“Damn it, Darlene. Stop watching that fake news.”

The opening to Area 51: Invasion came to me because, well, it’s obvious.

AREA 51: INVASION

THE FIRST DAY: ARRIVAL

MARFA, TEXAS

“Damn it, Darlene! I told you not to watch that fake news. There aint no such thing as aliens. All of this has been bullshit so the government can come get my guns. Turn it off. And get your damn dog off the couch.”

“I don’t think so,” Darlene muttered watching the images from Russia and the massive alien spaceship. “That’s a lot of work just to come and get your guns, Bobby.”

Thin, almost starved-looking, Darlene had badly dyed reddish hair self-cut shaggy short. Her arms scrolled with tattoos. She wore ripped jeans and a red t-shirt with the Marine Corps emblem on the front. She was sitting cross-legged on the nice leather couch, Bobby’s only legacy from his stepmom, peering at the TV. It was all kinda confusing cause some of the feeds would go blank and the news folk were scrambling to figure things out.

One hand absently scratched Rex’s head. The dog was a mutt, something German Shepherd/Chow/Mexico street fighter. She’d found him wandering about a few months ago and viewed him as a good luck charm and more trustworthy companion than her quasi-boyfriend of expediency.

Bobby didn’t like bad news, or fake news as he called it. “I told you to turn the damn thing off!” He grabbed his AR-15 off the pegs by the door to the trailer, single-wide, but some day she’d dreamed of double-wide as long as she had to stay here. Looked like that dream wasn’t gonna come. All bad things must end.

“Don’t you dare!” Darlene yelled as Bobby leveled the rifle at the TV.

It had a fancy sniper scope that had cost a week and a half of her waitressing tips and initiated a terrible row between the two of them as Darlene didn’t see the need, given Bobby only shot cans, plus he didn’t even know how to zero it in. The fight had been more a drunken brawl, followed by reasonably decent make-up sex. That still didn’t make up for the money, but it didn’t seem that was going to matter now either.

Bobby fired four rounds, fast as he could pull the trigger, blasting the screen.

“Great shooting, numb-nuts,” Darlene said. “Shoulda saved your ammo. I think we’re gonna need it.” She didn’t point out he hadn’t needed that damn, stupid scope to hit the TV. Rex growled at Bobby. “Easy,” Darlene said. “Now aint the time for our plan. Gotta wait boy.”

“That plan thing aint never funny,” Bobby said. “You and that damn dog.”

“Why do you think it’s a joke?” Darlene stomped out of the trailer in her heavy black boots, Rex at her heel. She stood in the ‘front yard’ comprising of desert and pulled the smokes out of roll on the left arm of her t-shirt.

“You should quit,” Bobby said from inside the nebulous safety of the ripped screen door, but his voice was a bit subdued, as it always was after he did something stupid, which was much more often than Darlene liked.

“Don’t matter now,” Darlene said, staring out over the desolate west Texas landscape. “Shoulda bought that double-wide, Bobby, when I told you to. At least we’d have been going out happier.”

EARTH ORBIT

While the massive Swarm Battle Core settled into high orbit, 20,000 miles above the Earth’s surface, the results of the Metamorphosis were walking, crawling, swimming, slithering, stalking and winging their way to designated warships for the pending drop on the planet.

The Core’s orbit was opposite the planet’s rotation. For the first go-around, the Core was traversing the northern hemisphere, just above the Tropic of Capricorn as data indicated it would be the source of most Scale opposition. Weapons systems on the surface of the Core were powered up.

It was all standing operating procedure for a reaping.

Even 20,000 miles up, the sphere was massive. Six thousand miles wide at the center and four thousand at the polar axis, it was much larger, and much, much closer, than the moon. As the Core orbited the planet, it began targeting procedures to negate potential threats prior to drop. Numerous sites had already been determined due to intercepts across the array of electromagnetic transmissions from the planet. More would be determined as the Scale life, in this case humans, reacted.

There was no rush.

The result was inevitable.

AREA 51: Invasion

How Hamilton And Jefferson Agreed on The Jefferson Allegiance

Here is an excerpt from the book, The Jefferson Allegiance, where Hamilton and Jefferson agree to write it.

This book was a #2 national bestseller at Barnes and Noble when it came out!

27 July 1803

President Thomas Jefferson waited, no doubt in his mind that Alexander Hamilton was late to prove a point. Hamilton always had to prove a point, even if there was none.

Jefferson was alone in an office in Philosophical Hall on Independence Square in the heart of the nation’s largest city: Philadelphia. Jefferson tipped his chair back, placed his feet on the desk and stretched out his long legs. The ride from Washington had been made in darkness and thus in difficulty, the carriage driver unable to see all the ruts and holes in the road from the United States new capitol to the original capitol.

Thinking of the city he’d come from, Jefferson looked up at the painting of its namesake on the wall. Good old George. Gone less than four years now, one would think the man a saint the way the papers and people still went on about him. Jefferson gave a fond smile, remembering how Washington, in the early days of the Continental Congress, had protested loudly that he did not wish to be Commander of the fledgling Colonial forces, yet somehow had managed to put on his old French & Indian War uniform every day when he came to protest not becoming that which his clothing clearly demonstrated he dearly desired.

Watch what a man does, rather than what he says, Jefferson thought. And Hamilton being late said much.

The door to the room swung open and then slammed shut. Hamilton strode across the room as if he owned it. The way he walked into every room.

Jefferson got to his feet. “Mister Hamilton.” He extended his hand.

Hamilton barely shook the hand, then, without a word, went to the other side of the table and sat down. A breach of etiquette in the presence of the country’s President, but Jefferson knew Hamilton felt brazen, having been the instrument three years ago to swing Congress to vote Jefferson into office over Burr, when the two had been tied in the Electoral College. It had not been a sign of support for himself, Jefferson knew, but Hamilton’s intense distaste of Burr that had been the deciding factor.

“Shall we get to business?” Hamilton said.

Jefferson sat down. He’d considered how to approach this on the ride from Washington. “As you know, I was not present during the drafting of the Constitution.”

Hamilton tapped the top of the desk irritably. “And? Is that your excuse for your recent unconstitutional action regarding the Louisiana Purchase?”

“No,” Jefferson said. “I make no excuse. You are quite correct. It was unconstitutional.”

Hamilton sat up straighter, his eyes narrowing, suspecting a trap. “You admit as much?”

“I just did.” Jefferson held up a hand to forestall his long-time opponent. “I’ll give you my arguments so you can ignore all the tripe in the papers. And then I’ll tell you what I have learned from my own actions, and what I propose, and why I ask for your assistance.”

The line between Hamilton’s eyes got even deeper, but he nodded.

“Briefly then,” Jefferson began. “New Orleans controls the Mississippi. He who controls the Mississippi, controls all our country’s river traffic west of the Appalachians. When I took office, we thought New Orleans was under Spanish Control. What I quickly discovered was that Napoleon, in secret, had gained control of New Orleans from Spain in eighteen hundred. Learning of this, and fearing loss of access to the port, I secretly sent emissaries to Paris to negotiate the purchase of New Orleans.”

Hamilton started to speak once more.

“Please,” Jefferson said. “Hear me out, good sir. I know I did not have the Constitutional right to be doing such negotiations in secret. However, I felt the importance of New Orleans and the danger of an Imperial French presence on our country’s borders superseded my executive limitations, and time was of the essence. I was acting for the greater good.”

Jefferson quickly went on. “I also knew, through my own sources, that Napoleon was in trouble. He was building a fleet of barges to invade England. That was his focus. However, the slave revolt in Haiti was draining his resources, troops and money. The slaves, hard as it might be to believe, were defeating his forces. As they continue to do to this day. I fear the end is close in Haiti, and it will be the slaves who prevail.

“Please believe me when I say my ambassadors only went to Paris to purchase New Orleans. We offered Napoleon ten million for the city and river rights. When Napoleon’s man countered with an offer of the entire Louisiana territory for fifteen million, my ambassadors were astounded, to say the least.”

Hamilton finally got some words in. “I had not heard this about New Orleans. The report was your people went looking for it all.”

“No, sir,” Jefferson said. “But even you will admit it was too great an offer to refuse. It was an offer that ended the French presence on our boundary and doubled the size of our country at less than three cents per acre.”

Hamilton snorted. “But you don’t have the money. Is that why I am here? You finally agree with me on the national bank?”

Jefferson nodded. “Yes. We must have one to finance the purchase.”

Hamilton could not hold back his triumphant smile.

Jefferson continued. “I’ve already directed Treasury Secretary Gallatin to contact you and ask for your help.”

Hamilton shook his head. “Gallatin will want to issue stock for it. He’s already—“

Jefferson quickly cut in. “No stocks. We’ll have a debt as you wish. Gallatin doesn’t like it, but I’ve already given him the order.”

Hamilton’s smile faded, wary. “Then what do you want of me? Absolution of your illegal act in making the purchase in the first place? I could have my people in Congress move to impeach you.”

It was Jefferson’s turn to snort. “You think that would get far?”

Hamilton leaned forward. “Then why did you have me come here in the middle of the night and meet in secret?”

Jefferson placed both hands on the table. “I am not blind to what I have done. I am aware I overstepped my Executive authority. Only two other men have worn the title of President of the United States. General Washington—“ Jefferson used the term he knew Hamilton preferred for the late President, as the two men had served together for many years in uniform—“was a great man. You and I know the nation and Congress would have voted him President for life if he desired it.”

“I wanted him to be President for life from the very beginning,” Hamilton countered.

“That argument was defeated during the writing of the Constitution,” Jefferson said. “And, besides, you know that General Washington wanted no part of staying in power. He desired to go back to Mount Vernon and Martha, and live the rest of his days in peace.”

“He was tired of the heavy burden he bore,” Hamilton acknowledged.

Jefferson saw his opening. “I bear that burden now. And there will be those beyond me who will bear it. Perhaps you. I circumvented Congress on the negotiations for the Louisiana Purchase. It made me recognize that this office that I hold is at the whim of any elected Caesar in Presidential clothing.”

Jefferson could hear the crowing of roosters in the distance as dawn came to Philadelphia, and he waited to see how Hamilton would react.

“What are you proposing, then?” Hamilton asked. “You’re pointing out the obvious: that the checks and balances written into the Constitution aren’t adequate to prevent the Republic from failing. It is flawed. I said so then, and subsequent events have proven me correct.”

“You are correct. And I know what you and your Cincinnatians are up to. I have the votes in Congress to outlaw you and your group as enemies to the state. The bill is already drawn up and my people ready to present it. President Adams got his Alien and Sedition Act passed; I have no doubt I could resurrect the Sedition portion and use it on your Cincinnatians.”

Hamilton leapt to his feet. “How dare you threaten—“

“It is not a threat, Mister Hamilton. It is a negotiation. Please sit down.”

Hamilton did not do so, but he stopped yelling. “What negotiation? What do you want?”

“I want there to be a secret check on power run amok, primarily by the President, but also to prevent a group like your Cincinnatians from toppling the freely elected government or gaining undue influence. To maintain the country as we envisioned and wrote into the Constitution and Bill of Rights.”

“And how do you propose such a secret check be enacted?”

“We’ve already agreed that the Constitution, as currently written, is not sufficient to keep the country on course. Our country has just doubled in size. The United States will grow more and more powerful. As it does, the office of President, by nature, will attract the power-hungry. At a distance, the people have a limited ability to identify Presidents with sufficient emotional stability to ‘know thyself.’ Thus, the office of the President is run by the personality of the man holding it. You’ve seen what I just did with the Purchase.

“At the same time, business will grow. Money will be consolidated in the hands of a powerful few who control that commerce and industry. Your Cincinnatians. It is a repugnant inevitability. That’s a very dangerous thing for a Republic. We don’t want our country to go the way Rome did.”

Hamilton slowly sat down. “You want a new Amendment to the Constitution?”

“No,” Jefferson said. “I’m not stupid, Mister Hamilton. Presenting that admits my own malfeasance in the Purchase. As I said, this must be done in secret. I want you and I, as heads of the two parties, to agree to an Allegiance. The Jefferson-Hamilton Allegiance. We will take this Allegiance back to our parties and get just enough members we trust to sign it in secret to pass, and then I will sign it into law. No one is to speak of it. It will be hidden away. But it will be law and it will be the final check on the President and the power-hungry rich who do not have the country’s best interests at heart.”

Hamilton was silent for a few seconds. “What is this Allegiance you wish to put my name to?”

“Did you know this chair I am in,” Jefferson said, “is the exact same one in which I was seated when I wrote the Declaration of Independence?”

“Show me this Allegiance,” Hamilton snapped, but Jefferson knew his reference to the classic document he had penned was now in Hamilton’s head.

Jefferson walked over to a bookcase and picked up a piece of parchment. He brought it back. Hamilton unrolled the paper. It only took a few seconds to read. “I do not want my name on the title of this.” He looked up. “So this is why you founded the Military Academy last year? I thought that a most strange move for you.”

“I dwell in reality,” Jefferson said. He waited a moment. “Does that mean you agree to the body of the Allegiance?”

Hamilton hesitated. “In exchange for not attacking the Society of the Cincinnati? And establishing the national bank?”

“Yes.”

Hamilton grabbed a fountain pen, dipped it in the ink well, and signed his name at the bottom. “I will bring it back to you with the signatures needed.”

“I know what you’re thinking,” Jefferson said. “You’re thinking what you hold is no great matter. That it would never be enacted. I hope that is true. But it is the ultimate check against a President who seeks to be King, and against your Cincinnatians or any group like it.”

Hamilton rolled up the parchment. He tucked it under his arm and stood. “When I bring it back, and then your people and you sign it, what is to be done with it?”

“Let me worry about that. I will have people appointed to be caretakers. People that can be trusted with such power, desiring none of their own. People that can keep a secret.”

Hamilton laughed. “Remember what old Benjamin said about people keeping secrets. Three might if two are dead.”

Jefferson met his adversary’s eyes. “Let us hope it does not come to that.”

Hamilton gave the half-smile that Jefferson had always interpreted as the man thinking he held the winning hand. Perhaps he did, Jefferson allowed as Hamilton departed. But there was more to Jefferson’s plan for the Allegiance than he had told Hamilton.

Jefferson laughed. And given Hamilton’s insistence, it had a new, simpler name:

The Jefferson Allegiance.

Tomorrow– how the Allegiance was invoked against President Polk

To Rein In An Imperial Presidency, We Need The Jefferson Allegiance

Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson were political enemies, but they found a common ground: the need to stop a president who runs amok and isn’t impeached.

They came up with The Jefferson Allegiance. A secret document signed by a majority of Congress and then hidden away with the location only available by using the Jefferson Cipher.

Over the course of history the threat of unveiling the document has stopped several Presidents. My blogs over the next few days will show these events.

Often fiction precedes fact. Several of my books have dealt with the Presidency. The Jefferson Allegiance and The Kennedy Endeavor, of course. But there is also The Line, about a military coup unfolding in the vein of Seven Days in May. Then there is Nightstalkers: Book of Truths where the plot revolves around a serum getting loose in the White House where it forces people to tell the truth. That one was very prescient.

Here are some of the facts from The Jefferson Allegiance:

The Historical Facts

If a book be false in its facts, disprove them; if false in its reasoning, refute it. But for God’s sake, let us freely hear both sides if we choose.” Thomas Jefferson. 1814.

In May of 1783, the Society of the Cincinnati was founded. A leading member was Alexander Hamilton, and the first President of the Society was George Washington, before he was President of the United States. The Society of the Cincinnati is the oldest, continuous military society in North America. Its current headquarters is at the Anderson House in downtown Washington, DC. Besides the Society of the Cincinnati, Hamilton founded the Federalist Party, the first political party.

“Can a democratic assembly . . . be supposed steadily to pursue the public good? Nothing but a permanent body can check the imprudence of democracy. Their turbulent and changing disposition requires checks.” Alexander Hamilton. 1787.

Thomas Jefferson was not allowed membership in the Society of the Cincinnati.

“Your people, sir, are a great beast.” Alexander Hamilton. 1792.

In 1802, President Thomas Jefferson, well known for his strong opposition to a standing army, established the United State Military Academy, the oldest Military Academy in the Americas. In 1819, he founded the University of Virginia, the first college in the United States to separate religion from education.

In 1745, the American Philosophical Society (APS), the oldest learned society in North America was founded. Thomas Jefferson was a member for 47 years and its President for 17 years. He subsequently established the adjunct United States Military Philosophical Society (MPS) at West Point with the Academy Superintendent as its first leader. The APS has its current headquarters in Philosophical Hall on Liberty Square in Philadelphia. The MPS appears to have disappeared.

“I am not among those who fear the people. They, and not the rich, are our dependence for continued freedom.” Thomas Jefferson. 1816.

Besides the APS and MPS, Jefferson founded the Anti-Federalist Party.

“The mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, not a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the Grace of God.” Thomas Jefferson. 1826.

The Jefferson Allegiance

Tomorrow?  27 July 1803, when Jefferson and Hamilton agree to write the Allegiance and why.

 

When I wrote about a military coup it was inconceivable to me that . . . .

I could end the novel any way but other than the coup being defeated. The Line had my heroes living up to their Oath and stopping the coup.

Today, I have my doubts that it would be such a bad thing. I swore an oath to defend the Constitution. It appears to me that others who have sworn the same are not living up to their oath. This begins with the President and has spread to a large portion of Congress.

Many of my fellow soldiers, generations of them, have died to keep this country free. To save Europe and South Korea from oppressors. The current administration is blatantly subverting those countries and overtly coupling us with an oppressive and murderous regime in Russia.

Putin has murdered people, including his own. He’s murdered journalists. He’s used a weapon of mass destruction to kill enemies in other sovereign countries; our allies. Russian mercenaries have engaged our troops in Syria. To aid Putin is, without exaggeration, treason.

The time is coming when, if the balance of powers as established in the Constitution do not suffice to save this country, that men and women of loyalty will have to stand up.

I fear for the future of this country. I put my life on the line in the past for it. I will do it again.

AGAINST ALL ENEMIES: FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC.

 

 

Philadelphia, Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Monticello, Entebbe– Fourth of July

In honor of the Fourth, Independence Day (Time Patrol) is free 3-4 July.

‘The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.’ Einstein.

What does it take to change history and destroy our reality? Change history on the same date, 4 July, in six different years. The members of the Time Patrol each travel to those days to maintain our timeline.

Doc travels to the 4th of July, 1776, one of the most important dates in American history where evil forces are at work in Philadelphia to sabotage the Declaration of Independence.

Moms goes to Monticello exactly 50 years later, in 1826. The day on which two of the architects of that document and the country, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, die within hours of each other. What secrets do they hold close on their deathbeds? And who else might know about them?

Roland is at Gettysburg, the day after the Confederacy reaches its ‘high water mark’ with Pickett’s charge on the 3rd of July 1863. But on the 4th, both armies stare at each other on a rainy day, waiting for the other to make a move. What if the Union attacks?

Ivar is In the same war, on the same day, at a victory that is over-shadowed by Gettysburg in terms of publicity, but of more value strategically, when Grant takes Vicksburg on the 4th of July, 1863. But what if this great victory turns into the Union’s greatest shame?

On the 4th of July 1976, before there was a ‘War on Terror’, the Israelis launch a daring raid to free hostages at Entebbe. There is only one casualty in their force, the older brother of the current Prime Minister; what if that had turned out differently? Eagle is there to make sure it doesn’t.

Scout travels furthest back, to the 4th of July 362 B.C. to the Battle of Mantinea in Greece, in which Sparta is defeated by Thebes in a Pyrrhic victory, leading to a third party uniting Greece: Philip II, father of a man who would change history: Alexander The Great. But what if Sparta wins the battle?

The Time Patrol must send an agent back to each day, with just 24 hours for each to defeat the Shadow’s plan to disrupt our time-line, creating a time tsunami and wiping our present out.

Check out Becca the Labrarians discounts and free books, updated every day with good deals she sniffs out!

70 Years Ago Today: When The United States Showed Our Heart

Given recent events, it is worthwhile to remember that on this day in 1948, we began one of the greatest humanitarian efforts in world history. Yes, there were geopolitical underpinnings to it, but having studied and research this event, there is no denying the unbelievably immense outpouring of effort, sacrifice and heart in the Berlin Airlift.

This effort had repercussions we feel to this day. If West Berlin had succumbed, there would be no unified Germany today. The Soviet Union might well still exist.

But it’s the people who made the different. The US and British pilots, aircrews, maintenance and logistics people who poured everything they had into keeping people in West Berlin alive.

After the Soviets blockaded West Berlin by land, the only way in was by several narrow air corridors. The airlift started slowly but then became an amazing feat of systems engineering that also affects air travel today. Many practices were invented that we still use.

The iconic photo of the children watching the plane come in low resonates. There were the “candy bombers” who dropped candy to those children as they came in. But as those who’ve been to Berlin know, many of these flights were made in horrible weather.

By the end, the US Air Force had delivered 1,783,573 tons of supplies and the RAF 541,937. Most of it was coal—Berlin winters are brutal. Over a quarter million flights were made. At its peak a plane was landing every 30 seconds.

17 US and 8 British aircraft crashed. 40 British and 31 Americans gave their lives in this effort. There is no greater honor than to sacrifice one’s life for others. And they did this for former enemies.

I believe the airlift shows us what we are capable of and what we should strive to return to. A decency and compassion for others that seems to be lacking today.

WE ARE BETTER THAN WHAT WE ARE NOW.

74 Years Ago Today: The Day of Days—and let us remember Exercise Tiger

6 June 1944 saw the greatest invasion in the history mankind. While war is horrible, on that day, the Allies invaded against a force that was supporting evil.

Any military strategist will tell you that a beach invasion is the most difficult military maneuver to conduct. The Marines perfected it in the Pacific Theater during World War II, but the Normandy Invasion was primarily an Army endeavor supported by the Navy and the Army Air Corps (there was no Air Force yet) along with the allies, particularly the British and Canadians.

A little known fact is that during the preparation for Operation Overlord, one of the rehearsals went horribly wrong. During a practice landing in England, German E-Boats attacked units preparing for their assault on Utah Beach at Slapton Sands, Devon.

Not only did enemy fire play a role, but a mistake in timing resulted in friendly fire losses from beach bombardment. Mistakes in communication also resulted in the lack of an escort ship being on duty to protect them and allowed the E-Boat attack to occur.

The final tally from this training exercise was 551 Army and 198 US Navy deaths.

Because of the secrecy required for the invasion, these losses were kept secret. To this day what happened isn’t entirely in the open. But one thing is clear: these men did not die in vain. It was what I call a Blood Lesson. These are things we learn from disasters and then we change what we are doing in order to prevent them from happening again. 3 specific things were instituted: radio frequencies standardized (we ran into this and learned the same bitter lesson again during the Grenada Invasion), life vest training was improved, and small craft were put on standby to rescue floating survivors on D-Day. So these deaths saved lives.

Today, 6 June, Becca the Labrarian is offering D-Day (Time Patrol) for free. Mac’s mission in this book is to parachute in the night before D-Day and make sure French Resistance fighters destroy a key rail bridge to keep Panzer reinforcements from attacking the beachhead. However, it does not go as planned—time patrol missions never do. I think it’s one of the best written missions in the Time Patrol series.

For those who love to read, Becca the Labrarian has begun posting discounted ebooks every day on this page. Her tastes are eclectic, being a dog and all, but they are all either free or highly discounted.

Let’s take a moment today to remember those who went before and gave all in a noble cause.

 

 

 

 

Torpedo Squadron 8 and the Sacrifice that helped win the Battle of Midway

For want of a nail is a classic proverb in the military. The opposite is also true though. Sometimes what appears to be needless and futile sacrifice can turn out to have huge ramifications and win a battle, even though who sacrifice themselves will never know.

That is the story of Torpedo Squadron 8.

The Battle of Midway in 1942 is accepted as the turning point of the war in the Pacific. Over the course of two days of battle between the American and Japanese navy’s, conducted almost entirely by air, the Japanese suffered a resounding defeat losing four of its main carriers.

A prominent naval historian has called the battle the “most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare.”

Credit must be given to the cryptographers who broke the Japanese code, but I always focus on one unit when I think of this battle: Torpedo Squadron 8.

Because the launch of American planes was uneven at a critical point in the battle, the American squadrons that did find and attack the Japanese aircraft carriers did so piecemeal rather than in a coordinated attack as per doctrine. Nevertheless, without fighter cover, the 15 planes in Torpedo Squadron VT-8 (along with VT-6 and VT-3) attacked. It was, essentially, a suicide run given the lack of fighter coverage.

The Japanese fighters protecting their fleet made short work of the unaccompanied American torpedo planes as they flew straight in at low level to launch their torpedoes, making them easy targets. Nevertheless, the Navy pilots did it. All 15 planes of VT-8 were shot down and only one man survived, Ensign Gay. VT-6 lost 10 of 14 planes and VT-3 lost 10 of 12 planes.

Ensign Gay (on the right in the picture) ended up in the water near the Japanese carriers. And got to see what real effect the sacrifice of his comrades had wrought. Because the Japanese fighters were now all at sea level, were scattered, and had expended most of their ammunition and fuel on the torpedo planes, there was no protection at altitude for the Japanese carriers. The Japanese were completely exposed.

While all three torpedo squadrons were destroyed, the three dive bomber squadrons arrived at the perfect time. VB-6, VS-6 and VB-3 attacked and sank three of the four Japanese carriers, effectively winning the battle.

We must also remember those on the Yorktown, the one carrier (on the left) the US lost at that battle.

Those who sacrificed themselves in what was, by itself, a vain and suicidal attack, will never know that their sacrifice led the way to ultimate victory in the Pacific.

Biking Oak Ridge and Thinking About History

On Sundays I tend to go up to Oak Ridge and bike the north perimeter park. Nice gravel roads and some good hill work.

When I bike along this road which was part of the northern boundary of the massive reservation (it’s still huge–  it covers a lot of ground) I think about the MPs who drove along it, keeping the place secure. And having no idea what they were guarding while World War II raged.

Then I pass one of the old family cemeteries that predated the facility. And I see ruins like this– stone stairs leading to a house that is no longer there. Generations lived in those hills. They had scant weeks to get out. But I think of the people who went up and down these stairs and what their hopes and dreams and fears were, and it makes life seem rather important.

Just some Sunday thoughts.

The Americans Wraps Up– thoughts on the finale

The Americans has consistently been one of the smartest and innovative series for the past few years. The very concept of telling a story from the ‘enemy’ point of view, historically, where we know what will inevitably happen in the big picture, was daring.

The character studies were intriguing. Right away there is inherent conflict in Russian spies being an American family.

Given my limited background in covert operations, I felt the plots were very realistic. Also, those who have studied the history of the time or lived through it, can see how it resonates (read James Clapper’s new book—excellent coverage of the last 50 years of covert ops).

The season finale last year was one of the most blah finales I’ve ever seen. No cliffhanger. Just—ended.

This season has been brutal with a high body count, including an axe dismemberment.

Last night we watched the finale and there were a lot of ways it could have gone. I felt that Philip and especially Elizabeth were unredeemable. That’s always ominous. And they had children.

There have been several series with ‘bad’ protagonists. Breaking Bad, naturally comes to mind. The difference there, though, was that Walter White really didn’t care about his family. Neither did Tony Soprano. They paid lip service to it, but ultimately we knew they didn’t give a shit. Philip and Elizabeth not only cared about their children, they cared about each other.

That complicates things.

Then through in Stan, the FBI agent who moves in across the street. As each says when they confront each other in the last episode: “you were my best friend.” That scene in the parking garage was intense—because Philip was both lying to manipulate, which is a main theme of The Americans, but also telling the truth. And isn’t that the hardest thing to bear? The truth wrapped in lies?

Move forward. I didn’t agree with them calling their son. How is he going to remember his last conversation with his parents: “I’ve got a ping-pong game”?

The train scene was intense. I didn’t expect what Paige did, but it makes sense given her arc. She’d already done the religion thing, then turned on it. She couldn’t turn on another core believe system she’d assumed. I expected Philip to get off the train, leaving Elizabeth to travel to ‘safety’ on her own. Which brings up a concern. As Elizabeth said: “I killed a KGB agent.” What “welcome” could they really expect in Russia?

The last couple of minutes really turned me off initially. The two of them standing, talking. I just didn’t feel it. But my wife and I talked about it. She had the same initial feeling. Blah. Who cares? What does this resolve?

But that last question is key. It really didn’t resolve anything. Because you can’t. They were caught in something bigger than themselves. They were broken people who were shaped into something even more broken. How can we expect a resolution to that?

I think the series ended as best it could for a series about a broken system and broken people. There is no nice, neat wrap up.

I do feel for Oleg though. He really tried to do the right thing. His father’s reaction when told of his imprisonment in the park was heart-rending.

And poor Stan. He’s got to figure out about Renee. There’s no doubt given the look on her face in her last scene that she is who Philip and Elizabeth feared she was.

If you haven’t watched The Americans, while there have been spoilers above, they won’t make much sense. If you need a great series to binge, this is it.

Cool Gus gives it four paws up and a belly rub.

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