Book 3 Chapter 20
Eighteen crates were emptied into the gold room tonight. Dad and Jake helped again – a couple more nights and we would be finished and then Lorrie could start using the secure hangar for other things.
I wondered what those other things where – she had never said. Neither had any of the others. Then the crates could be sent somewhere with freight in them. The Toyota pickups from the Mexican operations were all gone now.
The repair shop had pulled all the engines, transmissions, doors, and beds from them and sold them online. The bodies were used in the hostage training setting at Fort Smith. They were now burned-out scrap metal hulks, destined for the scrap yard when Andy decided he was finally through with them.
I slept very well in my own bed; Vicky was snuggled tightly against me all night. Morning came much too fast. Marcy, Jenny, Ching Lee and Vicky were flying to Thimble Shoals for the directors meeting, then returning in the afternoon. Lorrie, Mom and Lisa were boy and babysitting.
At 0700 I was reading updates – at 0800 I was in the meeting room in the basement with my new Secretary of Defense Scott and all the Chiefs. Today’s discussion was on the list of base closings. The GSA and the GAO were also at the meeting with estimates and they were going to be compared with the DOD cost estimates.
The cost was figured several ways; first was the cost to just close the named base. The second was the cost to transfer assets from that base to another – in other words, relocation cost. The third was the savings based over a ten-year span – there was that infamous government ten-year budget worm hole. The fourth was cost to the local community in lost wages and fees associated with the base and fifth was the return on the sale or disposal of the base.
There were all kinds of endings for closed bases. Some were given to the community or states with the hope and promise they would be turned into industrial parks or other revenue generators. Parts of some previously closed bases were used to create recreation area or parks.
Others were eventually abandoned to grow up in weeds; some were sold to be repurposed into developments or factories. Many times, Navy bases became port facilities or marinas. Sometimes, those turned into developments that came back to bite the government in the ass.
Home buyers were always told that hazmats and other contaminates had been cleaned up when really, only a minor portion had been. Many times, misleading or forged paperwork was supplied by crooked contractors.
Then people started to get sick and a thorough investigation was done. At the end of all the publicity, lawsuits and politicians’ grandstanding, the federal government always ended up responsible and ultimately paid dearly.
Many times, bases that were slated to be sold were only sold after years of petty politics by the state’s congressman and senators, each trying to get special favors and promises from their many special interest groups.
Each scenario had its pitfalls, there were always cleanup cost for hazmats and environmental issues. A number of bases were going to a reserve status – closed but kept in a condition to be used in thirty days. The grass would be cut, utilities kept on but pipes drained and buildings closed up but lightly maintained.
There were thirty bases in Europe and the Middle East slated for stand- by status, consolidation or closed. There were twenty-five minor bases and ten major bases that were to be shuttered was the term the Pentagon wanted to use. It was more palatable to the public. There were ten bases that were scheduled for reductions in operations. Dover Air Base was in the list to be shuttered-closed.
I spent all morning in the meeting and on MTAC with officials in the Pentagon. At 1100 the GSA and GAO people left. They had been trying to leave for the last hour, desperately wanting to get out of the hot seat.
Shortly after they left, Troy and the waiter brought over menus of the things that were available for lunch today as a ‘take an order’ from the chef. I guess the Secret Service agents were going for broke, assuming most of the staff could get a first-class lunch and supper without objections. Whatever, but I knew who the bill was going to be sent to.
Troy, Kitty, Connie, Secretary of Defense, the Generals and I placed our lunch order with the waiter and I told him to bring it down to the first room on the left when coming through the tunnel when it was ready. We would have a working lunch in that room.
To make things interesting, I decided that I would have our meal in our private bar. After all the kidding with Frank, Ben, Marty and the General about my private bar whenever JBG carried out our clandestine operations, I decided that I would have one built.
The first bay next to the tunnel towards the house had been filled with all those things that were too good to throw away. Because – you know – someday they may come in handy. In other words – junk- which was thrown away and the room cleaned out.
I had Bob’s Construction build me a private bar. A bar with bar stools and coolers for beer – the most popular ones under the counter – and a refrigerator. There were wine coolers and canned drinks.
There was the traditional mirror behind where any bartender would stand with a variety of hard liquor in front of it on the back wall. The one that always got broken in a bar fight.
Across from the bar were three crescent shaped booths and a couple of small tables and chairs. I opted for well-padded ones, not the hard wooden ones.
Bob even found a company that made replica jukeboxes and there was one in the bar with old time bar room country music ballads, truck driving and drinking songs for conversation topics. Bob found some classic collectible bar room signs to place on the wall. He also found a pool table, every bar had to have a pool table. There were a couple TVs, one in each corner.
My mates weren’t much enthused while it was being built but when it was finished, they were happy with it. It became a place where we could sit and talk or whatever to get a few minutes peace when we were over here. It was quieter than our offices and allowed us to be able to debate work related issues in private.
My mates went through my old photo albums and picked out some photos of me from my Marine days. There were some with me dirty, dusty and just beat or worn out. Dad had asked me time and time again for pictures of me on duty. I finally promised that I would and I did. There was always someone in the unit willing to take pictures, no matter how bad they were.
There were some with me marching in the desert with full gear and pack, others in the barracks – if there were any available – or in the tents. There were others with me carrying an injured soldier.
There were a few with me standing over Taliban dead with my M16 – those were a no-no, but I had a few of them. There were several of the trucks I drove, a few with them burning and a few of the destroyed villages we had been through.
There were a few from the Kampala attack, the one with me on the roof at the refugee camp and one of me in the Blues along with pictures of my mates. I was opposed to so many pictures of my hard times in life on the wall, but my mates won out on that one.
On the wall with the pictures was a poster, ’Never piss off a lady with a knife, a gun and an attitude. There are no second chances.’
We did have a phone, internet and wireless installed so our laptops would work on that end of the basement. It was locked and only our cards, along with Dad, Jake and Crash’s cards would open the door and of course, the cleaning people.
I called up the refreshment center and had them send down a bucket of ice. The bar had no ice maker, there was running water with a pump under the sink to pump the waste water into the sewer pipe and a small electric water heater.
The glasses had to be taken to one of the dishwashers – either in the lunch room, refreshment center or over to the house – and then brought back; some inconvenience but not much.
When the ice was brought down, ”Let’s go to the other room, a lot of people use this room for lunch. We can have a more controlled conversation over there,” I said as I picked up the ice bucket.
I unlocked the door and held it while they went in. ‘’So, you do have a private bar and it’s a nice one. Ben, Frank, Eric and Marty have never said anything about it being here,’’ General Ingram said.
‘’That’s because they have never been in here,’’ I said.
‘’They will be here before we finish. There are some updates they want to go over and explain as they have been working on some projects for me. They had a meeting at the hangar this morning. I would imagine they are eating lunch at the restaurant in Morton,’’ I said. Then I added, ‘’We can wait for them here. I need to find the ball carriers and let them know where I am.’’
‘’Admiral Holt, please pick up the com phone,’’ I said.
When he answered ‘’I am in the last room on the right at the tunnel if you need me,’’ I said.
‘’What gets discussed in the bar stays in the bar. This is my ultimate private sanctuary,’’ I said.
‘’The waiter is bringing down tea, water and soda, does anyone want anything else?’’ I asked as I pulled a cold mug from the refrigerator and a cold beer from the cooler.
Everyone else chose a beer as I did, except for Kitty and Connie. I chose a few selections on the jukebox and turned the volume down. The reason I did that was if anyone was trying to record anything, the music would interfere. Then I started with conversation.
‘’Looks like I over valued Dover Air Force Base property based on the numbers presented by the GSA,’’ I said.
‘’I think Congress will say the numbers from the GSA are low and I don’t think anyone will beat the accessibility sweeteners that you placed on the bid,’’ General Ingram said.
‘’Well, there is still a long way to go; the forces must sign off on the process, the Secretary of Defense must sign off on it, Congress must approve the process and then the GSA will go through a process. The best-worst case scenario would be for Congress to force it to a public auction but then the Air Force will lose all those things that would help the Department of Defense,’’ I said.
‘’Mr. Secretary, there needs to be a push on all the processes. Without getting all the changes made, the budget numbers will not work. Programs will have to be cut and systems put on hold, as I won’t sign for additional funding to the Department of Defense to cover for delays,’’ I said.
‘’I have looked at all the proposals and today’s meeting added more information. I will further review with the planners tomorrow for the final recommendations to Congress. Madam President, you will have an advanced copy to review before it is delivered to Congress.”
The waiter and the chef brought the food on a rolling cart. Mine was a salad with soup and a grilled sandwich with sweet tea. I had finished my beer and the sweet tea hit the spot with the meal. The Generals had all kinds of cold sandwiches and soup. Connie, Kitty and Troy elected for soup and a hot sandwich.
As the waiter was leaving, I heard, ‘’Is President Jones in there?’’
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.