safety inspection to transit through the narrow Strait of Hormuz at Bander-E-Abbas to proceed into the Persian Gulf. The fee for the inspection to look for dangerous cargo and unsafe ships and a permit to continue on was one million US dollars.
The member states only option was to take the issue to the International Court of the Seas at Geneva – that could take years – and refuse to pay until then.
At 0900 the joint chiefs were in my office with more updates on things. The Navy admiral spoke first.
‘‘Newport News Ship Building has succeeded in refueling one of the reactors on the Stennis using the upgraded procedures. The other will be completed in three weeks unless there is a problem.”
”The rest of the repairs are moving fast with so many ship workers on the project. The hull cleaning and painting is done. It will be ready to go to sea by June first.”
”The Thomas is also progressing fast – radars are installed and checked out, the hull cleaned and repainted, the boilers have been inspected and repaired with new fire brick and piping. They have been test fired and pressure checked now that it is back in the water. The Patriot Five installation will be completed in two weeks.”
”Elevator repairs and landing systems, fresh water system repairs and sterilization of the plumbing are all done. General painting, cleaning and checking systems are some of the things remaining. Oil and aviation tanks and lines have been cleaned and tested.”
‘‘Newport News Ship Building are promising it will be done by June 15, possibly sooner.”
”One thing I should note is we have transferred one thousand sailors from other carriers that originally served on the ship; many will soon retire. They are part of the navy crew on board. They know how things were designed to work and all the little things that are needed,” he added.
”At first we thought the Thomas would not be able to handle the heaver F37 but tests indicate that it will if necessary. We have more than enough F18D and E models to fill its needs.”
”All that is good news, the Iranians are still going by their schedule,” I said.
”There are two transports loading tanks and trucks at the marine terminal in Wilmington North Carolina. When the loading is complete they will go to Ad Dammam and then the equipment will be trucked to Al Qaysumah. The number you planned on will be there by the end of June,” General Ingram said.
It was now May fifteenth; that would be forty five days.
I wondered if I could bait another Iranian general into being stupid.
”I want your best people to analyze generals Bashir and Mohamed. I want to know what every weakness is and what trips them off the deep end,” I told the intelligence groups.
I called Ben David for the first time in several months, Vicky and Andy had been doing all the business with him.
”Hello Ben old buddy old pal of mine, how are you doing? It’s been a while since we talked. How are things in the homeland?” I said.
I listened and we talked a few minutes before I asked him if the Mossad could supply me with the same information I had asked my intelligence people for on the generals. I knew they did but sometimes it is best to act like you do not know some things. The other thing, it allowed me to see if they were still being honest and straightforward with me.
My staff packed up my things and Marine One carried me and the staff to Andrews. Two hours later I was meeting and greeting with the donors and upper crust in the private room at the Milwaukee convention center.
An hour later I was standing in front of the podium giving the speech Adam and I had written. I hardly used the teleprompter at all. My memory of the speech and my read of the crowd was getting better all the time.
Maybe there was some truth to the belief that as you exercised the brain, the better it became at some things. I walked back from behind the curtain and spoke for another thirty minutes and then left them standing cheering and chanting.
Marine One touched down on the east lawn at 2345. At 0015 I was freshly showered and sliding under the covers.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof Read by Bob W.

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1 Response to Book 2 Chapter 156

  1. joe h says:

    Who I love a great read…
    Thanh you jack from the bottom of my ❤

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