Praetorium Honoris

Sunday, June 23, 2024

The President

The aide entered the Oval Office and paused, the Secretary of Agriculture stopped talking as those few members of the Cabinet actually in attendance saw the man enter. The President looked up and gestured for the aide to come over.

The aide leaned over and whispered in the President's ear, "Sir, your detail says you need to leave now. Marine One is inbound, they are very worried, Sir."

The President looked annoyed, he was already angered that only six members of his Cabinet were actually present. Treasury, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Energy were all represented, the Attorney General was also present. The Vice President was out of town and the other members were conspicuous by their absence. The country was in crisis and most of the President's advisors were apparently out of town or otherwise unavailable.

"I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but we need to adjourn at this time. Apparently there is a viable threat to me personally and the Secret Service insists I leave. I recommend that you all go to your designated safe locations and await further word from me."

The people in the room all turned to see the big Marine helicopter setting down on the South Lawn, they also noticed that there were three helicopters, not just one.

Treasury asked, "Sir, what is going on?" But he was talking to the President's back as his detail rushed him out of the room.

"What the hell is going on?" the President barked at his Chief of Staff.

"Sir, we've been told that the Vice President and the Speaker of the House have both been assassinated. The SecDef called in and reported that a coup d'état was happening and that he no longer had control over the U.S. military."

"That's ... that's preposterous. Is Burleson over at the Pentagon?"

"No Sir, he's at Site R."

"Where the hell is that?" the President was rattled and confused, things were not happening as smoothly as his staff had assured him they would.

"It's up in Pennsylvania, Sir. It's also called Raven Rock, it's a nuclear proof bunker under a mountain, you've been briefed ..."

"Where are we headed now?" the President wondered where his wife was, he wished he could talk to her.

"We're taking you to Andrews, Sir. We need to get you airborne on the NAOC.¹ Apparently all the roadways in and out of the District have roadblocks on them."

"Who, who would do that? Armed gangs? Is it the Mexican cartels?"

"No Sir, the Army and the Marine Corps have shut down the city. It's our own people."

Major Alicia "Tusker" Taylor, United States Air Force was leading a two ship of F-22 Raptors out of Langley AFB, Virginia. They had launched not thirty minutes ago and were patrolling the skies over the capital of the United States. There were a lot of clouds, but visibility wasn't that bad. The thing which had worried her was the fact that they had launched armed with live ordnance. AMRAAMs², Sidewinders³, and a full load of 20 mm for the internal gun.

All the Command Post could tell them was that a coup was in progress, fighting had broken out in northern Maryland and certain Army and Marine units were attempting to seize control of Washington DC. Their job was to keep the skies over the District clear. Other units were being called in to deal with the rebel forces.

Those words struck home, "rebel forces," American units attempting to seize control of the government. Her great-great-great-grandfather had been an aide to Robert E. Lee during the War Between the States. as her maternal grandmother called it. Her paternal grandfather always had called it the War of Northern Aggression. One did not use the term "rebel" lightly in the Taylor household when she was growing up.

But she had gone west, to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, she considered herself an American through and through. But now it seemed the country was about to tear itself apart again. Her wingman, First Lieutenant Charlie "Buck" Owens had remarked after the briefing that morning, "Damn, who's gonna Fort Sumter who this time?"

But to her, this wasn't about state versus state, it almost seemed like the Federal Government was trying to dominate Maryland and her own home, Virginia. Violent incidents in DC, Virginia, and Maryland had occurred, blood had been spilled, but so far it had been limited.

As she scanned the skies around her, with the occasional glimpse at her instrument panel, she put those thoughts aside. Did the rebels have air assets? If not, why were they turning JP-8 into noise?

"Accura Niner-One, Biker Control."

"Biker Control, Accura Niner-One."

"Bogeys ten miles from your position, bearing 310. Investigate."

"Two-Five, Copy."

Colonel James Mackay's headphones came alive with a panicked message from ground control, "Marine One, bogeys inbound, five miles out at bearing zero-four-fife, bogeys are helos, type and intent unknown, recommend evasive action!"

Mackay barked over the intercom, "Everybody hold on tight, bad guys inbound!" then threw the big helicopter into a diving right hand turn. He was headed for the trees along Canal Road NW. (He had thought to head to Andrews in a roundabout way, now he was doubting the wisdom of that.) His co-pilot, Major Thomas Williamson was on the radio with the rest of the flight of three helicopters, Marine One and two decoys, all from HMX-1.

Ground control called again, "Fast movers, ten miles out, bearing one-eight-zero, altitude 10,000 feet and descending."

"Jesus Boss, helos and jets, who the hell is up here with us?"

As Mackay concentrated on flying the bird, jinking up and down, dipping down below treetop level at times, he managed to say, "The helos, I have no idea, but the fast movers have to be out of Langley."

"Damn it Colonel, what the hell is going on up there." Mackay recognized the voice of the head of the President's Secret Service detail.

"We've got bogeys inbound, helos down low, jets up high. I'm trying to stay low enough where we can't be picked up on radar and will be tough to spot visually."

"With that big f**king white paint job up top?" Williamson pointed out.

"Yeah, that presents a problem. Hold on."

Marine One abruptly pulled up, then rolled to the left, putting the big helicopter mere feet over the Potomac River. Mackay could hear vomiting from aft, damn it, better a soiled suit then the leader of the Free World smeared all over the landscape.

The three Zulu Cobras out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point had been in Maryland, conducting operations with local Marine Reserve units. When the Maryland Guard units had been federalized, said order being countermanded by the Governor of Maryland, the leader of the detachment, Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Ramirez had been presented with a dilemma.

"Look Colonel, the Governor has ordered us to defy Washington, you guys are regulars, you gonna have a problem with that?" a Guard Colonel had asked them, the implication being that the Marines would be detained if they didn't cooperate.

Ramirez, to buy time, had said no. Now things were heating up, Marine and Guard units were allegedly sealing off Washington from the rest of the country. He found himself in the middle of a rebellion and didn't know whose side he was on, nor whose side he should be on.

Eventually he had been convinced to side with the state of Maryland. "You know they can f**kin' hang us for this shit, right?" He'd said to his Gunny.

Gunnery Sergeant Hank Bascom had simply shaken his head, "Hell, Sir, do you wanna live forever?"

"Nope, but I ain't keen on dying in the next few days either."

"Accura Niner-One, Biker Control."

"Biker Control, Niner-One, go ahead."

"Intel has three Marine helos flying low up the Potomac, HMX-1 livery, turn them around."

"Turn them around?"


Taylor shook her head, how was she supposed to herd three helicopters back to DC?



"Head northwest, we're hunting helos from HMX-1, we're supposed to turn them back to where they came from."

"Tusker, that's the squadron that carries the President around."

"No shit, Buck."

Down low, she thought she saw something about two miles to her northwest. She recognized the Potomac, then she saw the white tops of three helicopters.

"I've got 'em, my eleven o'clock, they're hugging the river."

"Roger, I see 'em, Tusker."

"Watch my six, I'm going to make a high speed pass to their left, then turn in front of them, shake them up, try and raise them on the radio, though I don't think we can."

"Contact 'em on Guard?"

"Good idea. Here we go."

¹ National Airborne Operations Center.
² The AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile.
³ The AIM-9 heat seeking air-to-air missile.
⁴  According to this site, "Accura" is one of callsigns used by the 94th Fighter Squadron out of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA. The squadron flies the F-22 Raptor. Biker Control would be used by the the 1st Fighter Wing Controllers. (Biker is one callsign used by the 1st FW).
⁵ A special frequency reserved for emergency communications.


  1. Oh man things are spicy Sarge. Reading this post chased the sleep from the eyes this morning........... :)

  2. More jolt that my coffee Sarg. A lot of ugly choices ahead.

    Excellent reading, if a bit disturbing.

    1. Things are coming to a head.

      We'll see who loses theirs.

    2. "...coming to a head."
      sure are - like an open comedo - can't use the more popular term any more

  3. Information? Misinformation? Disinformation? Muse has given us a fine kettle of scrambled stew for our morning fare. Is the threat to POTUS real? Did those assassinations happen? Another Ramirez? Are they related? Are they on opposite sides? Why did Bobby Joe jump off that bridge?

    1. In life there are more questions than answers. At least in my life!

  4. Nobody headed to Mt. Weather?

  5. And just when I had thought I had a handle on things, I am thrown back into the breach. Well written Sarge!

  6. I have no idea what is going on out that whatever it is looks really bad.

  7. Engrossing.
    "Turning JP-5 into noise" has been around for a while. I thought the USAF switched to JP-8, while USN carriers still use JP-5 which has a higher flash point, or maybe they use JP-8 too. A minor nit, but more a curiosity question than quibble on a great story.
    John Blackshoe

    1. Right you are, fixed that.

      My world still uses JP-4, man, I am old ...

  8. Excellent, Sarge! You've got me on the edge of my seat!

  9. Crusty Old TV Tech here. "The War of Northern Agression", yep, heard that from my great-aunts, along with "The Recent Unpleasantness". It was still a bit of a touchy subject even in the 1960's. You have warmed the overmodulated cockles of the old Ground Radio comm weenie heart with the correct use of ICAO phonetics. "Fife" vice "fiyuv", yep! Sarge from Ground Radio school at Keesler is smiling from wherever he is now.

    1. Seriously, I learned that from the Navy.

    2. The War of Northern Aggression took place at the same time as the War of Southern Arrogance, didn't it?

  10. Not seeing it. The heads of the services are designed and hired as political eunuchs. They’re more worried about DEI compliance and ensuring every transgender is happy than doing this. We’re in a bad place militarily. Morale seems to be mirroring 1978-1980 ish.

    1. Well, you might be right about that, but this story is not set in the here and now, rather it's in some indeterminate future.

      I think you're also overstating the problem, though not by much.

  11. Given the size of Marine rotary wing aviation, anyone taking bets that LTCol Ramirez and COL Macay know each other personally? A non-standard call on Guard resulting in an audible on the field to change plans?



Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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