Chapter 420

The C5 arrived back from Thailand Sunday afternoon. The freight they carried was tightly wrapped with canvas and quickly off-loaded and spirited away. It took longer to refuel the plane than it did to off-load the freight.

The time of Monday’s flight was going to depend on the post trip inspection. The mechanics worked on the checklist until dark and were going to require several more hours Monday morning.

I was taking Monday and Fridays off from KCC now and should have been taking more. I gave the group of 80 the pep talk and Vicky and I went through the last question and answer session with them. This group would bring four more embassies to full strength.

We were on schedule to be in full compliance by Oct 15. As with all plans, obstacles seem to find a way to interfere.

One of the Iowa planes lost the number three engine on the flight to Luanda Angola; it was the final flight for the crew and the final delivery of the 12 pre – positioned Black Hawks and Suburbans before moving on to another staging area. The plane was at the airport with its crew.

The engine did not fail gently – it was catastrophic, like someone threw a handful of rocks in the gearbox, the crew said. The crew was able to feather the prop so the blades were not creating a massive drag on the air frame. But, the circus was just beginning.

The C130-30H was powered by 4 Allison Rolls Royce T56A15 turbines. After what seemed like hours of running down serial numbers and calls to the Iowa Guard maintenance shop, Robbie determined that we had both an engine and a propeller in the parts that came with our C130’s from the military auction, and that they were new units.

The problem was how get the engine, prop and necessary stands there along with the mechanics. Lorrie and Robbie were center of all the discussions so I patiently waited for the solutions to come forth, even though I had a plan of my own.

Lorrie put it all together quickly after hearing Robbie’s thoughts. “Unload the two Suburbans, load the engine and prop with all the stands and equipment in the C5, and then send the C5 to Luanda.”

“We have 4 chopper mechanics there and the 4 maintenance guys that will arrive with the C5 that are from the fixed wing group with tons of C130 experience. I will have the guys there start removing all the cowling and as much of the other parts as they can while they are waiting, I will tell them rent or buy whatever ladders and equipment they need,” Lorrie said and then continued.

“While the mechanics are changing the engine, the C5 can deliver the choppers to the staging area at Kampala then fly back to Luanda to pick up old engine, tools and men for the trip home. Then the C130 can fly to Entebbe International to deliver the choppers with the other C130,” Lorrie said.

“Sounds like a good plan to me; I will go tell the loadmasters to unload the Suburbans. Robbie can get the parts and tools headed that way,” I replied.

I had wanted Kampala to be the last place we delivered choppers to; I wanted to combine the flight with the resupply of Nimule. Plans just get made to be broken and changed. The resupply of Nimule would be a very expensive stand-alone flight.

The load change and inspection delay put the takeoff to after lunch. I had time to fill a request by Ambassador Dansky. The only thing he had asked for was a case of American whisky for medicinal purposes.

I wondered when he asked, just what the issue was. After some thought it came to me. Alcohol was not something he could ask his foreign affairs department to send him. Nor could he go buy it in a country with a large Muslim population.

Another reason he could not buy it was there are those that would try to leverage the purchase to instigate trouble or blackmail him. All of the embassy parties I had gone to, there were only small amounts of alcohol there and it tasted like it was weak or diluted.

I took one of Lorrie’s clerks and went to the liquor store in the shopping center; when they had cases I set full cases on the counter, when they didn’t I asked for boxes. I chose a mix of hard liquor – Jack Daniels, Crown imperial, Four Roses, Old Granddad, Old Taylor, Lord Calvert, Crown Royal, Jim Beam, Old Crow, Seagram’s Seven and Kentucky Gentleman – they were all some of the best known brands.

It was a mix of corn, wheat and rye whiskys, brandy and gin. It took six carts to get it to the Suburban. The store had a lot of empty boxes the stuff was delivered in with card board dividers to protect it. We boxed it back up and marked it as glass and fragile.

The crews were in the final moments of loading the equipment in the plane and closing the rear ramp. I pulled Adam off to the side and explained that I was sending the boxes to Ambassador Dansky. I wanted Adam to call me when he was an hour out of Entebbe so I could have the Ambassador meet plane and I wanted it delivered personally to him.

I knew that a lot of what I had sent would be given away to the close friends of the Ambassadors as gifts or used as barter and to score points.

It was noon when the C5 left Morton Field. The entire schedule for today’s flight was going to have to be adjusted, from delivery of the choppers to the flights carrying the eighty to their various assignments.

Vicky, Cindy and I – plus several administrators and clerks – were going to have a full day of rescheduling. Not only were the motel rooms going to have to be canceled but embassy assignments were going to have to be changed. The pilots were going to have to save some fuel – they were 250 miles short – or else refuel. The decision would be made in flight.

By four all the rescheduling was done; it had been one heck of a mess. We found enough motel rooms at the Luanda Airport for everyone. It would be almost dark there when the C5 arrived.

It was just one of those deals; just throw in the towel and let them call it a day when they got there. Let everybody rest and be ready to go first thing in the morning. We booked all the security people on flights to get them to their original destination tomorrow. It had been a tough day and I was ready to go home, and I was sure everyone else was.
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Chapter 419

The C5 was back the next day and the crew had two days off to recuperate from the jet lag and long hours of flying. Friday morning it left on another secret flight for the agency to Thailand. Then next week there was another flight to South America, this time a night drop of equipment by parachute.

From all appearances JBG was now the agency’s number one air freight supplier of choice, at least as long as we had the C5. The C130s were still flying weekly and gone for two, three and four days at a time.

The problem was that our C130s still needed inspections and now they were in the critical time frame. There was a solution coming in two weeks. Iowa was sending the second crew to replace the ones in Africa and two more of their C130s.

The crews were going on the C5 as part of the fourth load of chopper swaps. The General was also sending two additional standard C130J models to replace ours while they were grounded for inspections.

The extra manpower from Sikorsky turned out 6 completed choppers the first week and that looked to be their target for next week. Along with the C5 agency flights, there would be a flight each week to Africa or the Middle East with choppers. The twelve the C5 had delivered would be delivered to the individual embassies by the end of the week. Twelve more would be there by the end of the month.

Then 12 more would be in place by the fifteenth of Oct for a total of 36; six of those twelve were going to the Middle East. That would leave three left and that was the flight that I was going to use to deliver food for Nimule Refugee Camp.

They would be used for agency flights with a couple of our regular agency approved pilots on board.

It was late Friday when Robert texted me to stop by his office when I had time.

“It took a while but we are finally making a little progress on Dagar Daharr. We got in by using his father’s cell phone records and looking at the phone numbers that ceased calling after you did your thing with 515.”

“Then we pulled the phone records, the entire contact list and all texts. There were four phones on that account; the mayor, his wife – we think because it is only used to call the mayor – Dagar and a younger by a year son, Diya. We are assuming Dagar’s, because went it dead; no calls answered or called out after Thursday.”

“There were a lot of calls between Dagar and Diya right up until it went dead. Diya called the phone dozens of times for days before he stopped,” Robert said.

“Dagar routinely backed up his phone to the cloud so we have his contact list. It is slow work piecing it together but we are getting there. This much we do know; they are still doing reconnaissance at the college.”

“I want you to send me a copy of the student ID cards from there, give me access to the security tapes and stop the automatic deletion for a while; there are some things I want to try with the new system – that we have nicknamed Genie – that may speed things along,” Robert asked.

“You got it,” I replied.

I did not like what I had heard; reconnaissance meant they were still planning something. Had they found another explosive man to fill the spot or were going to simply do something different?

JBG was supplying security to Minnesota and Michigan colleges at the request of the CIA and DHS. Both Frank and Victor had pulled strings and twisted a lot of arms to get JBG to be the security company so they could have surveillance on sight without raising suspicions.

Things were getting so sloppy with the agencies information and sources that it was starting to make me suspicious of them; from both episodes in Morocco that they did not know anything about, to Kampala and Aadam’s disappearance and now Dagar. Whom did I trust?

My thoughts were to go back to the gut and the sand; trust no one but yourself and people close to you; I covered their backs and they covered mine. Now I signed the paychecks; I intended to cover theirs so they better cover mine.

JBG would conduct our own surveillance, do our own reconnaissance and I would plan to crush it on my own terms.

I went to my office and changed the approvals to give Robert access to the Minneapolis University student ID card list. Then I sent Sherman Rommel – my director there – a text, “Go to your office and call me on SVOL; make sure your office is secure.”

“Hello Sherman, how are things at MU today?”

“They are quiet here; but I am wondering now. Ching Lee called earlier today and you just a couple days ago and now again. Should I be looking over my shoulder?” Sherman asked.

“No, not over your shoulder. But I do want you to do some things for me; send me the current list of agency personnel and their IDs and I want that right away. Then I want a list of all student clubs, official and unofficial.”

“Have there been any unusual individuals, activity or individuals who seem to keep turning back up that are not students in the last six months?” I asked.

“Not that I can think of but I will give it more thought,” he replied.

“OK, this conversation is to be kept confidential and do all the research yourself,” I replied. Then I cut the transmission. The CIA list came in a few minutes. I printed it off and walked it down to Robert.

Again I closed the door behind me, “There are ten CIA/DHS agents working as JBG security at MU for cover, monitoring active terrorist activity in the Minneapolis area and on the college grounds. We also have the same arrangement at three other colleges. I don’t need to tell you that it’s off the record and top secret.”

“At the time this was started, certain terrorist connected groups were sponsoring foreign students in advanced chemistry, electronics, and other classes that are beneficial to terrorist activities. A substantial number of Middle Eastern immigrants have settled in the general area to make it a prized recruiting ground and easy for them to disappear.”

“Some of those students have become top bomb makers and are working to convert leftover Iraqi chemical WMDs into weapons of choice for ISIS to use for their final public stand, before the survivors join refugees going to Europe and America before reverting back to terrorism.”

“Here are the CIA guy’s IDs and photos; run them through Genie and see if anything comes up. Also check the JBG computer system there to see if they got over-confident in their cover and started using our system for their general email. It would be nice to know who they have been emailing and what they have been saying.”

“You have access to all the camera data stored for MU. If Genie is as good as Ben-David says it is, should be able to find the visitors who have been snooping at MU through the security tapes,” I replied.

“I would still like to know how and why Mossad knows so much about MU, and why I am getting so little from the agency,” I replied.

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Chapter 418

Vicky left to go help with the new people who were being processed at the gym. I had a couple more things to do, and then I was going to the office to help as soon as there was a lull in activity.

I was waiting on the Sikorsky crew to show up. They were to be here by nine and I had told Johnson Black that I would meet them in the terminal.

I was looking out the big window with Lorrie at our two extended C130s preparing to leave on the freight run. They were in the run up area doing engine checks. One was to Charlotte and the other to Harrisburg. Moments later they were both gone.

I had just turned to walk with Lorrie to her office when the suits approached, “Ambassador Jones, Johnson Black president of Sikorsky and this is Alexander Pope, Sikorsky service North East. I would have approached you earlier but you have been extremely busy.”

“The technicians left BWI 40 minutes ago; they should be here any time. Have you got a few minutes to talk?”

“This is Executive Vice President Lorrie Smithfield Jones; she is over all JBG aviation. We can go to her office,” I replied.

Behind the closed door, Mr. Pope spoke first, “There were some misunderstandings in my office that led to the delay in your call getting to me that I need to apologize for. I can assure you that any future calls to my office will be handled in a much different fashion.”

“I appreciate that and I think your other large customers will too. I want to thank Mr. Black for his help and assistance in the matter,” I replied.

“It’s my understanding you bought these Blackhawks from our allies a short time ago?” Mr. Black asked.

“Yes, they were part of an aid package and we bought the chopper part of that package from them. I needed them to go with our embassy security contract. We have a lot of Blackhawks and a few Bell 407s scattered around Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America,” I replied.

“I see you also have other Lockheed aircraft in your flight line,” Mr. Black replied.

“We have a little of everything in the flight line; Beechcraft, Cessna trainers and Cessna business jets, Gulfstream G5s, 450, 550, Bombardier 200s, C130s, C5, Thrush crop dusters and Bell 407 choppers,” Lorrie replied. I could tell Lorrie had some pride in the aviation division.

A group of men came into the terminal wearing the Sikorsky logo on their uniform jackets and caps.

“Looks like the technicians are here. Lets take them to your shop and look things over, and then I would like a private meeting with you and Lorrie,” Mr. Black replied.

The meeting with Robbie went well; it was a really good group discussion. The factory techs wanted to know the process our helicopter techs used.

Robbie began the explanation, “First we have to reassemble the rotor blades on the chopper; they have to remove them to ship them. At least they identified the position they were removed from to help with balancing. Then we refill all the fluids; the EPA requires them to be drained prior to long term storage.”

“Then we verify that none of the rotating parts have been tampered with and are still secured and safety wired. They were shipped with the batteries removed. All the batteries are given a 48 hour slow charge and a 24 hour static rest period, then we test them to see if they meet the specifications to put in the chopper. If they are not, we install a new battery.”

“Before they are moved outside, a complete set of recording test gauges is installed on both engines via laptop; a printout of that goes into the permanent file. Then they are run for 30 minutes through the complete engine test and flight control test cycles.”

“If the chopper passes the preliminary test it is moved back into the shop and the fluids are drained, with a sample sent to a lab for analysis. At that point a complete structural, mechanical and electrical inspection is done. The radio shop pulls all the electronics for a quality test and/or upgrades.”

“After a review of all the defects, the appropriate mechanics are assigned to do the repairs. Any rotating parts that meet the advanced inspection requirement or look suspect, are given either magnetic, dye penetrate or x-ray inspection.”

“Who do you get to do the x-ray inspection?” one of their techs asked.

“We do it in-house; we have three different x-ray machines, some things we can do on the chopper with the portable unit, some can be done on the flat table machine,” Robbie replied.

“Once all the repairs are done we roll it to the paint shop for painting and decals; as soon as it’s dry it is reassembled for final testing and flying. When it passes that we move two of the rotors into a transport position for shipping in the C130s,” Robbie ended.

“That certainly covers everything by the book. The techs are staying in a motel on the island and will stay until you get all of the choppers you need in service. They have passports, expense accounts and can travel internationally if you need them to. They can unload their tools and get started. Show them where you want them to work and what choppers to start on,” Mr. Pope said.

The four of us went back to Lorrie’s office. Once there, Johnson Black outlined Sikorsky’s world wide service network and how Sikorsky was willing and hoping to improve the business partnership with JBG. It was a sales pitch and an attempt to make up for bad first impressions.

Sikorsky had several service centers on the African continent that were located on civilian/military joint use airports. Some of those were located in or relatively close to the US embassies we were supplying security for.

In the Middle East they had three centers – in Israel, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi – and JBG was going to have choppers in those countries as well as several adjoining countries. It might well be a beneficial business arrangement after all. The meeting lasted an hour and ended with a handshake and a business card with the private cell numbers of both Black and Pope.

I went to the office to help there. For days I wondered what to do with Ellen, Alice and Linda, now that I had gotten my wish that Woodman no longer wanted them back.

The remedy to the question had presented itself with the last group. All three of them helped the State Department trainers with protocol required in the daily embassy business. They were also to help train the persons we needed to run the embassy communications rooms.

Burt and Robert – working with our IT guys – had taken three offices and copied the design specs that the state department used to set up and control embassy- to- embassy communications. The three offices looked like the real communications room in any US embassy.

It was working very well; the girls were able to pass along some of the things about the embassy way of code speaking that I had worked to learn. They were giving the new people the course on diplomacy that the State Department used to, only now it could be done on our terms, like when they needed a break from other strenuous training.

I spent the rest of my day in the office helping out where-ever something needed to be done. All the while I was waiting to hear updates on the flight to Bamako. The three planes were not going land until at least 6 PM our time; midnight there.

It was 7 PM when the call came in that they had landed in Bamako Mali. Swapping the loads around was in progress; each of the C130s had unloaded one of the Suburbans they had carried to be replaced with a Blackhawk and the necessary men to bring the compliment of the embassy where they were going to the required 40 man level.

The rest of the men were flying general aviation to their destination. The day ended on a positive note with so many different pieces coming together and no surprises.

The rest of the week went that way. With the RRT as trainers I was able to back off the training, except for enough to stay in shape.

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Chapter 417

The first thing I did after Ambassador Abelman and his group left was to call Ambassador Dansky and thank him repeatedly. I even asked what gifts I could bring him from the states.

I put the thumb drives in my computer and started reading. There was nothing new on Aadam that I did not already know.

Dagar Daharr was another story; there was a trove of information and I did not understand why Frank had so little. In the reading there was reference to reconnaissance being done at the university where we supplied security. Not only was a reference there but a list of planned targets on the campus.

They were planning to attack the university when Dagar returned from his trip. The trip to Africa was leadership, tactics – and worse yet – explosives training; an exercise in how to pull off the big one.

Then one more question; why did Israel have all this information? Did they have agents in Minneapolis? What was the connection to Israel? I suspected there was a connection to problems that were close to Israel.

I called Ching Lee, “Come to my office now!”

Robert was next; I showed him and Ching Lee what I was reading. His group had a new urgent assignment; find all Dagar’s associates and contacts. Find out what was going on? How complete was the planning, and when and if the planned attack was still on?”

Alwaleed bin Salman Al Saud was the grandson of the king; he had the biggest file so far. It was hundreds of pages – almost since birth – and he had been a trouble maker and wild child from the beginning. He was 26 when he died at 515 and had been involved in terror plots and attacks in Somali, Iraq, Syria, also Jordan as a fighter, planner and financier. He killed the first time when he was 14; a 12 year old Somalia girl who had offended him; he killed her in front of her family.

He liked young virgin girls and boys, preferring them to be Egyptian, Libyan and Syrian; rape, sadistic torture, and when he was finished with them, he killed them if they survived the torture. His security team kept him supplied with new victims and disposed of the bodies.

I was willing to bet the four unidentified persons in 515 were his body guards. That was another note for Robert.

The king had dispatched Saudi security forces to look for him, but too late. All the bodies from the embassy attack had been buried or cremated by the time they arrived to look through the morgue.

Saudi Arabia was supposed to be our ally, yet had trained and supplied so many terrorists to attack us. I was willing to bet our state department had made the pictures of the dead available to the Saudi secret police. Or had the CIA tried to work a deal of some kind? People were expendable – including me – for a piece in the bigger picture.

I wrote more notes for Robert and his group. I wanted everything coming out of Saudi Arabia read with a magnifying glass. The more I read, the more things I thought of.

I wondered it there was some warning in Ben-David’s statement after all. Maybe, just maybe, I was wrong to leave existing JBG employees in place and add people to bring up the numbers. Maybe I should have swapped out the entire groups, moved them around to break up any possible traitors.

Could the Morocco attack have been helped by inside information? I put more notes on the paper.

Investigate all the individuals that were assigned to Morocco at the time; Robert knew what to look for.

I refreshed my coffee before I continued reading. As I was walking back, it finally dawned on me that our allies were beginning to pull back on information sharing. Our government’s poor showing on being able to stop hacking and leaks of our secret data was making them skittish.

Our homeland was isolated by two oceans; our land borders could be – when the need, necessary and the political will – nearly closed. Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America and Asia did not have that luxury.

I would bet that many things were now on a case by case need to share. That was why Frank did not have the intel. He had routinely held back on JBG and now they were holding back on the agency in the same fashion. They may pass on the headline but were holding the details as not to give away their collection methods or people, in case of hacking.

My reading and thoughts were interrupted by a call from Lorrie. The C5 was on it way back, but Frank had changed the plan. It was now doing a stop in New Mexico at an Air Force base that had been closed for years, according to Google.

“All things are not as they seem or are reported to be,” I told her. “Have Marcy bill the flight accordingly, adding for the standby time.” The C5 came home some time after midnight.

We girls went out for supper at the Inn again; family, friends and boys. Then we had a late night in the hot tub with wine coolers.

Crash spent the night with Marlene again, his age was showing and his health slowly going downhill and he knew it. He was still going on flights when he felt like it but not nearly as often. He wanted to go on a short flight on the C5, if there was one.

Crash had already taken a tour of the cockpit and was in awe at all the instruments and controls. He had even sat in the pilot’s seat – speechless for a long time – before he finally he said, “Makes that B29 I flew look like a Jenny.”

Saturday was normal; clean the house, boys and time together without work. We needed it; Monday was going to be a cluster fuck from sunrise on.

Before we were ready, it was Monday; all of us were going to the Morton Field restaurant for breakfast. Lorrie, Vicky and I were staying with Marcy, Ching Lee and Jenny going back to the office.

Eighty more new employees were showing up there this morning to start the process; HR, the Docs, then starting the training. Then 80 more were coming tomorrow; that would fill both the Crash Hotel and the Horsey House.

The push was on; we were two weeks into September now.

We were finished eating when the C5 crew came in; they went straight to the plane and started the process of loading. They were loading the same as last week; six choppers and two Suburban. On this flight they were taking 80 security men with them.

Vicky and I were in the meeting room with the 80 that were leaving on the C5. They had already chosen their assignments weeks ago with the housing confirmed; once they landed at Bamako Mali they were taking local flights to get to their destination country. The choppers would arrive up to four days later. There was no need to pay them to sit around and wait on the C130 to carry them and the chopper.

I gave them a pep talk and then we were taking questions. I was finishing up when I heard the tower talking to the two C130s from the Iowa National Guard; moments later they were landing.

I had left word with the ground controller that they were to be parked over by the super hangar, making it easier to be loaded; that was where all the completed choppers and Suburban’s were being stored. They were each going to carry two Suburban’s, making this combined flight a matched load of six choppers and six Suburban’s. All three planes were going to Bamako Mali.

The C5 was returning as soon as it was unloaded; the agency wanted another flight, this time to South Korea. I had long understood the agency played a big role in a lot of clandestine things around the world, but never to the extent that I was seeing now with all the flights we were doing for them.

Both our standard C130s flew every week for the agency to Central and South America. This was the second trip for the agency in as many weeks with the C5; the pilot group said the plane was loaded to the max with the first flight.

Adam sent me a text that they were on the way to the terminal with the Iowa crews to do the flight planning. All the equipment was loaded and the cargo masters were securing it. The C5 had been refueled earlier and the two 130s were in the process. The aviation shop had a scissors lift covering the National Guard decals with JBG decals.

When Vicky and I walked out of the meeting room to go to Lorrie’s office in the terminal, there were suits that I did not recognize sitting at a table by the windows, drinking coffee. They were awfully interested in the activity outside on the tarmac and runways. My attention was on Adam and the Iowa crews who were walking towards me.

The two captains and their crew in National Guard flight uniforms walked to and saluted; a show of respect for my former marine rank, I was sure. I returned the salute out of respect for the honor they had showed me.

“Ambassador Jones, Ma-am, here are our orders; we were instructed to present them to you.”

“Thank you captain, I shall review them momentarily; there is hot food and coffee in the restaurant. Just tell them to put it on the JBG tab; it may be the last American food you get for a few weeks. After that, Adam is going to go over the flight planning with you,” I replied.

I broke the seal on the orders from General McVee; they were straight forward and pretty simple after the list of names of the officers.

“Transfer to Jones Business Groups (Ambassador Roberta Jones) for two weeks for training including transatlantic flight, risk assessment, coordinating in-flight refueling, and international relations with our allies, foreign adventures and intrigue. Put them through their paces Ambassador.” Both sets of orders were the same. As I read them I handed one to Vicky to read and one to Lorrie.

When I looked to the big windows that faced the runways, I noticed that the Marine recruiter was there waiting on me. Today was the official launch of the recruiting posters with my pictures in the posters and TV ads.

Major Radcliff and another officer were setting up the display; they had asked if I would do a few pictures for the Marine Magazine Leatherneck.

On the display was the large poster; the top picture was me in my dress uniform from the ball and the bottom picture from the roof of the Kampala embassy.

The caption with the top was “The Marines are always looking for a few good men and women.”

Master Sergeant Roberta Jones was on the picture in the corner. In the middle between the pictures “We turn them into exceptional men and women.”

The bottom caption was, “Once a Marine always a Marine. US Ambassador Roberta Jones on the roof of the US embassy in Kampala after the terrorist attack, still defending America.”

Across the bottom was, “Join up. Be exceptional. The Marines.”

I posed with Major Radcliff unveiling the poster while the other officer took pictures and video.

Vicky wanted pictures for the web site so I stood beside the poster at attention while she took them, she wasn’t the only one taking pictures.

Adam walked by “We are ready to go;” the Iowa men had been issued their JBG cards so I could track them if I needed, including the two Captain’s cash bags with instructions and company credit cards. The two buses carried the 80 men and their bags to the C5 and made a third trip to pick up the guard crews, along with the four mechanics and the tools they would need to reassemble the choppers and test them.

Vicky and I watched the men load up and the ramps close. Then the props came alive on the C130s, one engine at a time. The C5 moved off first to the south end of the runway. A while later the three planes were gone on their long flight. The waiting game was on again.

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Chapter 416

Thursday morning the C5 returned in time to be loaded by noon. The pilot group went home and the maintenance group stayed to check out the post flight inspection list. Lorrie’s text said it would take the rest of the day for that.

The day was a drag at KCC. I did text Vicky and Ching Lee to get them to check on more food to carry to Nimule. I was late on that one; there was already a hundred thousand pounds of soups and supplies donated from several different companies on the shore in one of the hangars.

When I stopped by Morton Field, all the crew from the C5 was gone. Major Culpepper was sitting in the restaurant drinking coffee.

“How did my guys do? Is there anything I need to cover with them?” I asked.

“Really good job; they are a very dedicated group of individuals. I hear we are going to South America tomorrow 0500.”

“That’s right, fly down and back,” I replied.

It was a great evening; hot tub, boys and my mates. We went to bed early; we wanted to see the C5 take off again, was the excuse. From all the moans, it was really just an excuse.

We were at Morton at 0430. Major Culpepper was strolling towards the plane with a go bag, a big coffee mug and whistling Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Lorrie handed Adam the refilled cash bag. At 0500 the C5 was rolling coal from the south end of the runway and was already a couple hundred feet in the air when it went past the terminal building.

This time we made it home in time for me to cook breakfast. With the dishes in the dishwasher we were over in the office at seven.

At 0730 Karen called to say that I had several visitors, “The one that speaks for the group is Ambassador Hagen Abelman,” she whispered into the phone.

“Give them a visitor’s pass and send them into the gym; I will be right there.”

“Ambassador Ableman, it’s good to see you. Welcome to my little part of the world. Let’s take the elevator and go upstairs to the office.”

The ambassador introduced me to his three associates, who were Israel intelligence officers; I read into that Mossad officers. They each were pulling a large travel cart on wheels.

“We have a mutual friend in Africa who suggested that you may be able to make good use of what we bring. Did you have time to get the things the email suggested?” Officer Ben-David asked as we were making our way to the EIT office.

“Yes, my men should have it set up per your instructions,” I replied.

After the introductions, Officer Ben-David said, “This is going to take several hours to get set up, run through then test. I will call you when we are ready to demonstrate and use.”

I took that as a polite way to tell me and the Ambassador to get lost for a while. I started with Marcy and we made the rounds through the office and a tour of the gym to watch some of the training that was going on. We finally ended back in my office where I got an in-depth lesson on Middle East politics; and the things that were going on behind the scenes.

The things in real life were a lot worse than were being broadcast in our media. In between conversations, we both had to deal with texts and calls. One of those texts I sent was to Frank, “Send me the file you have from Uganda with the 515 information.”

It only took seconds for the reply, “Why?”

“Working to build my bucket,” I replied. A few minutes later the file arrived in my e-mail; that I then forwarded to Robert.

We spent over 30 minutes talking about the American embassy there, the transfer to JBG security that was going to happen in the next few weeks and the difficulties we could expect.

I made a mental note to go through and hand pick my employees going there and to make sure they could speak Hebrew and the local Arabic dialect, if at all possible.

Israel was one of the areas that there had not been a decision yet as to if they were to get a chopper.

“We are ready for a live test and you’re the guinea pig,” Robert said as he was standing in my office door. With Robert’s entire group and Vicky there, the explanation and demonstration began.

First was the description of what was installed by Ben-David, “This system is several different systems linked together. The first computer has the bucket – as you named it – from Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. There is some on Americans if they travel abroad.”

“The information in your bucket will be 2 weeks old, meaning you will get an update every two weeks. That update will be sent on DVDs.”

“The second computer has the identification data on it, its files contain facial recognition, finger prints, DNA, and retina scans if they are available.”

“I feel sure you are doing DNA and fingerprints on all your employees on hard copy; you should add that and retina scans to the data on this system. It gives you instant recognition if you ever need it.”

“Some of the equipment I have installed with the third computer includes the newest electronic fingerprint reader, a retina scanner and facial scan, should you decide to use it.”

“By putting your employees in there, you will reduce the chance of moles, double agents, spies and someone selling your information,” he said. Then he added, “You can use the existing photos you have in your files from your ID cards.”

I wondered if that statement meant that we already had a problem and we were the last to know.

Robert took my picture with his cell, sent it to his email, from there loaded it to a thumb drive, put it into the second computer and began the search.

Before he could type my name into the first computer to search by name in the bucket, the facial scanner had found me and linked the two together.

It was going to be interesting to see what Israel had on me.

‘Send it to the big plasma Robert,” I said.

It was a complete file, birth certificate, school grades, Marine file, everything ever printed in the media, JBG and its history, my mates and their connection and info on our boys – and of course, my financial records.

“Robert, anything you did not know?” I asked.

“No, nothing new there,” he replied.

“Get Ben-David to show you how to run the DNA information I emailed you.”

We watched while Officer Ben-David made each one of my Intel Group input one of the files into the system and then we waited.

Aadam Mohamed was the first one to pop up. The history on him was indeed interesting; his last days – according to Israeli Intelligence – almost mirrored what Robert had found. Robert’s glance after seeing Aadam’s name told me he knew.

Dagar Daharr came up next, as I thought he would at some time in the process. Frank’s file on him was empty compared to what these files had. I handed Robert a thumb drive, “Copy his picture to the thumb and the bucket as well as any joined files – brothers, sisters, parents, contacts – I need to slowly read all that.”

The next connected file was Crown Prince Alwaleed bin Salman Al Saud, grandson of the King. I handed Robert another thumb that he handed back a minute later. Then said, “Take it to the last couple pages, I want to see the last entries.” The last entries placed him in Kampala both Saturday and Thursday, with no entries after Thursday. Then there were pages of official inquiries as to his whereabouts.

The computer was still dinging that it had found files. I handed Robert another thumb, “Put the rest on here; I have a lot of reading to do in my spare time.”

“Robert, print out the file header sheet on each one that gets identified, please.”

Robert handed me the papers, “I need a refill of coffee, does anyone else?” The Mosad men pulled the carts as we walked to the counter where there was a row of Bunn coffee makers and one big old fashioned percolator.

Robert and his guys took their coffee and went back to the EIT office. I invited the Israeli group to mine to finish our coffee and to thank them.

As we finished our coffee, I asked Officer Ben-David “Who updates the bucket?”

“Any Intelligence supervisor,” he replied.

I handed him the papers, “You can update these.”

“What’s the connection?” he asked.

“Besides all dying at the same place the same day and at the same time?” I replied.

“Kampala?”

I just nodded.

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Chapter 415

The day was quiet for the most part. Near noon Robin, Phil and Bob came to see me. I wondered if they were having second thoughts now.

“Is there anything that we need to do to prepare for the trip?” Robin asked.

“You need to get yourselves in good physical shape. You are going to have close to 60 or more hours in airplanes in just six days with a double dose of jet lag. The jet lag is going to be bad as well as 14 time zone changes in the same period of time. It will make adjusting hard.”

“The truck ride from Entebbe to Kampala to Nimule is six to seven hours each way plus the unload time. And that may have to be done two days in a row, depending on how people come through with donations,” I replied.

“Bob, I know you know how to shoot but I would like you to go to the gun club and qualify with one of our company Glocks. You just never know when you might have to pick one up and use it in that part of the world,” I said.

“What about us?” Phil asked.

“Maryland law says you have to be 21 to buy, but you can take hunting and gun safety training,” I replied.

“I have already had hunter safety and hold a hunting license in Kentucky. My Dad and I went pheasant and deer hunting all the time. I was a better hunter than he was; I killed more deer. It always made him upset,” Robin replied.

“Maybe you should go deer hunting with my Dad. He goes a lot and I know there are deer where he goes but he never gets one,” I said.

“Ask him if he would like a hunting partner, I miss the outdoors!” she replied.

“What about you, Phil?”

“I’m not into guns – never shot one – but I will come to watch just for the heck of it.”

“I have seen you compete at sports. I bet if you did some trap or skeet, you would fall in love with it,” Robin replied.

“We have both at the gun club, that can happen but he needs basics first,” I replied.

I received a text from Lorrie that the refueling was completed on schedule. I breathed a sigh of relief on that one; I’m sure it was like falling off a log to the pilots but I still worried something would go wrong.

I also worried about revolutionaries, terrorists and radical governments shooting the plane down. To say some of the territory it was flying over was hostile would be putting it mildly. It was flying established commercial routes and it was silver and that was a good thing.

It was almost three when Marcy called. She and a couple of her administrators found the two trucks in Washington and the two trailers like the ones destroyed in Delaware. The drivers were carried to Washington to pick them up and then they were driving to pick up the trailers.

The decal shop we used was making up new decals to put on the trucks. Federal law and the dot inspectors looked for the identifying name and numbers on road side inspections.

Soon all trucks would have electronic driver logs, weights, inspection, insurance and cargo information that would be transmitted to the weigh stations and portable enforcement as the truck neared the sites.

The inspectors would know if they needed to flag the truck in for closer scrutiny or let it go by before it ever got there.

Marcy had called the auto shop that services the MAAR cars to remove that and the GPS equipment from the trucks. One more thing that was boxed up and given to the driver to be installed later.

Luckily both trucks were tagged in states that the tags could be transferred to new trucks with a phone call, a credit card and insurance numbers. Marcy paid off the remaining loan balance on the wrecks. The titles were coming to her.

It was an expensive lesson. The two trailers would be scrapped and the tractors would go the truck auction in Wilmington. Next time the takeoff would either be from the other end of the runway, or we would get the police to stop traffic on the road for five minutes. We had been lucky that this had not happened before with the C17 and the 787 takeoffs in the last month.

I was just about to leave when I got a cryptic email from a friend abroad on my State Depart Email system. It was a request that I immediately forwarded to Robert after removing all the gibberish and things that I did not want him to see and added TOP SECRET in the subject line. Top secret meant that it was strictly between Robert and me.

The email was full of diplomatic speak that I had gotten rid of. I was so glad that Ambassador Furnell had worked many hours with me on interpreting the hidden meanings in words and language that were used in diplomatic cables, speeches and press releases. I could just imagine the questions I was going to get from Robert when I got to the office.

I stopped by Morton Field on my way to the office; I wanted an update on the flight for my peace of mind. They were two hours from their destination and they were 30 minutes behind schedule because of trouble with the KC130 tanker plane.

I went straight to Robert’s office, looked in and then closed the door behind me.

“Everything should be here Thursday morning. I ordered all of it by special delivery to make sure,” he said.

Then he asked, “Can you tell me what’s going on?”

“I’m not exactly in a position to say for sure right now. I have ideas but we will both find out the details Friday morning at 8. Do you have a place to put it after all the other stuff you ordered was put in?”

“Yes, after that wall into the other office was removed, we have plenty of room. You do know we have plenty of room on the new system.”

“Like I said there is a reason, I just can’t tell you everything I know right now and I am sure there is a lot more I do not know.”

“Follow the setup instructions in the email,” I replied.

I headed for the meeting; I really wanted to listen closely to Marcy’s financial report tonight. We were hiring a lot of people every week and now every week a number was being added to the charges to the State department. I hoped that we were back to maintaining a balance between the two in the revenue stream.

By the time our meeting was finished there should be another update on the flight.

Adam called in on the satellite phone and it was all good news. The refueling boom on the tanker had stuck in the stowed position and required some unconventional tactics to get it working.

The hangar lived up to the pictures and specs; all the electric controlled doors opened and closed, all the locks were in working order, it was visible by the control tower and was on the airports security check every 4 hours list as I had asked it to be placed.

The other part of the news was that they were making better time unloading the choppers than they thought it would take. Adam thought they would be done unloading when the fuel trucks started the fill up for trip home and would be airborne in a couple hours. That would put them back at Morton 9 AM Thursday.

There would be just enough time to load, go home and get some sleep, and then leave Friday morning for South America.

Frank knocked on the door just as we were finishing up, “Afternoon Ambassador, when you finish up I need a couple minutes.”

In my office behind closed doors, “The freight for the Friday flight is going to be delivered tomorrow. The C5 is going to Guarani Paraguay. They will be met at the airport by our people.”

“There may be a stop in Arizona on the return trip but right now it doesn’t look promising for that to happen,” Frank added.

“By the way, there is nothing new on the 515 group. I have to go to another meeting at the hangar; as soon as I hear something I’ll let you know,” he said as he headed for the door.

As we walked across the street to the house, I informed Lorrie where the next flight for the C5 was going so she could start the process. Part of that assessment now was a close monitoring of our fuel supplies.

Lorrie had assigned someone to monitor the fuel farm and now there was a daily fuel usage estimate based on daily and weekly flights. There was a delay from the order to delivery, sometimes two or three days. Preorders were based on the usage estimate routine.

To go along with the refueling, we now had three trucks of our own. With the daily freight flights, a fuel truck breakdown that could shut down the operation was unacceptable. Lorrie had bought new truck and a second used one to match the one we had gotten from the military surplus site. Everybody hated the new one with a passion; just too many bells and whistles.

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Chapter 414

I walked to the elevator to greet whoever was coming to see me, just as door was opening.

Phil, Robin and Bob Jackson stepped off the elevator.

“I get another look at the inside of the lion’s den; you have expanded a lot since I was here last time,” he said.

“Yes, we have and all of Lorrie’s division was moved to the Morton building; she has offices both here and there.”

“Bob, are you going as chaperone?” I asked.

“Yes. Mr. Gifford sent an email that the medicines being donated for Nimule were being shipped to you in two weeks. He CC’ed me on the mail asking if I could finagle a seat on the plane to take video and pictures for them. I knew there would be plenty from you but he carries a big stick, if you know what I mean,” Bob replied.

That conversation ended as Rachael and her parents stepped off the elevator.

“Glad you made it, so you are up for a challenge?”

“Yes, I so glad you asked me to go with you. I was so excited when Dad asked if I wanted to go. We are not late, are we?”

“No there is plenty of time! The doc is waiting; Maryann is going to lead you where you are going. But first I need you to understand we are going on a military type transport plane. This is not first class fare.”

“That’s OK, that will make it more fun,” Rachael replied.

“Are you three OK with that?” I directed at Bob, Robin and Phil.

“I don’t know about fun but it sure sounds like an adventure,” Bob replied.

“Well, let’s get the process started; follow Maryann to the docs,” I replied.

“The shots are being billed to JBG,” I stated.

Our company Doctor Greg Burns’ practice had grown as JBG had. When we first started we went to him because he had been the family doctor to both the Jones and the Coles. It was a small practice; one doctor and a couple of nurses.

Now it was located in a new building with four doctors and several Physicians Assistants with a nurse for each one. There was a lot of medical equipment that usually was found in emergency centers. They could do x-rays and blood testing in-house.

The good thing was they billed us direct at a cash price for all the new employment physicals and shots. They had agreed to keep all of our employee records off the system because of our security status. Marcy even bought the filing system for them.

I was ready close down the computers and go to the house with the girls, when my phone rang one more time.

“Jones”

“Ambassador Jones, Johnson Black; I made some calls and I found the response time for Mr. Pope’s office to be unacceptable and changes are being made as we speak. Mr. Pope will call you personally to apologize for the long wait and the response from the north-east service center personnel to your request.”

“There is a standing policy that if an area cannot handle a customer’s needs they are to request help from the other service centers. Work load fluctuates; we have other centers that are not working up to capacity and can use the work.”

“The techs you requested will be there Monday morning. They are flying out of the Southern and North Western service centers direct to you. I also took the liberty to look at your account to look at your parts purchases for the aircraft you have repaired. They will bring multiples of those parts with them and anything else they think they will need to speed up the repair process, based on your descriptions,” he said.

Then he added, “I am terribly sorry that you needed to go the route that you did for a solution. From my viewpoint it is somewhat depressing. We spent so much time, effort and money to improve service and then one hard head can wreck it all in one call. I can promise you it will not happen again.”

“I appreciate your help; thank you,” I replied. Only time would tell for sure, I thought.

We were up at three; all of us – including Crash – wanted to see the takeoff. Crash had Lorrie take pictures of him and the plane with the crew; he wanted them framed and placed in the terminal building by his original crop duster.

When we arrived the crew was stowing their luggage and finishing up preflight inspection. Major Culpepper was checking things behind them, looking over their shoulder.

We walked Adam off to the side after they were finished. Lorrie handed him the lockable cash bag that we sent with all out of the US flights. There were some places in the world that did not take credit cards or they added large fees to take the card.

For this flight the bag contained 200 thousand dollars that Adam signed for. The C5 held 50,000 gallons if the tanks were empty; at 4 bucks a gallon, one fill up would wipe out the 200k.

The flight planning they had done called for an air tanker from the US air base at Moron Spain to refuel just off the coast of Africa to top off the tanks, replacing the estimated 25,000 gallons they would use. That would allow them to make the destination without landing.

If there were technical difficulties that prevented the in air refueling, they would have to land to do it, most likely at Morocco. The same thing had to happen on the return flight.

It was a lovely arrangement for JGB either way; the Air Force cross-billed the state department, then they billed JBG, then we billed the state department plus add on fees to the logistics support part of our contract. Even if we used the card or cash, the add-on applied.

We wished the crew safe passage, luck had nothing to do with it; it boiled down to training, equipment and planning for any contingency.

From inside we watched the engine run-up and listened to the tower instructions for the IFR flight, and then permission to take off.

The big turbofans started screaming and the big plane started rolling, picking up speed, lifting into the air well before the end of the runway. It was exactly 0400.

We decided to go back home and nap before we had to go to work; as we turned onto 301 N there were police and fire trucks blocking the road. There were two tractor trailers lying on their sides blocking the roads directly across from the end of the runway.

“Oh crap,” the jet blast from the C5 had blown them over from 75 yards away; they must have been empty. I guessed we were not going home after all.

I wondered what time Bob and his engineers started work and if they would be eating in the restaurant this morning. The rest of the takeoffs with the C5 would be from the other end of the runway until a blast deflector could be built near the highway. The only thing that could be blown over on that end was soybeans.

A state police car followed us back to the terminal building.

“Did you have any planes take off from the airport earlier?”

“Yes we did; a big one. Was anyone hurt?” I asked.

“No, both trucks are pretty much junk, no freight though; both were empty,” the officer replied.

“Were they independents or fleet owned?” I asked.

“They were both independent operators,” he replied.

“We need to replace their trucks so they can keep making a living. Let’s go see what they had and what we can find when the truck dealers open up,” Marcy said.

Marcy and I followed the trooper back to the highway in time to see wreckers flip both trucks upright.

Both trucks were only a couple of years old; one was a Pete 389, the other was a Kenworth 680. I originally thought both trucks could be repaired until I got close and had a good look at them. Both cabs were twisted pretty badly; the best thing was to call a salvage company and part them out.

Cars and trucks were Marcy’s thing so I left it to her to take care of it. We were at fault and self insured, so it made more sense just to replace the trucks and trailers fast than deal with lawyers and litigation paying for lost revenue, down time and anything else the lawyers could think up.

I made it to KCC on time by leaving the girls to take care of the truck fiasco.

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