Thursday, May 30, 2024

Gone Fishing, Trouble Brews ...

U.S. service members participate with allies and partners from multiple nations in exercises throughout West Virginia, May and June 2023
Photo by Staff Sgt. Jake SeaWolf/U.S. National Guard
Wilt Thompson met up with Leroy Beardsley in the parking lot of the Walmart in Frederick, Maryland.



The men fist bumped then Thompson asked, "Where's Willy?"

Beardsley nodded towards the store, "He's inside, had a few things he wanted to pick up."

Thompson looked concerned, "He's using cash, right?"

Beardsley shook his head, "Come on boss, you know Willy's no fool."

"Can't be too careful these days."

As Thompson looked towards the entrance to the store, he saw Batchelor coming out. He turned to Beardsley, "You guys came in separate vehicles, right?"

Beardsley nodded, "Yeah, reminds me, I gotta gas up."

"I want to head out separately, can't be too careful. Did you know that the Maryland State Police killed Morgan and have Rossi in custody?"

"Damn. Probably for the better, Morgan was an asshole and I don't care much for Rossi."

Thompson grinned, "This isn't one of those Army-Navy things is it?"

"Nah, but do we need to worry about Rossi spilling his guts?"

"Nope, he only knows what we want him to know."

Batchelor joined the two men after stowing his purchases in his pickup truck. "Wilt, we ready to head out?"

Thompson nodded towards Batchelor's truck, "What did you buy?"

"Junk food, you know I can't go more than a day or two without chips and stuff."

"Enough for everybody?" Beardsley asked, smiling as he did so.

Batchelor shook his head, "Uh uh, no way I could afford enough pogey bait¹ for your fat ass."

The three men all laughed. Thompson got in his truck and said, "See you guys in a few hours."

"I've cleared your calendar for the next five days, Mr. Secretary."

"Thanks, Nancy. I'm looking forward to a few days in the wilderness." Secretary of the Interior John Nakagawa grinned at his administrative assistant as he picked up his briefcase.

"Where are you headed. Sir?"

"Way out in western Maryland, Green Ridge State Park. I haven't been camping in years, not since my wife died." His face darkened when he said that, but he recovered quickly. Someone from Japan would have noticed the brief emotion on his face, but Nancy Winkler did not.

"Well, enjoy! If we need you ..."

"Yes, boss, I'll have my cell with me."

Winkler laughed as the Secretary departed. She phoned down to the garage and asked for Bill Aspinall, the head of the Secretary's security team. It bothered her that such a thing was necessary in this day and age. Her mother had recently commented, "Well, when I was a girl, only the President and Vice President needed protection. Most people didn't even know, or care, who the Cabinet members were."

"Aspinall here."

"Mr. Aspinall, Nancy Winkler. You're not going to let the Secretary waltz out of town on his own are you?"

"No Ma'am, I'm going with him and we'll have a team follow us to the Secretary's destination. We won't leave him alone, but it will be a lot less intrusive than normal."

As Winkler hung up, she felt a little better. The Secretary would be protected and, better yet, he got along well with Aspinall.

She'd sleep better knowing that.

"You know where we're going, right Bill?" The Secretary was relaxed, he was glad he'd acceded to his security detail chief's offer to drive. He could now relax on the nearly two hour drive from his home in Bethesda. The big government issued Chevy Suburban was more comfortable than his own SUV, a small Honda CRV, and he could take more camping equipment. The tent alone took up a lot of room.

"Yes, Mr. Secretary, I've got it programmed into the car's navigation system. Along the way we can stop and get some food, I know a place that sells really nice camping packages, including a much better version of the MRE."

"Nice, and while we're on this trip, call me John."

"But Mr. Secretary ..."

"That's an order, Bill. Last one I'll give you until we get back to DC."

Aspinall smiled, "Alright, John. Relax and enjoy!"

The small group saw the big black Suburban go by and radioed ahead. "The Secretary is on his way, as planned."

The group moved into the open, the fog was setting in. Though it was supposed to be a nice weekend, fog and rain were predicted for Friday evening into the small hours of Saturday.

"All right boys, let's head back and get set up. Ted, Jeff, you have those Maryland DOT outfits and equipment?"

Ted McAndrews answered, "Yep, we'll have this road closed in a jiffy. No one else will be getting off at this exit tonight."

As the men began to move, another Suburban took Exit 62, the men slipping back into the trees didn't notice it, they were focused on their next task.

"Larry, better radio the boss. I coulda swore I saw armed men up in those trees, just above the exit." The Suburban's driver, Alexander "Hoss" Winthrop seldom missed a thing.

The team chief, Larry Sellers, nodded and said, "I think the West Virginia National Guard is out here this weekend. Maybe working with the Maryland Guard. But I'll let Mr. Aspinall know."

"Better safe than sorry." Winthrop said.

"Yeah, yeah, and I've never seen your eyes fail, even in this soup."

For the fog was getting thicker and it was starting to rain. Winthrop was worried about falling too far behind the Secretary's vehicle.

"Okay, boss said he'll slow down a bit, it's still clear about a mile ahead of us. Heck, they should be at the campsite soon."

Sellers thought a moment then radioed his boss back, "Red Sun One, this is Two, recommend bypassing the Campsite 2 and proceed to Campsite 3."

When he heard, "Copy," from the other end, he breathed a little easier.

Then he got on the radio again, this time to his parent organization's headquarters in Annandale. He murmured a quiet "Shit," then signed off.

"Problem, boss?" Winthrop asked.

"I asked for a chopper, nothing available until the morning, this area is going to be completely fogged in until around first light tomorrow." Then he looked at the other two members of the team.

"You fellows ready to take a hike?"

Woodrow Gaither nodded as he looked at his spotter, Kyle MacLauchlan, "Kyle?"

"Let's do this." MacLauchlan muttered, he was perhaps too ready.

Sellers continued as he looked at his map, "We'll drop you off just up ahead. Those guys Alex saw are back there somewhere. Sneak on back and check them out."

Gaither just said, "Roger that," as the big Chevy rolled to a stop. Fifteen minutes to gear up and the former SEAL sniper and his former Army Ranger spotter vanished into the woods.

Sellers slapped Winthrop on the shoulder, "Let's drive." He was still puzzled as to how his company, a private security firm, could afford to assign two of their five scout/sniper teams to the Secretary of the Interior's weekend fishing trip.

Sellers looked at his scout, "What are you grinning about?"

"You Army guys and 'choppers,' come on boss, everyone knows they're called 'helos.'"

Sellers a former 11-Bravo² grimaced at his scout, a Marine 0317³. "Chopper, helo, whirly-bird, I hope I never have to fly on another one."

Winthrop laughed, "Copy that, boss."

¹ Junk food, candy bars, ice cream etc.
² Army Military Occupational Specialty code for an infantryman.
³ The MOS for scout snipers in the United States Marine Corps is 0317. This MOS changed to 0322 in December of 2023 and people with that MOS are now referred to as reconnaissance snipers.


  1. The Games afoot! A Cabinet Secretary no less, my thanks to your Muse Sarge....... :)

  2. Details matter, missing the escort vehicle was sloppy work. Being spotted is likely given the mixed level of training your ex-mils and civvies have.

    The soup thickens and maybe becomes a stew. Nice writing, sir.

    1. Those guys setting up the roadblock/DOT closed road, yup, rank amateurs. Details really matter.

      Thanks, Michael.

  3. Yikes! This sounds like it's going sideways quickly. I wonder who provided the rebels the intel on the Secretary's movements. Hmmm. Inside job much?

    1. If you think about it long enough, the answer will come.

  4. I've used the term "pogey bait" for years, it's always translated to "junk food" in my head and I never wondered what a "pogey bait" was, so I looked it up. The first answer was that it's bait used to attract children.. The second thing I saw was Wikipedia.

    1. The term has been around for a while, I only believed about half of what Wikipedia said about it.

    2. Since at least WWII; so the people who use it as "POG; person other than grunt" are off by more than a generation.

    3. Dad complained Mom was making pogie bait, she said he didn't have to eat Christmas treats if he didn't want to. Early 1960's.

  5. Sarge, you write a mean матрёшка (matryoshka). With every new name I'm thinking, "Who does he work for? And who do THEY think he really works for? And does he really work for an entity not yet introduced?" Very Stockdale-ish.

    Bravo Zulu -"thousands of them."

    1. I like to mix it up, though I need to remember that at some point in time, I'm the one who has to clean it up!

    2. LOL! I had thought of trying to put together a list of characters, as is done with plays, but decided against it because of the multiple entries I would need for so many of them.

  6. I am probably crossing my signals now: I am thinking this is a second Secretary from the one we heard about/from earlier..

    If this is truly a government at war with itself, then whatever the larger role of it on the national and international stage, it is well on its way to becoming irrelevant.

    1. No, same one.

      There are elements in the government at odds with each other in the story. Without giving anything away, one has decided to turn to violence, we're just not sure at what level this occurred. Lower level rogue operators or was it commanded by someone higher up, and why? That remains to be seen.

  7. "Oh, what a tangled web we weave..."
    more like a fine Navajo rug

  8. I feel sorry for the security detail.
    It is always uphill battle when oppositions can chose at will where, when and with what weapons to strike.
    Even more sorry knowing they are good veterans...

    1. The insurgents can choose the time and place, but sometimes they don't have the means/training to be effective.

    2. While I've worked with killer teams in the sandbox (medical support) and respect them. They often walk into a situation not well suited for their long-range expertise. That's why they were often inserted as part of an infantry unit. To provide THEM security to do their "thing". Local hunters are NOT to be underestimated especially in rainy weather (the great equalizer, almost like Russia's General Winter). A Bump encounter can be messy for both sides, and one has more numbers to adsorb the casualties.

    3. And the fog and rain will certainly limit the scout/sniper teams' effectiveness, any encounter will be at close range.

  9. Psst- forgot to post update for this one on MeWe.....

    1. Damn it, I thought I did that this morning. It's part of my routine, damned thing didn't take.

      I'll do that now!

  10. AF Sarg, something you might have already read. What stage of collapse would your story be at?

    Dimetry Orlov has lived through the collapse of the old Soviet Union and as now an American Engineer sees a lot of the same story here.

    1. We're not even in Stage One yet. But frighteningly close.

      Comparing apples and oranges though, the United States is far more resilient than Soviet Russia ever was.

    2. At one time I might have agreed with you. Russia continues to show great resilience over and over again. They were reborn, again with a sense of national identity and THEY HAVE A BOARDER.

    3. I meant the government, not the people.

      The Russians have one great quality, they endure.

    4. A Machiavellian gang in the process of robbing the treasury and backstabbing each other has resilience?

      I seem to remember "We THE People of the United States of America..."

      Not we the Blob of the district of criminals.

      Do we have enough national identity and the Russian style endurance to restore anything after the blob burns it down?

      All empires have a life cycle.

    5. Historian and a medic that did time in Bosnian civil war.

    6. LOL, most of my friends think of me as too cheerful when working EMS/OR. Whistle while I work and such. They know I'm serious when I stop whistling.

      No friend, I've seen in too many places (including missionary work in Africa and South America) just how fast things go from "Just Fine" to awe-shit. And as a curious-chatty soul I talk to locals and a very common theme when it goes awe-shit is "How did this happen". A few weeks later folks realize the signs were there, sometimes for months.

      I used to think that sudden change stuff was from non-European 3rd world countries, until Bosnia. The common theme I've noticed is when folks go from friendly neighbors to US and THEM. I see way too much of that in our daily propaganda ERRR News.

      I don't forget how I refused the untested COVID shot and was dismissed for a year before they discovered they needed me, even part time. I don't forget that plenty of our "Social Betters" called for the Non-vaxxed to be refused employment, access to grocery stores, medical services and worse.

      I see in the hyper partisan Trump Star Chamber MSN gloating even more calls for reeducation of Trumpists.

      I see Bosnia Us and them unfolding in real time, plus the well know debt issues of over an additional trillion every 100 days as reported by Barrons, WallStreet Journal and MSN.

      But I know this isn't my final home. John 14:2-3.

      I love history but am unsure if I'm enjoying living such changes so fast day to day.

      Sorry for unloading. Your story is part and parcel of how Bosnia kicked off.

    7. Bosnia was a mess, an unbelievable mess, but it was quite a few centuries of strife and religious hatred coming home to roost. What you are talking about, what you are seeing, might be the case in some urban areas. I'm not seeing it in my world, not even close.

  11. The snowball rolling downhill is picking up speed.

    1. Something is going to happen soon, or so the Muse tells me. 😉

  12. I followed the link and there actually is a Juvie hall there! Nice touch.


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