There's many ways to slay a warrior. Ride with the Valkyire across the skies of Europe.
|The Back Story;
What I know of this I learned as part of my after-action review three weeks after the events. As in Asgardareia, the debriefing included recorded news broadcasts from a variety of sources, as labeled. This is a tribute to my cousin ‘Air Dave’ who on that day earned the U.S. Air Force’s Distinguished Flying Cross for having a set of big brass ones. He’s a quiet unassuming man that carries himself with an air of élan that can be described as a classical British charm. I know these events play with his soul, as they do mine. As always, don’t let this monstrous travesty happen to you, and if you can’t get out of it, go Air Dave. Anecdotally, his wife dresses him funny.
21 May 1988, Point Zulu, DMZ Europe, south by southeast of Berlin (distance unknown);
Earlier that day John W. Stone was a Spec.4/E4p, now he was Acting Captain as the four lieutenants and Capt. Bianca had already been killed. The senior NCO’s were wounded, missing or dead. Earlier that day he was one of five hundred. Now he’s one of about two hundred, with sixty of those behind him. Earlier that day he was one man of a cross border raiding party into East Germany. This wasn’t his first combat run, however at this time of day he was still alive and that surprised him.
This combat run scared him. It was the first time he had to face his own mortality head on. See, John Stone was injured bad enough, that two medics, now dead themselves told him he had about twenty-minutes. He knew he was living on borrowed time. He wanted to run away and fade into the countryside and eventually turn up in his home unit and play it stupid. He couldn’t.
Behind him was total fear. As if the Soviets and East Germans before him wasn’t scary enough, behind him, on the other end of his radio was Animal Mother, his cousin who was too pregnant to run. That’s why he was on his side of the DMZ bleeding to death internally. He told himself all the more for sport. He couldn’t leave anyhow; Animal Mother was several hundred yards behind him and is too pregnant to run. So, there he was, being told by somebody that they didn’t have a B-52 as they didn’t think they’d need it. He had already disgusted himself with helicopters on a strafing run, and really hated on himself after two F-4’s delivered napalm and willie peter. They even had artillery support which was used until exhaustion. After seeing all that, John Stone wanted to die just to make it stop.
Russians…They don’t duck and cover they run at you faster. The other side wasn’t quitting. As for the East German’s they’re rabid animals that don’t know any better.
If Animal Mother wasn’t there, he would’ve run off like a sensible reasonable man. Instead the conversation went like this. The request had been denied and the Animal broke in saying it was already on the way. The man, whoever he was, forgot to release the Vox switch on his mic. She anticipated the command, switched to a secondary frequency and called it in herself.
See, the B-52 was moved to England on the sly. Being in communications, she was privy to things the leadership on the ground wasn’t. She was also aware that her brother Air Dave was flying on a Stratotanker out of Sicily that day.
John Stone didn’t know that. What he did know is that his request was granted and ordered to hold the line no matter what.
Somewhere over the Northern Mediterranean;
The Pilot and the Co-Pilot compared the alpha-numeric sequence to each other’s code cards and confirmed the alarm cryptograph. A cold chill blew through the forced convivial banter for the AFN cameraman. Air Dave wondered if that’s why Combat Camera was there.
Once the code was confirmed as authentic the Co-Pilot sent a confirmation alpha-numeric sequence and seconds later another code received. At that point the Pilot left his seat and carefully accessed the cockpit’s nested safe and pulled out their mission briefing from a series of sealed packets. Once read, they set course for the English Channel on a re-fueling mission.
“Okay let me get this straight,” Base Commander sputtered. “You mean to tell me I have another five hundred meters of runway and you don’t know who authorized it?”
“No,” Executive Officer sheepishly admitted. “Internal investigations can tell me the authorizations came from the Pentagon but nobody knows who signed off on it…We have no idea why you weren’t informed.”
The Base Commander sat back fuming. In his office sat his X.O. and an officer from Air Force Intelligence. His office. He looked over at the Intelligence Officer and looked through him for a moment. He then asked about the airplane. It took him a minute to digest the answer before he with great restraint questioned that.
“You mean to tell me your people have no idea how an unmarked B-52 was moved from Minot…That’s in North Dakoda, I can show you that on a map! To here? You have no idea how I got a fully armed B-52 and that puppy has The Bomb on it! Two of them! You have no idea how The Bomb got here?”
“Sir the only thing I am authorized to tell you is something is going on…” the Intelligence Officer lowly and with equal measure replied. “This is within regulations.”
“Don’t talk to me like I’m stupid son…I’ve been in the Air Force thirty years and I have the right to know why I have The Bomb in a hangar!” he shouted while pointing his finger at the Intelligence Officer.
“Are you threatening me?” the Intelligence Officer replied sternly.
“What if I am? I want to know why I have an unmarked B-52 on my post! What regulations? I’ll get a lawyer in here in a hot minute!” Base Commander barked while repeatedly thrusting an angry finger at the Intelligence Officer.
“Threatening me would be a bad idea…” Intelligence Officer lowly growled while leaning forward.
“Since when is it a threat to demand to know why an Air Base Commander has THE BOMB in his hangar!” Base Commander yelled while opening a desk drawer.
Inside the drawer is a large caliber, large frame nickel-plated revolver.
“Easy! Gentlemen! Gentlemen!” Executive Officer exploded. He knew what was in the drawer and knew his Base Commander was more than capable of using his firearm. “This won’t get us anywhere!”
“Bob, shut up,” the Base Commander replied as he reached into his drawer. “I had this pinhead pegged from the get go…”
“Pinhead?” the Intelligence Officer questioned as he leaned forward. “Which do you value more? Your career or your life?”
“Whoa!” the executive shouted. He got out of his chair and got between both, “Back up there…He’s just really angry…Trust me you want to back away…”
A knock came to the door. Once given permission an airman of the female persuasion entered and handed Base Commander a piece of paper from ‘Combat Communications’. The Base Commander read it, gave it to Intelligence Officer who read it and he gave it to Executive Officer.
“The base is now on lock-down. Get dependents on post ASAP…Let’s get over to Combat Operations and launch this B-52 which I don’t have…” the Base Commander ordered. He then stared at the Intelligence Officer, “When this is over…And assuming we’re still here… We have unfinished business…”
They then left the office. Moments later the Executive returned and unloaded the revolver. Seconds after he left, the Base Commander returned walked into a closet and returned with his pistol belt and holster. He strapped it on, took his revolver from the drawer and loaded it. He then rushed off with a grin on his face.
BBC News Service London;
“Well my Jeanie is an American and being in their Air Force she makes more than I could so I stay at home with Junior…” a chubby British man smiled. He stood outside Mildenhall being interviewed by the BBC. “We figured this was just a drill so I’ll be taking our son to school and then taking care of the domestics…”
“So, did your wife say anything about the rumored Ghost Flight…The B-52 the Yanks are supposed to have?” the blonde news reporter asked and then shoved a microphone into his face.
“Rumors like that go around all the time,” he shrugged with a smile. “I think it’s just a drill...You know with the Soviets rattling their sabers…”
At that point three F-15 Eagles blasted overhead only a few hundred meters above asphalt. Then, seconds later the B-52 flew over their heads with a smaller chase plane in the rear. The windows on the houses rattled, the cars leaving the base stopped, their occupants getting out and looking up.
“Instead of going to school today,” the man told his son. “Let’s spend the day at grandma’s…”
“Well it definitely looks like it wasn’t a rumor…” the BBC reporter muttered.
Over the English Channel;
Air Dave’s tanker carefully docked with another Stratotanker and re-fueled themselves. They had just topped off the ghost B-52 that was orbiting to the north. The camera showed three fighters and a smaller chase plane re-fueling off the wing drogues.
The Flight Engineer asked if anybody wanted anything, he was going into the gas station for a frosty-freeze.
Voice of America, France;
“I’m Maria Thibodaux for Voice of America… Here we are in the countryside of Routot, rumored to be in the flight path of what is becoming called The Ghost Flight. The BBC reported it’s departure from England earlier today though VOA can’t confirm it…” the conservatively dressed dark hair woman spoke. They stood in a field alongside of a road.
The camera panned toward the road and recorded a singular yellow car cruising along. It then stalled out and drifted off to the side. Seconds later the Stratotanker flew overhead, the back wash rocking the car, and then the B-52 with its escorts. Their backwash pushed the car into a roadside ditch and then the four occupants, cursing exited the vehicle and pushed it onto the hardball. Naturally the VOA news team interviewed them.
“Obviously they were using some sort of jamming you ass,” the angry driver barked. “First the radio went dead and began smoking and then the ignition died…Look you fool!” He then began playing with the car’s dash controls. “No battery power! Fortunately for us this is a stick shift and we can catch it in gear to get to the bar in the next town…”
“And how did you learn of the Ghost Flight?” the woman asked and then stuffed the mic back into his face.
“Pierre just got married so on his lunch break he talks to her for the hour…She has a cousin on the coast who saw it and called her and she told him…So we figured we hated this job site and since the world was going to end, we’re getting drunk…”
“And if it doesn’t?”
“Then who cares? We can finish that shit job tomorrow…” he shrugged.
They then pushed the car and caught it in gear. Then quite by chance, the crew spotted a woman with a group of children in the field. She identified herself as a school teacher and pointed to a brown building a distance away. She took her fourth-grade class outside when they heard the planes. One boy held a book with a picture of a B-52 in it. He said he wanted to be a pilot when he grew up.
He also pointed to the book and said the rockets on the B-52’s wings were nuclear tipped.
As for the school teacher she stood there stiffly, and the stress of holding back a torrent of emotion told on her face. She answered the basic questions weakly and timidly. The reporter then asked how she plans to face the possibility of nuclear war.
“Like real French do,” she replied. Her voice stopped being creaky and meek. She became proud and seemed to grow another ten feet in height. “With grace, poise and dignity…Come along children we still have to finish our English lesson and hopefully get into our history before the bombs explode…”
Voice of America, Germany;
“I’m Jamal Johnston the Jamaican Flash reporting on site…” he smiled, and he did intentionally capitalize on the fact he bore more than a passing resemblance to Jimi Hendrix. “VOA France has confirmed the existence of the rumored Ghost Flight. According to our sources it’s flight path will pass below us and its destination is unknown…”
“They’re here!” another man ran from the edge of the Alp they were standing on. He excitedly waived the binoculars in his hands screaming. “Get the camera!”
The crew then ran from their wooded grove to the edge of an Alpine cliff and recorded the flight storming past…UNDERNEATH them, a few hundred feet above the valley.
“I knew I should’ve stayed in New York…” the female producer muttered as she watched the scene play out. She held a mass of paperwork and was wearing a head set.
“Why?” Jamal chirped. “This is history happening!”
“I’m Jewish…This is Germany…” she replied morosely.
“Excuse me?” Jamal burped. “I don’t get it. The Germans really don’t have that problem anymore…”
“My Nana said Germans like to kill things…I should stay in New York City where its safe…And we have another war happening…Germans like to kill things…” she shrugged dismally.
“But they’re American airplanes!” Jamal pointed out.
“And the Germans wouldn’t let that happen if they didn’t like to kill things…We’re in Germany and this is the beginning of a war…” she insisted. “You know they started two world wars and now it’s a third?”
Jamal thought about it for a moment, then looking into the camera announced, “Well there you have it! Confirmation of the Ghost Flight by Voice of America! And if we’re still around this evening I’ll be regularly broadcasting my ‘Music of the Caribbean’, this evening, the Sounds of St. Croix….”
Armed Forces Network, Germany;
The cameraman recorded a stereotypical German farmer looking over a collapsed drop-tank in his field. It hit hard enough to bury itself a few feet into the dirt. From off screen his son trotted over and pointed out two more in holes farther off, saying they had drop tanks in them also. Behind him an older German woman lumbered up on the scene.
“So, will you be asking for damages for this accident?” the report asked.
He didn’t seem to hear the question as the old German woman said something.
“No, it’s not a bomb…what you’re smelling is jet fuel…” he answered the old woman. He then turned to the teenager and ordered, “You get your mother and grandmother into the basement…Fill up everything you can with water. Take all the blankets you can down there…”
“What do you plan to do now?” the reporter prodded meekly.
“I plan to go to my Rod and Gun Club and sign-out my shotgun…I hope there isn’t a line…” he answered flatly.
“Do you think there’s a possibility of a war?” she asked, her voice wavering.
“Possibility?” he chuckled. “This was no accident! We have airplane flights around here all the time and they never drop anything. I know from television that they only drop fuel tanks before they go into battle! Now I have to prepare…”
“If war doesn’t come will you be asking for damages?” she shouted as he walked off. “Do you think your shotgun will make a difference?”
“I’m German, we started two world wars because we like to kill things. Show those stupid Russians a thing or two if they come here! Stupid American schnauzer…I don’t think I can do anything but I just want to make an impression on those Russische Scheiße essen Hunde …That, and I’ll get more for scrap value than from insurance settlement…That’s high-grade Bethlehem steel and aluminum from Pennsylvania in those tanks. Get more in scrap value from one of those tanks than I make in a year off farm…”
Final approach, DMZ, Point Zulu;
Another cold pall settled into the cockpit, moments earlier the Pilot was explaining how their Electronic Counter-Measures were designed for low altitude threats while the B-52’s were attenuated for higher altitudes…It was a technical explanation that was interrupted by a personal call to Air Dave.
“Air Dave, I’m sorry,” the Co-Pilot said after the call, less than a minute ended. At that point a greater reality set in as the man asked, “Not being too personal but they mentioned Little Brother’s helicopter being shot down…Who was he?”
“He could still be alive,” the Pilot rapidly interjected. “No confirmation yet…”
“He was my cousin,” Air Dave answered. “Mortician and Atomic Blonde are my cousins…and Animal Mother is my sister…”
“Wow,” the Flight Engineered whispered. “All in the family…”
“They said ‘Grace’ called it in…Said he was acting Captain…” the Pilot mentioned. “Do you know him?”
“Grace is a nick name and he hates it…” Air Dave answered. He fumbled around his flight bag and produce a charm necklace and tucked it under his flight suit.
“Well?” the Flight Engineer prodded.
“Acting Captain John Wayne Stone is my cousin also…He was my team leader when I went TDA Black Flag to Ramstein…” Air Dave answered flatly, with his normal Vulcan logical demeanor. “I expect to see my family in Valhalla…That being said I still have my duties to perform…”
He began to adjust his equipment and before anybody could say anything else alarms sounded. True to form, Air Dave silenced them and announced, calmly, “Please be advised we have a missile lock and I’m engaging the jamming equipment…Please be advised…. Rockets off the rails, incoming…”
End part 1.