The Corps VII - Behind the Lines
THE CORPS is respectfully dedicated to the memory of Second Lieutenant Drew James Barrett III, USMC Company K, 3d Battalion, 26th Marines Born Denver, Colorado, 3 January 1945 Died Quang Nam Province, Republic of Vietnam, 27 February 1969 and Major Alfred Lee Butler III, USMC Headquarters 22nd Marine Amphibious Unit Born Washington, D.C., 4 September 1950 Died Beirut, Lebanon, 8 February 1984 And to the Memory of Donald L. Schomp A Marine fighter pilot who became a Legendary U.S. Army Master Aviator RIP 9 April 1989 "Semper Fi!"
NOTE TO THE READER
Probably the best-known Marines who served with great distinction behind the enemy's lines with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II are Major Peter Ortiz (who was decorated with two Navy Crosses and named a member of both the French Legion d'Honneur and the British Order of the British Empire for his valor); Sergeants Jack Risler and Fred Brunner; Gun-nery Sergeant Robert LaSalle; and Captains Sterling Hayden (the actor) and Peter Devries (the writer). There were others...
Headquarters, U.S. Army Luzon Force
Bataan Peninsula, Luzon, Philippines
0915 Hours 7 April 1942
A Ford pickup truck turned off the Mariveles-Cabcaben "highway" into what was officially called "The Headquarters Area" but known universally as "Lit-tle Baguio." The area held, in flimsy tropical buildings, the main ordnance and engineer depots and General Hospital #1, as well as the collection of buildings that housed the various offices of Headquarters, U.S. Army Force, Luzon.
The truck had seen better days. Its fenders were crumpled, its windshield was cracked, and the bright crimson paint of its former life as a utility vehicle for the Coca-Cola Company of Manila showed in twenty places through a hast-ily applied coat of Army olive drab. On the truck bed were a footlocker, a fold-ing wooden cot, a battered leather suitcase, and half a dozen five-gallon gasoline cans.
In a few moments, it pulled up beside the building identified by a battered sign as the Commanding General's.
A tall, just this side of heavyset man got out of the truck and started to walk toward the building. He was wearing mussed, sweat-soaked khakis, high-topped shoes, and a web belt from which was suspended a Model 1911 Colt.45 ACP pistol. He stopped and returned to the truck, snatched a khaki overseas cap from the seat and put it on. On the cap was the gold leaf of a major. There was no insignia of any kind on his khaki shirt. He rubbed the red stubble on his cheeks.
I need a shave. To hell with it.
He entered the open-sided building and walked past a collection of desks toward the building's rear, stopping before the desk of another major of about the same age. On the desk, an ornately carved triangular nameplate-a rem-nant of better times-carried the crossed rifles of infantry, a major's leaf, and the legend "Marshall Hurt."
A moment or so later, Major Hurt looked up.
"Fertig," he said. "What can I do for you?"
"I was sent for," Fertig replied.
"Oh, yes. I'd forgotten," Hurt said.
They didn't particularly like each other. Hurt was a professional soldier, Wendell Fertig a reservist. A year before, Hurt had been an underpaid captain and Fertig a successful-and wealthy-civil engineer.
Hurt stood up from his desk and went deeper into the building. A minute later he returned.
"The General will see you now," he said, and nodded toward the rear of the building.
Fertig nodded, walked to an open door, then stood there and waited to be noticed by Major General Edward P. King, Jr., the Commanding General of Luzon Force. King, a stocky fifty-eight-year-old artillery man from Atlanta who wore a neatly cropped full mustache, was at that moment standing before a sheet of plywood on which a large-scale map of the Bataan Peninsula had been mounted.
Fertig both liked and admired General King. He had known him socially before the war-indeed, General King had played an important role in the di-rect commissioning of Fertig as a Captain, Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army Re-serve.
And right now he felt very sorry for him. Fertig didn't pretend to know much about the Army, but he knew enough to understand that the worst thing that could happen to a career officer was to suffer defeat.
The map of Bataan General King was studying was clear proof that not only was he suffering defeat, but the defeat was very shortly going to be total and absolute. It didn't matter that King was going to be defeated by a well-equipped, battle-hardened Japanese force that outnumbered King's poorly equipped, starving, "Filamerican" force four or five to one; he was about to lose, and that was all that mattered.
A minute or so later, General King glanced at the door, noticed Fertig, and waved him inside.
"Wendell," he said.
"Could you see the map, where you were standing?"
"I'm afraid it won't be long," King said. "You know how we are defining effectives these days, Wendell?"
Fertig shook his head, no.
"An effective soldier is one who can carry his weapon one hundred yards without resting and be capable of firing it after he has gone the one hundred yards. Fifteen percent of our force is effective as of yesterday. The percentage is expected to decline."
"I had several things on my mind when I sent for you," General King said. "For one thing, I wanted to hear from you, personally, that we are pre-pared to destroy our ordnance and other stocks."
"Everything is prepared for detonation, General. Redundantly, in terms of both hardware and personnel. In other words, each blow site has been doubly wired, and there are two locations from which the sites can be blown."
"Thank you. Good job. A young lieutenant came up with a means to de-stroy artillery that somehow didn't occur to the authors of the Field Manuals. You simply shove powder bags down the tube ahead of the charge, or the round, and then fire it."
"I don't suppose the authors gave a lot of thought to destroying our own cannons," Fertig said. "I was going to suggest shoving sandbags down the barrel from the muzzle end. I don't know how it would work with a cannon, but I do know, from painful experience, what happens to the barrel of a Diana-grade Browning when you try to get an ounce and a quarter of Number 6 shot past a lump of mud."
King smiled. It was a memory of better times... of a cock pheasant rising from the frozen stubble of a cornfield.
"Secondly, Wendell, I was wondering what to do with you."
"You've blown up-or arranged to blow up-everything here that has to be blown," King said. "It occurred to me that General Sharp might find some use for your skills."
Brigadier General William F. Sharp commanded, on the island of Min-danao, what was now known as the Mindanao Force of the U.S. Army in the Philippines. From everything Fertig had heard, Sharp's forces had not been subjected to the same degree of attack as the Luzon Force, and so were in much better shape.
In the absence of reinforcements, Sharp's forces were as inevitably doomed as King's, but that defeat was some time off, perhaps as much as two months, and in two months a good deal could happen.
"Would you be willing to go down there to him?"
"Yes, Sir. Of course."
"Well, we have some small craft that periodically try to get from here to there. There's one leaving at nightfall. I've told Hurt to find space for you on it."
"Possibly, Wendell, you could make it from Mindanao to Australia. God knows, it would be a waste of your talents to spend the rest of this war in a prisoner-of-war cage."
"If you think I can be of any use here, General..."
"I think we've passed that point, Wendell. And I'm sure General Sharp will be glad to have you. Give him my best regards when you see him."
"That'll be all, Wendell," King said. He put out his hand. "You've car-ried your weight around here. Thank you. See you after the war."
"It's been a privilege serving under you, Sir."
Fertig saluted. King returned it.
Fertig did as crisp an about-face movement as he could manage, and then marched toward the door. His throat was tight; he felt like crying.
"Wait a minute," General King called after him. Fertig turned.
"I said there were several things on my mind," King said. "I forgot one."
King motioned him to approach.
"This used to be done with photographers, with a proudly beaming wife standing by, and would be followed by a drunk at the club at your expense," King said. "No clubs, no photographers, and no wife, thank God, but con-gratulations nonetheless, Colonel."
He handed Fertig a lieutenant colonel's silver leaf.
"I'll be damned," Fertig said.
"Well earned, Wendell," King said, and shook his hand. "I'll hold you to the party. In better times."
"I'll look forward to it, Sir."
King grabbed Fertig's shoulder, squeezed it, smiled, and then turned away from him.
Fertig left the office and returned to Major Hurt's desk.
"Tell me about the boat," he said.
"It's a small coaster," Hurt replied. "Be at the pier at Mariveles at half past five. They expect you."
"Do I need orders, or..."
"You're traveling VOCG," Hurt said-Verbal Order of the Commanding General. "Technically, you're on temporary duty from Luzon Force to Min-danao Force. We don't have authority to transfer anyone."
"I'll need your truck," Hurt said. "So far as luggage is concerned, one item of luggage."
"I've got a suitcase and a footlocker."
"One or the other. Sorry."
"Well, then, I'll leave the footlocker here with you. For safekeeping."
"I love optimists," he said. "Sorry, there really is no room on the boat."
"If it's all right with you, Hurt, I'll take the footlocker to one of the ammo dumps. And then bring the truck back, of course. There's some personal stuff in there I'd much rather see blown up than fall into the hands of some son of Nippon."
"May I offer you a piece of advice?"
"You're a lieutenant colonel now. You don't have to ask a major for per-mission to do anything."
"I'll try to remember that," Fertig said. He put out his hand. "So long, Hurt. Take care of yourself."
"Yeah, you, too," Hurt said. "And just for the record, I think you deserve that silver leaf."
"If there was anything left to drink around here, I'd think you'd been at it."
"If there was anything left to drink around here, I would be at it," Major Hurt said. "Good luck, Colonel."
"See you after the war, Major."
Headquarters, 4th Marines
Commonwealth of the Philippines
0915 Hours 1 April 1942
Major Stephen J. Paulson, USMC, a slightly built thirty-two-year-old from Chicago, who was acting S-l (Personnel) Officer, 4th Marines, had been giv-ing a good deal of thought-much of it uncomfortable, even painful-both to his own future and to the future of First Lieutenant James B. Weston, USMC.
Paulson had been a Marine for eleven years, and a Naval Aviator for eight. But he had spent almost two years as an infantry platoon leader before going to Pensacola for flight training. So when push came to shove-by which he meant when the Japanese landed on Fortress Corregidor-he thought he could probably do some good, at least hold his own, as an infantry officer. Not in duties commensurate with the gold oak leaves on his collar points, nor even as a captain, commanding a company. But he remembered enough about leading a platoon to be useful when the Japs came.
On the other hand, in his view, Lieutenant Weston would not. This was not a criticism of Weston, simply a statement of fact. Weston came into The Corps right out of the University of Iowa, went through a sort of boot camp for offi-cers at Quantico, and immediately went to Pensacola for pilot training. He was an aviator, and a pretty good one, but he really wasn't qualified to be a platoon leader.
Not that that would matter to the overall efficiency of the 4th Marines. There were more than enough fully qualified infantry lieutenants and captains around, both among the officers who came to the Philippines when the 4th Marines were moved from Shanghai, and among those-like Paulson himself and Weston-who joined the regiment because they'd been in the Philippines filling billets that no longer existed.
Before the war, Major Paulson had been Aviation Officer on the staff of the Commanding Officer, Marine Barracks, Cavite Naval Station, and had commanded a staff sergeant and a PFC. There had not been much for any of them to do, except on those rare occasions when a carrier with a Marine squad-ron aboard actually pulled into Cavite. Then there was frantic activity for sev-eral days, doing what he could to pry necessary parts and supplies loose from the steel grip of Navy supply officers; arranging for the sick to be admitted to shore medical facilities; and trying for the release from the brig of those Ma-rines who had somehow run afoul of the Shore Patrol in time for them to sail with the carrier.
In those days, he had spent a lot of his ample free time trying to come up with a good reason to ask for a transfer back to flying duties. That was a deli-cate area. Marine officers are supposed to go where they are sent and do what they are told to do, without complaining or trying to get out of it.
Ordinarily, Paulson would not have tried to get himself out of Cavite. It was a three-year tour, and when it was over, he could expect a flying assign-ment. But he didn't think the war he considered inevitable was going to wait for him to complete his tour, so he tried to get out of it. He had absolutely no success.
A visiting colonel gave him a discreet word to the wise: Obviously, The Corps had to have someone ashore at Cavite, and he was selected; it was not acceptable behavior for a Marine officer to try to get out of an assignment he didn't like.
Lieutenant Jim Weston's case was somewhat different from his own. After a two-year tour with a Marine fighter squadron, flying Brewster Buffalo F2-As, he had been selected for multiengine training. After transition training, he had been given a six-month assignment to a Navy squadron flying Con-solidated PBY-5A Catalina twin-engine flying boats.
The idea was to give him enough time under experienced Navy aviators so that he could return to The Corps and serve as a multiengine Instructor Pilot. That, in turn, meant someone had judged him to be a better-than-ordinary pilot, skilled and mature enough to become an IP... and not, as Weston felt, because he hadn't been able to cut the mustard as a fighter pilot.
Three months into his "utilization tour" at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese at-tacked. Though many of the planes of the Navy squadron to which Weston was attached were destroyed on the ground, Weston flew, as copilot, one of the few remaining Catalinas to Cavite on a courier flight.
The Japanese also attacked Cavite, destroying on the ground other Navy Catalinas, one of which had been flown to the Philippines by a Pearl Harbor-based lieutenant commander. When Lieutenant Weston's Catalina landed at Cavite, the lieutenant commander judged that he could be of far greater value to the war effort back in Pearl Harbor than a lowly Marine lieutenant on loan to the Navy. And when the Catalina took off, he was at the controls and Weston was left behind, "awaiting transportation."
Weston hadn't been in a cockpit since. There were few aircraft of any type left in the Philippines. When it became evident that his chances of returning to flying or of being evacuated to Pearl Harbor were negligible, he was assigned to the staff of the Aviation Officer-Paulson-of Marine Barracks, Cavite.
When Cavite was blown up and left for the enemy, all remaining Marine personnel were transferred to the 4th Marines. Paulson was assigned to the personnel section, relieving a major who had served with the 4th Marines in China and whose infantry expertise could be put to better use, and Weston be-came his deputy.
In Paulson's view, there was not much left for the Acting Personnel Offi-cer to do but wait for the Japanese to land on Corregidor; whereupon he would order the destruction of personnel records by thermite grenade, grab his rifle, and fight, until the end, as an overage, overranked platoon leader.
There was only one alternative to this course of action, one that Paulson himself could not accept, but which, the more he thought about it, seemed to be a viable course of action for Lieutenant Jim Weston.
Before the war, Paulson came to know a number of Army Air Corps pilots. One of them, an Army Air Corps major-also transferred to ground duty when there were no more airplanes for him to fly-approached him and announced that since the war here was about over and he had no intention of surrendering, he was going to head for the hills and hide out. From there, he would either try to escape to Australia, or maybe even fight as a guerrilla.
"You want to come along, Steve?" he asked.
Paulson gave the offer a good deal of thought before declining. For one thing, it would be AWOL, or perhaps even desertion. Something about that rubbed him the wrong way. The very word "desertion" made him consider that since he still had some contribution to make, even if only as a platoon leader, he would in fact be deserting the enlisted men at a time when they needed him most. Finally, although he didn't like to face the fact, his health was shot. He had some sort of rash whose suppurating sores seemed to grow worse daily. His teeth were falling out. There was no way he could survive running around in the hot, physically debilitating jungles of the Philippines. He would become a burden to whomever he was with.
Weston, however, was another matter. Although Paulson was sure he would try his best, the young pilot would be nearly worthless as a platoon leader. And maybe even worse, he could be a burden to those he was com-manding. On the other hand, if Weston could somehow get out of the Philip-pines, he would be of great use to The Corps. There had been a pilot shortage before the war, and that shortage must, Paulson reasoned, be even more acute now.
And even if Weston couldn't escape from the Philippines, he was young, and-considering the circumstances-in good health. He could probably make himself useful to a guerrilla operation. For one thing, he had a degree in electri-cal engineering, which meant he probably knew something about radios. Any guerrilla force needed radios.
The final consideration was very simple. If Weston stayed on Corregi-dor, one of two things was certain to happen: he would be killed, or he would be taken prisoner. It was equally certain that he would be more of a problem than an asset in the final fighting. If he went off into the hills, tried to escape to Australia, he would probably be killed. But he might not. He might escape. And if he did, he could make a contribution. Or he might be useful to some guerrilla commander (Paulson thought of his Air Corps friend, who one day simply vanished from Corregidor) and make a contribu-tion that way.
On The Rock, the alternatives to death and/or surrender were the subject of many careful, soft conversations between officers. Yet, as close as he and Paul-son had become, Weston had never brought the subject up.
Is this, Paulson wondered, because he's been thinking about it, and is afraid I will order him to forget about it if he mentions it to me? Or because he thinks his duty is clear, to stay here and get killed or become a prisoner? And doesn't want me to think he's even thought about taking off?
Finally-he later recognized this as one of the most difficult things he'd ever done in The Corps-Paulson brought the subject up to Weston himself, directly and somewhat forcefully. They were discussing Weston's alterna-tives-as possibilities Weston could choose, one possibility being to try to es-cape. But then Paulson stopped and changed that from a choice to something close to an order. And Weston accepted it as an order.
Because, Paulson wondered, he is a good Marine and obeys whatever order he is given, even one that frightens him? Or because he was on the edge of making that decision for himself, and my making it an order made it easier?
By then-none of this took more than a few days, but things were disinte-grating at a rapidly accelerating pace-it was harder and harder to leave the island. The boats, the only means of crossing the two miles of water from The Rock to Bataan, were disappearing... partly as a result of enemy action, partly from lack of parts and maintenance, and partly, Paulson suspected, because they'd been "requisitioned" by people who were electing not to surrender when the end came.
There seemed to be proof of that. The boats now carried guards to make sure they completed their intended trips. And getting permission to leave the island for any purpose now required the authorization of a colonel or better.
Solving that was an emotional problem for Paulson, not a practical one. As a paper-pusher, he routinely signed colonels' names to all sorts of documents, including permission authority to leave the island. Sometimes he added his ini-tials to these, sometimes not.
He did not think his memorandum ordering Weston to Bataan on a supply-gathering mission would be questioned. But writing it was still one of the most serious violations of the officer's honor code: "willfully uttering a document known to be false."
At 0900, he sent a runner after Lieutenant Weston, whom he had loaned to the Army Finance Officer. Weston and a half-dozen other officers had spent the past three days making lists, in triplicate, of the serial numbers of all the one-hundred-, fifty-, twenty-, and ten-dollar bills in the possession of Army and Navy Finance Officers.
When the lists were completed, the money would be burned, to keep it out of Japanese hands. Attempts would be made to get the lists somehow out of the Philippines.
There's no food, and no medicine, and damned little booze, Paulson thought with bitter amusement, but the Army and the Navy are loaded with dough.
"You wanted to see me, Sir?" Weston asked.
Paulson met the eyes of the young, unhealthily thin officer.
"I've decided we should make one more attempt-you should make one more attempt-to find the parts for our generator," Paulson said.
"Aye, aye, Sir," Weston replied, trying but not quite succeeding to keep his face expressionless.
"Here's your boat pass," Paulson said, handing him the authorization.
"And the necessary funds," Paulson went on. "You'll have to sign for them."
"Aye, aye, Sir."
Weston's eyes widened when he glanced into the envelope Paulson handed him. It was a thick stack of crisp, unissued fifty- and one-hundred-dollar bills. Far more money than was necessary to buy generator parts.
"Five thousand dollars," Paulson said. "Inflation seems to have come to this Pacific paradise."
"Yes, Sir," Weston said as he leaned over to sign the receipt on Paulson's desk.
"There's supposed to be a motor pool on shore," Paulson said. "You are authorized, by your pass, to draw a vehicle. You may or may not get one."
"I've arranged for an interpreter to go with you. He's supposed to be flu-ent in Spanish. Pick him up at the Headquarters Company CP."
"Aye, aye, Sir."
Paulson had given a good deal of thought about the wisdom of sending an interpreter with Weston. On the one hand, it would reduce any suspicions about Weston's generator-parts-finding mission. On the other, there was no way to predict how the interpreter, a buck sergeant who'd come to the Philip-pines with the 4th Marines from Shanghai, would react when he found out Weston was not going to return to The Rock.
In the end, he decided in favor of sending the sergeant with Weston. Wes-ton might be able to handle the sergeant. If so, the sergeant, with his knowledge of Spanish, and because he was an Old Breed China Marine, might be very useful when Weston took off.
"And I think you'd better take this with you," Paulson said, taking from the well of his desk a Thompson.45 caliber submachine gun and two extra stick magazines. "You never know when you might need it."
"Aye, aye, Sir. Thank you, Sir," Weston said.
He slung the Thompson's web sling over his shoulder, then put one maga-zine in each of his trouser side pockets.
"Don't shoot yourself in the foot with that, Mr. Weston," Paulson said, meeting his eyes. "In other words, take care."
"Aye, aye, Sir."
"Move out, Mr. Weston," Paulson said. "Get your show on the road."
Weston said nothing for a long minute. Then he saluted.
Paulson returned the salute and then extended his hand.
"Good luck, Jim," Paulson said.
"Good luck to you, Sir," Weston said. Then he came to attention. "By your leave, Sir?"
Weston made the about-face movement and marched away from Paulson's desk. Paulson watched him go down the lateral tunnel and then turn into the main tunnel. Then he turned his attention to the papers on his desk.
Commonwealth of the Philippines
0920 Hours 1 April 1942
Sergeant Percy Lewis Everly, USMC, had spent most of the morning thinking very seriously about desertion.
Everly, who was twenty-six years old, six feet tall, sharply featured, and weighed 145 pounds, was in charge of a two-gun, water-cooled.30 caliber Browning machine-gun section of Headquarters Company, 4th Marines. This was set up to train its fire on Kindley Field, a rectangular cleared area toward the seaward end of Corregidor. The area had been cleared years before to serve as a balloon field. Everly had seen that on the map. The map didn't say what kind of balloons it was supposed to serve, whether barrage balloons, designed to interfere with aircraft attacking the island fortress, or observation balloons, from which the tip of the Bataan Peninsula two miles away could be observed.
There had been no evidence of either kind of balloons, although Everly had come across the rusted remains of what could have been a winch for bal-loon cables.
Everly, in his washed thin khakis, web pistol belt, and steel helmet, looked skeletal. Part of that, of course, was because they were on one-half rations, and everybody had lost a lot of weight. But Everly, who from time to time had been called "Slats," was never heavy, never weighed more than 160 pounds.
The machine guns were set up in bunkers made from sandbags, sand-filled fifty-five-gallon drums, and salvaged lumber. They would probably provide some protection against small-arms fire and even hand grenades, but Everly knew the guns weren't going to get much protection from mortar fire or artil-lery.
When the field telephone buzzed, Everly took it from its leather case and pressed the butterfly switch.
"Sixteen," he said.
"Everly?" a voice Everly recognized as the company clerk's asked.
"The first wants you here. Now."
"On my way," Everly said, and put the telephone back in its case.
He had a good idea what the First Sergeant of Headquarters Company, 4th Marines, wanted with him. Because he spoke Spanish, he was in some demand as an interpreter if one of the officers had business on Bataan.
Everly walked, stooping, across the bunker to where Corporal Max Schirmer, a short, no longer plump twenty-three-year-old, was sleeping on a bunk of two-by-fours and salvaged commo wire, and touched his arm.
"You've got it," Everly said when Schirmer opened his eyes. "They want me at the CP."
Schirmer nodded, then sat up and shook his head to clear it. When Everly was satisfied that Schirmer was really awake, he left the bunker and headed up the dirt path toward the Company Command Post.
Everly had been a Marine for almost eight years. If the war hadn't come along, he would have been discharged, at the conclusion of his second four-year hitch, on 25 May 1942. But a whole year before that, on 27 May 1941, when the 4th Marines were still in China, President Roosevelt had proclaimed "an unlimited state of national emergency," one result of which had been the extension of all enlistments in The Marine Corps "for the duration of the emer-gency, plus six months."
But that had really not meant much to Everly. He liked The Marine Corps, and he could not imagine doing anything but being a Marine. If his enlistment hadn't been extended, he would have shipped over, sewn a second four-years-service hash mark on the sleeves of his uniform, and gone on being a Marine.
The only thing the date 25 May 1942 meant to Everly now was that- unless he did something about it, and soon, and the only thing he could think of doing was to desert-when it came around, and it was going to come around next month, he'd either be dead, or wishing he was dead.
Everly was pretty sure in his mind about three things: (1) Bataan was about to fall; (2) "The Aid' was not coming, at least not in time to do any good; and because it wasn't, (3) soon after Bataan fell, Fortress Corregidor was going to fall.
Bataan was a peninsula on what Everly thought of as the bottom of Luzon Island. It sort of closed off Manila Bay.
Fortress Corregidor was an island in Manila Bay two miles off the tip of Bataan, about thirty miles from the capital of the Philippines, Manila. Maps of Corregidor looked to Everly like the drawings Mr. Hawkings used to make of human sperm on the blackboard at Zanesville High School during what was called "Masculine Hygiene."
Everly graduated from Zanesville High School on 22 May 1934, went into The Corps two days later, and had not been back to Zanesville, or even to West Virginia, since. His father, a coal miner, died when Everly was fourteen, and his mother two years later. Since no relatives were either able or willing to take him in, the State boarded him out for two years with a "foster family." Both the State and his "foster mother" took pains to make sure he understood he would be on his own the minute he was eighteen.
He went to the post office in Wheeling one day in the first weeks of his senior year, intending to Join The Navy and See The World, as the recruiting posters offered. But the Navy wouldn't have him, for reasons he no longer remembered, nor would the Army. But the Marine recruiter said he would ac-cept his application, send it in, and see what happened.
A month later, there was a letter with a bus ticket and meal vouchers. He went back to Wheeling and took a physical examination and filled out some more forms; and two weeks after that, there was another letter, this one from Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps in Washington, D.C., telling him he had been accepted for enlistment, and that since he was a minor, he would have to have his parents' permission to enlist, form enclosed, signature to be notarized.
He got his "foster father" to sign it and mailed it off. But it came back saying that since Everly was a Ward Of The State Of West Virginia, it would have to be signed by the Responsible Official. That turned out to be the Judge of Probate. The Judge signed the form and told him he thought he was doing the smart thing, shook his hand, and wished him good luck.
Everly left Zanesville the morning after the day he graduated, took the bus to Washington, D.C., was given another physical at the Washington Navy Yard, and was sworn into The Corps that afternoon.
He went through boot camp, and then they loaded him aboard the USS Chaumont and sent him to the Marine Barracks, U.S. Navy Base Cavite, out-side Manila. That was good duty. The Corps put him to work in the motor pool, where he was supposed to be supervising the Filipino mechanics. But since the Filipinos knew a hell of a lot more about automobile mechanics than he did, what really happened was that they taught him, rather than the other way around.
He also got himself a girl, a short, sort of plump, dark-skinned seventeen-year-old named Estellita, which meant "Little Star" or something like that. Estellita had been raised as a Catholic. Every week she went to confession, because what they were doing-not being married-was a sin, and then to Mass, and then came home and got in bed with him again.
Everly was very careful not to get her in the family way. He had only been an orphan two years before coming into The Corps, but that had been enough to convince him that making a baby that was going to be an orphan because you weren't going to marry the mother would be a lousy thing to do to any-body.
Between Estellita and the little brown brothers in the motor pool, it wasn't long before he was speaking pretty good Spanish. And then he got promoted to private first class, and he considered that things were better for him in The Corps and in the Philippines than they had ever been so far in his life.
Then he got in a fight in the Good Times bar with a sergeant from the Marine Detachment on the battleship USS Pennsylvania when she came into Cavite. The sonofabitch was a mean drunk. And when Everly knocked him on his ass the first time he put his hand on Estellita's breast and wouldn't stop, he came back at Everly with a knife, one of those kind that flick open when you press a button. And when the fight was over, both of them were cut, and the sergeant had a broken nose and a busted-up hand, where Everly had stomped on it.
Everly knew the fight wasn't his fault, but he also knew that he was a PFC, and the mean sonofabitch was a sergeant. When they put him before a General Court-martial charged with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon upon the person of a superior noncommissioned officer, Ev-erly decided that the other shoe had dropped, the good times were over, and he was going to spend the next ten or fifteen years in the Portsmouth Naval Prison.
But that didn't happen either. They had the court-martial. And he stood up at attention and heard the senior officer, a lieutenant colonel, say that the court, in closed session, two-thirds of its members concurring, had found him not guilty of all the charges and all the specifications.
The next day the Commanding Officer of Marine Barracks, Cavite, called him in and told him that it was his experience in circumstances like this that it was best for everybody if the accused found not guilty was transferred. Then he went on and said Everly could have his choice. He could be reassigned to someplace like San Diego, in the States, or aboard a ship, or-and this is what he would recommend-to the 4th Marines in Shanghai.
So three weeks later, Everly went aboard the USS Chaumont when she called at Cavite and rode her to Shanghai, China, where he was assigned to Headquarters Company, 4th Marines, and detailed to the motor pool.
Within a couple of weeks, he could see that being a China Marine was going to be even better duty than Cavite. Not only that, nobody seemed to know about what he did to that mean drunk sonofabitch off the Pennsylvania, and about the court-martial. He was sure that Sergeant Zimmerman, who ran the motor pool, didn't know anything about it. And while it seemed likely that somebody-maybe his first sergeant, or his company commander, or maybe even the regimental commander-knew about it, nobody was holding it against him. He really had come here with a clean slate. That made him feel pretty good again about The Corps, and being in The Corps.
He turned twenty-one in Shanghai and signed the papers extending his "until reaching his legal majority or unless sooner discharged" enlistment for a four-year hitch. And then, in May 1938, he shipped over for another four years.
At the time, he thought that with a little bit of luck, he might make corporal during his second hitch. He got himself a Chinese woman, Soo Ling, and she took care of him and taught him to speak some Chinese, enough to say what he wanted to say, and to understand most of everything that was said to him. She even taught him to read and make some of the ideographs, and he took care not to get her in the family way.
And things started to get even better, too. He sometimes thought it was a good thing that mean drunk sonofabitch had come after him with a knife. If he hadn't, he'd still be in the Cavite motor pool.
Just about as soon as he arrived in Shanghai, he was assigned as an assis-tant truck driver on the regular supply convoys from Shanghai to Peking, where there was a detachment of Marines.
There was at least one supply convoy a month, coinciding with the calling at Shanghai of the USS Chaumont or the USS Henderson, the Navy transports that endlessly circled the Pacific, bringing replacements and supplies and tak-ing people home. Sometimes there was more than one truck convoy a month, when freight arrived in Shanghai by Navy or civilian freighter.
There was a driver and an assistant driver, both to share the driving and to leave a spare driver in case somebody got sick.
And Sergeant Zimmerman drove a wrecker along. Even so, if for some reason a truck had to be left by the side of the road-even for a couple of hours, because there was no one to drive it and the wrecker already had a truck in tow-by the time they could get a driver to it, there would be nothing left but the frame, and maybe not even that. China was like that.
They drove first to Peking and then to Tientsin, another seaport, where there was a detachment of the 4th Marines, usually stopping over there for two days, and then back to Peking, and then back to Shanghai. Some of the drivers hated getting the duty, because it took them away from the good life in Shang-hai. But some liked it, because it was a change of scenery, or women, or both.
Usually Everly was pleased when his name came up on the roster, because it meant a change of scenery. Not women. If something came up, he wasn't going to kick it out of bed, but he thought there was not much point in chasing strange females; you never knew what you might catch, and it was expensive. He was by nature, or perhaps by training, frugal. He had no money in his pock-ets from the time he became a Ward Of The State until he got his first pay as a Marine; and that left a painful memory.
There was always an officer in charge of the convoys, changing from con-voy to convoy, because that was the way things were in The Corps; when there were supplies involved, you had to have an officer in charge. But the officers were ordinarily wise enough to just ride along, leaving the actual running of the convoy to Sergeant Zimmerman.
Zimmerman, who was short, stocky, and phlegmatic, had been in China for six years. He had a Chinese woman, who had borne him three children, and he fully intended to spend the rest of his time in The Corps in China, then retire there and open a bar or something.
Zimmerman was competent and he was fair, and Everly figured him out- and how to deal with him-pretty quick: Zimmerman did what he was told without question and to the best of his ability, and he expected people who worked for him to do the same thing. When Sergeant Zimmerman told PFC Everly to do something, Everly did it, promptly, and to the best of his ability. They got along. On the convoys, they came to spend time together, since nei-ther was interested in chasing women, gambling, or getting shitfaced.
In the spring of 1941, things changed.
A new face appeared when the drivers and assistant drivers were gathered together for a convoy to Peking and Tientsin. Corporal Kenneth R. McCoy Everly knew him only by sight and reputation. McCoy had quite a reputation. PFC McCoy had become notorious, and in circumstances not unlike Ev-erly 's trouble with the mean drunk sonofabitch off the Pennsylvania. In McCoy's case, it was Italian Marines, four of them, who ganged up on him one night when he was on his way back to the barracks.
Killing a couple of Italian Marines was a bigger deal than cutting and stomping on the hand of a Marine sergeant. And when Everly heard they were going to court-martial McCoy, he thought McCoy was almost surely going where he had almost gone, to the Portsmouth Naval Prison.
It wasn't a question of guilt or innocence, Everly reasoned, but rather what was more important: China Marine PFCs were expendable. When one caused trouble-and creating a diplomatic incident was far worse than getting in a knife fight with a sergeant-they got rid of him as quickly as possible.
But that didn't happen. McCoy beat the court-martial. And the next thing you knew, he was promoted to corporal and transferred out of "D" Company to work in Regimental Headquarters. McCoy had just completed his first hitch in The Corps, and people just didn't get themselves promoted to corporal after just completing their first hitch.
The scuttlebutt went around that McCoy was really working for Captain Edward Banning, the 4th Marines' S-2 Officer, in Intelligence. The scuttlebutt was that McCoy had been in Intelligence all along.
Making sure that it didn't look like he was putting his nose in where it didn't belong, Everly watched McCoy pretty carefully on that first run to Pe-king. He noticed a couple of things. For one thing, McCoy not only spoke Chi-nese like a Chinaman, but had a couple of Japanese military manuals in his rucksack that he obviously could read.
By the time they made three convoy trips to Peking, it was pretty clear to Everly that the officers in charge had gotten the word to do what Sergeant Zim-merman said to do, and that Zimmerman was getting that word from Corporal McCoy.
It was also pretty clear that what McCoy was doing on the convoys was running around spying on the Japanese, identifying units, getting their strength, seeing what kind of weapons they had, and, by spending a lot of time in whorehouses, picking up from the Chinese whores what they had heard from their Japanese customers.
And then, after one trip to Peking, right after they got back to Shanghai, Sergeant Zimmerman and Corporal McCoy disappeared. The scuttlebutt was that they got shipped home, but nobody knew for sure what had happened.
And then, the week after they disappeared, Captain Banning sent for Ev-erly and told him McCoy and Zimmerman had been ordered home. He also told him what McCoy had been doing for him, and that both McCoy and Zim-merman had spoken highly of him. Then he asked him if he would be inter-ested in volunteering to do the same thing.
So Everly volunteered, guessing correctly that Banning was going to give him a lot more expense money than he was going to have to spend, and that it was a good way to make corporal ahead of time. And for a couple of months, he did just that; he made corporal, and managed to put aside nearly a thousand dollars in expense money.
That business had ended when the decision was made to get the 4th Ma-rines and the Navy's Yangtze River Patrol out of China. Captain Banning was assigned to the Advance Party and flown out of Shanghai to the Philippines; and Everly was sent back to the motor pool.
Just before he left, Captain Banning married his Russian girlfriend, which raised him even higher in Everly's opinion. When things got a little tough, a lot of Americans, officers and enlisted and civilians, had just cut their girl-friends-Chinese and Russian-loose to make out as best they could by them-selves. Everly couldn't leave Soo Ling to fend for herself, so he gave her all the money he had saved up since he was in China, and the money he'd made work-ing for Banning. Then he told her to check on Mrs. Banning when the Japs came, and if she needed help, to do what she could for her and then go home.
He didn't know what happened to Soo Ling or Captain Banning's wife, either; but he did know what happened to Captain Banning, once he got to the Philippines. Just about as soon as the Marines came under fire, he was too close to an incoming round, and the concussion blinded him, and he wasn't even able to fight.
For a while he was in the hospital, first on Luzon, then here in the Corregidor Hospital tunnel; and then they sent him and some other blind guys out on a submarine.
And Percy Lewis Everly was promoted to sergeant and given the two-gun.30 caliber water-cooled Browning machine-gun section at Kindley Field.
Where, he was convinced, one of several things was going to happen: Once Bataan fell, and the Japanese could bring their artillery to bear on the island, he was going to get killed by Japanese artillery. Or, in the unlikely event that didn't happen, he was going to get killed when the Japanese landed on Corregidor. Or, if he didn't get killed by Japanese artillery, or by Japanese Ma-rine infantry when they landed on Corregidor, he was going to wind up a Japa-nese prisoner.
He had seen enough of the Japanese in China to know how they treated prisoners. You were almost better off dead than to be a prisoner of the Japs. Everly had seen with his own eyes the Japs using Chinese prisoners for bayo-net practice.
The one thing Everly really couldn't figure out was why people-especially senior noncoms and officers-kept talking about "The Aid." "The Aid" could be any number of things-for example, a fleet of B-17 bombers suddenly appearing to bomb the Japs off Bataan and out of the Philippines. Or a fleet of Navy ships, carrying divisions of fully equipped soldiers from the States, to run the Japanese off Bataan and out of the Philippines. Or even a small convoy of transports, bringing food and medicine.
But people kept talking about "The Aid," whatever it meant to them, as if it was really coming and would turn things around.
That was bullshit, pure and simple. If "The Aid"-any kind of aid-was coming, General MacArthur wouldn't have run off to Australia the way he did three weeks before, on 10 March.
Only two things were going to happen to the men in the Philippines, Ma-rines, soldiers, or sailors. They were going to get killed, or they were going to get captured. And getting captured was likely to be as bad as getting killed. Everly had seen people starve to death in China, too, and he didn't think he wanted to die that way, either.
There was one other alternative: take off now, get the hell away from Cor-regidor and Bataan and Luzon, make your way to one of the other islands, maybe Mindanao, and take off for the hills.
That would be desertion in the face of the enemy, and the punishment for that was death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct. There had been lectures about that.
The lectures had convinced Everly that he wasn't the only one thinking about avoiding certain death or capture; that people had probably already taken off to do just that. Otherwise, there wouldn't have been the lectures telling them it was not only stupid, but punishable by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.
Everly had learned as a kid, even before he became a Ward Of The State, that the way to really get your teeth kicked in was to hope for something you really wanted. You usually didn't get what you really wanted.
So he didn't let himself think that maybe the reason the first sergeant had sent for him was so that he could serve as interpreter for some officer going off Corregidor onto Bataan. If it turned out to be for some other reason, it would be a real kick in the face.
An officer in the company CP was standing there, a young, skinny first lieutenant with a steel pot on his head, a web belt with a pistol holster hanging from it around his waist, and a Thompson.45 ACP submachine gun slung from his shoulder.
"This is Sergeant Everly, Lieutenant," the first sergeant said.
"Major Paulson tells me you speak pretty good Spanish, Sergeant," the Lieutenant said.
Who the hell is Major Paulson? Oh, the little guy with the bad rash, running sores all over him. With pilot's wings. We spent two days last week on Bataan looking for parts for some kind of generator. We didn't find any; I could have told him we wouldn't before we left The Rock.
"We really need those generator parts you and Major Paulson were look-ing for," the Lieutenant said. "Do you feel up to having another look?"
"Aye, aye, Sir."
"My name is Weston, Sergeant," the Lieutenant said, putting out his hand.
"Yes, Sir," Everly said, shaking it.
"You need anything to take with you?"
"No, Sir," Everly said.
He had with him all he would need. He had his Springfield Model 1903.30-06 Caliber rifle, with six extra five-round stripper clips; his Model 1911 Al.45 ACP Caliber Colt pistol, and an extra magazine with seven car-tridges; two canteens of water; his compass; his first-aid pack; and a small rucksack slung over his shoulder which held two shorts, two skivvy shirts, two pairs of socks, a shirt and a pair of pants, a razor with three decent blades and one brand-new blade, two packages of Chesterfield cigarettes, and a Zippo lighter that wouldn't work until he could find a gas tank to dip it into for fuel.
And the click-open knife the sergeant from the Pennsylvania had tried to kill him with. At the court-martial, the sergeant testified that the knife intro-duced into evidence didn't belong to him, that Everly had come after him with it. When Everly was acquitted, the knife was "returned" to him. The first thing he wanted to do was throw it away; but then he decided maybe he could sell it to someone for a couple of bucks-it was a high-quality knife. But then he realized that he didn't want to sell it, either. So he just kept it hidden in his footlocker in rolled-up skivvy shirts. Later, when he was work-ing for Captain Banning, he started carrying it with him in his pocket, or slipped into the top of his boondockers. He never used it, not even to clean his fingernails, but he kept it sharpened. And every once in a while, he oiled it and made sure that when he slid the button, it flipped open, the way it was supposed to.
"Then why don't we get started?" Lieutenant Weston said.
"Aye, aye, Sir."
The first sergeant didn't say a word; he just looked at Everly.
That old bastard is too smart to believe in The Aid, Everly thought. He knows everybody on The Rock is fucked. And he knows men, and he knows me. Which means he knows I wouldn't be carrying my rucksack unless I was think-ing about not coming back. What does that make me in his eyes? A fucking coward and disgrace to The Marine Corps? Or a lucky bastard who's being given the chance to do something he wishes he could do himself?
Everly nodded at the first sergeant.
"Take care of yourself, Everly," the first sergeant said.
Everly nodded again, and then followed Lieutenant Weston out of the CP.
Mariveles-Morong Highway, Luzon
Commonwealth of the Philippines
1425 Hours 1 April 1942
No vehicles were available for assignment to a lowly lieutenant and his ser-geant at the motor pool at Mariveles, at the tip of the Bataan Peninsula.
"You'll have to hitchhike," the Army captain in charge said. "But that's not as bad as it sounds. There's a lot of traffic. Where are you headed?"
"Orion," Lieutenant Weston said. Orion was one of four small towns on the Manila Bay side of the Bataan Peninsula.
"When you leave the compound, turn right," the Captain said. "It's about thirty-five miles. What do you expect to find in Orion?"
"Good luck," the Captain said, his tone clearly saying that two Marines had little chance of finding anything in Orion.
"Thank you, Sir," Weston said, and saluted. Everly followed suit, and then courteously waited for Weston to leave the small, frame motor pool office first.
During the short trip from Corregidor on the requisitioned thirty-five-foot Chris-Craft cabin cruiser, there'd been a pleasant breeze; but by the time they'd walked from the Mariveles pier to the motor pool, their backs and arm-pits were dark with sweat.
At the gate of the compound, a guard shack was manned by two enlisted Army Military Policemen and a captain wearing the crossed rifles of Infantry. He carefully examined the pass (actually a memorandum form, the stockpiled supplies on Corregidor having included six months' supply of printed forms), and, Weston thought, suspiciously.
"Where are you headed, Lieutenant?" he asked.
"Morong, Sir," Weston replied.
The Captain's eyebrows rose questioningly; it was clear he wanted an ex-planation.
"There was word that some stuff was cached this side of Morong when they evacuated Subic Bay," Weston said. "We thought the generator parts we're looking for could be there."
He was uncomfortable lying, and he took a quick look at the Old Breed Sergeant from the 4th Marines to see if he had any reaction to his change of destination; Sergeant Everly had heard him tell the motor officer they were headed for Orion. Morong, a small port on the South China Sea, was on the opposite side of the Bataan Peninsula.
Everly's face was expressionless.
"You've got coordinates?" the Captain asked.
Weston forced himself to smile.
" 'Two hundred paces due east from an overturned and burned ton-and-a-half,' " he said, " 'three point seven miles from Morong.' "
"There's more than one burned and overturned ton-and-a-half truck on that road," the Captain said.
"Ours not to reason why," Weston said with a smile. "Ours but to..."
"Happy hunting," the Captain said, waving them through the gate.
There was no traffic headed toward Subic Bay. Weston started walking along the side of the road, remembering when he used to hitchhike in high school and college; he could never understand then-or now-why hitchhik-ers walked along the road.
There's no way you could walk even a couple miles to where you're headed, so why walk at all? Just wait for a ride.
Everly walked behind him, keeping up with him easily, despite all the equipment he was carrying. Weston decided he would at least walk out of sight of Mariveles before talking to the sergeant. And then when they were out of sight, he decided he would walk a little farther.
He intended to order the sergeant to go back to The Rock, carrying a mean-ingless message to Major Paulson.
He had just about decided they had gone far enough-being defined as far enough away from Mariveles that if the sergeant became suspicious and said something to the MPs at the gate, he would have twenty minutes or so to find a side road and disappear down it-when the sergeant reported a truck was ap-proaching.
It was a flatbed Ford, driven by an Army corporal. The name of a Manila furniture dealer could still be read under a hastily applied coat of olive-drab paint.
A PFC riding in the cab stepped out and gave Weston his seat, and then climbed in back with Everly. The truck was loaded with bales of empty sand-bags, and the driver told him he was headed for a Philippine artillery battalion, then asked him where he was headed.
"I'm looking for a burned and rolled-over ton-and-a-half," Weston re-plied. "There's supposed to be some stuff cached nearby."
"I was up here this morning," the driver said. "There's a bunch of trucks turned over and burned. How are you going to know which one?"
"I suppose I'll have to check them all out and hope I get lucky," Weston replied.
Fifteen minutes later, on a sharp bend on a deserted stretch of road, the driver slowed and stopped, and pointed out Weston's window. The fire-blacked wheels and underside of an overturned truck were just visible thirty yards off the road, at the bottom of a ditch.
"I guess he missed the turn," the driver said. "At night, no lights, these roads are dangerous as hell."
"Might as well start here, I suppose. Thanks for the ride." The sergeant was standing by the side of the road looking at Weston by the time Weston got out of the cab.
Weston walked to the side of the road and, nearly falling, slid down into the ditch. After a moment, as if making up his mind whether or not to do so, Everly slid down after him.
Weston pretended to examine the truck, and then walked down the ditch a hundred feet or so. Everly watched him but did not follow. Weston walked back to him.
"Obviously, this isn't the truck," he said. Everly said nothing.
"I've been thinking, Sergeant," Weston said, wondering if he sounded as artificial as he felt. "We better get word to Major Paulson that chances are we aren't going to find the truck at all." Everly didn't reply.
"Tell him, of course, that I'll keep looking," Weston said. "Could I see that Thompson a minute, please, Sir?" Everly asked. It was not the response Weston expected. And without really thinking what he was doing, he unslung the submachine gun from his shoulder and handed it to Everly. Everly unslung his Springfield '03 and handed it to Weston.
"Sergeant, what are you doing?" Weston asked.
"Lieutenant, I'm trying to figure out what to do about you," Everly said.
"I'm not going back to The Rock, Mr. Weston," Everly said. "I made up my mind about that a couple of days ago. If I ever got off The Rock, I wouldn't go back."
"What are you going to do?"
"I don't really know. Get off Bataan somehow. Go to one of the other islands. Mindanao, probably."
Weston didn't know what to say.
"And I decided I'm going to need this more than you do," Everly added, shrugging the shoulder from which the Thompson was suspended. "Would you give me the extra magazines, please?"
"What do you think you're going to do, even if you make it to Min-danao?"
"I'm not the only one who's decided he doesn't want to surrender," Ev-erly said. "Maybe I can link up with some of the others."
"And do what?"
"I don't know. Maybe do something about the Japs, maybe try to get out of the Philippines. The only thing I know for sure is that I'm not going to find myself a prisoner."
Their eyes met.
"You sure you know what you're doing?"
"The only thing I know for sure," Everly repeated, "is that I'm not going to find myself a prisoner. I seen what the Japs do to their prisoners."
"The reason I was sending you back to The Rock," Weston said, slowly, "is that I had reached much the same conclusion."
"I figured maybe that was it when I heard you bullshit them officers," Everly said.
"I'm a pilot," Weston said. "If I can get to Australia, I can do some good. I'm not doing anybody any good here."
Everly nodded but did not reply.
"Do you have any idea how we can get from here to Mindanao?" Weston asked.
Everly shook his head slowly from side to side. "Except that we're going to need a boat," he said.
"Do you have any idea where we can get a boat?"
Everly shook his head again.
"Well, we'll think of something," he said, and held out Everly's Springfield to him. With the other hand, he prepared to take his Thompson back.
"You ever fire a Thompson much, Mr. Weston?"
"Only in Basic Officers' Course," Weston replied. "For familiariza-tion."
"I got a Thompson Expert Bar," Everly said. "Maybe I better keep it." The Expert Bar is one of the specific weapon bars (the others being pistol, rifle, et cetera) attached to the Expert Marksman's Medal.
That's not a suggestion, Weston realized, nor even a request. It is an an-nouncement that he has taken over the Thompson.
"If you think that's the smart thing to do, it's all right with me," Weston said, and handed Everly the two spare magazines Major Paulson had given him.
Did I do that because it was the logical thing to do ? Or because there is something about this man that frightens me? And I didn't want to-have the balls to-challenge him ?
"The way I figure it, we're maybe nine, ten miles from Morong," Ev-erly said. "I don't think it would be smart going into Morong looking for a boat. But maybe we could find something a little out of town, maybe a mile or so. Either side of Morong. There's little coves, or whatever they're called."
"And you speak Spanish," Weston said, thinking aloud.
Everly grunted an acknowledgment.
"And I have five thousand dollars," Weston said, with a touch of enthusi-asm in his voice.
Everly quickly dispelled it.
"If we get caught by the Army snooping around, looking for a boat, we better hope your boat pass works."
"You think that's liable to happen?"
"I don't think we're the only ones trying to get away from Bataan," Ev-erly said matter-of-factly. "And what we're doing is desertion in the face of the enemy."
"Is that how you think of it?"
"That's what it is, Mr. Weston," Everly said, and then turned and started up the side of the ditch, back toward the road.
After Weston climbed up after him, Everly had something else to say:
"I think it would be a good idea, Mr. Weston, if we split your five thou-sand dollars. In case we get separated or something."
Weston didn't like the suggestion, if it was a suggestion. But he took out the envelope and counted out twenty-five hundred dollars and handed it to Ev-erly.
He found a little consolation in the thought that if Everly wanted to steal the money, all he had to do was point the Thompson at him and take it.
"Thanks," Everly said. He removed his canteens from their covers, di-vided the money into two stacks, shoved it into the canteen cases, and then, with some difficulty, replaced the canteens.
Then he started walking down the road. Weston walked after him, very much aware that he was no longer functioning as a Marine officer in command of an enlisted man. Everly had taken command. It was not a comforting thought.
On the other hand, this Old Breed China Marine seems to know what he's doing. And obviously I don't.
The village on the coast was at the end of a winding dirt road-not much more than a trail. It consisted of no more than fifteen crude houses surrounding a well. The houses were built on stilts, obviously as protection against surf and high tides; some were roofed with galvanized steel, others with thatch.
Weston wondered why they didn't build their houses farther away from the water.
The shoreline was mostly dirt and rocks, onto which boats could have been beached. No boats were in sight, however, and no marks were on the shoreline indicating any had been in there, not only since the last tide, but for a long time.
But Weston, his eyes following his nose, saw fish drying.
There are boats around here somewhere.
There was a cantina.
In the cantina were four tables, perhaps a dozen rickety chairs, and a bar onto which a metal Lucky Strike cigarette advertisement had been nailed. A shelf behind the bar held a dozen glasses and half a dozen empty Coca-Cola bottles. It was tended by a very fat Filipino woman with graying hair and bad teeth.
She eyed them suspiciously.
Weston looked at Everly, waiting for him to speak to the woman. After a moment, it became apparent that Everly was waiting for him to say something to her.
Not because I'm the officer in charge, but because he doesn't want her to know he speaks Spanish. Christ, why didn 't I think of that?
Weston gestured that he wanted something to drink.
' Wo cerveza," the woman said.
Weston knew enough Spanish to understand there was no beer.
He shrugged, hoping she would interpret this to mean he would be satis-fied with whatever she had.
"Dinero?" the old woman asked.
He reached in his pocket and laid an American five-dollar bill on the bar. She picked it up, examined it carefully, laid it back down, and walked out of the cantina through a door in the rear. In two minutes she was back with one bottle of Coca-Cola. She opened it and handed it to him. Then she picked up the five-dollar bill and stuffed it in the opening of her dress.
"It's a good thing we're not really thirsty," Everly said, and then indi-cated with a barely perceptible move of his head that Weston should look be-hind him.
A small, dark-skinned man had come into the cantina. He was barefoot, and he was wearing a loose-fitting cotton pullover shirt and baggy, ragged cuffed trousers.
"Hello, American buddies," he called from behind the bar. "I speak En-glish. How are you?"
"Hello," Weston said.
"Very bad," the Filipino said. "Goddamn very bad."
"What's very bad?"
"Fucking war," the Filipino said, walking to Weston, putting out his hand, and when Weston took it, shaking it enthusiastically. "Fucking Japons. Bullshit."
"Very bad," Weston agreed.
"Hello, buddy," the Filipino said to Everly.
Everly nodded his head.
"No fucking beer," the Filipino said. "Damn near no Coca-Cola. Fucking Japons."
"Yes," Weston agreed.
"What can I do for you?" the Filipino asked.
"Actually, we're looking for a boat."
"Ha! No fucking boats anymore. You got any money?"
"We're trying to rent a boat to take us off Bataan," Weston said.
"No fucking boats. Japons maybe twenty-five miles away. Next week they be here."
"What happened to the boats that were here?" Weston asked.
"Everybody gone. Except maybe one or two boats hidden."
"We would like to rent one of the boats that are hidden," Weston said.
"Very expensive. Very illegal. Very dangerous. Be very expensive."
"Very expensive. Thousand dollars."
"How about five hundred?" Everly said.
"Thousand dollars. No boats left. Fucking war. Fucking Japons."
"All we have is one thousand dollars," Weston said. "And we'll need money when we get to Mindanao."
The slight Filipino looked thoughtful.
"Why you want to go to Mindanao?"
"To fight the Japanese," Weston said.
"Fucking Japons no fucking good. Goddamn. I will ask. But I think man with boat will want thousand dollars."
"If you take us to Mindanao," Weston said, "I'll give you a thousand dollars. Five hundred dollars now, five hundred when we get there."
"I will ask," the Filipino said. "You stay here. Drink Coca-Cola. I will comeback."
"When I see the boat, I will give you five hundred dollars," Weston said.
"You stay here. Drink Coca-Cola," the Filipino said. "I come quick."
He left the cantina the way he had come in.
"That was too easy," Everly said softly.
Weston's temper flared.
"You have any better ideas, Sergeant?"
"Your show, Mr. Weston, but if I was you, I'd put all but the one thousand someplace he can't see it."
Weston glowered at him, which didn't seem to faze Everly at all.
"If he does come back, I wouldn't give him the five hundred until we're on the boat," Everly said.
The Filipino came back after fifteen minutes, but he didn't enter the can-tina. He stood in the door and motioned for them to follow him.
Everly gestured for Weston to go first.
The Filipino led them down a trail through the thick vegetation for a quar-ter mile, and then stopped. He pointed toward the water. After a moment, Wes-ton saw faint marks on the muddy, rocky beach which suggested that a boat had been dragged from the water. A moment later, he saw the stern of a boat peeking through the thick vegetation.
"Good fucking boat," the Filipino said. "Carry you to Mindanao. Shit, carry you to fucking Australia."
He left the trail and pushed his way through the vegetation toward the beach.
When they reached the boat, two other Filipinos were there. An older man was dressed like the first, and a stocky, flat-faced young woman wore a thin cotton dress and apparently nothing else.
"They no speak English like me," the Filipino said. "I translate for you."
There was an exchange between the Filipino men.
"He say he want to see money."
"I'll give him the money when that boat is in the water and we're under way," Weston said.
"You no trust me?" the Filipino asked, in a hurt tone.
"When the boat is in the water and we've pushed off," Weston said.
"No go now," the Filipino said, as if explaining something to a backward child. "Must go in dark. Fucking Japons see us if we go now, and maybe fuck-ing U.S. Navy."
Weston wondered if that meant the Navy was patrolling these waters to prevent Americans from leaving the peninsula. From deserting in the face of the enemy. He looked at his watch. It was 1735. Darkness should fall soon.
"OK," Weston said. "We'll wait."
"OK," the Filipino said. "Get off beach where nobody can see you."
As darkness fell, there was a heavy rain shower, and Weston and Everly found what shelter they could under the hull of the boat. It didn't offer much shelter, though, and they could not help but notice the battered condition of the hull.
It was quite dark when other men appeared. `Their' Filipino motioned them out from under the hull, and when they moved onto the beach, they al-most immediately stepped into water. The beach had narrowed; the tide had risen.
The men, using ropes woven from vines, dragged the boat across the beach and got it into the water.
"You give me money now," 'their' Filipino said when the boat was bob-bing, barely visible, several yards offshore.
When Weston produced the money, the Filipino counted it in the light of a Zippo lighter. The lighter had a USMC insignia. For a moment Weston thought, lightly, that might be a good omen. Then he wondered where the Fili-pino found the lighter. Lighters were in short supply. There were no more Ship's Stores or Army Post Exchanges, nor stores outside military bases. Good cigarette lighters were in demand; people took care of them.
Where did this guy get the lighter? Steal it from somebody? Offer some other Marine a way off Bataan, then rob him, knowing he couldn't go to the Military Police? Or throw him over the side?
That's paranoid, he told himself. There's no reason to be suspicious of the Filipino.
If he'd wanted to rob us, he could have done it in the cantina, or while we were here in the bush, waiting for it to get dark And we couldn't have done a thing about it. There is a boat, and absolutely no indication that the Filipino is going to do anything but what he agreed to do, get us off Bataan. What's wrong with you, Jim Weston, is that you 're afraid. You 're afraid of what you 're doing, deserting in the face of the enemy; and you 're afraid of getting killed. For Christ's sake, you're supposed to be an officer. Act like one!
They waded out to the boat, finding themselves in water almost to their armpits, holding their weapons over their heads. When they reached the side of the boat, one of the Filipinos leaned over and took Weston's Springfield from him. Then he reached down for the web belt, with its holstered pistol.
If I hand over the pistol, I'll be disarmed. Maybe they've been waiting for this-to separate us from our weapons.
Oh, for Christ's sake! Stop it! If they wanted to slit our throats, they would have done that on the beach.
He let the Filipino on the boat take the web belt. And then a hand found his in the darkness, and he felt himself being hauled out of the water.
The first thing that happened was his pistol belt and the Springfield were returned to him, which made him feel like a fool.
Everly came aboard a moment later. One of the Filipino seamen took Wes-ton's arm, led them to a small hatch in the deck, and motioned them through it. A match flared, and in its light Weston saw the Filipino lighting a primitive oil lamp, nothing more than what looked like a six-inch piece of clothesline stuck into a bottle of oil. But the flame caught, and the small compartment was dully illuminated. The Filipino handed him the lamp and then left the compartment, closing the hatch after him.
Weston looked at Everly.
"Well, we seem to be on our way," Weston said. Everly did not reply.
Weston saw Everly make sort of a pillow out of his rucksack and then lie down on the deck. Weston had no rucksack, and tried to make himself comfort-able without one. But the confinement of the compartment and the curve of the hull made this impossible; his head hung down painfully. Finally, he took off his shirt and rolled it up. This seemed to work.
He heard creaking sounds from outside; and then he had a sense of motion, as if the boat were getting under way.
"Have you got a match, or a lighter?" Everly asked. It was the first time he had spoken.
"Both," Weston replied.
"Why don't you put that lamp out?" Everly said, his suggestion again sounding more like an order. "If we need it, we can relight it. If that lamp spills, lit, there's likely to be a fire."
"Right," Weston said, and blew the flame out. There was an unpleasant-smelling smoke, and the coal on the wick took a long time to die out.
Then the darkness was complete. There was no question now that they were moving. The hull was canted-which forced Weston to readjust his po-sition on the deck-and he could hear the splash and gurgle of water on the hull.
He started to think. The idea that they were going to be robbed and killed no longer seemed credible. He was almost embarrassed that he had had it. But what was real was that he had now deserted. That was a fact. He had deserted in the face of the enemy, in the foul-smelling bilge of a crude Philippine fishing boat. It was not what he had had in mind when he joined The Corps and went through flight school.
He fell asleep trying to put things in order, telling himself he was going to have to stop dwelling on the desertion business. It wasn't as if he was running away to avoid his military duty; what he really was doing was evading capture, so that he could make his way to Australia and get back in the cockpit of a fighter to wage war against the enemy as he had been trained to fight.
Weston woke in shock and confusion. That immediately turned into terror.
He tried to sit up-a reflex action-and became instantly aware that some-thing-someone-was lying on him. And then whoever was lying on him was thrashing about and making horrible guttural sounds. And then-again without conscious effort-when he tried to push whoever was on top of him off, or to slip out from under him, he realized his hands were slippery.
"Mr. Weston, you all right?" Everly hissed. Before Weston could form a reply, he sensed movement; and then the weight on him lifted.
"What the hell?"
"You all right?" Everly asked again. "Did he cut you?"
"Oh, Christ!" Weston said. "What the hell happened?"
"I cut his throat," Everly said almost matter-of-factly. "Are you all right?"
The sonofabitch is annoyed that I didn't answer him quickly enough.
"I'm wet, my hands are wet," Weston said.
And then he realized what made his hands wet and sticky, and was quickly nauseous. Not much came out, but his chest hurt from the effort, and there was a foul taste of bile in his mouth.
"What the hell happened?" he asked, now indignant himself.
"Here it is," Everly said. "I found it."
"The knife, a filet knife, it looks like," Everly said. Weston felt something pushing at him. "You take it."
"I don't want it!"
"There's three more of them outside," Weston said. "In thirty seconds, they're going to suspect this guy fucked up."
"He tried to kill me?" Weston asked, his brain not quite willing to accept that fact.
"Just be glad he went after you first," Everly said. "If I'd have had to fight the sonofabitch, no telling what would have happened."
"Load your pistol," Everly ordered.
"There's shit-there's blood-all over my hands."
"Wipe them, for Christ's sake, on your pants. Get your pistol loaded. Qui-etly!"
Weston slapped his hands against his trousers to wipe off the blood, then somehow managed to get the.45 pistol from its holster. The first time he tried to pull the slide back to chamber a cartridge, his fingers slipped when it was halfway back, and the spring forced the slide forward again without chamber-ing a cartridge.
"Quietly, for Christ's sake!" Everly said. And then, as a flashlight played in the compartment, blinding Weston with its sudden light, he added, "Shit!" A moment later there were half a dozen deafening explosions, each accompa-nied by an orange flash.
Now everything seemed to move in slow motion.
Weston frantically wiped his fingers on his trousers and felt for the serra-tions on the rear of the pistol slide. He jerked it back violently. His fingers slipped off, but when the slide moved forward again, he heard-and felt-a cartridge being chambered.
He now recognized the noise. It was the Thompson firing, and it was in-credibly loud, painfully deafening. His ears rang, and he felt dizzy. Though he was nearly blinded by the light from the flashlight, he vaguely saw Everly div-ing for it. Then he covered it with his body, and the light went out.
An orange ball in Weston's eyes faded slowly. After what seemed like a full minute but was probably far less time, he could make out a slightly lighter area in the blackness. This was the hatch to the compartment, he realized- now open. A moment later, he saw the reason the hatch was open: There was a body in it.
He could now make out Everly, not clearly, but clearly enough to see that he was grasping the hair on the head of the body in the hatch. He pulled the head back and cut the man's throat.
"They don't have any weapons," Everly said. "Guns. If they did, they would have used them by now. But how the fuck do we get out of here?"
"They'll be waiting for us," Weston said, and immediately felt like a fool.
Everly moved close to the hatch, then rolled onto his back.
"As soon as I'm through the hatch, you follow," Everly ordered. "Come up here!"
Weston moved toward the hatch. When he put his hand to the deck, it slid in what had to be blood. The bile returned to his mouth, but he was able to restrain the impulse to vomit.
He had just reached Everly when Everly fired the Thompson at the side and overhead bulkheads, ten or twelve rounds in two- and three-round bursts. The noise and muzzle flashes were again blinding, deafening, and painful.
When partial sight returned, Weston could see Everly shoving himself through the hatch, still on his back. Additional flashes came from the Thomp-son. But, with the muzzle outside the compartment, no more painful explosions assaulted his ear.
Weston dove through the hatch the moment Everly had cleared it, then rolled onto his back.
"Shoot the sonofabitch!" Everly ordered.
Weston looked frantically from side to side, and finally saw one of the Filipinos, scurrying aft on all fours.
"Shoot the sonofabitch!" Everly screamed.
Weston held the Colt in both hands, lined up the sights as best he could, and fired. The Filipino seemed to hesitate. Weston shot him again. And again.
"Make sure he's dead," Everly called, somewhat more calmly.
Weston rose to his feet and walked unsteadily aft. The Filipino-he was "their Filipino," the one who'd arranged for the boat, taken the money-was on his stomach, his legs pushing as if trying to get away. Weston did not want to shoot him again. But then, as if with a mind of its own, the hand holding the.45 raised the pistol until it was pointing at the base of the man's skull, and his finger pulled the trigger.
The man's head seemed to explode.
He looked back at Everly in time to see him-far more clearly this time- repeat what he'd done in the compartment. Pulling the man's head backward by his hair to expose his throat, he used a thin-bladed knife to cut deeply into it. Blood gushed out.
Everly dropped the man's head onto the deck. As Weston watched, horri-fied, Everly ran his hands over the man's body, searching it. He put his hands in the man's pockets and came out with a pocket watch, a key, and some money, all of which he jammed into his own pocket. Finally, he stood up.
"You want to give me a hand here, Mr. Weston?"
"Get this sonofabitch over the side. Him and the others."
"You're going to throw him overboard?"
"You want to keep them, Mr. Weston?" Everly asked.
Weston went forward and helped Everly throw the body over the rail. It entered without much of a splash. And when he gave in to the impulse to look over the side, it was nowhere in sight.
Everly was by then already aft, searching the body of "their" Filipino. From it, he took a canvas wallet and a gold locket of some sort the man had been wearing around his neck. He went into the wallet and took from it the five hundred dollars Weston had given the man on the beach. He put the money in his pocket; and then, horrifying Weston, he pulled the man's trousers off.
Everly met his eyes. "We're going to need clothes," he said, adding, "Help me get the bastard over the side."
Weston moved to help him. The body fell backward into the water, and Weston had a quick sight of the man's face, the features obscenely distorted by the.45 bullet. It would remain with him for a long time.
By the time they'd dragged the last two bodies from the compartment, searched them, stripped them, and pushed them over the side, Weston was ex-hausted, sweating, and breathing heavily. He sat down on the deck, his back against the mast, feeling sick and fighting the urge to throw up.
A few minutes later, Everly came back and sat down beside him.
"No food and no charts," Everly said. "Those bastards had no intention of doing anything but going back where we came from, with our money, and without us."
"Shit," Weston said.
After a while, he became aware that his hands were sticky. He knew why. He pushed himself away from the mast and made his way aft, knelt on the deck, and put his hands in the water. There was no sensation of movement other than a side-to-side rocking motion.
He washed his hands and arms as well as he could, and tried not to think what his chest must look like. Then he pulled himself back in the boat and brushed up against something hard, which moved. After a moment, he realized it was the tiller. There was no life to it, which confirmed his belief that they were sitting dead in the water.
If that's the case, the bodies we put over the side are likely to be floating around right next to us. We have to get out of here.
Where the hell are we?
The flashlight came on, and Everly directed it at the mast. The sail was down, which explained why they were dead in the water.
The light went out. After a moment, there was a creaking sound, and Wes-ton sensed, rather than saw, that Everly was raising the sail. Confirmation of this came a moment later, when he heard the sound of the sail filling. A mo-ment later, he felt a faint suggestion of movement.
He put his hand to the tiller, put it amidship, and felt life come into it.
Everly came aft.
The flashlight came on, and he saw Everly studying a compass.
"We're pointing north," Everly said. "We want to go southeast. You know anything about sailing a boat, Mr. Weston?"
"Only what I learned at camp when I was a kid."
"Can you turn us around, point us southeast?"
"Where are we going?"
"Mindanao," Everly said. "It's five hundred miles or so to the south-east."
"We don't have any food or any water," Weston said.
"There's a bunch of little islands between here and Mindanao. We'll just have to try to get food and water."
"I'll bring us about," Weston said. "Watch the boom. And I think you better give me that compass."
Everly handed him the compass. Weston started pushing on the tiller.
The boat began to turn.
"At least we got our money back," Everly said. "That's something."
And our lives. We 're alive, Weston thought, but said nothing. "Plus what looked like another three, four hundred," Everly added. "I don't think we were the first people these fuckers took for a boat ride."
When the sun came up, they were out of sight of land, alone on a gently rolling sea.
Everly's Marine Corps-issue compass showed them on a southeasterly course. Weston wondered if that were actually the case, or whether steel or iron somewhere on the boat was attracting the compass needle. On the other hand, they were not headed in the wrong direction. If the sun rises in the east, and you are headed directly for it, then south is ninety degrees to the right.
Since he was steering somewhat to the right of the rising sun-east and south (in other words, steering southeast), and this corresponded to the com-pass indications, they were probably headed on a generally southeastern course. But they weren't navigating. For the moment, of course, that was a moot point, since navigation presumes a destination, and they didn't know where they were going-except in the most imprecise terms, "to Mindanao."
Everly searched the boat as soon as there was light enough for that, but found nothing of value except two cans of pineapple slices and a bottle of Coca-Cola. No charts, no other food, and no water.
He found a bucket, too, and used it to flush the blood from the deck. But cleaning up the compartment where they were hiding, where the Filipinos tried to kill them, was impossible. He could have poured water into the compart-ment, but there was no way to pump it out.
When a sickly sweet smell began to come from below, Everly closed the hatch and they tried to ignore the odor.
They shared the Coca-Cola and the two cans of pineapple slices.
Weston thought that perhaps it wasn't wise to eat all the pineapple at once. Maybe they should have saved half for later.
Then he decided it didn't make any difference. They had to find more food and water, or they were finished.
By ten in the morning, the heat from the sun grew uncomfortable. Using a foul-smelling piece of worn canvas, they rigged an effective sunshade. But that was too late. They were already, badly sunburned.
A few minutes after three in the afternoon, they saw on their left horizon what could be land.
The question was, if it was land, and not their eyes just playing tricks on them, what was it?
It very easily could have been part of the island of Luzon, the far side of the entrance to Manila Bay. The Japanese were supposed to be all over that part of Luzon. Was that true?
Was it worth it to go through everything they'd gone through just to find themselves prisoners of the Japanese... even before that would have happened if they'd stayed on The Rock instead of deserting in the face of the enemy?
But the alternative to making for what was probably land on the horizon, Weston decided, was to continue on a course he had very little confidence in, and without food and water. For all he knew, if he kept on his present course, he could very easily be heading out into the South China Sea, with no landfall possible until long after they were dead of dehydration.
Twenty minutes later, they could see enough to know that it was indeed land on the horizon. A half hour after that, they were close enough to make out surf crashing against a solid wall of vegetation. There was no sign of civiliza-tion.
It was now getting close to five p.m.
"We don't have an anchor, and we can't get through that surf," Weston said.
"Go to the left. Maybe we'll find something," Everly replied. As they approached the beach, the western end seemed to recede and then disappear.
"What is this?" Weston asked.
"I think we got a little fucking island," Everly said, pleased.
"Holding two reserve divisions of the Imperial Japanese Army," Weston replied.
Everly looked at him with genuine concern in his eyes. "Why would you say that, Mr. Weston?" he asked.
"I was making a joke."
The sun was low on the horizon when they finally saw a break in the surf. As they approached it, Weston saw that it was a passage between a very small island and the first island they'd found.
There was still no sign of human life, and the only sounds were the distant rustle of the surf and the waves splashing against the bow of the boat. The war that they had so recently left on Corregidor and Bataan-the smells of burned fuel and supplies, the never-ending muted roar of cannon, the dull crump of explosions-could have been happening at another time on a distant planet.
As they entered the passage between the islands, Weston saw a small beach on the larger island. There was no surf.
"We could try to put in there," he said, as much to himself as to Everly. "I don't know how shallow it is. We're likely to go aground."
"Do we have any choice, Mr. Weston?"
Weston steered for the small beach.
They made it all the way to the shore without scraping bottom. As Everly leapt ashore, carrying a rope with him, Weston decided the current flowing through the passage had scoured it clean of sand.
Tying the boat up was no problem. Trees and thick vegetation came right down to the water. Everly looped the line around a thick, twisted tree trunk. The current pulled the boat against what Weston presumed was the solid rock of the shoreline.
What's going to happen now, he thought, is that the current is going to batter the hull against the rocks, whereupon we will sink.
That didn't happen. The current simply held the hull against the rocks with little movement.
Everly heaved himself back aboard.
"There's a goddamned hill, starting right at the trees," he said. "I don't think I could climb it even if it wasn't dark. We'll have to see what happens in the morning."
"There's supposed to be feral hogs on these islands," Weston said.
"Wild pigs. Maybe we could shoot one."
Everly's silence made it clear he didn't think that was likely.
"You want to do two-hour watches?" he asked.
"You want to go first, or me?"
"I'll go first," Weston said.
Everly made himself a pillow from some of the clothing he had removed from the bodies, covered himself with the rest, and went to sleep.
In ten minutes, it was so dark Weston had difficulty seeing him.
He sat immobile for perhaps ten minutes, listening to unidentifiable sounds coming from the shore; and then, without thinking about it, he scratched his chest. His skivvy shirt was covered with drying blood.
On all fours, he crawled on the deck, carefully avoiding Everly, until he found the bucket. Then he crawled aft again and stripped. First he carefully rinsed his skivvy shirt and drawers in the water and arranged them on the rail to dry. Then he dipped the bucket into the water, held it over his head, and poured it over his body.
He did this a dozen times-the dried blood had matted his hair together, and didn't want to dissolve-until he was sure he was as clean as he was going to get.
Still naked, he sat down with his legs folded under him. He looked at his watch. The luminous hands told him it was five minutes to eight. He wondered how long it had taken him to find the bucket, do his laundry, and bathe.
Fuck it, I'll count two hours from now. From eight. I'll wake Everly at ten.
He sat there in the dark, his knee touching the web belt with the.45 in its holster, remembering with sudden clarity how the watch had looked when he'd brought it home from the Officers' Sales Store at Pensacola. It was a Hamilton Chronograph, stainless steel. By pressing the appropriate button, he could mark elapsed time of his choice-length of flight; one minute 360-degree turn. Whatever.
It came in a metal box with a spring-loaded cover. It had an alligator strap, and there was a little book of instructions. He wanted one from the moment he first saw it. But it was considered pushy for students to wear one until they had completed Primary Flight and soloed, and stood a reasonable chance to win their wings of gold.
He remembered very clearly the first time he strapped it to his wrist.
On another planet, at another time, when he was a Naval Aviator.
When Weston opened his eyes, Everly, naked, was squatting beside him. It was light. Weston was confused. It shouldn't be light. He woke Everly at ten. Ev-erly therefore should have waked him at midnight. At midnight, it was still dark.
"I didn't hear a fucking thing for two hours," Everly said. "So I figured, fuck it, why wake you up? And I went to sleep."
"And look what I see when I do wake up," Everly said, and pointed.
Weston sat up.
Two hundred yards offshore was a cabin cruiser.
Adrift, Weston thought. Not under power.
"Can you get us over there?"
"I don't know. I can try."
"It's a long way to swim, and there's sharks, I hear, in these waters."
"Let's get the sail up, and we'll see what happens."
Neither put into words what both thought: There was a chance the cabin cruiser would have food aboard. And a compass. And God only knows what else.
What's it doing here? Adrift?
It took them nearly an hour to reach the boat. There was almost no wind, and the current moved both vessels through the passage and into open water as they pursued it.
As they drew closer, they became aware of the sweet stench of corrupting bodies, and then of a horde of flies.
The boat looked like a ChrisCraft 42, but there was no ChrisCraft insignia.
Probably, Weston decided, a local-manufactured boat, using a ChrisCraft as a pattern. Her tailboard read yet again, Manila, and a faded Manila Yacht Club pennant flew from her rigging.
The stench grew worse as they approached her. When they were at her stern it was nearly overwhelming.
Everly finally managed to get a hand on her, pulled himself aboard, and then threw Weston a line. The moment he saw Weston had grabbed it, he went to the side rail and threw up.
The line was new, still white.
Weston made the boat fast to the cruiser, and then jumped aboard.
There was evidence that the cruiser had been machine-gunned, probably strafed. He saw bullet holes in the deck, in the bulkheads, and in the glasswork.
The ignition key was in the on position. The fuel gauges showed empty, but Weston pressed the engine start button anyway. The engines turned over, but there was no fuel, and they didn't start.
The flies started to bite. There was nothing he could do about them.
Everly came out of the galley carrying cases of canned food.
"There's even beer," he said. "Fucking flies are eating me alive."
"I wonder what happened."
"Who the fuck knows? What I think we should do is stack everything there by the stern, and then I'll go on the boat and you hand it to me."
They made half a dozen trips into the galley before Weston found the cour-age to ask the question that was in his mind even before they had come aboard:
"What happened to the people who were on here?"
"If they were alive, they would have come out by now," Everly said.
Weston went into the galley again; and then, forcing himself, he went through it, into the passageway leading to the cabins.
He could not restrain the urge to vomit. When he had stopped heaving, he had difficulty resisting the urge to flee.
But he went into the master cabin. He found two bodies. A gray-haired woman was on the double bunk, her hands folded on her stomach. She was wearing shorts and a knit shirt. The shirt was thick with blood, the blood cov-ered with swarms of flies.
She had been shot in the chest.
The second body was lying on the deck next to the bunk-a man in his fifties; he had shot himself in the temple. A snub-barreled revolver was on the deck beside him.
Weston took a quick look around and fled the cabin.
"Well?" Everly asked when Weston was back on deck.
"There's a... a couple... back there. It looks as if the woman was killed and then the man shot himself."
"Anything we can use?"
"I didn't look."
Everly gave him a look of contempt and headed for the cabin.
Weston sat down on a cushioned seat against the stern rail and supported his head in his left hand, using the right to wave away the swarming flies.
Everly reappeared carrying blankets. Weston saw that he had the snub-nosed pistol jammed in his waistband, and that he, too, now had a first-class wristwatch. Weston had seen it on the man's body.
"I also found a bunch of good fucking charts," Everly said.
"What do you think we should do about the boat?"
"What do you mean, do about it?"
"Burn it, maybe?"
"And call attention to ourselves? The Japs already strafed this boat once. Those were machine-gun bullets in the woman." He indicated the bullet holes in the desk and glass.
"We can't just leave them in there like that," Weston said.
"Yes, we can," Everly said. "We load this stuff on the boat and get the fuck away from here before some other Jap airplane comes this way."
Weston felt anger well up within him, so quickly and so fiercely that he was frightened. He forced himself, literally, to count to ten before he spoke.
"Sergeant, find something to weight the bodies down. Maybe an engine battery. We'll wrap them in blankets and put them over the side."
"Didn't you hear what I said, Mr. Weston, about getting out of here before the Japs come back?"
"Didn't you hear what I said, Sergeant, about finding something to weight the bodies down?"
Everly met Weston's eyes for a long moment.
"The proper response, Sergeant, is 'Aye, aye, Sir.' "
There was another hesitation, shorter, but perceptible.
"Aye, aye, Sir," Sergeant Everly said.
"Where's the charts you said you found?" Weston asked. "I want a quick look at them."
"Over there, Mr. Weston," Everly said, pointing to what looked like a brand-new briefcase. "We also have another three thousand dollars."
"You found a wallet or something?"
"Names of these people in it?"
"I guess they're their names."
"Don't lose it," Weston ordered. "Someone will want to know what hap-pened to these people."
"Like when we get to Australia?"
"Or when we win the war," Weston said curtly.
"Something funny, Sergeant?" Weston said as he felt his temper rise again. Then his mouth ran away with him.
"When I was in the Officers' Basic Course, Everly, I had an instructor, a man like you. As a matter of fact, I recall him mentioning that he was an old China Marine. You know what he told me a Marine was? He said that a Marine was somebody hired by the Government to take bullets for civilians. And that's what we're going to do. We're Marines, and we're going to bury these civil-ians. If we take a bullet while we're doing it, that's how it will have to be."
Everly continued to smile.
"You think that's funny?" Weston snapped.
"No, Sir, what I was thinking..."
"Out with it, Sergeant!"
"That maybe you're not the candy-ass I thought you were at first."
"Well, fuck you, Sergeant!" Weston heard himself say.
"Yes, Sir," Everly said. "I'll go see if I can find some batteries or some-thing."
As Everly said, the charts were good. Within a minute or so, Weston was sure he had found where they were-in the passage between Lubang Island and Ambil Island, to its east. According to the chart, Ambil was uninhabited. To the south, across the Verde Island Passage, was Mindoro.
Now that he had the charts (presuming the boat didn't come apart on them, or Japanese aircraft didn't strafe them, or Japanese vessels didn't intercept them, or, for that matter, they didn't founder in one of the sudden, violent storms for which these seas were famous), he saw a good chance of making it through the inland Sibuyan Sea, and then the Visayan Sea, past the Visayan Islands (Panay, Negros, Cebu, and Bohol) into the Mindanao Sea and to Min-danao.
There was a Waterman pen-and-pencil set in the briefcase. He used the pencil to mark a tentative course, aware, but pretending not to notice, that Ev-erly had brought the bodies onto the deck and trussed them neatly in blankets. Each of them was weighted down with two batteries.
Everly found that a portion of the aft rail of the cruiser could be opened inward. He opened it.
"Anytime you're ready, Mr. Weston," he said.
"I think a word of prayer would be in order, Sergeant," Weston said as he replaced the charts in the briefcase.
Having said that, the only thing he could think of was the Lord's Prayer. He recited it, as Everly stood with his head bowed.
His mind then went blank.
After a long moment, he said, "Into the deep we commit the bodies of our brother and sister departed. Amen."
"Amen," Sergeant Everly parroted.
They pushed the blanket-wrapped bodies through the opening in the rail into the sea.
Thirty minutes later, they cut loose from the Yet Again and Weston pointed the bow toward the Verde Island Passage.
He looked back once at the cabin cruiser drifting on the blue water, and was sorry he did.
Headquarters, 4th Marine Regiment
Manila Bay, Republic of the Philippines
0415 Hours 6 May 1942
"You know what I know about burning the colors, Paulson?" Colonel S. L. Howard, USMC, who was the senior Marine officer on Corregidor, asked of Major Stephen J. Paulson, USMC, who was acting S-l, 4th Marines.
They were perhaps one hundred feet in a lateral tunnel opening off the main Malinta Tunnel. From their lateral, it was perhaps two hundred yards to the entrance to the now sandbagged entrance. The colors, the national flag, and the regimental flag of the 4th Marines were behind Howard's desk, unfurled, their staffs resting in holders.
"Not very much," Howard said. "And I can't even remember where I learned-I must have read it somewhere in a novel-what I do know. I know that it is a disgrace to lose your colors to the enemy, and at the last possible moment before the enemy is to lay his hands on them, it is the duty of the senior officer present to burn them."
"That's how I understand it, Sir."
"I would say we are at that moment, Paulson, wouldn't you?"
There was no question about that. Two days before, the Japanese assault on Fortress Corregidor had begun, with a massive, unceasing, around-the-clock artillery barrage. Someone had calculated that eleven explosive rounds were landing on the Fortress every minute. That translated to 667 rounds per hour, 16,000 rounds each twenty-four hours.
The Japanese landed on the island the day before, at what was called the "Tail of the Tadpole," and suffered heavy losses. But they kept coming, and it was impossible to throw them back into the sea. To avoid firing on their own men, that portion of the Japanese artillery fire initially directed at the Tail of the Tadpole had shifted, and was now falling on Top Side-the Head of the Tadpole-where the barracks had once stood, and beneath which was the tun-nel complex.
Japanese infantry was making its way up from the Tail to Top Side, slowly but irresistibly.
There were approximately 15,000 American and Filipino men and officers defending Fortress Corregidor, very few of whom (approximately one-tenth) had training as infantry soldiers. The vast bulk of American military personnel, except for the regular Corregidor garrison-Coast Artillerymen-were techni-cians, staff officers, and clerks of one kind or another, who had moved to Cor-regidor when General MacArthur had moved his headquarters to the Fortress early in the war.
Several hundred of the 1,500 military personnel trained as infantrymen were Marines. The vast bulk of these Marines were members of the 4th Ma-rines, which had come to the Philippines from Shanghai in November 1941, had participated in action against the Japanese on Luzon, on the Bataan Penin-sula, and had been ordered to Corregidor. There were also some Marines who had been stationed, prior to the war, at various U.S. Navy installations in the Philippines, then ordered to Corregidor.
The Coast Artillerymen of the Corregidor garrison had done their job, and more than could have been reasonably expected of them. There was ample am-munition for their "disappearing rifles" (which were Coast Artillery cannon that rose on their carriages to fire, and then lowered into a protected position) and for their enormous mortars; and it had been a rare moment in recent days when the roar of American cannon could not be heard, or the concussion of their firing not felt.
But it was not enough to stop the Japanese. And one by one, many of the guns and the gun positions, previously believed impregnable, had been de-stroyed.
The clerks and technicians, pressed into service as riflemen, had done their duty too, performing it (in the private opinions of many Marines) far better than expected.
But everybody was weak-they had been on half rations for more than six weeks, and half rations had recently been halved again-and exhausted; and they suffered from the ceaseless concussion of incoming Japanese artillery.
"Somehow, I don't like the idea of burning them in here."
"We could carry them outside, Sir."
"Would that be a signal that it's over?" Colonel Howard asked rhetori-cally, and then, without giving Paulson a chance to respond, changed the sub-ject.
"I took a look at the records yesterday, before ordering them burned," he said. "The personnel rosters. We seem to be carrying an extraordinary number, even under these circumstances, of personnel missing in action."
"You would know more about this than I would, Major. Would you say some of the missing personnel went-how do I say this?-went missing pur-posely?"
"If you're asking if there has been an attempt to avoid hazardous service, Sir, I would say no."
"Would you say, then, Major, that some of those Marines those now-burned reports carried as 'missing' absented themselves in the belief that they would thus be able to continue waging war against the Japanese in some other location?"
"I believe that is entirely possible, Sir."
"And how many of those who went purposely missing would you think made it through the enemy lines to someplace where they could indeed con-tinue to fight?"
Major Paulson had a sudden clear mental picture of two Marines: First Lieutenant James B. Weston and Sergeant Percy Lewis Everly.
"There's no way of knowing, Sir. Some, obviously, will have made it. And some, obviously, will have been killed or captured."
"Purposefully absenting oneself, purposely going missing, ordinarily would be something disgraceful. At the very least, even with the best inten-tions, it could be considered AWOL; at the worst, desertion in the face of the enemy."
"Right now, Paulson, if I had the opportunity, I think I would go over the hill myself. Burning the colors, hoisting the white flag..."
"I thought about it, Sir," Paulson said.
"But you stayed."
"Disobeying an order is hard for me, Sir."
"And for me," Howard said. "How would you propose we do this, Paul-son?"
"I've got something," Paulson said, and produced a quart-sized tin can. "I don't know what it is, it's to clean a mimeograph machine. But it's highly combustible. I suggest, Sir, that we pour it on the colors and ignite it. I'll hold the staffs, if you like, or..."
"There's enough for both the regimental and national colors?"
"Yes, Sir. And they're silk, Sir. Once they're ignited, they'll burn."
"I don't want to do it in here, in this goddamn tunnel, like a trapped rat," Colonel Howard said. "Would you be willing, Major Paulson, to go with me to the main tunnel entrance?"
"Yes, Sir. Of course, Sir."
Colonel Howard nodded. He stood up and went to the two flags behind his desk. He took the national colors from its holder, held it horizontally, and then twisted the staff until the flag was wrapped around the pole. He handed the furled colors to Paulson. Then he repeated the furling action with the red regi-mental flag of the 4th Marines.
When he was finished, he preceded Paulson down the lateral tunnel, and then down the main tunnel to the entrance. As they approached the entrance, they could now hear small-arms fire, the solid crack of American.30-06 cali-ber rifle and light machine-gun fire, and the higher-pitched crack of Japanese small arms.
They made their way past the sandbags.
A Japanese artillery shell whistled in and exploded with a crash that made them both cringe.
"The national colors first, I think, Paulson," Howard said. "They are never supposed to touch the ground."
"Aye, aye, Sir," Major Paulson said.
He held his flagstaff horizontally and twisted the staff so that the flag un-wrapped from the staff. Colonel Howard leaned the colors of the 4th Marines against the sandbags, took Paulson's quart can of mimeograph machine clean-ing fluid, and carefully poured half on the national colors.
When he tried to ignite it with his Zippo cigarette lighter, it didn't work, and he had to dip into Paulson's pocket for Paulson's Zippo.
The cleaning fluid ignited immediately, quickly igniting the silk material of the flag. But it took longer for the flag to burn than either Colonel Howard or Major Paulson expected. By the time it did burn, the flagstaff was smoldering, and here and there were other small flickers of flame.
Paulson swung the flagstaff like a baseball bat against a concrete abut-ment, breaking it into two pieces. He picked up the top half, with the gold-plated American eagle, and smashed the eagle against the concrete.
Then he picked up the regimental colors of the 4th Marines, twisted the staff until the flag was unwrapped, and held it out for Colonel Howard to douse with mimeograph cleaning fluid and ignite.
When the colors had burned, he smashed the staff, this time ruining the gold American eagle first, and then breaking the staff.
After that, Colonel Howard and Major Paulson went back into Malinta Tunnel. All other duties assigned to them having been performed, they then picked up their rifles and exited the tunnel to fight as infantry.
Gingoog Bay, Misamis-Oriental Province
Mindanao, Commonwealth of the Philippines
0425 Hours 8 October 1942
The military force that its commander privately thought of as "Weston's Weary Would-Be Warriors" made landfall from Bohol Island at daylight. The commanding officer, First Lieutenant James B. Weston, USMC, in addition to a full beard, wore a wide-brimmed straw hat and a baggy pair of white cotton pants. He was barefoot and bare-chested, and his skin was deeply tanned.
In addition to Sergeant Percy Lewis Everly, USMC, the force consisted of twelve other servicemen. Senior among them was Chief Pharmacist's Mate Stanley J. Miller, USN, who with Seaman First Class Paul K. Nesbit had been the first recruits to the unit.
For two weeks after leaving the Yet Again adrift off Lubang Island, Wes-ton and Everly had traveled very slowly and very cautiously, sailing for three or four hours a day and spending the rest hiding. On the afternoon of the fif-teenth day, they had come across the Chief and Nesbit in the Sibuyan Sea, drifting in a demasted sailboat. They had left Luzon with the same intention as Weston and Everly: making it to Mindanao and possibly to Australia, mean-while avoiding capture by the Japanese.
They took them aboard, scuttled their boat, fed them from their dwindling stocks of canned foods from the Yet Again, and resumed their painfully slow voyage toward Mindanao.
It took them six months, by far most of it spent on one small island or another, trying to stay alive and out of the hands of the Japanese. On the island of Panay, while moving through the hills in search of food, they encountered a group of five Army Air Corps enlisted men, under Sergeant Allan F. Taylor. Taylor had been sent to search for possible auxiliary landing fields under the command of an Air Corps lieutenant colonel, who had surrendered to the Japa-nese at his first opportunity, telling his command they could do what they wanted; in the circumstances it was every man for himself. None of the enlisted men had been willing to surrender.
They placed themselves under Weston's command with the understanding that it was their intention to make it to Australia, and that they had no intention of trying to wage a guerrilla war against the Japanese.
The force grew two months later on the island of Cebu by the addition of a sailor and a corporal. The corporal had been one of the few American enlisted men assigned to the 26th Cavalry, which had American officers and Filipino troopers. On Luzon they had decided that between them they had the skills (the sailor knew how to handle a small boat; and the cavalryman, a veterinarian's assistant, knew how to speak Spanish) to make it to Mindanao, and possibly out of the Philippine Islands.
The last three recruits were Marines, Old China Marines, career privates of the 4th Marines, who had been captured and made a valiant effort to escape. Like Sergeant Everly, they were familiar with the practice of the Japanese Army to bayonet their prisoners when feeding or guarding them became a problem-or simply because it seemed like an interesting idea at the time.
Everly knew two of the three. He told Weston that one was a world-class drunk, and the other had a room-temperature IQ but was tolerated in the 4th Marines in Shanghai because when he turned out for Guard Mount he looked like the pictures in the manual. The third had been a clerk in the S-4 (Supply) Office, who was pressed into duty as a rifleman just before the 4th Marines were committed to battle for the first time.
"But don't worry, Mr. Weston. I can handle them, they're Marines."
The 26th Cavalry corporal had an Enfield rifle and twenty-three rounds of.30-06 ammunition. The Air Corps contingent had three Enfields, sixty rounds of ammunition for them, and a.45 Colt 1911A1 pistol with twelve rounds. The Marines had no firearms whatever, but had picked up two machetes and an ax.
The money was just about gone-the five thousand dollars Weston had begun with, plus the four hundred Everly had taken from the murderous Filipi-nos on the boat, plus the three thousand they had taken from the Yet Again. The price of anything was what the market would bear, and simply to have enough simple food to stay alive-rice, fruits, and a rare pig, or fresh ham-had been very costly.
The notion of getting out of the Philippines to Australia now seemed un-real. And Weston privately thought that when they got to Mindanao, it wouldn't be very different from any of the other islands they'd been to. There would be no organized military force to which they could attach themselves. If they found any Americans at all, they would almost certainly be just like them-selves, desperately dreaming of getting to Australia but with no real hope of doing so.
They had come to Mindanao because there was no place else to go, and because word had come to them on the grapevine that the Japanese were about to sweep Bohol Island and round up Americans once and for all.
On making port, most of Weston's Weary Would-Be Warriors spent most of the day concealing their two boats, while a reconnaissance party consisting of Sergeant Everly, two of the three Marines, and one of the Air Corps PFCs investigated the area.
When they did not return by nightfall, as Weston had ordered them to, he thought they had probably encountered Japanese. But he wasn't particularly concerned. They had, if nothing else, acquired a demonstrated skill in hiding from Japanese. If they didn't return that night, they'd be back first thing in the morning.
If they had actually gotten into a firefight with the Japanese, it was un-likely that all of them would have been killed or captured. In case there was a disaster, the standing order was for whoever came through the encounter alive to return to "headquarters" and warn the others.
No one came to Gingoog Bay that night, or during the day, or during the next night. And Weston went to sleep about midnight wondering if the ultimate disaster had happened, that everyone had been killed, or, worse for him and the men with him, captured. Given a few hours, the Japanese could force any infor-mation a prisoner had out of him. At that moment, the Japanese could be stag-ing an operation to surround him and to make sure that no one slipped out to sea.
At daylight, after Weston decided no one was going to come at first light either, he tried to decide whether to lead a second reconnaissance patrol, leav-ing Chief Miller in command, or to send Chief Miller on the patrol. The Chief might be a marvelous pharmacist, but he was not a great leader of men. The only thing the Chief would probably be worse at than commanding "the unit" would be leading a reconnaissance patrol.
On top of all that, Sergeant Allan F. Taylor, of the Army Air Corps, was a special problem. Without any justification that Weston could see, he believed himself to be a professional military man on a level with Sergeant Everly. Tay-lor had been some sort of technician, something between a surveyor and a draftsman. Those skills were not very useful to Weston's Weary Would-Be Warriors.
Weston could not leave Taylor behind to command "the unit," because it was clear that neither the Chief nor the remaining Marine would take orders from him-even if Taylor decided, in his own best interests, to assume com-mand. The same consideration applied to sending Sergeant Taylor to lead the reconnaissance. He knew a little less-which was to say, almost nothing- about how to run a reconnaissance than Weston himself. And it was likely that if he got out of sight (and, as important, out of range) of Weston's Springfield, he would decide that his best interests dictated taking off on his own and get-ting to Australia.
At that point, Sergeant Everly returned, bringing with him not only everyone he had taken with him, but a Filipino. The Filipino was dressed in dirty, baggy, white cotton trousers and shirt, a U.S. Army campaign hat, and he was carrying an Enfield and a web belt slung around his neck. He looked, Weston thought, like a Mexican bandit.
"Where the hell have you been?" Weston greeted Everly.
"Look at this, Mr. Weston," Everly said, and handed him a sheet of paper.
It was a delinquent tax notice, dated November 8, 1941, from the Misamis-Occidental Provincial Government to a farmer named Almendres Gerardo.
"What the hell?" Weston asked.
"Turn it over, Mr. Weston," Everly said. Weston did so.
OFFICE OF THE COMMANDING GENERAL
UNITED STATES FORCES IN THE PHILIPPINES
MINDANAO-VISAYAN FORCE IN THE FIELD
1 OCTOBER 1942
1. By virtue of the power invested in me, the undersigned, as senior representative of the United States Government and the Philippine Commonwealth, herewith assumes command.
2. A state of martial law is declared for the duration of the war.
BY ORDER OF THE COMMANDING GENERAL
Wendell W. Fertig
Brigadier General, USA
To all commanding officers, USFTP
To all Provincial Governors
To all Provincial Officials
To all Justice of the Peace Courts
"What the hell is this?" "I found it nailed to a telephone pole." "You think it's for real?" Everly pointed to the Mexican bandit. "He says he can take us there."
"And you believe him? This thing isn't even printed, mimeographed. It's typed. On the back of a tax-due bill."
"Our luck has got to turn sometime," Everly said. "What have we got to lose?"
Cagayan de Oro
Mindanao, Commonwealth of the Philippines
1225 Hours 10 October 1942
The headquarters of the Military Governor of Mindanao had been established in the prewar combined City Hall of Cagayan de Oro and the Provincial Capi-tol of Oriental Province.
It was a three-story redbrick building of a vaguely Colonial style, and it was relatively new, built from plans first drawn for the Works Progress Ad-ministration in the United States. (The WPA was instituted during the early years of F. D. Roosevelt's presidency, in the belief that government building projects-roads, post office buildings, etc.-would provide employment for the unemployed and "prime the pump" of the depressed American economy.)
A Japanese flag-a red ball on a white background-flew from a flagpole mounted on top of the building. And the flags of the Imperial Japanese Army and the personal flag of a brigadier general, in stands, stood at either side of the main double-door entrance to the building.
A slate-gray 1940 Lincoln V-12 sedan came down what was still MacArthur (after the first General MacArthur) Boulevard and pulled into one of the four reserved parking places in front of the building.
Captain Matsuo Saikaku stepped out of the Lincoln and walked briskly up the shallow flight of stairs to the doors, returned the salute of the somewhat rumpled guard, and entered the building.
Captain Saikaku was twenty-four; and, at nearly six feet and 180 pounds, he was somewhat larger than the average Japanese officer. He was wearing neatly starched and pressed khakis, a tieless blouse and trousers, and well-shined shoes (rather than boots and puttees). A Sam Browne belt held a cap-tured U.S. Army Model 1911 Al Colt.45 ACP pistol in a U.S. Army holster. A large, highly polished chrysanthemum, symbol of Imperial Japan, was attached to the flap of the holster, almost entirely concealing the letters "U.S."
Captain Saikaku was less than pleased with the performance of the Lin-coln. It ran roughly at slow speeds and often stalled, but he blamed such things more on the low-quality gasoline he had to use than any design failure of the car. Though Saikaku detested Americans, and most things American, he was willing to acknowledge they produced some fine products-in his view the Colt was a much better weapon than the Japanese Nambu pistol. And they made the finest automobiles in the world. He considered the slate-gray V-12 Lincoln to be one of the best of the best.
He clearly remembered his first encounter with a Lincoln V-12 sedan. It was a 1939 model, but essentially identical to the one he had impressed for his official use from an official-now a detainee-of the First National City Bank of New York office in Cagayan de Oro. It was parked in front of the Foster Waikiki Beach Hotel in Honolulu, where Saikaku was employed as a gardener.
His opinion then and now was that it was both pleasing aesthetically and a mechanical masterpiece. And, he believed, it was a car in keeping with his status. He would have to do something about the way it ran-he had been won-dering if aviation gasoline, or a mixture of regular and aviation gasolines, would improve performance-but he was determined to keep the car.
He was aware that Lieutenant Colonel Tange Kisho, who had impressed a Buick Super for his official use, was somewhat annoyed to learn that a Lincoln was a more prestigious car than a Buick Super. Lieutenant Colonel Tange was the senior of the seven Kempeitai officers attached to the Office of the Military Governor of Mindanao, and Captain Saikaku's superior officer. (The Kem-peitai-Secret Police-was roughly the Japanese equivalent of the German Gestapo. Although members of the Kempeitai were, in a sense, soldiers, as they came under the jurisdiction of the War Ministry and bore military ranks, they were essentially autonomous and were not directly subordinate to the local military commander.)
Brigadier General Kurokawa Kenzo, the Military Governor, was chauffeured about in a 1940 Cadillac sedan Saikaku had impressed for him from an official of the Dole Pineapple Corporation.
General Kenzo was pleased not only with his Cadillac but with Captain Saikaku's thoughtfulness in finding it for him. It was not the sort of behavior General Kenzo expected from any Kempeitai officer, and especially not from one he knew to be the son of the first cousin of General Tojo Hideki.
Lieutenant Colonel Tange had come into the Kempeitai from the Nagasaki Police Prefecture, and was a reserve officer. Captain Saikaku believed that it didn't hurt at all to remind Lieutenant Colonel Tange that he himself was a regular officer of the Imperial Japanese Army, seconded to the Kempeitai, and a first cousin, once removed, of General Tojo, who was second in power in Japan only to his Imperial Majesty Emperor Hirohito.
Captain Saikaku thought it not unlikely that when his assignment to the Kempeitai Detachment to the Military Governor of Mindanao was over, Lieu-tenant Colonel Tange would write an enthusiastic efficiency report on him, suggesting that he was highly deserving of promotion.
Lieutenant Colonel Tange occupied the former office of the Mayor of Cagayan de Oro, to the right of the entrance foyer; and General Kurokawa Kenzo was in the office of the former Provincial Governor, to the left. Saikaku entered Tange's outer office, ignored Tange's sergeant, and walked to Tange's open door.
"Good afternoon, Colonel," he said, saluting with something less than great precision. Then he walked inside and bowed, quickly, from the waist.
"This, Captain Saikaku, has come to my attention," Lieutenant Colonel Tange said. "I would be very interested in your opinion of it."
He handed Saikaku a sheet of paper on which was typewritten Brigadier General Wendell Fertig's assumption of command and declaration of martial law proclamation.
Lieutenant Colonel Tange spoke English, but not as well as Captain Saikaku, who had studied the language for six years and then perfected it while a young lieutenant working for more than a year as a laborer in Hawaii.
"The name is not familiar to me," Tange said. "And, I checked, it is not on the roster of prisoner officers."
"My immediate reaction, Sir, is that it is not what it purports to be," Saikaku said. "I'm sure the Colonel has noticed that it is typewritten, not mimeographed, and that-more important-it is typed on previously used paper."
"If it is not what it purports to be, Captain, what, then, is it?"
"I am guessing, of course, Colonel, and I will of course look into the mat-ter. But my immediate reaction is that this was prepared by a former Army clerk familiar with the form of such a letter, and intended to fool us."
"Why a clerk and not an officer?"
"Officers do not usually know how to typewrite, Sir."
"I don't like it," Tange said. "Could the Americans be setting up some kind of guerrilla force?"
"I respectfully suggest, Sir, that what we should not do is grow excited over this-as whoever prepared this hopes we will do. As the Colonel is well aware, we have had absolutely no indications of guerrilla activity of any kind."
"I don't like it," Tange repeated. "Look into it immediately, if you please, and report what you find. I have not yet discussed this with General Kenzo. When I do, I would like to have something to tell him."
"I will attend to it immediately, Sir."
Twenty minutes later, Captain Saikaku pulled the Lincoln up against a wooden gate set in a brick wall that surrounded a one-floor house on the outskirts of town. He sounded the horn, and a moment later, a soldier swung the gates in-ward.
The house, previously occupied by a Filipino lawyer and his family, had been impressed into the service of the Kempeitai as a special prison.
Shortly after the American surrender, Captain Saikaku had the junior officers and enlisted men of General Sharp's staff lined up so that he could conduct a personal inspection. Based on his year in Hawaii, he fancied himself a rather good judge of American character.
From these he selected a dozen Americans, four officers and eight enlisted men, on the basis of his judgment that they would turn out to be both knowl-edgeable and malleable, and then he had them brought to the house behind the wall.
He ordered them stripped and beaten each day for three days. And then, one by one, he examined them again. One of the officers and three of the en-listed men appeared to be properly conditioned, and he ordered their retention. The others were sent back to the POW enclosure.
One of the enlisted men, a somewhat effeminate sergeant from Wisconsin, whom Saikaku suspected of being a sexual deviate, he ordered hung up naked by his heels overnight in the garage of the house behind the wall. In the morn-ing, he ordered an electrical current to be passed through the sergeant's body by means of alligator clips attached to his scrotum and nostrils.
While this was going on, he appeared in the garage, slapped the Japanese soldier applying the electrical current hard enough to knock him off his feet, and ordered the sergeant to be carried into the house and placed in one of the bedrooms.
The next morning, he went to the bedroom and behaved in a very friendly manner to the sergeant, telling him he would do what he could to protect him from the soldiers, but in return the sergeant would have to cooperate with him.
He then left the bedroom and gave orders that the sergeant was to be beaten with switches, not boards, twice a day until further orders. He was to be beaten painfully but not severely, with attention given to the soles of his feet and to his genitals.
Three days later he returned, professed outrage at the beatings, and other-wise behaved in a friendly manner. He then ordered a young Filipino of known deviant tendencies placed in the sergeant's bedroom. He also had the beatings stopped, and he had them furnished with food, rice and chicken and bread, and a case of beer.
The sergeant was thus given a choice. He could choose beatings, starva-tion, and possibly death, not only for himself but for his newfound friend. Or he could choose confinement under reasonably pleasant conditions. He not surprisingly elected to be cooperative.
"What the hell," he said, "the war's over for me anyway, right?"
Captain Saikaku entered the house and went to the sergeant's bedroom.
The sergeant, as always, looked at him with frightened eyes, not sure if Saikaku was going to be friendly.
"Jerry," Captain Saikaku said, "tell me about General Fertig."
The sergeant's eyes showed fear.
"Sir, I don't know..."
"Jerry, you promised me you would be cooperative."
"I swear to Christ, I never heard of a General Fertig."
"I would hate to think you were not telling me the truth."
"I give you my word of honor."
"The name means nothing to you at all?"
"Not a thing. I swear it. If it did, I would tell you, you know that."
Captain Saikaku nodded, turned on his heel, and left the bedroom.
After leaving orders that the Filipino boy deviate was to be beaten in the presence of the sergeant, he returned to Lieutenant Colonel Tange's office. Al-though he would continue looking into the matter, he told him, he was at the moment convinced that Brigadier General Fertig was a figment of some Fili-pino army clerk's imagination, and there was no cause for concern.
Davao Oriental Province
Mindanao, Commonwealth of the Philippines
1615 Hours 11 October 1942
They walked all day, slowly, taking a five-minute break each hour. But the trails through the thick vegetation were steep, in some places slippery, and the heat was debilitating.
And then, all of a sudden, they came out of the jungle, into a clearing.
The Mexican bandit, at whose heels Weston had been walking, stepped aside and pointed at a rather large, thatch-roofed, Filipino house built on stilts.
Sitting in a rattan chair on what could be called the porch of the house sat a tall, sturdy-looking man wearing a khaki uniform. A silver five-pointed star, the rank insignia of a brigadier general, adorned each of his collar points. He was also wearing a red goatee and a wide-brimmed straw hat. A Thompson submachine gun lay at his feet.
"General Fertig," the Mexican bandit said.
Behind him, Weston heard Captain, bringing up the rear of the column, mutter in disgust or disappointment, "Shit!"
"Wait here," Weston ordered.
He walked across the clearing, aware of the General's eyes on him, and climbed the steep stairs-more like a ladder than a flight of stairs-and then walked across the porch to within six feet of the red-goateed man in the chair.
The General met his eyes, but there was no expression on his face.
"First Lieutenant Weston, James B., USMC, Sir."
The General returned his salute.
"Have your men been fed, Lieutenant?"
"Are there other officers in your party?"
"Sergeant!" the General called, raising his voice.
Another Filipino wearing baggy white cotton trousers and a U.S. Army campaign hat came onto the porch from inside the house.
"See that this officer's men are fed," he said.
"And when you have done that, please bring us some of the cold pork."
"Are you a drinking man, Lieutenant?"
The question surprised Weston.
"And a couple of beers, please," the General said.
"Yes, Sir," the Filipino said.
Fertig met Weston's eyes again.
"Welcome to Headquarters, United States Forces in the Philippines, Lieu-tenant. Weston, you said?"
"Yes, Sir. Thank you, Sir."
"You will, from this moment, consider yourself and your men under my command."
That announcement made Weston uncomfortable. His imagination shifted into high gear.
What this guy may be-probably is-is a staff officer who went around the bend. He was unable to accept that the Army got the shit kicked out of it, that the Japanese have won the battle for the Philippines hands down. That must have been even tougher to accept for someone of senior rank, with twenty years or so in the service, than it was for somebody like me.
And unable to accept the facts, he's now living out some fantasy where he is still a general, the U.S. Army in the Philippines still exists, and any moment The Aid will appear, galloping to our rescue like the cavalry in the movies.
"Yes, Sir," he said.
"Things are a bit primitive around here at the moment," Fertig said. "We hope to improve on them." "Yes, Sir."
"Please tell me how you came here, Lieutenant."
"One of my men, Sergeant Everly, Sir, was contacted by one of your men while he was on a patrol. He showed Sergeant Everly your..."
"Proclamation?" Fertig asked.
"Yes, Sir. Your proclamation... nailed to a telephone pole. He, Everly, brought it to me, and then your man led us here."
"What I was really asking, Lieutenant, was how you came to Mindanao. Presumably, you were formerly assigned to the 4th Marines on Bataan?"
"On Corregidor, yes, Sir."
"And you somehow got off Corregidor and decided that it was your duty not to surrender when Corregidor inevitably fell?"
Well, at least he knows that we lost Bataan and Corregidor. Fertig looked at him, obviously waiting for him to continue. "I was a pilot, Sir," Weston heard himself saying. "I mean, I am an avia-tor. I was stranded in the Philippines and assigned to the 4th Marines as a supernumerary officer. My commanding officer... my commanding officer sent me to Bataan looking for supplies...."
Why is it important to tell this man what really happened? Am I looking for his approval? His forgiveness?
"I was provided with five thousand dollars and a Spanish-speaking ser-geant, Sir. I wasn't ordered to desert, that was my decision. But I believe Major Paulson hoped I would not return; that I would try to get out of the Phil-ippines, to Australia." Fertig nodded.
"We attempted to rent a boat," Weston went on. "We found one. And then the Filipinos on the boat attempted to murder us."
"Banditry and piracy have a long history in the Philippines," Fertig said. "What happened?"
"We killed them," Weston blurted, aware of that but unable to stop. "Ev-erly killed the one who was trying to cut my throat, and then we... killed the others. And threw their bodies into the sea."
"Where was that?" Fertig replied. He seemed neither surprised nor shocked.
"Right off the Bataan Peninsula, Sir."
"It was just you and your sergeant at first? You picked up the others en route here?"
"Yes, Sir, that's about it."
"You're apparently a resourceful officer, Lieutenant. It must have been difficult to obtain the necessary food and water, and of course the charts, to make a voyage such as you have made. You are to be commended."
"Sir, it wasn't that way," Weston confessed, uncomfortably. "We had neither rations nor charts."
"We found a cabin cruiser adrift in the passage between Lubang Island and... I can't remember the other island. A little one. Uninhabited."
"Ambil Island," Fertig furnished. "I know the passage. Tell me about the cabin cruiser."
"It was, I think, a locally built copy of a Chris-Craft."
"Did it have a name?"
"Yes, Sir. Yet Again. "
The General looked pained. His eyebrows rose, and then he shrugged, in what Weston thought was sadness and resignation.
"You're very observant, Lieutenant," the General said, his voice level. "Yet Again was a locally built copy of a Chris-Craft. It belongs-belonged, apparently; past tense-to friends of mine. Joseph and Harriet Dennison. He was the Chrysler dealer in Manila. Was there any sign of them, by any chance?"
"In the master cabin, Sir, there were two bodies. A middle-aged couple. The woman was in the bed. She was apparently killed when the boat was at-tacked by Japanese aircraft. There were bullet holes-"
He was interrupted by a Filipino woman, who thrust at him a plate of pork chunks in rice and some kind of sauce. When he took it, she handed him a fork and a cup, made from bamboo.
"The pork is very nice," Fertig said. "The beer, unfortunately, seems to be proof that a civil engineer and a Navy Chief who don't know what they're doing should not try to brew beer."
Weston wolfed down the pork and rice.
"There's more," Fertig said. "But I would advise waiting an hour or so. When you haven't been eating normally..."
"That was fine, Sir. Thank you. It'll hold me for a while."
"You were telling me about what you found on the Yet Again."
Weston tried to remember where he had broken off the story, and then resumed:
"The woman was apparently killed in a strafing attack. The man shot him-self in the temple. The boat was out of fuel."
Fertig closed his eyes and said nothing.
Weston took a sip of the beer. It was warm and thick and reminded Weston of a disastrous attempt to make home brew in his fraternity house at college.
"There was canned food aboard, Sir," he went on, "and water. And charts. We took it all and started out for here."
"Leaving everything as you found it aboard the Yet Again?"
"No, Sir. I mean we... buried the bodies at sea. In blankets, weighted down with batteries. We didn't burn the boat. Everly thought it would attract attention, and I agreed."
"Inasmuch as doing so, under the circumstances, obviously posed a risk to you, it was quite decent of you to... bury... the Dennisons, Lieutenant."
Weston could think of no reply to make.
"I knew them rather well. Nice people. He was the exception to the rule that you never can trust anyone in the retail automobile business. Mrs. Fertig and I used to see a good deal of them at the Yacht Club."
"You were stationed in Manila, Sir?"
"I was a civil engineer in Manila. I had the foresight to send Mrs. Fertig home when I entered the Army."
"Though few others-including, sadly, the Dennisons-were willing to face that unpleasant fact, I knew there was no way we could really resist the Japanese when they came here. Roosevelt believes the Germans are the greater threat; our war effort will be directed primarily against them, the Pacific and the Japanese will be a secondary effort. There never was going to be The Aid that everybody was talking about."
"Sir, you said, 'when you entered the army'?"
"I was commissioned as a captain, Corps of Engineers, Reserve. With an-other chap, Ralph Fralick. He was commissioned a lieutenant, and we spent the early days of the war blowing things up-bridges, railroads, that sort of thing. Interesting experience, taking down in an hour what you had spent months-in several cases, years-building."
"The last I heard of Fralick, he was a captain, and he had his hands on a forty-foot boat, sail and diesel, and was headed for Indochina. When the end came, I was here. I decided that I did not want to be a prisoner; and since I have a hard head, I decided I could cause the Japanese more trouble by organizing a guerrilla operation here than trying to get out. If I had made it out-and the idea of trying to sail two thousand miles in a small boat to Australia seems iffy at best-I suspected that the Army would have a reserve lieutenant colonel, who is a civil engineer, supervise the construction of officer clubs."
Fertig looked into Weston's eyes.
Then he flipped up one of his collar points with the brigadier general's star pinned to it.
"Would you be wondering, by any chance, Lieutenant, about these?"
"Yes, Sir. I was," Weston said after a moment.
"I've lived in the Philippines a long time, Lieutenant. I know the people, and I know-not as well as I know the Filipinos-the military mind. If I had signed my proclamation 'Lieutenant Colonel, Corps of Engineers, Reserve,' it would have been pissing in the wind. I think you're proof of that, Lieutenant."
"Sir?" Weston asked, confused.
"If my proclamation had announced that Lieutenant Colonel Fertig, CE, USAR, was the senior officer of U.S. Forces in the Philippines, would you have paid any attention to it? To put a point on it, would you have come look-ing for me?"
"Sir, I was getting pretty desperate. I probably would have come," Wes-ton said uneasily. "At least to have a look."
"And if you found a lieutenant colonel, wearing a straw hat and a goatee, what do you think you'd have done? You'd have gone right back in the bush, perhaps? Avoiding the lunatic?"
Weston shrugged uncomfortably.
That's exactly what I would have done.
"Instead, you didn't see me. You saw that general's star, and that im-pressed you, right? I might look a little strange in my straw hat and beard, but the cogent fact, right, was that I was wearing a general's star? And you gave me the benefit of the doubt?"
"Let me give you a little lecture in military law, Lieutenant Weston. Inas-much as I am what the books call 'the senior officer of the line present,' which means that I am serving in one of the branches of the Armed Forces which engages in combat... that includes the infantry, the cavalry, the artillery, the engineers, the air corps, and oddly enough, even the signal corps, but excludes the medical corps, the chaplain's corps, the finance corps, et cetera.... You following me?"
"Yes, Sir, I think so."
"Inasmuch as I am a lieutenant colonel of the line, the Congress of the United States, in its wisdom, has given me command over all lieutenant colo-nels of the line, regular or reserve, junior to me, by date of rank, and every other officer in an inferior grade-a lieutenant commander in the Navy, for example, or, should one wander in here, a full bird colonel of the medical corps. Or, to put a point on it, a Marine Corps first lieutenant who has in fact wandered in here."
"Yes, Sir," Weston said because he could think of nothing else to say.
"My order to you that as of this moment you and your men are under my command is perfectly valid."
"Yes, Sir, I suppose it is."
"You took it a lot easier when you thought I was a brigadier general, didn't you? No question. Just 'Yes, Sir, General'?"
That's not wholly true. But he's made his point.
"Yes, Sir, General," Weston said with a smile.
"I had a Moro silversmith hammer these out for me," Fertig said, flipping one of his silver-starred collar points again, "because the Filipinos I intend to recruit will follow a general. They would not follow a lieutenant colonel. And I did not wish to deliver my little lecture about the small print in military law to every American serviceman I come across."
"I understand, Sir."
"In the absence of any other officer able or willing to assume command of American Forces in the Philippines, I have done so. I'll deal with the subject of my self-promotion with my superior headquarters at some later time."
"Any questions, Lieutenant Weston?"
"That's strange. I thought an intelligent, curious young man like you would be interested to know the current strength of United States Forces in the Philippines."
"Yes, Sir. I am."
"Right now, the officer corps is three officers strong. It consists of myself, and you, and Captain Charles Hedges. He is my chief of staff. At the moment, he's out looking for a radio and mobile rations, which means swine that can be taken along with us under their own power should the Japanese get too close for comfort."
"And enlisted men?"
"Counting the ones that came in with you, sixteen Americans. So far as the Philippine Element of USFIP is concerned, I have eleven commissioned officers and approximately 225 enlisted men. Sometime in the near future, we hope to equip each of the enlisted men with a firearm. At the moment, approxi-mately half are armed with machetes."
"Reliable intelligence has reached our G-2 Section-which at the moment means me-that there are other small units such as yours who have declined to surrender, here on Mindanao and elsewhere in the islands. Efforts are being made to contact them and place them under the command of USFIP."
"Reliable intelligence indicates that two such units, with a total strength of 165, are on their way here from Cebu at this moment. More are expected shortly. It is my belief that USFIP will grow rapidly in size, like a snowball rolling down a hill in Vermont."
Weston smiled at the analogy.
"One of our problems is officers," Fertig said. "Of your men, are there any you could in good conscience recommend for a direct commission?"
"Everly," Weston said without hesitation.
"Just the one?"
"You are authorized to offer him a commission as a second lieutenant, infantry, U.S. Army Reserve. If he accepts, I will swear him in."
"He's what they call an Old Breed Marine, General," Weston said, smil-ing. "A China Marine. I don't know what he'll think about becoming an Army lieutenant."
Fertig ignored the reply.
"Our second problem is establishing radio communications with Aus-tralia. I don't suppose that you are a radioman, or any of your men?"
"No, Sir. But I have a degree in Electrical Engineering."
"Interesting! Fascinating! That would ordinarily be enough for me to name you Signal Officer of USFIP," Fertig said. "But I already have one. Or will shortly, as soon as I commission him. Probably this afternoon, after you have a word with your man Everly. I'll commission them together. He's cur-rently a private soldier named Ball. But he's a radio operator."
There was a disconcerting aura about the whole conversation, at once amusing and frightening. It was simultaneously insane and utterly practical.
It might sound insane, but obviously, this man intends to do exactly what he says he's going to do. And there is a method to his madness.
"When our reinforcements attach themselves to us," Fertig said, "obvi-ously it would be best if they didn't quite understand how recently our officers were commissioned. Or received their assignments in the command structure. Or promoted."
"I take the General's point," Weston said.
"I would hate to think that you were mocking me, Weston."
"No, Sir," Weston replied immediately and sincerely. "That was not my intention, General."
Fertig looked into his eyes again.
"Good. It would be awkward if I thought my G-2, an officer I personally promoted to captain, was mocking me. It would suggest he did not have faith in me."
"Has the General given any consideration to the assignment of Lieutenant Everly?" Weston asked.
"For the time being, he should be your deputy," Fertig said seriously. And then a smile curled his lips. "Maybe between-what was it you said?-an Old Breed China Marine and an airplane-less pilot, we can come up with a half-decent intelligence officer."
"We'll try, Sir," Weston said.
"Do have a razor in your kit, Weston?"
"Then you may use mine. I think one bearded officer is enough for USFIP."
"Aye, aye, Sir."
"You may go in my quarters, Captain, and have a shave. And then I sug-gest you have a word with your man Everly," Fertig said.
"Aye, aye, Sir," Weston said, and stood up. "By your leave, General?"
"That's the first time anyone said 'aye, aye' to me. Nice. You are dis-missed, Captain."
Weston saluted, did an about-face, and then walked into General Fertig's quarters.
Inside the house, Weston found, neatly laid out on a rattan table, a round, mag-nifying mirror in a chrome frame, a leather-covered box holding seven old-fashioned straight razors, a leather strop, a shaving brush, and a wooden jar of shaving soap. The soap was gray, obviously not what originally filled the jar.
There are two ways to look at this, Weston thought, amused. One way, United States Forces in the Philippines is so fucked up we don't even have soap. On the other hand, USFIP is resourceful enough to make its own soap, and the goateed madman on the porch is confident enough to be worried about the appearance of his officers.
And since I have never held a straight razor in my hand before, I am liable to die for my country of a slit throat, acquired while I was attempting to set a good example for the enlisted men.
There was a battered aluminum bowl half full of water. He dipped the shaving brush into it, attempted to make suds in the soap dish, and was aston-ished at his success. The bubbles were gray, but they were bubbles.
He painted his cheek with them and, very carefully, began to hack away at his beard.
Fertig's Filipino sergeant came into the house while he was working on his chin and stood silently watching him while he finished shaving.
Then he handed Weston a campaign hat. Pinned on it were the double sil-ver bars of a captain. They were unquestionably of local manufacture; the marks of a silversmith's hammer were clear.
Weston put on the battered, broad-brimmed hat and looked at himself in the mirror. The hat was several sizes too small. But if he pushed it forward on his head, it would probably stay on, and it even gave him sort of a rakish ap-pearance that he did not find hard to take.
That made him think of something. He went into the baggy pocket of his cotton trousers and pulled out a tied-together handkerchief. In addition to other small items he hadn't needed for a long time, including golden dress-shirt studs, it held a small, gold USMC Globe and Anchor. At one time he'd worn it on a fore-and-aft cap that he had last seen on The Rock.
With some difficulty, he managed to pin The Marine Corps insignia onto the campaign hat, above the captain's bars.
The Filipino sergeant was smiling at him.
"Do you speak English?"
"Would you take me to my men?"
Sergeant Everly was sitting with his back against a tree, an empty plate on the ground beside him. Weston thought at first he was asleep, but as he ap-proached, Everly pushed himself away from the tree and looked at him.
Weston gestured with his finger for Everly to join him. The other members of Weston's Weary Would-Be Warriors who had noticed the campaign hat and Weston's now clean-shaven face, looked at them with only mild, even listless, curiosity.
Weston thought he knew their thoughts: There's no apparent immediate danger. We are being fed. What else could be important?
"Nice cover, Mr. Weston," Sergeant Everly said, indicating the hat.
"General Fertig gave it to me," Weston replied.
"I never saw a general with a beard before," Everly said evenly.
"He's an engineer officer who decided he didn't want to surrender, and that he did want to make trouble for the Japanese," Weston said, realizing as he spoke that he had decided not to tell Everly that Fertig had promoted him-self to brigadier general.
Everly did not respond.
"He knows the islands, speaks Spanish," Weston said. "This whole thing just started. There's apparently at least two groups-of people like us-on their way here."
Everly nodded his head and waited for Weston to continue.
"Under military law, as he is the senior officer of the line in the area, we fall under his command."
Everly nodded again.
"He's made me a temporary captain. He asked me if I thought you could handle a temporary commission as a lieutenant, and I told him I thought you'd make a pretty good lieutenant."
Everly cocked his head when he heard that, and took the time to think it over.
"There were a lot of China Marines in Shanghai who'd served in Haiti, Mr. Weston," he said. "They told me they had what they called the Constabu-lary down there. A lot of Marine noncoms were officers in the Constabulary. Is this something like that?"
"Something. You would be commissioned into the Army, as an officer of United States Forces in the Philippines."
"Not in The Corps? You're wearing The Corps insignia."
"I don't think General Fertig will object to my wearing The Corps insig-nia. Or if you or any other Marine wears it. But your commission would be in the Army."
"Sure, Mr. Weston. Why not? I think I could handle it."
"I'm sure you will," Weston said. "Come on, I'll introduce you to the General."
"Can I ask you a question, Mr. Weston?"
"Is this General Fertig going to be able to do any damage to the Japs?"
"Yes," Weston replied. "I'm sure he is."
I'll be damned. I really believe that.
"We don't have doodly-shit to fight with," Everly said. "What's this gen-eral going to do about that?"
"Well, first we have to get organized. You and I are going to be his G-2 section. He's got an Army radio operator whose orders are to find a radio and get in touch with General MacArthur in Australia."
"I did a little work for Intelligence in Shanghai," Everly said.
"You did?" Weston replied, surprise evident in his voice.
"Worked for Captain Banning, the S-2."
Weston searched his mind for a face to go with "Captain Banning," but failed. Yet he judged from the tone of Everly's voice that he was being told the truth.
"Keeping an eye on the Japs. Troop strength. Locations of units. Counting artillery pieces and trucks, that kind of stuff."
"Espionage," Weston said without thinking.
"No. More like reconnaissance. I never took off my uniform or anything like that. I never thought I could get away with trying to pass myself off as a Jap."
"I'm surprised," Weston thought aloud, "that they didn't have you work-ing in Intelligence on The Rock."
"I don't think anybody but maybe the Colonel and the exec knew I ever worked for Captain Banning."
"What about Captain Banning?" Weston asked, confused, adding, "I don't remember seeing him on The Rock."
"The first time we came under fire, when the Japs first landed, long before we pulled back to The Rock, Captain Banning got hit. Artillery. He took enough shrapnel so they didn't dare move him right away. So he found himself behind the Jap lines. Then the Army started shelling where he was hiding. Didn't hurt him much, but the concussion got his eyes. Or maybe his brain. Anyway, it made him blind. When they finally got him through the Jap lines and to the hospital on The Rock, he was in pretty bad shape. Finally, they evac-uated him on one of the submarines that came to The Rock to take the gold off."
"Christ!" Weston said.
"And I guess he never said anything about me to anybody," Everly said, adding, "He was a hell of a good Marine officer."
From you, that's quite a compliment. I wonder what you think of me?
"I wish I knew more about Intelligence than I do," Weston said. "What I really know is nothing. I'm an airplane driver."
"You'll do all right, Mr. Weston," Everly said. "You learn fast."
I'll be damned. I've been complimented. And I don't think Everly would say that unless he meant it.
"Come on, I'll introduce you to the General," Weston said.
"I never talked to a general before," Everly said as he bent over to pick up his Thompson.
Headquarters, U.S. Forces in the Philippines
Davao Oriental Province
Mindanao, Commonwealth of the Philippines
0625 Hours 9 October 1942
Breakfast in the Officers' Mess of United States Forces in the Philippines con-sisted of freshly squeezed pineapple juice, fresh pineapple chunks, and bana-nas.
Brigadier General Wendell Fertig, sitting at the head of the table, apolo-gized to the members of the mess for not having coffee, bread, eggs, bacon, or ham, but as soon as he acquired a G-4 (Supply) Officer, providing such neces-sities would be high on his list of priorities.
Present at the table were Captain James B. Weston, Second Lieutenant Percy L. Everly, and Second Lieutenant Robert Ball.
Weston noted that Everly and Ball had also acquired broad-brimmed cam-paign hats, onto which were pinned brass second lieutenant's bars. And Ev-erly's had a USMC insignia pinned to it. Like Weston himself, Everly had obviously kept his insignia even when it made no sense at all to keep his tat-tered, worn-beyond-any-utility uniform.
Why is that little piece of metal so important to us? God knows, there are no impressionable blondes around to dazzle with our membership in The Corps. So why is it important to us, in these circumstances, that no one mistake us for soldiers?
Two additional officers appeared at the mess; that is to say, the porch of General Fertig's quarters trembled as someone started up the ladderlike stairs. When they looked, two men appeared. One was dressed like General Fertig, in baggy white cotton shirt and trousers and a crude straw hat. He had a Thomp-son.45 caliber submachine gun slung from his shoulder.
The second was wearing a battered khaki uniform. The sleeves of his khaki shirt-onto the collar points of which were pinned the railroad tracks of a cap-tain and the crossed flags of the Signal Corps-had been torn off above the elbows, and his khaki trousers had been torn off above the knees. He wore a pith helmet and a web belt, from which hung a.1911A1.45 automatic in a leather holster green with mildew. He had a 1917 Enfield.30-06 rifle slung from his shoulder. He carried a rucksack-obviously heavy-in his hand.
"Introductions are apparently in order," he said. "Gentlemen, my chief of staff, Captain Charles Hedges. Hedges, this is Captain Weston, a Marine offi-cer who has placed himself and his men-including Lieutenant Everly-under our command. You know Lieutenant Ball."
Hedges wordlessly shook Weston's and Everly's hands.
"General, this is Captain Buchanan," Hedges said. "Late of General Sharp's headquarters."
"I believe I met the Captain," Fertig said.
"Yes, Sir," Buchanan said. "You were a colonel at the time."
"A lieutenant colonel, to be precise," Fertig said, ignoring what could have been an accusation. "How are you, Buchanan?"
"Very well, Sir, thank you."
"Can I offer you some breakfast?"
"Yes, Sir. Thank you."
"Sergeant!" Fertig called, raising his voice. The Filipino sergeant ap-peared. "Will you get these gentlemen some breakfast, please?"
"Sit down, please, gentlemen," Fertig said, and then looked intently at Buchanan. "You're aware, of course, that General Sharp was ordered by Gen-eral Wainwright to surrender his command to the Japanese?"
"Do I correctly infer by your presence here that you saw it as your duty not to enter into Japanese captivity?"
"And you are willing to place yourself... Are you alone, Captain?"
"No, Sir. I have eight men, Americans, with me."
"Are you willing to place yourself and your men under my command?"
"Welcome to United States Forces in the Philippines," Fertig said, lean-ing across the table to shake Buchanan's hand. "After you've had your break-fast, we'll have a private chat."
"In the meantime-curiosity overwhelms me-what does that bag con-tain? It seems unusually heavy."
"It's an M94, Sir," Buchanan said. "Device, Cryptographic, M94."
"Enlighten me," Fertig said.
Buchanan put the bag on the table, unfastened the straps, and took from it a small metal box. On the top was a small brass plate.
DEVICE, CRYPTOGRAPHIC, MODEL 94
SERIAL NUMBER 145
IT IS ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN TO REMOVE THIS DEVICE
FROM ITS ASSIGNED CRYPTOGRAPHIC FACILITY
"Things... collapsed... so quickly, Sir, that I didn't have a chance to destroy this," Buchanan said. "I didn't want the Japs to have the chance to see how it works. They could have, if I had only rendered it inoperable-by shoot-ing it up, or burning it-so I took it with me. With the idea of throwing it into the sea. If I buried it somewhere, and was subsequently captured, the Japanese are very good at interrogation...."
"This thing works?" Fertig asked.
"Frankly, Captain, I was hoping your heavy bag was laden with twenty-dollar gold coins," Fertig said. "But now... this device is literally worth more to USFIP than its weight in gold. Ball, how far away are we from having an operating radio station?"
"If Sergeant Ramirez can get that generator to run on alcohol, maybe we can give it a shot this afternoon, Sir."
"I hate to break up our festive breakfast, gentlemen," Fertig said. "But Captain Buchanan, Lieutenant Ball, and I have some important work to do."
Headquarters, U.S. Forces in the Philippines
Davao Oriental Province
Mindanao, Commonwealth of the Philippines
1515 Hours 10 October 1942
There being no other pressing official business for them to attend to, both the G-2 of USFIP (Captain James B. Weston) and his deputy (Second Lieutenant Percy L. Everly) had spent most of the day in the USFIP Communications Center (a hastily erected lean-to two hundred yards from General Fertig's quarters) watching the USFIP Signal Officer (Second Lieutenant Robert Ball) and his Chief Radio Operator (Sergeant Ignacio LaMadrid, Philippine Army) attempt to establish radio communication with United States Forces in Aus-tralia.
Unlike the others, Sergeant LaMadrid had no previous military service prior to joining USFIP. He was seventeen years old, and in high school when the war came. He was shocked by the defeat of American and Filipino forces by the Japanese, but even more shocked by the brutality the Japanese applied to Fili-pino prisoners of war-despite Japanese public announcements that Japan and the Philippines were now partners in the Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere.
When he saw General Fertig's proclamation nailed to a telephone pole near his home, he set out to join him. He thought he might be useful. When he arrived he spoke with Captain Hedges. Even though LaMadrid was among the first Filipino volunteers, Captain Hedges did not seem particularly interested in the services of a five-foot-two, one-hundred-and-twelve-pound, seventeen-year-old Filipino who admitted he had never so much as held a firearm in his hands.
And then LaMadrid suggested he might be useful fixing radios; he had been almost halfway through the International Correspondence Course in radiotelephony when the war came.
He was sworn into the Philippine Army as a private shortly thereafter, and promoted to PFC a week later, when he came to headquarters carrying a sound motion picture projector that had been hidden from the Japanese. He said he could probably make a radio transmitter from it.
Captain Hedges informed PFC LaMadrid that if he was successful, he would be a sergeant. USFIP already had a shortwave receiver. If LaMadrid could make a transmitter, and if they could come up with a generator to power both of them, they would have a radio station. That, certainly, was worth ser-geant's stripes, even if, at the moment, there were no chevrons in the supply warehouse to actually issue-for that matter, there was no supply warehouse.
A generator had come into being when another Filipino sergeant-this one an actual soldier-managed to make an engine designed to run on gasoline run on alcohol. The alcohol was produced from pineapples and coconuts in a still constructed from salvaged automobile parts.
The transmitter worked. Proof came via the receiver. That was good enough for the Chief of Staff USFIP to make good on the promised promotion to sergeant, with actual chevrons to follow later.
How well the transmitter worked was another question, and after almost twenty-four hours of transmitting for three minutes on the hour without a reply, it became a disturbing one.
A message had been encoded with the Model 94 Cryptographic Device. This was then transmitted in five-character blocks, after the address sent in the clear:
MFS FOR US FORCES AUSTRALIA
MFS FOR US FORCES AUSTRALIA
ACNOW BRTSS DXSYT QRSHJ ERASH
POFTP QOPOQ CHTFS SDHST ALITS
CGHRZ QMSGL QROTZ VABCG LSTYE
ACNOW BRTSS DXSYT QRSHJ ERASH
POFTP QOPOQ CHTFS SDHST ALITS
CGHRZ QMSGL QROTX VABCG LSTYE
MFS STANDING BY FOR US FORCES AUSTRALIA
MFS STANDING BY FOR US FORCES AUSTRALIA
The message was tapped out on a radiotelegraph key from Sergeant LaMa-drid's International Correspondence Corps Lesson Materials as many times as possible within a three-minute period. Three considerations had determined that length of time. One was the possibility that the Japanese would hear the message and, by a process known as triangulation, locate the transmitter. The second was that the supply of alcohol for the transmitter was in short supply. The third was that if its alcohol fuel damaged the generator, there was no spare.
When there was no reply all day, it seemed logical to assume that despite Sergeant LaMadrid's best efforts, he had been unable to jury-rig a transmitter that would reach the three thousand-plus miles to Australia.
Office of the Military Governor for Mindanao
Cagayan de Oro, Misamis-Oriental Province
Mindanao, Commonwealth of the Philippines
1600 Hours 10 October 1942
When Captain Matsuo Saikaku marched into his office, Lieutenant Hideyori rose from behind his desk, placed his hands, fingers extended and together, against the seam of his khaki trousers, and bowed from the waist.
Hideyori's office formerly belonged to the General Manager of the Min-danao branch office of the Mackay Telephone and Telegraph Company. As he stood up, a large wall clock bearing the Mackay logotype began to strike the hour.
"I understand you have intercepted some kind of radio message?" Saikaku demanded after he had returned the bow.
Saikaku impatiently put out his hand. Hideyori handed him a sheet of paper.
MFS FOR US FORCES AUSTRALIA
MFS FOR US FORCES AUSTRALIA
ACNOW BRTSS DXSYT QRSHJ ERASH
POFTP QOPOQ CHTFS SDHST ALITS
CGHRZ QMSGL QROTZ VABCG LSTYE
ACNOW BRTSS DXSYT QRSHJ ERASH
POFTP QOPOQ CHTFS SDHST ALITS
CGHRZ QMSGL QROTX VABCG LSTYE
MFS STANDING BY FOR US FORCES AUSTRALIA
MFS STANDING BY FOR US FORCES AUSTRALIA
"That message is being transmitted hourly, Sir, in the twenty-meter band," Hideyori said.
"For how many hours?"
"The first message we intercepted was at ten o'clock this morning, Sir. They send the message repeatedly, for a period of three minutes."
"Do you know from where?"
"I was led to believe, Hideyori, that it is within the capability of compe-tent signals people to locate the site of a transmitter by a process known as triangulation. Have I been misinformed?"
"Has this triangulation detection process begun?" "No, Sir. There is some difficulty with two of the trucks, Sir."
"What sort of difficulty?"
"Mechanical difficulty. Sir."
"I really didn't think it would be spiritual difficulty, Hideyori."
"Mechanical, Sir, as opposed to electrical. I have been informed the me-chanical trouble will be remedied first thing tomorrow."
"Who told you this?"
"Captain Kuroshio of the Transportation Section, Sir."
"Be so good as to get Captain Kuroshio on the telephone, Hideyori."
Lieutenant Hideyori sat down, hastily consulted a mimeographed tele-phone book, dialed a number, spoke briefly with whoever answered, and then handed the telephone to Captain Saikaku.
"Captain Kuroshio is being called to the phone, Sir," he reported. Saikaku took the telephone and waited, an impatient look on his face, until Captain Kuroshio came on the line.
"This is Captain Saikaku of the Kempeitai," he announced. "Lieutenant Hideyori informs me you are in the process of repairing two trucks. These trucks are required for a Kempeitai operation. Required immediately. I want the necessary repairs to them begun immediately, and continued until the trucks are operating, if that means your mechanics work through the night. Do you understand me?"
He listened to the reply, and then hung up.
"As soon as the trucks are made available to you, Hideyori," he ordered, "I want them manned around the clock. The sooner we locate this station, the sooner we can shut it down."
"What is your opinion of the message? The code?"
"I don't know what you mean, Sir."
"How soon can I expect to know what message these people are sending?"
"Sir, I took the liberty of sending the message to the Signals Intelligence Branch in Manila, asking them to attempt to decrypt the message."
"You did this on your own authority?"
"Yes, Sir. I believed it to be the thing to do."
"You are to be commended on your initiative, Hideyori," Saikaku said.
"Thank you, Sir."
"Be so good as to inform the Signals Intelligence Branch that there is Kempeitai interest in this message."
"And inform them that as a suggestion to help in their decryption efforts-you better write this down, Hideyori-that the message may contain the words 'Fertig,"Brigadier,"General,' and 'U.S. Forces.' Fertig is a name. The other words may be abbreviated."
"I'm sure Signals Intelligence Branch will be pleased to have your sug-gestion, Sir."
"As soon as you have word on your trucks, or from Signals Intelligence, or of any development at all, inform me. Call my office, they will know where to locate me."
"What we have here, Hideyori, is a weed. If we pull it from the earth now, that will be the end of it. If it is allowed to grow, it will become an increasing nuisance."
"I understand, Sir."
"One final thing, Hideyori. Have your radio operators on the watch for messages addressed to MFS."
"I have already ordered that, Sir."
"Good," Saikaku said, then turned and walked out of Lieutenant Hide-yori's office.
Headquarters, U.S. Forces in the Philippines
Davao Oriental Province
Mindanao, Commonwealth of the Philippines
1815 Hours 10 October 1942
Lieutenant Ball heard through his earphones the sound of the carrier and then a string of dot and dashes.
His heart beating and with tears in his eyes, he wrote down the letters:
MFS KFS MFS KFS
LPORD GHDSG NGFGP JKOWR DKLHI WRHFS SUHIO SWERI LPORD GHDSG NGFGP JKOWR DKLHI WRHFS SUHIO SWERI KFS CLR KFS CLR
Prior to his attachment to Headquarters, USFIP, Ball had been a radio op-erator. He recognized the call sign of the answering station. "That's not Australia. It's a Navy Station. I think Hawaii." The message, when decoded, was brief:
STAND BY AT 0600 YOUR TIME
Lieutenant Ball erred in part. While KFS was indeed a Navy radio station, it was not in Hawaii, but rather at the U.S. Navy Base, Mare Island, near San Francisco.
And there the radio message had attracted the interest of a veteran chief radioman.
"What the hell is this, Chief?" nineteen-year-old Radioman Third Class Daniel J. Miller, USN, asked, handing it to Dugan. "It's been coming in every hour on the hour in the twenty-meter band. Since yesterday."
The Chief examined the message.
"Whatever it is," he said. "It was encoded on an old Model 94. That sec-ond code group means 'Emergency SOI' "
"What's a Model 94?"
"An old-time crypto machine. They don't use them anymore," the Chief said thoughtfully.
"Maybe the Japs captured one on Wake Island or someplace and are fucking with us."
"What's an emergency SOI?"
"It means you don't have a valid signal-operating instruction, so use the Emergency One," the Chief said absently, and then, thinking aloud, "And maybe they ain't."
"Maybe aren't what?"
"Fucking with us."
"Then what the hell is this?" Miller asked.
"I don't know," the Chief said. "But I'm going to find out."
He consulted a typewritten list of telephone numbers taped to the slide in his desk, found the number of the Communications Section of the Presidio of San Francisco Army Base, and dialed it.
"Commo, Sergeant Havell."
"Chief Dugan. Let me speak to Sergeant Piedwell."
"What can the Army do for the Navy?"
"You're always telling me what hot shits you doggies are."
"Statement of fact, Chief."
"If I was to send you something encrypted on a Model 94, could you work it?"
"If I had a Model 94,1 could. What's this?"
"You got one, or not?"
"Yeah, there's one in the vault. I saw it last week and wondered what the hell we were still doing with it."
"I'm going to send a fine young man named Miller over there with a mes-sage that needs decryption. Out of school, OK, Piedwell?"
"What kinda message?"
"Use the Emergency Code," Chief Dugan said. "Whoever sent this didn't have a valid SOI."
"What's this all about?"
"When I find out, I'll tell you. But in the meantime, just do it, and keep it under your hat, OK?"
"What the hell, why not?"
Two hours later, Radioman Third Miller was back from the Presidio with a blank, sealed, business-size envelope. When Chief Dugan opened it, he found a single sheet of typewriter paper inside:
WE HAVE THE HOT POOP FROM THE HOT YANKS IN THE PHILS FERTIG BRIG GEN
Dugan handed it to Radioman Third Miller.
"What's this mean?" Miller asked.
"It could mean the Japs found a Model 94 and are fucking with us," Chief Dugan said. "And it could mean it's for real."
He refolded the sheet of paper and put it back in the envelope.
"The next time these people come on the air, send them 'Stand by at 0600 your time,' " Chief Dugan said, and stood up. "I'll be back as soon as I get back," he said.
"Where are you going, in case somebody asks?"
"I'm going to tell the Admiral how to run the war," Chief Dugan said.
"I mean, really."
"Chief petty officers never lie, son. Write that on the palm of your hand so you never forget it," Chief Dugan said, put on his jacket and hat, and left the radio room.
"Long time no see, Dugan," Rear Admiral F. Winston Bloomer, USN, said. "You can spell that either 'sss eee eee' or 'sss eee aaa.' Coffee?"
"Thank you, Sir," Dugan said.
The Admiral and the Chief went back a long way, to when the Admiral had been a lieutenant (j.g.) commo officer on an old four-stacker tin-can and the Chief had been a radioman striker.
Dugan handed Admiral Bloomer the envelope, then helped himself to a cup of coffee from the Admiral's thermos. "OK. What is it?" the Admiral asked.
"Somebody's transmitting that on the twenty-meter band for a couple of minutes every hour on the hour. It was encoded on a Model 94, no SOI."
"A Model 94? They haven't used those for years. Japanese playing with us? They captured one somewhere? Wake Island, maybe? Or in the Philip-pines?"
"It may be the real thing."
"What do you want to do, Dugan?"
"I want to find out if there is a brigadier general named Fertig."
"In other words, you want me to go to Naval Intelligence for you?"
"I've got a pal who can find out for me in a hurry."
"Why does that make me uncomfortable?" Admiral Bloomer asked, add-ing, "Faster than ONI?"-The Office of Naval Intelligence-"Who does your pal work for, the President?"
"The Secretary of the Navy has an administrative assistant. The adminis-trative assistant has a Chief who works for him."
"And you know where he buried the body, right, Dugan?"
"I don't want to know about this, Dugan. But if you get in trouble, you have my phone number."
"Thank you," Dugan said. "What if I find out something?"
"Yes, please, Dugan. Keep me posted. I hope this is genuine."
"Thank you, Sir."
Radioman Third Miller walked up to Chief Dugan's desk and handed him a sheet of paper.
"This what you've been waiting for, Chief?"
FOR OFFICER COMMANDING
US NAVY BASE MARE ISLAND
ATTN: CPO EDWARD B DUGAN, USN
THERE IS NO GENERAL FERTIG IN US ARMY OR USMC
LTCOL WENDELL W. FERTIG CORPS OF ENGINEERS, USARMY RESERVE REPORTED MISSING AND PRESUMED JAPANESE POW ON BATAAN.
LTCOL FERTIGS NEXT OF KIN WIFE MRS MARY HAMPTON FERTIG, GOLDEN, COLORADO DOB 11MAY1905
BY DIRECTION SECNAV
HAUGHTON CAPT USN ADMIN OFF TO SECNAV
BY HANSEN CPO USN
Dugan read the teletype message.
"What time is it here when it's 0600 in the Philippines?" he asked.
"I don't know, Chief."
"You don't know? My God, Miller, you're a radioman third, you're sup-posed to know that kind of thing. Find out, and be here when it is."
"You know what time it will be here, right?"
"Of course. I'm a chief."
Dugan stood up and put on his cap and jacket.
"I'll be back when I'm back," he said.
"You're going to tell the Admiral how to run the war again, right?"
"Actually, I'm going over to the Presidio to talk the Army into loaning me their Model 94."
Radioman Third Miller put his fingers to his radiotelegraph key:
KFS TO MFS
KFS TO MFS
The reply came immediately. Chief Dugan looked over Miller's shoulder as the words appeared on his typewriter.
MFS T OKFS
"Send it," Chief Dugan ordered.
Miller took his right hand from the typewriter keys and put it onto the ra-diotelegraph key.
KFS TO MFS
SEND ENCRYPTED MAIDEN NAME FERTIGS NEXT OF KIN AND DATE OF BIRTH
There was no reply for several minutes.
"They're either encoding it, or we're talking to the Japs, and they're won-dering what the hell to do now," Chief Dugan said. And then there was a reply:
MFS TO KFS
JIOQT LPITZ SHDQW JFIUO GMCIT
PSATY SDERJ HQWKM JEWRP AITCD
ITDFS EWNOR HSQIT SDRTP CFENG
JIOQT LPITZ SHDQW JFIUO GMCIT
PSATY SDERJ HQWKM JEWRP AITCD
ITDFS EWNOR HSQIT SDRTP CFENG
Chief Dugan ripped the sheet of paper from Miller's typewriter, walked quickly back to his desk, and operated the Model 94 Cryptographic Device he had borrowed from the Army at God only knew what cost in future favors to be repaid.
"Miller," he called, and paused a moment as if he was trying to regain control of his voice. "Send 'We are ready for your traffic' "
"No shit? It's for real?"
"Belay that. Send 'Welcome to the net. We are ready for your traffic' "
Chief Dugan reached for his telephone.
"Operator, Chief Dugan. Long Distance Priority Code Sixteen-B. Get me Mrs. Mary Fertig in Golden, Colorado."
Radioman Third Miller, without stopping his tapping on his key, called over his shoulder:
"Chief, you think you should do that without asking somebody?" "If I ask somebody, they'd likely tell me not to," Chief Dugan said. Mrs. Mary Fertig came on the line two minutes later. "Mrs. Fertig, this is Chief Dugan, Mare Island Navy Base."
"Ma'am, I think we have just heard from your husband. General Fertig?"
"You must be mistaken. My husband is Major Fertig. And he's in the
Radioman Miller handed Chief Dugan another sheet of paper, and then
hurried back to his typewriter.
"Ma'am," Chief Dugan said, "let me read you something. 'For Mrs. Fer-tig. Quote. Pineapples for breakfast. Love. End quote.' Does that mean any-thing to you?"
There was a long pause.
"Yes, that means something. It means my husband is on the island of Min-danao. We used to go there often, to play golf on the Dole Plantation. We al-ways had pineapples for breakfast."
"Is there any way I can get a message to my husband?"
"Yes, Ma'am. A short one. What would you like to say?"
There was another pause.
"Please tell him all is well. And send love."
"Yes, Ma'am. I'll try to get that to him right away. Ma'am, I'm sure some people will be in touch with you. Maybe, when they come to see you, it would be better if you didn't tell them I called you."
"I understand. Thank you so very much, Mr. Dugan."
"That's Chief Dugan, Ma'am. Good-bye, Ma'am."
Office of the Military Governor of Mindanao
Cagayan de Oro, Misamis-Oriental Province
Mindanao, Commonwealth of the Philippines
0900 Hours 13 October 1942
"My General," Lieutenant Colonel Tange Kisho said to Brigadier General Kurokawa Kenzo, "Captain Saikaku has been handling the matter of the clan-destine radio station and related matters. With your permission, Sir, I will ask him to brief the General."
General Kurokawa nodded and looked at Saikaku. Instead of rising to his feet as Colonel Tange-and perhaps even General Kurokawa-expected him to do, Saikaku carefully set his teacup on the conference table and slumped back against his upholstered chair. He had decided that it was important to appear relatively unconcerned about the existence of this General Fertig and his radio station, and with Hideyori's inability to locate it.
"My general," he began, "on 10 October, Lieutenant Hideyori's radio operators began hearing a coded message transmitted on the twenty-meter shortwave band. Hideyori brought this to my attention. The message was partly in the clear and partly encrypted. It was addressed to U.S. Forces in Aus-tralia.
"At my direction, the message was forwarded to the Signals Intelligence Branch in Manila, together with several suggestions of mine to aid in the de-cryption process.
"The same day, late in the afternoon, a radio station which we believe to be the U.S. Navy station on Mare Island, California, responded to the station here. That message was also encrypted. There has been a further exchange of messages since then, but let me take this one thing at a time.
"This morning, Signals Intelligence Branch furnished me with their de-cryption of the first messages. They informed me the encryption was per-formed on a U.S. Army Model 94 cryptographic machine, two examples of which came into our hands on Luzon.
"The first message, the one Hideyori's operators intercepted, was quite simple. Quote: We have the hot poop from the hot yanks in the phils Fertig brig gen. End quote."
"So there is a General Fertig?" General Kurokawa interrupted.
"We don't know that for sure, General," Saikaku said. "I'll touch on that in a moment. The body of the message is in American vernacular. 'Hot poop' is a slang expression meaning, roughly, 'fresh information."Hot yanks in the phils' obviously means 'Yankees in the Philippines.' "
" 'Hot Yankees'?" General Kurokawa asked.
"I don't know what that means, General. Possibly it refers to the heat. The reply from California told the station here to stand by-be attentive-at six the following morning. At that time, the California station asked MFS-the call sign of the station here-to furnish them the maiden name-the name of an unmarried woman's father-of Fertig's next of kin-presumably his wife- and her date of birth. This was furnished."
"Obviously, then, there is a Fertig," General Kurokawa said.
"Yes, Sir. A Fertig. Not necessarily a General Fertig. I have been looking into this. Nowhere in captured personnel records is there a record of a General Fertig. There is a record of a Major Fertig, believed killed during the Luzon campaign."
"The Americans could have infiltrated this man somehow," General Kurokawa said. "Or it could be-what is the French phrase? A nom de guerre.
"With all respect, Sir, based on the following messages, I have developed a theory. In my judgment, Sir, there was some doubt in the United States about this man's identity. They asked the maiden name and date of birth questions to make him prove who he is."
"And?" General Kurokawa asked impatiently.
"Immediately after the station here furnished the asked-for information, there was a message to Mrs. Fertig. Quote: Pineapples for breakfast. Love. End quote."
"Which you think means what?"
"The Dole Corporation, as I am sure the General knows, had extensive operations on this island. Pineapples and Mindanao have a meaning. I think it is entirely possible that this Fertig fellow has a connection with the Dole Cor-poration; he very well might be an executive. He was both further identifying himself and telling his wife where he is."
"Presumably, you have inquired into this? I was under the impression that we have detained a number of Americans who worked for the Dole Plantation. Was there a Dole employee named Fertig?"
"I have inquired, Sir, and the inquiries are continuing. We have fairly complete personnel records; the name Fertig does not appear on any of them.
Which brings us to the General's very perceptive theory about a nom de guerre. Fertig is a German word meaning finished, or the end, something like that. What we very well may have here is a Dole executive, either from here or one of the other Dole operations in the Philippines, who has assumed the name Fertig. And has undertaken to harass us by announcing that he is a general."
The General, Saikaku thought, is not above reacting to flattery. He liked that "very perceptive theory" comment.
"That seems a possibility," General Kurokawa said, "but I would not rec-ommend that we dismiss the possibility that the Americans have either left be-hind someone-someone military-to cause us trouble, or sent someone in."
"No such conclusion has been drawn, General," Saikaku said.
"What about the radio station? Where is it?"
"Somewhere in the mountains, Sir," Saikaku replied. "I have learned from Lieutenant Hideyori that location of a radio transmitter is not quite as simple as the Signals people would have us believe."
"Explain that, please," General Kurokawa ordered.
"I defer to Lieutenant Hideyori's expertise, Sir," Saikaku said, and waved his hand at the Signals Lieutenant.
Hideyori jumped to his feet, came to attention, and bowed to General Kurokawa.
"Sir, the enemy transmitter is in the mountains. The triangulation location technique requires two-preferably three-truck mounted directional radio antennae. When a signal is detected, the operators rotate the antennae, using a signal-strength meter. That indicates the direction of the transmitting antenna. A line is drawn on a map from the truck antenna in the direction of the trans-mitting antenna. Each truck does this. Where the lines converge on the map, one expects to find the transmitter."
"In the mountains, Sir, it is very difficult to adjust the directional anten-nae. And the imprecision of the adjustment is magnified by distance. There are very few roads in the mountains which will take our trucks. The distance is great."
"In other words, Lieutenant, you have not been able to locate the trans-mitter by triangulation?"
"Yes, Sir. Sir, another problem is that the transmitter is operating only infrequently, not, as in the beginning, every hour on the hour."
"Find this radio station, Lieutenant," General Kurokawa ordered, shut-ting him off.
Hideyori came to attention again, bowed again, and sat down.
"Has there been other communication between this radio station and the United States?"
"They are not in communication with the Americans in Australia, Sir,"
Saikaku said. "Yes, Sir. They have sent out the names of several of their offi-cers."
"If they have 'several officers,' wouldn't that suggest to you that this is not just one pineapple-company employee harassing us?" General Kurokawa asked sarcastically.
"Sir, we have checked the names against captured records. As you are aware, we do not have personnel rosters before the surrender; the Americans burned those. We have only rosters of personnel who entered captivity. Some of those subsequently escaped. None of the names of the escaped prisoners match those sent by this radio station. It is entirely possible that this man Fertig is transmitting names he has made up, for purposes of deception. And there have been no incidents of anything that might be construed as an attack against our forces. I do not believe," he concluded, "that there is an irregular force, just this man annoying us."
"I devoutly hope you are right, Captain Saikaku," General Kurokawa said. "Thank you all for coming to see me."
Naval Air Transport Command Passenger Terminal
United States Naval Base
Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii
0625 Hours 16 October 1942
In his own mind Brigadier General Fleming W. Pickering, USMCR, tended to see himself primarily as a reasonably competent ship's master and business-man-in civilian life he had been the Chairman of the Board of the Pacific and Far East Shipping Corporation-dragged by force of circumstances into situa-tions very little connected with his experience in either commanding a ship or running a Fortune 500 Corporation.
Shortly after the start of the war-like many other top-level corporate ex-ecutives-he was offered a position at the newly formed Office of Strategic Services. When he arrived in Washington, he found the position offered was not only second-level but would leave him immediately subordinate to a man for whom he had virtually no respect. He furthermore believed this action was less an evaluation of his potential value to the OSS than a gratuitously insulting payback from Colonel William Donovan, head of the OSS. Donovan was a Wall Street lawyer with whom he had had several acrimonious business deal-ings.
He declined the position-in another acrimonious meeting with Dono-van-and then volunteered his services to the United States Marine Corps. De-spite the Distinguished Service Cross he had earned in the trenches in France in World War I, the Marines had no place for him, either. About to return to his San Francisco office, he had a chance meeting with Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox in the hotel suite of their mutual close friend Senator Richardson K. Fowler. Over more than a couple of drinks, he suggested to Knox that after the unmitigated disaster at Pearl Harbor, the decent thing for him to do was resign.
That unabashed candor, and Pickering's reputation in the upper echelons of the American business community, were enough to make Knox realize that Pickering was just the man he needed to be his eyes and ears in the Pacific. If he himself did not intimidate Pickering, Knox concluded, and if Wild Bill Donovan didn't either, no admiral in the Pacific was likely to daunt him; nor, for that matter, was General Douglas MacArthur.
Knox's character assessment had proved valid. On his initial trip to the Pacific-Knox had arranged for him to be commissioned as a Navy Captain- Pickering prepared clear-eyed reports detailing how bad the situation really was. These often differed significantly from the reports Knox had been getting from the admirals at CINCPAC (Commander-In-Chief, Pacific) headquar-ters-which confirmed Knox's fears that he was being told only what the ad-mirals wished him to hear. In addition, Pickering somehow established a strong personal relationship with General Douglas MacArthur. This, in Knox's view, was extraordinary, for MacArthur was not only a notorious loner, but he was surrounded by a group of senior officers-"The Bataan Gang"-who had served with him in the Philippines and regarded it as their duty to keep their Supreme Commander isolated from outsiders.
Knox's pleasure with his selection of Pickering turned out to be short- lived, however. Without any authorization, Pickering sailed with the invasion fleet to Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Shortly after the invasion, there was a message from him expressing, in precise detail, his dissatisfaction with the Navy's role in the invasion. He then further manifested his displeasure by going ashore. Once there, he placed himself at the service of Major General Alexander Archer Vandegrift, the commander of the First Marine Division, and somewhat melodramatically volunteered to perform any duties he might be assigned, if only those of a rifleman.
Inasmuch as the Navy assault fleet had sailed away, leaving the Marines alone on their beachhead-the source of Pickering's contempt-Vandegrift was not able to order the first Navy captain he had ever seen in Marine Corps utilities and carrying a Springfield rifle back aboard a ship with his polite thanks. Shortly afterward, the 1st Marine Division G-2 was killed in combat. By that time, Pickering had so impressed Vandegrift with his intelligence and competence that Vandegrift, short of senior officers, appointed him Acting G-2, until a trained replacement could be sent to the island.
After a month Pickering reluctantly left Guadalcanal, and then only on the direct orders of Secretary Knox, who had ordered the captain of a Navy de-stroyer making an emergency supply run to Guadalcanal not to leave unless he had Pickering safely aboard. En route to Espiritu Santo, from where Pickering was to be flown to the United States, the destroyer was attacked by a Japanese bomber and her captain killed. Although seriously wounded himself, Pickering assumed command of the destroyer, not because he was the senior Naval offi-cer aboard, but because he believed himself to be the best-qualified mariner aboard-with some justification: he had been licensed as a Master Mariner, Any Tonnage, Any Ocean, at twenty-six.
Pickering's exploits, meanwhile, came to the attention of President Roose-velt, not only through Secretary Knox but also through the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific, who wanted him decorated for his behavior aboard the destroyer, and through Senator Richardson K. Fowler (R., Cal.), Pickering's lifelong friend and the man the President described privately as the "leader of my none-too-loyal opposition."
Roosevelt saw in Pickering the same qualities Knox did. Moreover, he felt a certain personal kinship with him, despite their political differences: Both had sons serving in combat in the Marine Corps. Thus, he overrode the strong, if politely expressed, objections of the Marine Corps establishment and com-missioned Pickering a brigadier general, USMC Reserve.
Shortly after that, he was named Chief, USMC Office of Management Analysis. This was done-at Secretary Knox's "suggestion"-primarily be-cause it gave Management Analysis a general officer, essential in the waging of bureaucratic wars in Washington. It also gave him a billet on USMC man-ning charts. At the same time, it was presumed that Pickering would permit Colonel F. L. Rickabee, a career intelligence officer and the previous Chief, to run things as they had been run. This was an error in judgment. Having been placed in charge, Pickering assumed command.
To everyone's surprise, Rickabee was not outraged. In fact, he seemed de-lighted with Pickering's leadership. This proved true even after Pickering ig-nored all advice and ordered, from his hospital bed, the evacuation of two Marines operating a Coastwatcher Station on the Japanese-held island of Buka and were in imminent danger of death either from Japanese action or starva-tion. The operation was successfully completed before formal objections to it could work their way through the military hierarchy.
"I have something to say," Brigadier General Pickering said softly. Pickering was in his early forties, tall, distinguished looking, and he wore a superbly tai-lored uniform, the breast of which displayed an impressive array of colored ribbons attesting to his valor both in World War I and the current conflict.
Four Marines turned to look at him: Major Homer C. "Jake" Dillon, USMCR, a stocky, crew-cutted man in his middle thirties; First Lieutenant Kenneth R. McCoy, USMCR, a well-built, lithe, even-featured young man in his early twenties; Sergeant George F. Hart, USMC, a twenty-four-year-old with the build of a circus strong man; and Corporal Robert F. Easterbrook, who weighed 132 pounds, was nineteen years old, and looked younger.
"I want to say thank you," General Pickering said, "to you three"-he indicated the Major, the Lieutenant, and the sergeant-"for the Buka Opera-tion. You carried it off without a hitch. It couldn't have been done without you. You're a credit to The Corps."
"Yeah, we know, Flem," Major Dillon replied. "You really didn't have to get out of bed at this time of the morning to tell us."
Majors do not normally address general officers by their first names, nor mock them, no matter how softly. But the relationship between these two was a bit out of the ordinary. Before they had donned Marine uniforms for the second time in their lives, Jake Dillon, Vice President, Publicity, Metro-Magnum Stu-dios, and Fleming Pickering had been friends.
Pickering shook his head in tolerant resignation, not indignation.
"Shut up, Jake," he said. "I'm serious about this."
"You're embarrassing the Killer," Dillon said, unrepentant, nodding at Lieutenant McCoy. "The next thing you know, he'll be blushing."
"Fuck you, Jake," Lieutenant McCoy snapped unpleasantly.
"You never know when to stop, do you, Jake?" General Pickering said. "You know he hates to be called 'Killer.' "
"Flem, you gave us a job to do, we did it. Leave it at that."
"No, I won't," Pickering said. "As soon as I can find somebody who knows how to fill out the forms, I'm going to do my level best to see that you're all decorated."
"With respect, Sir," McCoy said. "Howard and Koffler deserve a medal, not us."
"The way things are run in The Marine Corps, Lieutenant, generals make decisions like that," Pickering said.
A loudspeaker went off, harshly but audibly ordering all passengers for the San Diego flight to proceed to the motor whaleboat for boarding of the aircraft.
"Have a nice flight," General Pickering said. "And whether you like it or not, you have my gratitude and my admiration."
He shook hands with McCoy first, and then Dillon. And then he turned to the boyish corporal.
"Easterbrook, you did one hell of a job on Guadalcanal," he said. "Your pictures are probably going to influence this war in ways you can't imagine.
I've told Major Dillon-Jake, listen to me-to make sure the proper people know what you did, and how well you did it."
Corporal Easterbrook blushed.
Finally, Pickering turned to Sergeant Hart.
"It's not too late to change your mind, George," he said. "You still have a priority to get on that airplane, and you certainly deserve a couple of weeks off."
"No, Sir. I'll go to Australia with you, Sir."
"Try not to fall out of the whaleboat, Jake," General Pickering said, and turned and walked out of the passenger lounge.
"Hart's the one who falls out of boats, General," Dillon called after him.
A 1939 Cadillac Fleetwood with civilian license plates was parked outside the building. Pickering got behind the wheel, started the engine, waited for Sergeant Hart to get in, and then drove off. Five hundred yards down the road, he made a sudden U-turn and headed back to the passenger terminal.
"You never know those damned things are airborne until they're air-borne," he said. "Let's wait and see if they really get off."
"Yes, Sir," Sergeant Hart said.
Pickering had several reasons for coming to the Navy base to see the four off. One of them was that he feared that the Navy would ignore their AAAAA travel priority, and give their seats on the plane to some deserving-read high-ranking-Navy officer.
They couldn't do so officially, of course, but in the minds of most people in the Navy, any Marine-not just a lowly corporal-was of far less impor-tance than a fellow sailor with the four stripes of a captain or the solid gold stripes of an admiral on his tunic sleeves. There was far less chance that a "mistake" or an "unfortunate misunderstanding" would occur-leaving an admiral sitting in the seat reserved for Corporal Easterbrook when the plane took off-if the Navy was aware he was being seen off by a Marine general.
Oddly enough, in Pickering's mind, the boyish corporal had the greatest justification for a priority seat to Washington. It was entirely possible that the Secretary of the Navy-for that matter, the President himself-would want to talk to him.
The day before, Major Edward Banning, USMC, had carried still and motion-picture films Easterbrook had shot on Guadalcanal to the States. By now, Banning was either in Washington or soon would be. On his arrival he would brief Secretary Knox and, Pickering believed, the President and his Chief of Staff Admiral William Leahy as well.
A picture was indeed worth a thousand words, and Easterbrook's film showed the situation as it was far better than any thick report could possibly show it. It was impossible to get more than one seat on yesterday's plane, and Pickering decided it had to go to Banning; Easterbrook obviously was not equipped to handle a briefing.
But there would be questions asked today about specific details of the photographs or 16mm film, if not by Roosevelt, Knox, or Leahy, then certainly by Major General Horace W. T. Forrest, the intelligence officer on the staff of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, by Colonel F. L. Rickabee, of the USMC Office of Management Analysis, and by others. These questions could only be answered by the photographer himself, or possibly by Jake Dillon.
On the other hand, there was no real reason why Lieutenant McCoy had to be rushed to Washington. The polite fiction was that he would be useful in helping Dillon and Easterbrook. But the real reason he was going was that Pickering had decided McCoy had a moral right to a seat on the plane. McCoy-and Hart-had paddled ashore from a submarine onto the enemy-held island of Buka, carrying with them a desperately needed radio and some other supplies for a Coastwatcher team that was supplying information con-cerning Japanese sea and air movements critical for the battle of Guadalcanal.
The fact that he had accomplished this mission-which included bringing out with him the two Marine Coastwatchers-without firing a shot in no way diminished the enormous risk he had voluntarily taken. While planning the op-eration, Pickering had privately decided that the operation had one chance in four of succeeding.
In Pickering's mind, if there were forty passengers aboard the huge, four-engine, Consolidated PB2Y-3 Coronado, it was mathematically certain that perhaps ten percent of them-four-were brass hats whose rank, not legiti-mate importance to the war effort, had gotten them a seat. One of the four could wait a day before going home.
Pickering stopped the Cadillac on a wharf from which much of the carnage the Japanese had caused on Battleship Row on December 7, 1941, could be seen, and got from behind the wheel. Hart followed him to the edge of the pier.
As they saw the whaleboats-three of them-approach the huge seaplane, a Navy officer, a lieutenant junior grade, wearing canvas puttees, a steel hel-met, and a.45 pistol suspended from a pistol belt, came trotting down the pier.
We are obviously parked where we are not supposed to park, Sergeant Hart thought, and driving a civilian car where there are supposed to be no civilian cars.
The j.g. slowed when he saw the stars on Pickering's epaulettes and collar points.
"May I help the General, Sir?"
"No, thank you," Pickering said, and gestured over the water. "We're just watching to see if the Coronado gets off."
"General, this is a restricted area. There's not supposed to be any civilian vehicles in this area, Sir."
"Is that so?" Pickering replied. "Well, we won't be long, son."
Hart managed to keep his face straight as he watched the Lieutenant decide what he should do about the situation. He was not at all surprised when the Lieutenant decided to do absolutely nothing but fold his arms on his chest and watch as the passengers entered the airplane from the whaleboats.
As soon as the last passenger had entered, the pilot began to start the en-gines. Before all of them had started, the huge plane began to move. It disap-peared around a point of Ford's Island, but the sound of its engines could still be heard.
And then they changed pitch, as the pilot went to takeoff power.
When the Coronado next came into sight, it was airborne.
"Well, unless they threw Jake off when we couldn't see it, I guess they're on their way," Pickering observed. "Let's go, George." He looked at the j.g. "Good morning, Lieutenant."
"Good morning, Sir," the Lieutenant said.
Pickering slipped behind the wheel and drove back toward the passenger terminal. As they approached, another Navy officer appeared, this one in whites. He stood in the middle of the road and raised both arms.
"Uh-oh," Hart said softly, "another one."
Pickering slowed the car and when he reached the Navy officer stopped. Hart saw that the officer, who now saluted, was a commander, and that dan-gling from the shoulder of his white uniform was the silver cord of an aide to a flag officer.
"Good morning, Sir. You are General Pickering, Sir?"
"That's right. What can I do for you, Commander?"
"Admiral Nimitz's compliments, Sir. The Admiral would be most grateful if you would speak with him, Sir. There's a telephone inside."
"Certainly. I'll park the car."
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz was Commander-in-Chief, Pacific.
Hart followed Pickering back into the passenger terminal, where the aide waited, holding open the door to an office.
"This way, please, General," the aide said, and then made it quite plain with the expression on his face that Hart should remain outside. Hart ignored him. He was under orders to go everywhere that General Pickering went ex-cept, Colonel Rickabee had said, into a stall in a head, in which case he was supposed to wait where he could keep an eye on the door.
The aide dialed a number from memory.
"Admiral," he said. "Commander Ussery. Would you please inform CINCPAC I have General Pickering on the line?"
He handed Pickering the telephone.
"Pickering, Sir. You wished to speak to me, Sir?"
"How's your health, Pickering?"
"I'm very well, thank you, Sir."
"I didn't expect to see you back here so soon."
"I didn't expect to be back so soon, Sir."
"I appreciate the film you sent me."
"I thought you would be interested, Sir."
"What's your schedule, Pickering?"
"I'm on the 1500 plane to Brisbane, Sir."
"Could you fit an hour or so for me into your schedule?"
"I'm at your disposal, Admiral."
"I think it would be best if you didn't come here," Nimitz said. "Are you free for lunch?"
"Somewhere private," Nimitz said. "Do you suppose we could meet... could I invite myself for lunch at your place?"
"I'd be honored, Sir."
"Noon," Nimitz said. "Would that be convenient?"
"I'll make sure the Brisbane plane doesn't leave without you. Thank you, General."
The phone went dead in Pickering's ear.
Pickering looked at Sergeant Hart.
"Shine your shoes, George. CINCPAC is coming to lunch at Muku-Muku."
"Aye, aye, Sir."
Pickering looked at Commander Ussery.
"Would you like me to draw you a map, Commander?"
"That won't be necessary, Sir."
"Well, then, I suppose we'll see you at Muku-Muku at noon."
Oahu, Territory of Hawaii
1150 Hours 16 October 1942
The official vehicle of the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific, was a black 1941 Cadillac Model 62. There was no starred flag officer's plate; instead a blue flag with four silver stars flew from a staff mounted on the right front fender.
Sergeant George Hart was waiting for CINCPAC s arrival on the wide, shaded, flagstone porch of the rambling house overlooking the Pacific. He started down the stairs the moment he saw the car approaching, intending to salute, then open the rear door, then stand to attention while CINCPAC got out, then to close the door after him and follow him up the stairs.
By the time he reached the Cadillac, CINCPAC was already out of the car. Commander Ussery and the driver, a portly chief petty officer, quickly fol-lowed him. Hart noticed that the Chief had gotten no farther than the hood of the car before CINCPAC was walking toward him.
CINCPAC, a tall, silver-haired man in his fifties wearing a high-collared white uniform, returned the salute, smiling.
"Good afternoon, Sergeant," he said without breaking stride. "Would you be good enough to find the Commander and the Chief something to eat, and do what you can to keep them out of trouble?"
"Aye, aye, Sir," Hart said, as CINCPAC walked past him and up the stairs.
Brigadier General Pickering came onto the porch and saluted.
"Good afternoon, Sir. Welcome to Muku-Muku."
CINCPAC returned the salute, and then put out his hand.
"We gave ourselves an extra ten minutes in case we got lost," CINCPAC said. "I've only been here twice before, and that was a long time ago."
"Well, I'm glad you didn't get lost, Sir."
"You look well, Pickering," CINCPAC said. "Better than I would have expected."
"I'm fine, Sir."
"The way I heard it, the President pulled you out of a hospital bed."
"No, Sir, I was already out of the hospital."
The door to the house was opened by a silver-haired black man in a gray jacket.
"Welcome back to Muku-Muku, Admiral," he said. "I'm Denny. Do you remember me, Sir?"
"Indeed I do, but I'm surprised and flattered that you remembered I've been here before," CINCPAC said.
"May 22, 1939, as the guest of Captain Renner, Admiral," the black man said. "I checked the guest book."
"I don't suppose I could steal you away from General Pickering, could I, Denny?" CINCPAC said.
"Thank you, Sir, but no, thank you."
"Renner has the Pacific Princess now, doesn't he?" CINCPAC asked.
"It's the USS Millard G. Fillmore now," Pickering said. "I sold her to the Navy, which was wise enough to hire Renner away from me for the duration to skipper her."
"What can we offer the Admiral to drink?" Denny asked.
"If I drink at lunch, I have a hard time staying awake in the afternoon," CINCPAC said. "Having said that, I think a light scotch would go down nicely, thank you very much."
"We're set for lunch on the terrace," Denny said. "If you'll follow me, please?"
He led the way through the luxuriously furnished house to the terrace, on the seaward side of the house. CINCPAC walked to the edge of the terrace and looked down the steep, lush slope. At its end, five hundred yards away, large waves crashed onto a wide white sand beach.
"I've never been here in the daytime before," he said. "I missed that. It's beautiful."
"Yes, it is," Pickering agreed.
"It makes the very idea of war seem all that much more obscene, doesn't it?" CINCPAC asked.
"Yes, Sir, it does," Pickering replied.
CINCPAC met Pickering's eyes. "Are we going to lose Guadalcanal, Pickering?" he asked. "Can Vandegrift hang on?"
Pickering was relieved when Denny appeared with the drinks. It at least delayed his having to answer a question he felt wholly inadequate to answer: whether or not Major General Archer A. Vandegrift's First Marine Division was going to be torn from its tenuous toehold on Guadalcanal.
"Very nice," CINCPAC said, sipping his drink.
"Famous Grouse," Denny said. "Funny name for a whiskey, isn't it?"
"Leave the fixings, please, Denny," Pickering said. "And give me ten minutes' notice when lunch will be ready."
"Ten minutes from when you tell me," Denny replied.
"Admiral?" Pickering asked.
"Ten minutes from now would be fine, Denny," CINCPAC said. He waited until Denny had left them alone on the terrace, and then looked at Pick-ering again. "Can he, or can't he? A good deal depends on that."
"Admiral, with respect, I am in no way qualified to offer an opinion about something like that."
CINCPAC nodded his head.
"I had a radio early today from Admiral Ghormley," he said. (Vice Admi-ral Robert L. Ghormley, USN, was Commander, South Pacific, and Senior Naval Commander for the Guadalcanal Operation.) "In it he used the phrase 'totally inadequate' vis-a-vis the forces available to him to resist a major Japa-nese attack. I think that's going overboard, but I would like to know what Van-degrift really thinks."
"General Vandegrift is a superb officer," Pickering said.
"The feeling around here is that General MacArthur is not doing all he can with regard to reinforcing Vandegrift."
"If that is your perception, Sir," Pickering heard himself say, "I'm truly sorry."
"You don't perceive that to be the case?"
Oh, to hell with it. He asked me. I'll tell him.
"I would suggest that there are people around General MacArthur who believe CINCPAC isn't doing all it can, Admiral."
"You believe that?"
"I'm in no position to make any judgment whatever, Sir."
"Right about now, your Major... what was his name? Vanning?"
"... Banning... is presumably briefing Secretary Knox. Which carries with it the unpleasant connotation that he does not trust the reports being sent to him by me."
"I think he wants all the information he can lay his hands on, Sir."
"Do you think it's likely that Secretary Knox will go to the President with the information Banning carried with him?"
"Yes, I do," Pickering replied.
"Do you think General MacArthur shares the opinion of those around him that we're not doing everything we can?"
"No, Sir. I do not."
"When you see General MacArthur, will you give him my personal assur-ance that I am doing everything I can?"
"I will, Sir, but I don't think it's necessary."
"And assure him that I have absolute faith that he's doing the same thing?"
"I don't suppose you'd be willing-or are free-to tell me the nature of your current mission to SWPOA?" (South West Pacific Ocean Area)
Pickering exhaled audibly.
On one hand, it's none of your business, CINCPAC or not. But on the other, you are CINCPAC.
"General MacArthur, for whatever reasons, has not chosen to receive the emissaries of Wild Bill Donovan...."
"General Donovan, of the Office of Strategic Services?"
"Yes, Sir. General Donovan and the President are old friends. He has complained to the President, and the President has sent me to extol the virtues of the OSS to General MacArthur."
"Do you think you'll succeed?"
"General MacArthur rarely changes his mind. He told me that he doesn't think the good the OSS can do for him is worth what the OSS will cost him."
"Have you ever wondered, Pickering, why the President, or General Mar-shall, doesn't simply order Douglas MacArthur to do what he's told to do vis-a-vis the OSS?" (General George Catlett Marshall was U.S. Army Chief of Staff.)
"I'd heard there was bad blood between Marshall and MacArthur."
"When MacArthur was Chief of Staff, he wrote an efficiency report on Marshall, who was then commanding the Infantry School at Fort Benning, stat-ing he was not qualified to command anything larger than a regiment."
"I hadn't heard that, Sir."
"There's bad blood between them, all right, but that's not the reason I'm talking about. Marshall put a knife in MacArthur's back after he left the Philip-pines. MacArthur left under the impression he was simply moving his flag and that the Philippines would remain under his command. But the minute he boarded that PT boat, the Army started dealing directly with General Skinny Wainwright, in effect taking him out from under MacArthur's command."
"I'd heard that story, Sir."
From El Supremo himself. By admitting that, am I violating his confi-dence ?
"There was a brigadier general on Mindanao, with 30,000 effectives. Fel-low named Sharp. They had food and rations, munitions, and they weren't in the pitiable state of the troops on Bataan. When Bataan fell, and then a month later, Corregidor, the Japanese forced Wainwright to order Sharp on Mindanao to surrender. Sharp obeyed Wainwright's order. MacArthur feels, with some justification, that if he had retained command of the Philippines, that wouldn't have happened. He told me it was his plan to use Sharp's people, and materiel, to continue the war, either conventionally or as guerrillas. If he had retained command of the Philippines, he feels, Sharp wouldn't have had to surrender until he at least got a guerrilla operation off the ground and running. And now they want to send somebody not under MacArthur's command in to start guer-rilla operations? You have your work cut out for you, Pickering, to talk Doug-las MacArthur into agreeing to that."
"What's the difference who would run it, so long as it's hurting the Japa-nese?"
CINCPAC looked at Pickering and smiled.
"Of all people, Pickering, I would have thought that you would be aware of the effect of the egos of very senior officers on warfare. And actually, it's a moot point. The surrenders have taken place. Whatever materiel could have been used by a guerrilla operation has either been destroyed or captured, and there's simply no way to get any into the Philippines."
"What did the Russian partisans do for supplies?" Pickering asked.
"Getting supplies across an enemy's lines is much easier than trying to ship them across deep water," Nimitz said.
"Luncheon, gentlemen," Denny called from the far end of the terrace, "is served."
The Foster Lafayette Hotel
0005 Hours 17 October 1942
Major Edward J. Banning, USMC, a tall, well-built thirty-six-year-old, fresh from a shower and wearing only a towel, sat on the bed and stared at the tele-phone. After a full thirty seconds, he reached for it.
He gave the operator a number in New York City from memory.
Maybe, he thought, as he counted the rings to six, torn between disappoint-ment and relief, she's not home. Away for the weekend or something. Or maybe she's got a heavy date. Why not?
A woman's voice came on the line, her "Hello?" expressing a mixture of annoyance and concern.
Oh, God, I woke her up.
Why did I make that a question? God knows, I recognized her voice.
"Oh, my God! Ed!"
"Did I wake you?"
"Where are you?"
"Since about nine o'clock."
"I will give you the benefit of the doubt, and believe this is the first chance you've had to call me."
"It really was," he said. "They just left."
"Two bare-breasted girls in grass skirts and a jazz quartet."
"In other words, you don't want to tell me."
"Colonel Rickabee, Captain Sessions, some other people."
I purposely did not tell her the others were Senator Fowler and the Admin-istrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy. Was that because of some noble concern with security, or because I am just too tired to get into an explanation?
"Where are you?"
"At the Foster Lafayette."
The Foster Lafayette was one of Washington's most prestigious-and inarguably one of its most expensive-hotels.
"You know why I'm here, Carolyn," he said.
Brigadier General Fleming Pickering, USMCR, was married to the only child of Andrew Foster, who owned the Foster Lafayette and forty-two other hotels. Foster had turned over to Pickering a Foster Lafayette suite for the dura-tion; and Pickering had left standing orders that the suite be used by the offi-cers on his staff when he wasn't actually using it himself.
"He's in the Pacific, isn't he?" Carolyn asked innocently. "Is anyone else there with you?"
"Christ, Carolyn, I don't think that's such a good idea," Banning said.
"If the bare-breasted girls in the grass skirts come back, tell them you've made other plans," she said, and hung up.
Banning stared for a moment at the dead phone in his hand, and then put it in its cradle.
"Jesus Christ!" he said, smiling.
The telephone rang.
He grabbed it.
"I forgot to tell you something," Carolyn said. "Welcome home. And I love you."
"You're something," he said, laughing.
"With just a little bit of luck, I can catch the one-oh-five milk train," she said, and hung up again.
He put the phone back in its cradle again, swung his feet up on the bed, and lowered his head onto the pillow.
He was almost instantly asleep.
The Foster Lafayette Hotel
0805 Hours 17 October 1942
When the telephone rang, Carolyn Spencer Howell, a tall, willowy thirty-two-year-old who wore her shoulder-length hair parted in the middle, woke imme-diately.
She glanced at the man in bed beside her with a sudden tenderness that made her want to cry, and then smiled, anticipating the look on his face when the telephone's ringing finally woke him up.
He slept on, oblivious to the sound.
Finally, she pushed him, at first gently and then quite hard. His only re-sponse was to grunt and roll over.
"I never really believed that cutting hair was what Delilah did to Sam-son," she said aloud. And then made a final attempt to wake him. She held his nostrils shut.
His response was to swat at whatever had landed on his face with his hand. The force of the swat was frightening.
"That was not a good idea," she said, then shrugged and reached for the telephone.
She looked down at Ed's wristwatch on the bedside table. It was five min-utes past eight. She had been with him not quite four hours.
Should I be ashamed of myself for taking advantage of an exhausted man?
He didn't seem to mind.
But neither was there any of that postcoital cuddling, of fame and legend. He was sound asleep while I was still quivering.
"Who is this?" a somewhat impatient male voice demanded.
"Who are you?" Carolyn responded.
"My name is Rickabee. I was trying to reach Major Edward Banning."
"He's in the shower, Colonel Rickabee. May I take a message?"
"I'd hoped to see him. I'm downstairs."
"Why don't you give him five minutes and then come up?"
"Thank you," Rickabee said, and hung up.
She hung the telephone up, and then really tried to wake Ed. Tickling the inside of his feet-at some risk-finally worked. After thrashing his legs an-grily, he suddenly sat up, fully awake.
"What the hell are you doing?"
"Your Colonel Rickabee is on his way up," Carolyn said.
"Christ! You talked to him?"
"You wouldn't wake up," she said.
"I wonder what the hell he wants?" Banning asked rhetorically, and stepped out of bed. He headed directly for the bathroom.
Carolyn picked up the telephone.
"Room Service, please," she told the operator, and then ordered coffee and breakfast rolls for three.
Ed came out of the bedroom as she was fastening her brassiere.
"Jesus, you're beautiful," he said.
"I ordered coffee and rolls," she said. "Would you like me to take a walk around the block, or what?"
"No," he said. "Don't be silly. You stay."
"I'm not being silly. Is this going to be awkward for you?"
"Don't be silly," he repeated, making a joke of it. "I'm a Marine, aren't I?"
In other words, yes, it is going to be embarrassing for you. But you are either the consummate gentleman, or you love me too much-maybe both-to consciously hurt my feelings. Whichever, Thank You, My Darling!
Almost precisely five minutes later, the door chimes of Suite 802 sounded.
Banning, by then dressed in a khaki shirt and green woolen uniform trou-sers, opened it to a tall, slight, pale-skinned, unhealthy-looking man in an ill-fitting suit.
He was not what Carolyn expected.
Ed was closemouthed about what he did in The Marine Corps. Even though she told herself she understood the necessity for tight lips, this frus-trated Carolyn. But she knew that Ed was in "Intelligence," even if she didn't know precisely what that meant, and that his immediate superior was Colonel F. L. Rickabee, whom he had once described as "the best intelligence officer in the business."
She had expected someone looking like Clark Gable in a Marine uniform. Or maybe an American version of David Niven in a splendidly tailored suit. Not this bland, pale man in a suit that looked like a gift from the Salvation Army.
"Good morning, Sir," Banning said. "I was in the shower."
"So I understand," Rickabee said. He looked at Carolyn.
"Honey," Banning said. "This is my boss, Colonel Rickabee. Colonel, my... Mrs. Carolyn Howell."
"How do you do, Mrs. Howell?"
"How do you do?" Carolyn replied, offering her hand.
Rickabee's hand was as she thought it might be. Cold.
Carolyn Spencer Howell was, in the flesh, very much as Rickabee thought she would be. He knew a good deal about her. He was a good intelligence officer.
When Banning first became involved with her, Rickabee asked the FBI for a report on her. And the FBI's New York Field Office turned the investigation over to the Army's Counterintelligence Corps, a move that annoyed Rickabee, although he could not fault the thorough, professional job the CIC did on her:
Carolyn Spencer Howell came from a respected upper-middle-class fam-ily. Shortly after graduating cum laude from Sarah Lawrence (where she was apolitical), she married James Stevens Howell, an investment banker ten years her senior. Mr. Howell's interest in younger women apparently did not dimin-ish with marriage; and after nearly a decade of marriage, Mrs. Howell caught her husband in bed with a lady not far over the age of legal consent.
As a result of encouragement by his employers to be generous in the divorce settlement-philandering vice presidents do not do much for the image of investment banking-Mrs. Howell became a rather wealthy woman. She took employment in the New York Public Library, more for something to do than the need of income, and there she met Major Ed Banning, and took him into her bed.
So far as the CIC was able to determine, Banning was the only man to ever spend the night in Mrs. Howell's apartment. And Banning, meanwhile, was honest with her, telling her up front that there was a Mrs. Edward Banning, whom he had last seen standing on a quai in Shanghai, and whose present whereabouts were not known.
For Rickabee's purposes, Mrs. Howell was ideal for Banning. So long as he was, in his way, faithful to her, which seemed to be the case, he was unlikely to go off the deep end with a dangerous floozy, or even, conceivably, with an enemy agent. There was talk around, which Rickabee believed, that Ambassa-dor Kennedy's son, the second one, John, had been sent to the Pacific after becoming entirely too friendly with a redhead who had ties with the wrong governments.
"I'm really very sorry to intrude," Rickabee said, meaning it. "And I wouldn't have come if it wasn't necessary. But the thing is, Mrs. Howell, I need about thirty minutes of Ed's time now, and about that much time at half past ten."
"I was just telling Ed that I was going to take a walk around," Carolyn said. "Have a look at the White House, maybe."
"It's raining," Rickabee said. "Walking may not be such a good idea. But if you could read the newspaper over a cup of coffee in the lobby..."
"My pleasure," Carolyn said. She smiled and left.
Rickabee waited until the door closed after her.
"Haughton called," he said. "There's a special channel from Brisbane. He's going to bring it by the office."
Captain David Haughton, USN, was Administrative Assistant to Navy Secretary Frank Knox. A "special channel" was a message encrypted in a spe-cial code whose use was limited to the most senior members of the military and naval hierarchy-or more junior officers, for example Colonel Rickabee and Brigadier General Pickering, whose immediate superiors were at the top of the hierarchy. Since Pickering was in Brisbane, the special channel was almost certainly from him. The only other person authorized access to the special channel in Brisbane was General Douglas MacArthur, who was the Supreme Commander, South West Pacific Ocean Area. It was unlikely that MacArthur would be sending messages to a lowly Marine colonel.
"I thought you had better be there, in case something needs clarification."
"And it's possible that Haughton may want to talk about the Mongolian Operation. If that's the case, I thought it would be better if you were up to date on it, changes, et cetera, since you left."
"As soon as we're finished with Haughton, you're finished. Take the week I mentioned last night."
"Aye, aye, Sir."
"Do you think you could rustle up some coffee, Ed?"
The door chimes sounded.
Banning opened the door to admit the waiter with the coffee Carolyn had ordered from room service.
"Your wish, Sir," Banning said, chuckling, "is my command. I trust the Colonel will pardon the delay?"
Temporary Building T-2032
The Mall, Washington, D.C.
1045 Hours 17 October 1942
Captain David W. Haughton, USNA '22, a tall, slim, intelligent-looking Naval officer, had called for a Navy car to take him to The Mall, where a large collec-tion of "temporary" frame buildings built to house the swollen Washington bureaucracy during World War I were now occupied by the swollen-and still swelling-bureaucracy considered necessary to wage World War II.
A 1941 Packard Clipper, painted Navy gray, with enlisted chauffeur, was immediately provided. This was not in deference to Captain Haughton's rank-it was said there were enough captains and admirals in Washington to fully man all the enlisted billets provided for on a battleship-but to the rank of his boss.
Captain Haughton, who would have much preferred to be at sea as a lieu-tenant commander in command of a destroyer-as he had once been-was Ad-ministrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Frank Knox.
There were, of course, official automobiles assigned to the Office of the Secretary of the Navy, including two limousines. One of these was at the mo-ment in use by Secretary Knox, and the second was in the Cadillac dealership having a bad clutch repaired. There were also two 1942 Plymouth sedans painted Navy gray. Chief Petty Officer Stanley Hansen, USN, Haughton's chief assistant, regarded one of these as his personal vehicle, and Haughton was reluctant to challenge the Chief's perquisites. And he was reluctant to use the second Plymouth because he regarded it as a necessary spare. The Secre-tary's limousine-or Chief Hansen's Plymouth-might collapse somewhere.
And finally, he had requested a car from the motor pool for an admittedly petty, selfish reason. It had rained hard all day, and he thought it was unlikely to stop. He correctly suspected that the motor pool would dispatch a car much like the Packard that was in fact sent, a large car, reserved for admirals, and consequently equipped, fore and aft, with a holder for the starred plates admi-rals were entitled to affix to their automobiles. When an admiral was not actu-ally in his car, the holder was covered.
The Shore Patrol, which patrolled the area of The Mall where Haughton was headed, would, he thought, be somewhat reluctant to challenge an illegally parked Packard with a flag officer's plate holder on it-even if the admiral's stars were covered. He could thus tell the driver to park right in front of Tem-porary Building T-2032, where he had business to transact with the Marine Corps Office of Management Analysis. This would spare him a long walk in the rain to and from the parking lot where lowly captains were supposed to park.
The Packard pulled to the curb before one of the many identical two-story frame buildings, and the driver started to get out to open Haughton's door.
"Stay in the car, son," Haughton ordered, opened the door himself, and, a heavy black Navy-issue briefcase in his left hand, ran through the rain down a short concrete path to the building and stepped inside into a vestibule.
There was a sign reading "ABSOLUTELY NO ADMITTANCE" on the door to the stairway of the two-floor frame building.
Haughton pushed it open and stepped inside. Inside, there was a wall of pierced-steel planking (interlocking sections of steel, perforated to permit the passage of water, designed for the hasty construction of temporary aircraft run-ways; it was quickly adopted for a host of other purposes). A door of the same material (closed) and a window (open) were cut into the wall. Through the window, Haughton could see a Marine sergeant armed with a Colt Model 1911A1.45 ACP pistol, in a shoulder holster, sitting at a desk in his khaki shirt. His blouse hung from a hanger hooked into the pierced steel netting wall. Hanging beside his blouse was a Winchester Model 1897 12-gauge trench gun.
The pierced steel wall and the armed guard were necessary because the Marine Corps Office of Management Analysis had nothing whatever to do with either management or analysis. What the Office of Management Analysis did was clandestine intelligence, and special, clandestine, operations.
The sergeant saw him, recognized him, and stood up.
"Good morning, Sir," he said. "I know the Colonel expects you."
Haughton held out to him a photo identification card.
"Yes, Sir, thank you, Sir," the sergeant said, and pushed a clipboard through the window opening in the pierced-steel planking.
Haughton wrote his name, the time, and "Colonel Rickabee" in the "To See" blank on the form on the clipboard and pushed it back. Colonel F. L. Rickabee was Deputy Chief of the Office of Management Analysis.
"Thank you, Sir," the sergeant said, and then pressed a hidden button. When he heard the buzzing of a solenoid, Haughton pushed open the door in the metal wall.
He walked through a second interior door, which gave access to a stair-way. He waited for a second buzz of a solenoid, then pushed the door open and started to climb the stairs. Behind him, he heard the sergeant, apparently on a telephone, say, "Colonel, Captain Haughton is on deck."
Haughton went up the wooden stairs two at a time. Beyond a door at the top of the stairs was another pierced-steel wall. Beside it was a doorbell button. As Haughton reached to push the button, the door opened.
"Good morning, Sir," Major Ed Banning said.
When he saw Banning, Haughton was always uncomfortably reminded of his own noncombatant role in the war. On Banning's tunic were half a dozen ribbons, including one whose miniature oak-leaf cluster represented the second award of the Purple Heart, for wounds received in combat. The ribbon repre-senting service in the Pacific Theater of Operations was further adorned with a small black star, indicating that the wearer had not only been in the Pacific but had participated in a battle.
In Banning's case, this was the battle of the Philippines. Haughton had learned-not from Banning, but from Lieutenant Kenneth R. McCoy, who had been there-that Banning took shrapnel from Japanese artillery during the ini-tial Japanese landings. Left behind when American forces retreated, and hiding out behind the enemy lines, he came under American artillery fire, whose con-cussion blinded him.
He was ultimately led through the enemy lines to a hospital, and finally to the hospital on Fortress Corregidor. From there he was evacuated, with other blinded men, by submarine. His sight inexplicably returned while he was on the sub.
"How are you, Banning?"
"Very well, thank you, Sir. I guess we heard from The Boss?"
Haughton held up the briefcase, which was attached to his wrist by a steel cable and half a handcuff. Then he walked through the pierced-steel planking door, and down a narrow corridor to the end, which held the offices of the Chief, USMC Office of Management Analysis, and his deputy.
The door was opened by Colonel Rickabee, who had changed into a uni-form after his breakfast meeting with Banning at the Foster Lafayette. But even in uniform, with the silver eagles of a colonel pinned to his collar points, and even wearing a 1911A1.45 automatic in a shoulder holster, Colonel F. L. Rickabee, USMC, did not look much like a professional warrior.
BEHIND THE LINES ? 103
"Hello, David. How are you?" Rickabee said, offering his hand.
Haughton wondered if Rickabee really thought the.45 was necessary, or whether he was wearing it to set an example for the others. It seemed highly unlikely that anyone would launch an assault against the Office of Manage-ment Analysis-even with its bulging files of TOP SECRET material. And even if that happened, it seemed likely that the pierced-steel doors and the ser-geants with their 12-gauge riot guns would at least slow them down enough so that reinforcements could be called up.
"Good to see you, Fritz," Haughton said.
"Little wet outside? Would a cup of coffee be welcome? Or something stronger?"
Banning turned and went down the corridor, obviously in search of coffee. Haughton found the key to his handcuff, and with some difficulty managed to detach himself from the briefcase. Then he worked the combination lock of the briefcase and took from it a manila folder, on which was stamped in inch-high red letters TOP SECRET. He handed it to Rickabee as Banning returned, car-rying three steaming china mugs by their handles.
"General Pickering has been heard from," Haughton said, handing the file to Rickabee.
Ten days before, Pickering had left his hospital bed-prematurely, Haugh-ton thought-to undertake a personal mission for the President: Colonel Dono-van, the head of OSS, had complained to the President that General Douglas MacArthur had flatly refused to even talk to the man Donovan had sent to run the OSS operation in the Pacific. And Roosevelt had decided that if anyone could solicit MacArthur's cooperation, it was Brigadier General Fleming W. Pickering.
The documents in the TOP SECRET folder Haughton had brought to Rickabee were the first word anyone had heard from Pickering since he had flown back to the Far East.
Rickabee slumped back in his chair and started to read the first of the two messages.
EYES ONLY-THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY
ORIGINAL TO BE DESTROYED AFTER ENCRYPTION AND TRANSMITTAL TO SECNAV
SATURDAY 17 OCTOBER 1948
I ARRIVED HERE WITHOUT INCIDENT PROM PEARL HARBOR. PRESUMABLY, MAJOR ED BANNING IS BY NOW IN WASHINGTON AND YOU HAVE HAD A CHANCE TO HEAR WHAT HE HAD TO SAY, AND TO HAVE HAD A LOOK AT THE PHOTOGRAPHS AND FILM.
WITHIN AN HOUR OF WHAT I THOUGHT WAS MY UNHERALDED ARRIVAL, I WAS SUMMONED TO A PRIVATE-REALLY PRIVATE, ONLY EL SUPREMO AND ME-LUNCHEON. HE ALSO HAD A SKEWERED IDEA WHY I WAS SENT HERE. HE THOUGHT I WAS SUPPOSED TO MAKE PEACE BETWEEN HIM AND ADMIRAL NIMITZ. HE ASSURED ME THAT HE AND NIMITZ ARE GREAT PALS, WHICH I THINK, AFTER TALKING WITH NIMITZ AT PEARL HARBOR, IS ALMOST TRUE.
WHEN I BROUGHT UP DONOVAN'S OSS PEOPLE, A WALL CAME DOWN. HE TELLS ME HE HAS NO INTENTION OF LETTING "DONOVAN GET HIS CAMEL'S NOSE UNDER THE TENT" AND VOLUNTEERED THAT NIMITZ FEELS THE SAME WAY. I ALSO SUSPECT THIS IS TRUE. I WILL KEEP TRYING, OF COURSE, BOTH BECAUSE I CONSIDER MYSELF UNDER ORDERS TO DO SO, AND BECAUSE I THINK THAT MACA IS WRONG AND DONOVAN'S PEOPLE WOULD BE VERY USEFUL, BUT I DON'T THINK I WILL BE SUCCESSFUL.
THE BEST INFORMATION HERE, WHICH I PRESUME YOU WILL ALSO HAVE SEEN BY NOW, IS THAT THE JAPANESE WILL LAUNCH THEIR ATTACK TOMORROW.
ADMIRAL GHORMLEY SENT TWO RADIOS (16 AND 17 OCTOBER) SAYING HIS FORCES ARE "TOTALLY INADEQUATE" TO RESIST A MAJOR JAPANESE ATTACK, AND MAKING WHAT SEEMS TO ME UNREASONABLE DEMANDS ON AVAILABLE NAVAL AND AVIATION RESOURCES. I DETECTED A CERTAIN LACK OF CONFIDENCE IN HIM ON MACA'S PART. I HAVE NO OPINION, AND CERTAINLY WOULD MAKE NO RECOMMENDATIONS VIS-A-VIS GHORMLEY IF I HAD ONE, BUT THOUGHT I SHOULD PASS THIS ON.
A PROBLEM HERE, WHICH WILL CERTAINLY GROW, IS IN THE JUNIOR (VERY JUNIOR) RANK OF LIEUTENANT HON SONG DO, THE ARMY CRYPTOGRAPHER/ANALYST, WHOM A HORDE OF ARMY AND MARINE COLONELS AND NAVY CAPTAINS, WHO AREN'T DOING ANYTHING NEARLY SO IMPORTANT, THINK OF AS... A FIRST LIEUTENANT. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN DO TO HAVE THE ARMY PROMOTE HIM? THE SAME IS TRUE, TO A SLIGHTLY LESSER DEGREE, OF LIEUTENANT JOHN MOORE, BUT MOORE, AT LEAST (HE IS ON THE BOOKS AS MY AIDE-DE-CAMP) CAN HIDE BEHIND MY SKIRTS. AS FAR AS ANYONE BUT MACA AND WILLOUGHBY KNOW, HON IS JUST ONE MORE CODE-MACHINE LIEUTENANT WORKING IN THE APTLY NAMED DUNGEON IN MACA'S HEADQUARTERS BASEMENT.
FINALLY, MACA FIRMLY SUGGESTED THAT I DECORATE LIEUTENANT JOE HOWARD AND SERGEANT STEVEN KOFFLER, WHOM WE TOOK OFF BUKA. GOD KNOWS, THEY DESERVE A MEDAL FOR WHAT THEY DID.. THEY MET ME AT THE AIRPLANE, AND THEY LOOK LIKE THOSE PHOTOGRAPHS IN LIFE MAGAZINE OF STARVING RUSSIAN PRISONERS ON THE EASTERN FRONT... BUT I DON'T KNOW HOW TO GO ABOUT THIS. PLEASE ADVISE.
FLEMING PICKERING, BRIGADIER GENERAL, USMCR
T O P S E C R E T
Haughton watched Rickabee's face as he very carefully read the radio-teletype message and then handed it to Banning.
Technically, Haughton thought, not unpleasantly, but simply recognizing the facts, giving that to Banning to read is a security violation. No matter what kind of a security clearance Banning has, that message, both of these mes-sages, are Eyes Only SECNAV, and that means just what it says. If the Secre-tary wants to give them to someone else, that's his business. The fact that the Secretary told me to show both radios to Rickabee doesn't mean that Rickabee has any authority to show them to anyone else, even someone like Banning.
On the other hand, (a) if the Secretary knew about it, he wouldn't say a word. He trusts Rickabee's judgment, (b) Banning isn't just an ordinary Ma-rine Corps major with an ordinary TOP SECRET security clearance. He's cleared for MAGIC, and if an officer is on the MAGIC list, I can't think of any classified material to which he is not authorized access. And (c) after Ban-ning's brilliant-and that's the only word that fits, brilliant-briefing of the President, the Secretary of the Navy, and Senator Fowler on the Guadalcanal situation yesterday, he is one fair-haired boy.
And then, while Rickabee was reading the second radio and Banning was absorbing the first, Haughton had another thought, a wild thought, only periph-erally connected to the first:
There are three people in this little room with MAGIC clearances. In all of the world, counting even the cryptographic officers who make the decryp-tions, and the analysts, there are only forty-two people on that list, as of yes-terday.
What is it they say? "A secret is compromised the instant two people know about it." That's probably true. And MAGIC is one hell of a secret. When you have a small, but growing, capability to read your enemy's most secret en-crypted messages, the value to the war is literally beyond measure.
And to protect that secret as much as possible, you severely limit the num-ber of people authorized access to it. Some people, obviously, have to be on it. The President; Admiral Leahy, the President's Chief of Staff; the Secretary, and his Army counterpart, the Secretary of War; Admiral Nimitz as CINCPAC; General MacArthur as Supreme Commander SWPOA; and the underlings- those who broke, and are breaking, the codes in Hawaii; the analysts; the cryptographic officers who, using a special code, encrypt the decrypted mes-sages for transmission to Washington and Brisbane; the cryptographic officers and analysts here and in Brisbane; and a very few others-MacArthur's G-2 in Brisbane, Nimitz's Intelligence Officer in Pearl Harbor, and Captain David Haughton, Colonel F. L. Rickabee, and Major Edward F. Banning here. We three underlings have to be on the list because we can't do our jobs without knowing about it. And, of course, Brigadier General Fleming Pickering, for the same reason.
When I read-when was that, a month ago, two?-about the security ar-rangements for the MAGIC people in Hawaii, I thought it made sense not to permit them to leave CINCPAC without an armed escort. The Japanese might not know about MAGIC, but they almost certainly knew something highly clas-sified was going on.
On one level, the idea of the Japanese kidnapping Naval officers in Hawaii to see what they knew seemed fantastic. But so did the idea of the Japanese launching an aerial attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December. A lot of unthink-able things happens in war, and even more in Intelligence.
Nimitz was right to provide his MAGIC people with that kind of security. It just made sense. It also made sense to provide Pickering, over his objections, with a Marine bodyguard, an ex-St. Louis police detective. And the brass, of course, were routinely protected. The only people on the MAGIC list who are not protected are Rickabee, Banning, and me.
God, is that why Rickabee is carrying that gun ? '
Does Banning carry one?
"Banning, may I ask you a question?"
Banning looked up from the radio message.
"Everybody else around here is armed to the teeth except you," Haughton said, making it a question.
Banning smiled, stood up, turned around, and hoisted the skirt of his tunic. A 1911A1.45 Colt was in a skeleton holster in the small of his back.
"In maintaining the hoary traditions of The Corps, Captain," Banning said, as he sat down again. "We of Management Analysis are always prepared to repel boarders."
Haughton laughed, somewhat nervously.
My God, I'm right! The reason these two don't have an armed bodyguard with them is that they consider themselves competent to protect themselves. But the point is they do think there is a sufficient risk that going armed is neces-sary-even here in Washington.
Does that mean I should get myself a pistol? Christ, I've never been able to hit the broad side of a barn from ten feet with a.45!
Rickabee, who was not known for his genial personality or for his sense of humor, looked up from his radio and glared at both of them.
A moment later, he finished reading his radio and handed it to Banning. Banning handed him the first radio message, and Rickabee handed it to Haugh-ton, who replaced it in the TOP SECRET folder.
Banning started to read the second radio from General Pickering:
EYES ONLY - CAPTAIN DAVID HAUGHTON, USN
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY
ORIGINAL TO BE DESTROYED AFTER ENCRYPTION AND TRANSMITTAL
FOR COLONEL F.L. RICKABEE
USMC OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT ANALYSIS
SATURDAY 17 OCTOBER 1942
AT LUNCH WITH MACA YESTERDAY, HE JUSTIFIED HIS SNUBBING OF DONOVAN'S PEOPLE HERE BY SAYING THAT HE HAS A GUERRILLA OPERATION UP AND RUNNING IN THE PHILIPPINES.
AT COCKTAILS-BEFORE-DINNER EARLIER TONIGHT, I TRIED TO PUMP GENERAL WILLOUGHBY ABOUT THIS, AND GOT A VERY COLD SHOULDER; HE MADE IT PLAIN THAT ANY GUERRILLA ACTIVITY GOING ON THERE IS INSIGNIFICANT. AFTER DINNER, I GOT WITH LT COL PHILIP DEPRESS-HE IS THE OFFICER COURIER YOU BROUGHT TO WALTER REED HOSPITAL TO SEE ME WHEN HE HAD A LETTER FROM MACA FOR ME. HE'S A HELL OF A SOLDIER WHO SOMEHOW GOT OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES BEFORE THEY FELL.
AFTER FEEDING HIM A LOT OF LIQUOR, I GOT OUT OF HIM THIS VERSION: AN ARMY RESERVE CAPTAIN NAMED WENDELL FERTIG REFUSED TO SURRENDER AND WENT INTO THE HILLS OF MINDANAO WHERE HE GATHERED AROUND HTM A GROUP OF OTHERS, INCLUDING A NUMBER OF MARINES FROM THE 4TH MARINES WHO ESCAPED FROM LUZON AND CORREGIDOR, AND STARTED TO SET UP A GUERRILLA OPERATION.
HE HAS PROMOTED HIMSELF TO BRIGADIER GENERAL, AND APPOINTED HIMSELF "COMMANDING GENERAL, US FORCES IN THE PHILIPPINES." I UNDERSTAND (AND SO DOES PHIL DEPRESS) WHY HE DID THIS. THE FILIPINOS WOULD PAY ABSOLUTELY NO ATTENTION TO A LOWLY CAPTAIN. THIS HAS, OF COURSE, ENRAGED THE RANK-CONSCIOUS PALACE GUARD HERE AT THE PALACE. BUT FROM WHAT DEPRESS TELLS ME, FERTIG HAS A LOT OF POTENTIAL.
SEE WHAT YOU CAN FIND OUT, AND ADVISE ME. AND TELL ME IF I'M WRONG IN THINKING THAT IF THERE ARE MARINES WITH FERTIG, THEN IT BECOMES OUR BUSINESS.
FINALLY, WITH ME HERE, MOORE, WHO IS ON THE BOOKS AS MY AIDE-DE-CAMP, IS GOING TO RAISE QUESTIONS IF HE SPENDS MOST OF HIS TIME, AS HE HAS TO, IN THE DUNGEON, INSTEAD OF HOLDING DOORS FOR ME AND SERVING MY CANAPES. IS THERE SOME WAY WE CAN GET SERGEANT HART A COMMISSION? HE IS, IN FAITHFUL OBEDIENCE TO WHAT I'M SURE ARE YOUR ORDERS, NEVER MORE THAN FIFTY FEET AWAY FROM ME ANYWAY.
I WOULD APPRECIATE IT IF YOU WOULD CALL MY WIFE, AND TELL HER THAT I AM SAFE ON THE BRIDGE AND CANAPE CIRCUT IN WATER LILY COTTAGE IN BEAUTIFUL BRISBANE ON THE SEA.
FLEMING PICKERING, BRIGADIER GENERAL, USMCR
T O P S E C R E T
When he finished reading the radio, Banning handed it back to Rickabee, who then handed it to Haughton, who replaced it in the TOP SECRET folder and then replaced the folder in his briefcase.
"The General, I surmise, is in good spirits," Banning said. "What's this business about guerrillas in the Philippines? I never heard anything about that before."
"That's one of the reasons I came over here, to discuss that with you," Haughton said. "On 12 October, the Navy station at Mare Island answered a station that was trying to get a response from Australia. They sent a message- here it is," he interrupted himself and handed Rickabee several sheets of paper stapled together-"encrypted on an obsolete crypto device. The Chief at Mare Island borrowed a crypto device from the Army, and came up with... what does it say? 'Here's the Hot Poop From The Hot Yanks, et cetera, Brigadier General Fertig."'
"Captain Fertig, according to Willoughby, in Pickering's radio," Banning said.
"How do we know this Fertig is genuine?" Rickabee asked, adding, "How did you come by this information, David?"
Haughton expected the question, but it still embarrassed him. "The Chief Radioman at Mare Island is a crony of my Chief," he said. "He figured my Chief could check out Brigadier General Fertig. I didn't-if I have to say so-know anything about this."
"He who getteth between two Chiefs will getteth himself run over," Ban-ning said solemnly.
The remark produced a rare smile on Rickabee's face, Haughton noticed. "My Chief went to the Army and came up with a reserve officer by that name-but not a general-missing and presumed captured in the Philippines. And the vital statistics of his wife. The Mare Island Chief used the vitals to establish they were talking to Fertig."
"Why couldn't they get in touch with MacArthur in Australia?" Rickabee asked thoughtfully.
"At about this time," Haughton said, "my Chief decided I could be told what had happened so far. And I ordered Mare Island to contact SWPOA and relay to them all traffic from Fertig. And I had a message sent to SWPOA confirming that, and that it was our judgment that Fertig was Fertig. SWPOA is now communicating directly with Fertig."
"Repeat:" Rickabee said. "Why couldn't they get in touch with MacArthur in Australia?"
"Because El Supremo, or his minions," Banning said, somewhat nastily, "didn't want to hear from a guerrilla leader in the Philippines after El Supremo had gone on record saying that guerrilla operations in the Philippines 'are im-possible at this time,' end quote."
"I think we have to proceed on that same cynical assumption," Haughton said.
"So how are we involved?"
"The Secretary is right now with the President," Haughton said. "He in-tends to tell him about Fertig. He thinks it's good news-and God knows he needs some-that there is a guerrilla operation. Admiral Leahy will be at the meeting. The Secretary feels that the President will ask Leahy what to do about Fertig, and that Leahy will suggest that you deal with it. At least assess the situation."
Rickabee nodded, and then pointed his finger at Banning.
"Aye, aye, Sir," Banning said, acknowledging that the responsibility had just been delegated.
He wondered how that was going to affect the week off he had been prom-ised. A clear image of Carolyn fastening her brassiere came into his mind.
"After you get back from your week off," Rickabee said.
Christ, is he reading my mind?
"Aye, aye, Sir."
The White House
1115 Hours 17 October 1942
"Douglas," the President of the United States said, "has stated that guerrilla operations in the Philippines are impossible at this time."
"And we all know that Douglas Mac Arthur is incapable of being wrong, don't we?" the Hon. Frank Knox said, taking his pince-nez off and starting to polish the lenses.
Roosevelt looked up from his wheelchair at the dignified, stocky, well-dressed Secretary of the Navy and smiled.
"Admiral?" the President asked.
"We really know nothing, Mr. President, except that this man Fertig has chosen not to surrender, and that he has a radio," Admiral William D. Leahy said. Leahy, a tall, lanky, sad-faced man, was the former Chief of Naval Opera-tions, and was now serving as Roosevelt's Chief of Staff.
He looked between Knox and the President, who waited for him to con-tinue.
"If we plan to suggest to General MacArthur that he is wrong, I would like to have more facts than we now have," Leahy went on. "I would therefore suggest, Mr. President, that we investigate further. Specifically, that Ricka-bee' s people see what they can find out about Fertig's activities, and what the potential is."
"I suggest the Admiral is correct, Mr. President," Knox said.
"Have you brought this matter to Admiral Nimitz's attention, Mr. Secre-tary?"
Knox shook his head, no.
"The relationship between Nimitz and MacArthur is at the moment ami-cable," Leahy said. "I would suggest, Mr. Secretary, if the President believes we should go ahead with this-"
"I think we have a moral obligation here," the President interrupted. "In the absence of an overriding consideration to the contrary, we should go ahead, at least to the point of finding out more about this chap Fertig."
"Yes, Sir," Admiral Leahy said.
"This sort of thing, guerrilla warfare, operating behind the enemy lines, is really in Bill Donovan's basket of eggs," the President said. "But that pre-sumes Douglas's willingness to talk to Donovan's man, doesn't it?" "Unfortunately," Knox said.
"After Pickering's thoughts on that subject, it occurs to me that if I or-dered him to take Donovan's people, the first place Douglas would drag his feet would be in this case."
"The result would be a disgruntled Douglas MacArthur, with this fellow Fertig dangling in the breeze? Is that your assessment?"
Leahy nodded agreement, and Knox repeated, "Unfortunately."
"Is there any way around this? To avoid confronting MacArthur?"
Leahy nodded. "I would suggest that it might be best if I sent Admiral Nimitz a Special Channel Personal advising him of what we know so far, and informing him that we are looking further into the matter, and that any support he may be asked to supply be provided with the utmost discretion."
"Don't anger Douglas by not telling Douglas, in other words?" the Presi-dent asked.
"General Pickering is with Douglas," the President said thoughtfully.
"I don't think General Pickering has to know that I have communicated with Admiral Nimitz," Leahy said. "If he doesn't know..."
"Then it wouldn't slip out in conversation, would it?" the President said approvingly. "Frank, see what information you can develop, as quickly as pos-sible, without annoying Douglas."
"Yes, Mr. President."
"Going off at somewhat of a tangent, Frank," the President said. "I sup-pose I thought of this because Pickering has a MAGIC clearance...."
"Yes, Mr. President?"
"I have been informed by Churchill that he plans to propose the establish-ment of a unified China-Burma-India command with Lord Louis Mountbatten named as its supreme commander."
"I'm not going to give it to him easily, but in the end, I will have to go along. When that happens, despite the reservations that Admiral Leahy has ex-pressed both eloquently and in great detail-I won't need to hear them again from you, Frank-we are going to have to bring the British in on MAGIC. That means we will have to send to India a liaison officer with a MAGIC clearance, and the necessary communications people."
"General Pickering?" Knox wondered aloud.
"I think we should send Pickering for a visit, when the time comes, yes. But I was thinking of an officer to serve as the MAGIC man on Mountbatten's staff. Think about that, would you? Someone who would not be dazzled by proximity to royal blood?"
Banning, Knox thought immediately. But he said nothing beyond "Yes, Mr. President."
"Thank you for coming to see me, Frank. I know what a brutal schedule you have."
"My privilege, Mr. President," Knox said, aware that he had just been dismissed.
"Keep us up to date on this Fertig fellow, will you, Frank?" the President called as Knox reached the door.
"Yes, Mr. President."
THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY
VIA SPECIAL CHANNEL
ORIGINAL TO BE DESTROYED AFTER ENCRYPTION AND TRANSMITTAL
SUPREME COMMANDER SWPOA
EYES ONLY BRIG GEN F.W. PICKERING, USMCR
1515 17 OCTOBER 1948
FOLLOWING PERSONAL FROM SECNAV FOR BRIG GEN PICKERING
I JUST CAME FROM A MEETING WITH ADMIRAL LEAHY IN WHICH THE SUBJECT OF FERTIG AND GUERRILLA RESISTANCE IN THE PHILIPPINES CAME UP.
LEAHY BELIEVES THAT THE MATTER SHOULD BE INVESTIGATED FURTHER AND SPECIFICALLY BY OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT ANALYSIS, AND FURTHER THAT THE FEWER PEOPLE WHO KNOW ABOUT THIS THE BETTER.
HAUGHTON IS WORKING WITH RICKABEE ON THIS AND I WILL KEEP YOU ADVISED.
BOTH THE PRESIDENT AND LEAHY EXPRESSED THEIR CONCERN VIS-A-VIS MACARTHUR'S RELATIONSHIP OR
LACK OF RELATIONSHIP WITH DONOVAN'S PEOPLE. THE POINT WAS MADE AND I THINK FAIRLY THAT
THIS (GUERRILLA) SORT OF THING BELONGS IN DONOVAN'S BASKET.
BEST PERSONAL REGARDS
END PERSONAL SECNAV TO BRIG GEN PICKERING
HAUGHTON CAPT USN ADMIN ASST TO SECNAV
T O P S E C R E T
Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff G-l
Headquarters, United States Marine Corps
Eighth and "I" Streets, NW
0825 Hours 18 October 1942
Colonel David M. Wilson, USMC, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff G-l for Officer Personnel, looked up from his desk to see Master Gunner James L. Hardee, USMC, standing there with paper in his hands and a smile on his face. (Master gunner, a rank between enlisted and commissioned status, is equiva-lent to a U.S. Army warrant officer.)
"I gather there is something in your hand that requires my immediate at-tention, Mister Hardee?"
"I thought the Colonel would probably be interested in this application for transfer, Sir," Hardee said.
Wilson put out his hand and Hardee handed him the typewritten letter.
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICE
UNITED STATES POST OFFICE
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
16 October 1942
FROM: Macklin, Robert B., First Lieutenant USMC
TO: Headquarters USMC
SUBJECT: Request For Consideration For Special Assignment
Reference is made to Memorandum, Headquarters, USMC dated 12 Sept 1942, Subject, "Solicitation of officer volunteers for Special Assignment To Intelligence Duties."
The undersigned wishes to volunteer for such duty. The following information is furnished:
The undersigned, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, is an officer of the regular establishment of the Marine Corps, presently on detached service with the USMC Public Relations Office, Los Angeles, Cal.
The undersigned is performing supervisory duties in connection with War Bond Tour n. Previously, the undersigned was a participant (e.g., one of the "Guadalcanal Veterans") in War Bond Tour I.
Prior to this assignment, the undersigned was assigned to the detachment of patients, U.S. Army General Hospital, Fourth Melbourne, Australia, while recovering from wounds suffered in action with the 2nd Parachute Battalion, USMC, on Gavutu during the invasion of
Previous to the Gavutu invasion, the undersigned, a qualified parachutist with sixteen (16) parachute jumps, was on the staff of the USMC Parachute School, Lakehurst, N.J.
Prior to the war, the undersigned served with the 4th Marines in Shanghai (and elsewhere in China) in a variety of assignments, including a number that involved intelligence gathering and evaluation.
(f) The undersigned has almost entirely recovered from the wounds suffered during the Guadalcanal campaign, and believes that he could make a greater contribution to the Marine Corps in a Special Intelligence assignment than he can in his presently assigned duties.
ROBERT B. MACKLIN
First Lieutenant, USMC
Colonel Wilson looked up at Gunner Hardee, then shook his head and smiled in mixed amazement and disgust.
"What the hell are these 'special intelligence' duties he's volunteering for?" Wilson asked.
"We've been levied for two hundred 'suitable' officers for the OSS," Hardee said. "There was a memorandum sent out looking for volunteers."
"Reading this, you might get the idea this sonofabitch is just what the OSS is looking for," Wilson said. "A wounded hero of the Guadalcanal campaign, a parachutist, and even 'intelligence-gathering and evaluation duties in China.' "
Normally full colonels do not offer derogatory remarks about lieutenants in the hearing of master gunners; but Colonel Wilson and Gunner Hardee went back a long ways together in The Corps, and both were personally familiar with the career of First Lieutenant Robert B. Macklin.
Macklin first came to their attention several weeks before, when the Chief of Public Relations asked for his permanent assignment to public relations. The Chief was delighted with Macklin's performance on War Bond Tour One-he was a tall, handsome man, and a fine public speaker, just what Public Relations was looking for.
After reading his records, Colonel Wilson was happy to accede to the re-quest, agreeing at that time with Gunner Hardee that it was probably the one place the bastard couldn't do The Corps much harm.
Lieutenant Macklin, as he stated in his letter, did indeed serve with the 4th Marines in Shanghai before the war. His service earned him a really devastat-ing efficiency report.
Then Captain Edward J. Banning, USMC, wrote that Lieutenant Macklin was "prone to submit official reports that both omitted pertinent facts that might tend to reflect adversely upon himself and to present other material clearly designed to magnify his own contributions to the accomplishment of an assigned mission."
In other words, he was a liar.
Even worse, his 4th Marines efficiency report went on to say that Lieuten-ant Macklin "could not be honestly recommended for the command of a com-pany or larger tactical unit."
The reviewing officer-Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, then a major, now a lieutenant colonel on Guadalcanal-concurred in the evaluation of Lieutenant Macklin. Colonel Wilson had served several times with Chesty Puller and held him in the highest possible regard.
Before the war, shortly after being labeled a liar on his efficiency report, an officer would be asked for his resignation. But that was before the war, not now. Macklin's service record showed that when he came home from Shang-hai, The Corps sent him to Quantico, as a training officer at the Officer Candi-date School. He got out of that by volunteering to become a parachutist.
Macklin invaded Gavutu with the parachutists, as a supernumerary. Which meant that he was a spare officer, who would be given a job only after an offi-cer commanding a platoon, or something else, was killed or wounded.
As his letter stated, Macklin was in the Army's Fourth General Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, recovering from his wounds, when he was sent to the States to participate as a wounded hero in the first War Bond Tour.
Colonel Wilson got the whole story of Macklin's valorous service at Gavutu from someone he'd known years before, with the 4th Marines in Shanghai, Major Jake Dillon. (In those days, Dillon had been a sergeant.)
At the start of the war, in a move which at the time did not have Colonel Wilson's full and wholehearted approval, the Assistant Commandant of The Marine Corps arranged to have Dillon commissioned as a major, for duty with Public Affairs. The Assistant Commandant's reasoning was that The Corps was going to need some good publicity, and that the way to do that was to get a professional, such as the Vice President, Publicity, of Magnum Studios, Holly-wood, California, who was paid more money than the Commandant-for that matter, more than the President of the United States. And wasn't it fortuitous that he 'd been a China Marine, and Once A Marine, Always A Marine, was willing to come back into The Corps?
Colonel Wilson was now willing to admit that Major Jake Dillon did not turn out to be the unmitigated disaster he'd expected. For instance, Dillon led a crew of photographers and writers in the first wave of the invasion of Tulagi, and there was no question they did their job well.
Dillon was responsible for Lieutenant Macklin being sent home from Aus-tralia for the War Bond Tour.
"Most of the heroes I saw over there didn't look like Tyrone Power," Dillon said. "That bastard does, so I sent him on the tour."
Dillon told Colonel Wilson that Macklin had managed to get himself shot in the calf and face without ever reaching the beach, and had to be pried loose from the piling he was clinging to, screaming for a corpsman, while the fight-ing was going on.
"You've got to admire his gall," Gunner Hardee said. "I would have thought he'd be happy to stay in Public Relations."
"I think the sonofabitch really thinks he can salvage his career," Wilson said. "Tell me what would happen next if I endorsed this application favor-ably."
"Yeah, that would get him out of The Corps, wouldn't it?" Hardee said appreciatively. "But I don't think it would work. The first thing we have to do is get an FBI check on him, what they call a Full Background Investigation. Then we send that and his service record over to the OSS. If they want him, they tell us; and we cut his orders."
"What do you think would happen if his service record turned up missing? I mean, those things happen from time to time, don't they? What if we just got this background investigation on him... he probably didn't do anything wrong before he went to Annapolis... and his letter of application... with service record to follow when available?"
"I think the OSS might be very interested in a Marine parachutist who got himself shot heroically storming the beach on Gavutu."
"And what will happen six months from now when his service record shows up and they see his efficiency report?"
"They might send him back," Hardee said. "But by then, maybe they'll have parachuted him into France or something."
"The true sign of an intelligent man, Hardee, is how much he thinks like you do. Thank you for bringing this valiant officer's offer to volunteer to my personal attention. And have one of the clerks type up a favorable endorse-ment."
"Aye, aye, Sir."
Temporary Building T-2032
The Mall, Washington, D.C.
1125 Hours 19 October 1942
There were four telephones on the desk behind the pierced-steel planking wall on the ground floor of Building T-2032. When he heard the ring, Sergeant John V. Casey, USMC, who had the duty, reached out for the nearest one, a part of his brain telling him the ring sounded a little funny.
He got a dial tone, murmured "Shit!", dropped the first phone in its cra-dle, and quickly grabbed one of the others. And got another dial tone. He dropped that phone in its cradle and grabbed the third. Another dial tone.
"Shit," he repeated, now more amused than annoyed, and reached for the fourth telephone, which was pushed far out of the way. This was the one listed in the official and public telephone books for the Office of Management Anal-ysis. It rarely rang. Hardly anyone in the Marine Corps-for that matter, hardly anyone at all-had ever heard of the Office of Management Analysis. Those people who knew what the Office of Management Analysis was really doing and had business with it had one or more of the unlisted numbers.
Thinking that this call was almost certainly a wrong number, or was from some feather merchant raising money for the Red Cross or some other worthy purpose, Sergeant Casey nevertheless answered the phone courteously and in the prescribed manner.
"Management Analysis, Sergeant Casey speaking, Sir."
"I have a collect call for anyone," an operator's somewhat nasal voice announced, "from Lieutenant McCoy in Kansas City. Will you accept the charges?"
The question gave Sergeant Casey pause. He had no doubt that Lieutenant McCoy was Management Analysis's Lieutenant McCoy; but the last he'd heard, McCoy was somewhere in the Pacific, so what was this Kansas City business? And the immediate problem was that he was calling collect. So far as Sergeant Casey could recall, no one had ever called collect before; it might not be authorized.
What the hell, he decided. I'll say yes, and let McCoy straighten it out with the officers if he's not supposed to call collect.
"We'll accept charges, operator."
"Go ahead, please," the operator said.
"Sergeant Casey, Sir."
"Can you get Major Banning on the line?"
"He's not here."
"What about Captain Sessions?"
"Hold one, Lieutenant," Casey said, and considered that problem. The Management Analysis line was not tied in with any of the other telephones. He could not transfer the call by pushing a button. He solved that problem by call-ing one of the other lines, which was immediately picked up upstairs.
"Liberty 7-2033," a voice he recognized as belonging to Gunnery Ser-geant Wentzel said. What Sergeant Casey thought of as "the real phones" were answered by stating the number. That way, if the incoming call was a misdial, no information about who the misdialer had really reached got out.
"Gunny, Sergeant Casey. Is Captain Sessions around?"
"What do you want with him?"
"I got a collect call for him from Lieutenant McCoy on the Management Analysis line."
"I don't think you're supposed to accept collect calls on that line."
"I already did."
"He's here, put it through."
"This number don't switch."
"Oh, shit!" Gunny Wentzel said, and the line went dead.
Almost immediately thereafter, Casey heard someone rushing down the stairs, obviously taking them two and three at a time. A tall, lithely muscular, not quite handsome officer in his early thirties came through the door. He was in his shirtsleeves.
Casey handed him the telephone.
"Ken? What did you do, forget the number? Where are you?"
"In Kansas City. Fuel stop. We're on a B-25. They're going to drop us off at Anacostia-"
"Dillon and me," McCoy went on. "The pilot said we should be there in about four hours."
"I'll meet you," Sessions said.
"That's not why I called," McCoy said. "I need a favor."
"Could you call somebody for me?"
"Ernie? You mean you haven't called her?"
Ernie was Miss Ernestine Sage, whom Sessions-and his wife-knew and liked very much. She was not simply an attractive, charming, well-educated young woman, but she had the courage of her convictions: Specifically, she had decided, despite the enormous gulf in background between them, that Ken McCoy was the man in her life, and if that meant publicly living in sin with him because he wouldn't marry her, then so be it.
As for McCoy, though he was far from hostile to marriage, or especially to marrying Ernie Sage, he had nevertheless decided-not without reason, Ses-sions thought, considering what he had done so far in the war, and what the future almost certainly held for him-that the odds against his surviving the war unscathed or alive were so overwhelming that marriage, not to mention the siring of children, would be gross injustice to a bride and potential mother.
"I didn't know when I could get east until now," McCoy said, somewhat lamely. "And now I can't get her on the phone."
"That's kind of you, Killer," Sessions said sarcastically. "I'm sure she was mildly interested in whether or not you're still alive."
"Tell her I tried to call her, and that I'll try again when I get to Washing-ton."
"I'll need someplace to stay. Would you get me a BOQ?" (Bachelor Offi-cers' Quarters.)
"OK. Anything else?"
"I've got an envelope for the Colonel from the General."
"I'll take it at the airport and see that he gets it. You have a tail number on the aircraft?"
"Two dash forty-three eighty-nine. It's an Air Corps B-25 out of Los An-geles."
"I'll be there," Sessions said. "Welcome home, Kil... Ken."
"Thank you," McCoy said, and the phone went dead in Sessions's ear.
Sessions put the handset back in its cradle.
"Thank you," he said to the sergeant.
"That was Lieutenant McCoy, and he's back already?"
"Maybe this time they'll let him stay a little longer," Sessions said.
"I guess everything went all right over there?"
"What do you know about 'everything,' Sergeant?" Sessions said, not en-tirely pleasantly.
"You hear things, Sir."
"You're not supposed to be listening," Sessions said. "But yes. Every-thing went well."
"Good," Sergeant Casey said.
"You didn't get that from me," Sessions said.
"Get what from you, Sir?"
"You can be replaced, Sergeant. By a woman."
"They're talking about having lady Marines. You haven't heard?"
"Scout's honor," Sessions said, and held up his hand, three fingers ex-tended, as a Boy Scout does when giving his word of honor.
"Women in The Corps?"
"Women in The Corps," Sessions said firmly.
"My sentiments exactly, Sergeant," Sessions said.
Then he turned and went up the stairs to report to Colonel Rickabee that Lieutenant McCoy would be at the Anacostia Naval Air Station in approxi-mately four hours.
"J. Walter Thompson. Good afternoon."
"Miss Ernestine Sage, please."
"Miss Sage's office."
"Miss Sage, please."
"May I ask who's calling?"
"Captain Edward Sessions."
"Oh, my!" the woman's voice said. "Captain, she's in a meeting."
"Could you ask her to call me in Washington when she's free, please? She has the number."
"Just a moment, please," Sessions heard her say, and then faintly, as if she had covered the microphone with her hand and was speaking into an inter-com system: "Miss Sage, Captain Sessions is on the line. Can you take the call?"
"Ed?" Ernie Sage's voice came over the line. "I was about to call you."
"Why do you think? I haven't heard from you-know-who."
"I've heard from you-know-who. Just now. He'll be in Washington in four hours."
"Is he all right?"
"The bastard called you and not me."
"He said he tried."
"Where in Washington is he going to be in four hours?"
"He asked me to get him a BOQ."
"Where would you like him to be in four hours?"
"You know where."
"Your wish, Fair Lady, is my command. Have you got enough time?"
"I can catch the noon Congressional Limited if I run from here to Pennsyl-vania Station. Thank you, Ed."
The Foster Lafayette Hotel
1625 Hours 19 October 1942
"What are we doing here?" Lieutenant Kenneth R. McCoy, USMCR, asked, looking out the rain-streaked windows of the Marine-green Ford as it pulled up last in a long line of cars before the marquee of the hotel.
McCoy's uniform was rain-soaked, and he needed a shave.
"Obeying orders," Captain Sessions said. "I know that's hard for you, but it's a cold cruel world, Killer."
"I asked you not to call me that," McCoy said. His eyes grew cold.
When his eyes get cold, Sessions thought, he doesn't look twenty-two years old; he looks like Rickabee.
"Sorry," Sessions said. "As I was saying, Lieutenant, we are obeying or-ders. General Pickering's orders to Colonel Rickabee, 'there's no point in having my apartment sitting empty. Put people in it while I'm gone,' or words to that effect. Colonel Rickabee's orders to me. 'Put McCoy in the General's apartment,' or words to that effect. And my orders to you, Lieutenant: 'Get out. Go In. Have a shave and a shower. Get your uniform pressed. The Colonel wants to see you at 0800 tomorrow.' Any questions, Mister McCoy?"
"The Colonel said to put me in there?" McCoy asked doubtfully.
"I am a Marine officer and a gentleman," Sessions replied. "You are not doubting my veracity, are you?"
"0800?" McCoy asked.
"If there's a change, I'll call you. Otherwise there will be a car here at 0730."
"OK. Thanks, Ed. For meeting me, and for... Jesus, I didn't ask. Did you get through to Ernie?"
"I would suggest you call her," Sessions said. "I can't imagine why, but she seemed a trifle miffed that you called me and not her."
"I'll call her," McCoy said, and started to open the door.
"You need some help with your bag, Lieutenant?" the driver asked.
"No. Stay there. There's no sense in you getting soaked, too," McCoy said. He turned to Sessions. "Say hello to Jeanne. How's the baby?"
"You will see for yourself when you come to dinner. Get a bath, a drink, and go to bed. You look beat."
"I am," McCoy said, opened the door, and ran toward the hotel entrance, carrying a battered canvas suitcase.
A doorman in an ornate uniform was somewhat frantically trying to get people in and out of the line of cars, but he stopped what he was doing when he saw the Marine lieutenant, carrying a bag, running toward the door.
"May I help you, Lieutenant?" he asked, discreetly blocking McCoy's passage. It was as much an act of kindness as a manifestation of snobbery. Full colonels could not afford the prices at the Foster Lafayette. It was his intention to ask if he had a reservation-he was sure he didn't-and then regretfully announce there were no rooms.
"I can manage, thank you."
"Have you a reservation, Sir?"
"Oh, do I ever," McCoy said, dodged around him, and continued toward the revolving door.
The doorman started after him, and then caught a signal from one of the bellmen. He interpreted it to mean, Let him go.
He stopped his pursuit and went to the bellman.
"That's Lieutenant McCoy," the bellman said. "He stays here some-times. In 802."
The doorman's eyebrows rose in question.
Suite 802 was the five-room apartment overlooking the White House, re-served for the duration of the war for Brigadier General Fleming Pickering, USMCR.
"He works for General Pickering," the bellman said. "And he's Lieuten-ant Pickering's best friend."
"Lieutenant Pickering?" the doorman asked.
"The only son, and the only grandson," the bellman said. "The heir ap-parent. Nice guy. Worked bells here one summer. Marine pilot. Just got back from Guadalcanal."
"The next time, I'll know," the doorman said. "Somebody should have said something."
"Welcome to Foster Hotels," the bellman said. "We hope your stay with us will be a joy."
The doorman chuckled and went back to helping people in and out of taxis and automobiles.
Lieutenant McCoy dropped his bag beside one of the marble pillars in the lobby and stepped up to the line waiting for attention at the desk.
A young woman in a calf-length silver fox coat, with matching hat atop her pageboy haircut, rose from one of the chairs in the lobby and walked toward him. She stood beside him. When it became evident that he was oblivious to her presence, she touched his arm. With a look of annoyance, he turned to face her.
"Hi, Marine!" she said. "Looking for a good time?"
A well-dressed, middle-aged woman in the line ahead of McCoy snapped her head back to look, in time to see the young woman part her silver fox coat with both hands, revealing a red T-shirt with the legend marines lettered in gold across her bosom.
"Jesus!" Lieutenant McCoy said.
"I'm just fine, thank you for asking. And how are you?"
"Sessions," McCoy said, having decided how Ernestine Sage happened to be waiting for him.
"Good old Ed, whom you did call," Ernie Sage said.
"I tried," McCoy said.
Ernestine Sage held up two hotel keys.
"I don't know if I should give you your choice of these, or throw them at you," she said.
"What are they?"
"Daddy's place, and Pick's father's," she said. "Ken, if you don't put your arms around me right now, I will throw them at you."
Instead, he reached out his hand and lightly touched her cheek with the balls of his fingers.
"Jesus Christ, I'm glad to see you!" he said, very softly.
"You bastard, I didn't know if you were alive or dead," she said, and threw herself into his arms. "My God, I love you so much!"
After a moment, as he gently stroked the back of her head, he said, his voice husky with emotion, "Me, too, baby."
Then, their arms still around each other, they walked to where he had dropped his bag by the marble pillar. He picked it up and they walked across the lobby to the bank of elevators.
The Bislig-Mati Highway (Route 7)
Davao Oriental Province
Mindanao, Commonwealth of the Philippines
0705 Hours 20 October 1942
The Intelligence Section of Headquarters, United States Forces in the Philip-pines had developed, through the interrogation of indigenous personnel, cer-tain information concerning enemy activity. Specifically, that each Tuesday morning a convoy of Japanese army vehicles, usually two one-and-one-half-ton trucks, plus a staff car and a pickup truck, departed the major Japanese base at Bislig, on Bislig Bay, on the Philippine Sea for Boston, on Cateel Bay, Baganga, and Caraga.
According to the best cartographic data available (the 1939 edition of Roads of Mindanao For Automobile Touring, published by the Shell Oil Com-pany), it was approximately 125 miles from Bislig to Caraga. The road was described by Shell as "partially improved"; and automobile tourists were cau-tioned that the roads were slippery when wet, and that caution should be ob-served to avoid stone damage to windshields when following other vehicles.
Indigenous personnel reported that the trucks were laden with various sup-plies, including gasoline, kerosene, and rations for the small detachments the Japanese had stationed at Boston, Baganga, and Caraga. Each truck was manned by a driver, an assistant driver, and a soldier who rode in the back. The staff car contained a driver, a sergeant, and an officer. And the pickup truck carried a driver, an assistant driver, and two to four soldiers riding in its bed.
This information was personally verified by the G-2, Captain James B. Weston, USMC, and his deputy, Lieutenant Percy Lewis Everly, who walked six hours down narrow paths from Headquarters, USFIP, to the road, watched the convoy pass, made a reconnaissance of the area to determine a suitable place for an attack, and then walked back to Headquarters, USFIP. The return journey, being mostly uphill, and because it was raining, took nine hours.
Among additional intelligence data gathered was that the staff car was a 1940 Buick Limited, seized by the Japanese, and that the pickup truck was a 1939 Dodge requisitioned by the U.S. Army in the opening days of the war and subsequently captured by the Japanese. The Dole Company insignia was still faintly visible beneath the olive-drab paint on the doors.
The information gathered was presented to the Commanding General, USFIP, and various aspects of the operation were discussed with him and offi-cers of his staff.
General Fertig suggested that the Buick was probably the property of the Dole Company, which had provided such a vehicle for the general manager of their pineapple plantation.
"Interesting machine," General Fertig observed. "Not only was it clutch-less-they called it 'Automatic Drive,' or something like that; all you had to do to make it go was step on the gas-but it had a little lever, which when flicked flashed lights on the top of the front fenders and in the middle of the trunk, showing the direction you intended to turn. I'm seriously considering getting one after the war."
The pros and cons of an operation against the Japanese convoy were dis-cussed at some length.
Captain John B. Platten, USFIP (formerly Master Sergeant, 17th Philip-pine Scouts) G-4 (Supply) Officer, stated that while the trucks very likely would contain bags of rice, and possibly other transportable rations, from what he had heard from Captain Weston, the gasoline and kerosene were in fifty-five-gallon drums. Moving them any distance would be difficult. He also pointed out that even with strict fire discipline, any attack would dangerously diminish the very limited stocks of.30 and.45 caliber ammunition available to USFIP, and that it was probable that the Japanese soldiers guarding the convoy possessed limited (no more than, say, twenty or thirty rounds per man) of am-munition for their 6.5mm Arisaka rifles, much of which, it had to be antici-pated, would be expended during the attack.
"We're liable to wind up with less ammo and weapons after we hit the convoy than we have now, even counting the weapons we take from the Japs. And the six-point-five is a lousy round, anyway."
"In other words, it is your studied opinion, Captain," General Fertig asked, "that, so to speak, an attack on this convoy would be wasted effort?"
"No, Sir," Captain Platten said quickly. "I mentioned these things so we could plan for them."
"I suggest, Sir, that we form a group of people whose sole mission it will be to carry the portable supplies-the rice, canned goods, whatever-back here as soon as we lay our hands on them."
"And the nonportable? The gas and kerosene?"
"I suggest, Sir, that we gather together whatever we can lay our hands on that will hold liquid-canteens, water bottles, whatever-and have people to fill them and carry what they can back here with the rations. What we can't bring back, we bury in the jungle, and maybe go back for it later."
"And the question of having less weaponry subsequent to the attack than we have now? How do we deal with that?"
"Permission to speak, Sir?"
"Certainly, Lieutenant Everly."
"That Arisaka's not a Springfield, I'll grant you that. But it's more reliable than the Enfields-their extractor is always busting-which is what we mostly have. And the Filipinos can handle the recoil from an Arisaka better than they can from a.30-06. And we know we're not going to get any more.30-06 ammo anytime soon."
That was a reference, which everyone understood but no one commented upon, to the silence of Headquarters, South West Pacific Ocean Area, in re-sponse to repeated USFIP radio requests for the supply of small arms and am-munition.
"Your point, Lieutenant Everly?" General Fertig asked with either a hint of reproach or impatience in his voice.
"I think we have to kill the Japs before they have a chance to shoot off much of their ammo," Everly said. "Even if that means shooting up the U.S. ammo we have."
"And how do we do that?"
"First, we stop the convoy by shooting the driver of the Buick. Then, when the trucks are stopped, we kill the soldiers in the backs of them. And finally, we kill the truck drivers and whoever is left over. Every rifleman has a target, and we tell him he don't shoot anybody else until his target is down."
"I was about to suggest we try to find marksmen," Fertig said, "but I think if we put the question to the troops, every one of them will swear, as a matter of masculine pride, that he is Dead-Eye Dick."
"Yes, Sir, they will," Everly agreed. "The only thing to do is test them."
"We don't have enough ammo," Captain Platten argued.
"We give them a two-shot test. A head-size target, a pineapple, at one hundred yards. If they can hit a pineapple at a hundred yards, they can hit a Jap in the chest at twenty."
"Who will... take out... the driver of the staff car?" General Fertig asked.
"I will," Everly said.
"I always got my three bucks," Captain Platten said. "I'll take out the driver of the pickup. That way he won't be able to turn around and run."
"Excuse me?" General Fertig asked. "What was that you said, 'three bucks'?"
"My Expert Rifleman's pay, Sir," Captain Platten said.
"We seem to be getting ahead of the primary question," General Fertig said. "Which is, should USFIP attack the Bislig-Caraga convoy?"
"I don't think we have any choice, Sir-" Captain Hedges began.
"Excuse me, Captain," Fertig interrupted him. "I believe the hoary tradi-tion is that when the commanding officer solicits opinions, the junior of his officers respond first. That way, the juniors are not influenced by the opinions of their superiors."
"Excuse me, Sir," the Chief of Staff of USFIP said.
"Yes, Sir. The sooner the better."
"Yes, Sir. Like Everly says."
"Yes, Sir. I don't think we have any choice, General. We need the rice and whatever else is edible. We need both gas and kerosene. And the Jap weapons. And it will let the Japs know we're here!"
"Yeah," Everly said, with an intensity that surprised Weston.
Then Weston had a second thought: Well, now I know where I stand in the pecking order. Ahead of Buchanan and behind Hedges.
There seemed to be immediate confirmation of this.
"In that case, gentlemen," Fertig said. "We will attack the convoy at our earliest opportunity. Captain Weston will lead the attack."
"I'd like to lead it, Sir," Captain Hedges said.
"You're too valuable around here, Hedges," Fertig said.
"With respect, Sir," Captain Platten said. "I've got more experience in infantry. Nothing personal, Weston."
"I'll tell you this once, Platten," Fertig said. "I considered that, among other factors, before I made my decision. Never again question my orders."
Platten's face tightened, but after a moment he said, "Yes, Sir. Sorry, Sir."
As finally formed, the attack party consisted of the detail commander (Captain Weston) armed with a Thompson.45 caliber submachine gun; three officers (Captain Platten, and Lieutenants Everly and Alvarez) armed with Springfield 1903.30-06 rifles; and nine enlisted men (two American) armed with Enfield Model 1917.30-06 rifles.
They were accompanied by a twenty-five-man labor detail under Lieutenant Jose Lomero, late of the 17th Philippine Scouts. Lieutenant Lomero was armed with a.45 ACP Model 1911A1 pistol and an Enfield rifle. Two of his sergeants were armed with the Enfield. The balance of his detail was either unarmed or armed only with machetes. They carried with them the only shovel available to USFIP, and a motley collection of canteens, water bottles, and other vessels, including two small wooden barrels.
The attack party left Headquarters, USFIP, at first light Monday 19 Octo-ber with the labor detail sandwiched between the armed men. After an eight-hour march through the mountainous jungle, a bivouac was established at what was estimated to be a mile from the ambush site.
A detail under Captain Weston, consisting of Lieutenant Everly, four armed members of the party, and three members of the labor detail, then pro-ceeded to the attack site. Captain Platten remained at the bivouac site to super-vise the construction of crude lean-tos and to establish a perimeter guard.
One hundred yards from the highway, the labor detail dug four holes, each large enough for a fifty-five-gallon drum. They next made arrangements to conceal their location by distributing the removed earth over a wide area and selecting foliage that would be placed over the holes once the barrels were placed in them.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Everly selected both the precise location for the ambush and, insofar as possible, the positions on both sides of the highway from which the convoy would be brought under fire.
The reconnaissance party then returned to the bivouac area, leaving behind two unarmed members of the labor detail, who were wearing native clothing. Should there be any Japanese activity during the night, it was their mission to return to the bivouac area to warn the others.
They were not armed, because it was hoped that if they fell into Japanese hands, they could successfully argue that they were simple Filipino farmers, and because Lieutenant Everly suggested to Captain Weston that not arming the men would remove the temptation to attack the Japanese on their own.
At first light Tuesday 20 October, the bivouac was deestablished, with considerable care given to remove all signs of its overnight occupancy. The entire attack party then resumed the march toward the highway.
By 0645, contact was established with the two men who had been left be-hind. They reported no activity during the hours of darkness except the intru-sion of three small wild pigs, which had been decapitated with a machete and then skinned and gutted.
In total, in Captain Weston's judgment, the pig carci weighed approxi-mately sixty pounds. One of the men who had remained behind overnight was charged with carrying the rations to Headquarters, USFIP, together with a Situ-ation Update for General Fertig.
The labor detail remained approximately two hundred yards from the highway, while the attack party moved into position under the direction of Lieutenant Everly.
At Lieutenant Everly's suggestion, Captain Weston took up a position on the seaward side of the road, near Lieutenant Everly. Captain Platten took up a position approximately one hundred yards away. The balance of the attacking force was placed on both sides of the road, and Lieutenant Everly cautioned each member of the party to remain concealed and not to open fire until they heard the sound of his rifle. They were then to remain aware of the location of USFIP personnel on the other side of the road, so there would be no casualties from USFIP fire. This emplacement was accomplished by 0655 hours.
At approximately 0702, they heard the sound of a truck grinding gears.
Captain Weston at this point retracted the operating rod of his Thompson.45 ACP Caliber submachine gun, took a final look down the road, and then dropped out of sight. Six or eight feet away, he could see Lieutenant Everly, almost entirely concealed by the trunk of a tree and some foliage. He was sit-ting with his legs crossed under him, leaning forward so that his left elbow touched his knee. All it would take to be in a Parris Island-perfect "Sitting Position for Riflemen" would be for him to put the butt of his Springfield in the small of his shoulder and lower his face to the stock.
A moment later, he did just this; and as Weston heard the sound of vehicles approaching, he saw the muzzle of Everly's Springfield tracking their move-ment.
And then, without warning, Everly fired. There was a flash of orange at the muzzle, and the sharp-surprisingly loud and frightening-sound of the weapon firing.
The noise was immediately followed by the sound of other weapons firing. Weston got to his feet as quickly as possible. The lead vehicle of the convoy was a four-door Buick convertible, top down, with spare tires mounted in front fender wells. He was surprised to see how close it was to him, and that it was apparently headed directly toward him, as if trying to run him over.
After what seemed like a very long time, the Buick stopped, as its front wheels rolled off the road and further forward movement was impeded. Wes-ton then became aware of the occupants of the vehicle. The driver was now lying against the steering wheel, causing the horn to sound. One of the rear-seat passengers was trying to raise himself off the floor; and the other-an offi-cer-was simultaneously trying to stand up and unholster his pistol.
Everly's rifle fired again. As Weston heard the crack of the weapon firing, he thought he could also hear the whistle of its bullet passing close to him.
Weston raised the submachine gun to his shoulder, got a sight picture, and pulled the trigger, immediately releasing it. He felt the three-round burst recoil against his shoulder. The face of the Japanese officer in the Buick seemed to implode. He sat back and then slid off the seat. The second man in the back of the car suddenly jumped out of the car and started running to the trucks behind him.
Weston raised his Thompson to his shoulder and aimed it. As he was pre-paring to apply gentle pressure to the trigger, Everly's Springfield fired again, the running man's head seemed to explode, and he fell forward onto his face. His legs and arms twitched.
Weston looked back at Everly, who was now on his feet, pulling the loop of the sling off his arm. He looked at Weston and made an impatient gesture for Weston to return his attention to the road, or,
My God, he wants me to go out there! If I go out there, they'll be able to see me, and shoot me, and I'll be killed!
Captain Weston moved out of the foliage, holding the Thompson with one hand. He supported himself on the fender of the Buick and then made what he thought, for a brief moment, was a constructive act. He pulled the body of the driver away from the steering wheel. The blaring of the horn stopped.
There, now they won't be able to hear us!
Jesus Christ! How fucking stupid can I be?
He looked into the rear seat of the Buick. The officer was on the floor, on his back. His eyes were a bloody mess.
I shot him right between the eyes.
I was aiming for his chest.
He moved slowly to the rear of the Buick, then ran to the truck next in line behind it. As he ran, he realized that the intensity of the firing had slowed. And then it stopped entirely.
There was the sound of moaning, and somewhere down the road a man was screaming, and then there was a shot and the screaming stopped.
"Ceasefire! Ceasefire!" Everly called. Weston turned to see him running up the road. He ran past Weston to the rear of the truck next in line. All of a sudden, he had a machete in his hand, and Weston saw it slash viciously down-ward.
My God, he's killing the wounded!
And you're acting like a Boy Scout, not like a Marine officer!
What did you expect, that this would be conducted in a gentlemanly fash-ion, with scrupulous attention to the Geneva Convention?
He made his way through the convoy to the pickup truck at its rear, desper-ately hoping he would not come across a wounded Japanese and have to kill him.
He did not. Taking their cue from Everly, the Filipinos quickly put their machetes to use, taking care of the problem of the wounded Japanese.
Weston saw a Filipino climb one of the fragile-looking telephone poles lining the road, slash the copper wire with his machete, and then, holding a loose end between his teeth, climb down again.
On the ground, he tugged unsuccessfully to pull the wire from the next pole, cutting his hand in the process, and then shouted angrily in a strange tongue-Tagalog? Weston wondered-which caused two other Filipinos to start climbing poles.
Weston started walking toward the head of the convoy again. Now the Fili-pinos were stripping the Japanese bodies of their weapons, their boots, their ammunition, their bayonets, their leather accoutrements, and their watches, jewelry, and even their spectacles.
The labor detail appeared, and Lieutenant Lomero began to load each man with the supplies and captured weaponry to be carried off. There were more supplies than men, and the attempt to carry off the fuel proved to be a disaster. There was no way to decant the gasoline and kerosene from the drums into the vessels they had brought with them except by putting the drums on their sides and opening the filler hole. More fuel poured onto the ground than into the bottles and barrels and canteens. And the wooden barrels leaked.
Weston returned to the Buick, leaned into the backseat, and finally found the pistol he had seen in the officer's hand.
It looks something like a German Luger, he thought, as he picked it up, then dropped it in horror. It's covered with blood!
He forced himself to pick it up again, then to unfasten the officer's belt, which was also slippery with blood. A spare magazine was in a pouch on the holster. He was tempted to throw the belt and the holster away, but decided he was obliged to take it with him. When he tried to strap it around his waist, it was too small, so he looped it around his neck.
He became aware then that the Buick's engine was still running. He reached over and turned the ignition key off and then removed it. Everly came up to him. "Anytime you're ready, Mr. Weston." "Ready for what?"
"Torch the vehicles and go home," Everly said, and nodded toward the rear of the convoy. Two Filipinos were easily carrying one of the now nearly empty fifty-five-gallon gasoline drums. They stopped at the car, obviously waiting for Everly's permission to upend the drum into the car. "You search him?" Everly asked. "I got his pistol."
"I noticed," Everly said, and then spoke in Spanish to the Filipinos. They got in the car, picked up the Japanese officer's body, and slid it over the side of the car. It landed on its face. Everly carefully went through the offi-cer's pockets, coming up with a wallet, some identification papers, and a pocketknife, which he tossed to one of the Filipinos. Then he removed the officer's wristwatch.
"An Elgin," he said, tossing it to the other Filipino. "Do you suppose he bought it in Chicago, or took it away from some American?"
He waited until the Filipino, who was smiling happily, had strapped the Elgin onto his wrist, and then signaled for them to upend the gas drum into the Buick. As the dregs of the drum gurgled onto the red leather upholstery, he took out his Zippo lighter.
"Wait a minute!" he said. "Jesus Christ, how stupid can I be?"
"What?" Weston asked.
Everly shouted something in Spanish and then repeated it in English.
"Get the people with the bottles and canteens back here," he said, and one of the Filipinos said, "Yes, Sir," and ran down the road. Everly turned to Wes-ton. "These fuel tanks are full. All we have to do is cut the fuel lines, and let it run into the bottles."
"Why didn't I think of that?" Weston asked rhetorically.
"Why didn't I?" Everly said.
The translation of that, Weston thought, is, I didn't expect you to, you 're nothing but a useless fly boy I'm stuck with, but I, the professional Marine, cer-tainly should have.
It took perhaps ten minutes-which seemed to Weston far longer than that-to fill the bottles and canteens from the fuel lines of the Buick and the trucks.
Finally, Everly called, "OK. Torch them!"
He stooped beside a small but growing pool of gasoline spreading from under the Buick.
"You better step back, Mr. Weston," he said.
"Right," Weston said, and took several steps away.
Everly ignited the gasoline and then ran away, grabbing Weston's arm and dragging him into the jungle.
There was a whooshing sound. When Weston looked back, the entire rear half of the Buick was engulfed in flames.
"Sometimes it explodes worse than that," Everly said.
"I suppose," Weston said, somewhat lamely.
"That was a nice head shot you made, Mr. Weston," Everly said. "Right between the eyes. But next time, it might be better if you aimed for the chest."
I am not going to give this sonofabitch the satisfaction of correcting me.
"I knew I could hit him in the head from that distance."
"Yeah, and you did," Everly said, with a touch of what could have been reluctant admiration in his voice. "But it's sometimes better, Mr. Weston, not to take chances."
"Let's get the hell out of here, Everly."
"Aye, aye, Sir," Lieutenant Everly said.
They headed into the jungle. They had gone perhaps fifty yards when Ev-erly had the last word: There was an enormous roar as the fuel tank of one of the trucks exploded.
Office of the Kempeitai Commander for Mindanao
Cagayan de Oro, Misamis-Oriental Province
Mindanao, Commonwealth of the Philippines
1425 Hours 20 October 1942
All but two of the seven officers of the Mindanao Detachment of the Kempeitai were gathered in the office of Lieutenant Colonel Tange Kisho to discuss the outrage on the Bislig-Caraga highway that morning. Present were Tange; Major Ieyasu Matsudaira, his deputy; Captains Matsuo Saikaku and Tokugawa Sadanobu; and Lieutenant Ichikawa Izumo. Lieutenants Okuni Sannjuro and Iemitsu Tokugawa were at the scene of the outrage supervising a ten-man de-tail searching the area.
Lieutenant Hideyori Niigata, the signals officer, had been summoned in case he might be needed. He was waiting outside Tange's office, sitting on a wooden bench once used by citizens of the Commonwealth of the Philippines seeking audience with the Provincial Governor.
It went without saying that the outrage had to be dealt with immediately and with the greatest severity. The question was how, and with what degree of severity.
Major Ieyasu Matsudaira believed the action to be taken was self-evident. One senior Japanese officer, Major Shimabara Hara, and nineteen other ranks, had been murdered. Therefore, five Filipino males from the surrounding area should be hung in retribution for Major Shimabara's murder-a five-to-one ratio-and thirty-eight Filipinos-a two-to-one ratio-hung in retribution for the other deaths. The arrests should be made today, Major Ieyasu argued, the arrestees interrogated overnight, and the executions carried out first thing in the morning.
Captain Saikaku disagreed with Major Ieyasu, and did so with less tact than Ieyasu expected. Neither Saikaku's disagreement, nor his lack of tact, sur-prised Lieutenant Colonel Tange.
"It is the policy of the Emperor," Saikaku pontificated,"that we enlist the support of the people here by incorporating them into the Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. Hanging forty-odd innocent Filipinos is not the way to do that."
"Nineteen of His Majesty's soldiers have been murdered, including a sen-ior officer who was a dear friend," Ieyasu snapped. "That cannot go unpun-ished. Moreover, the attack itself challenges our authority here, and that cannot be tolerated."
"If we had the people who did this, I would put the rope around their necks myself. I would do so in the square here, with the people watching. But we don't have the people who did this-"
"We know who they are," Ieyasu interrupted. "This so-called 'U.S. Forces in the Philippines.' "
"No, Sir, we don't know that," Saikaku responded. "That is one possibil-ity."
"And the others?"
"Simple bandits. Mindanao has a long history of banditry."
"We found U.S. Army cartridge cases all over the site, for U.S. Army rifles and submachine guns."
"Which proves nothing. Before we liberated these islands, bandits-many of them members of the Moro tribe-frequently attacked U.S. and Filipino Army units, robbed them, and made off with their weapons. What I am saying is that the execution of forty-odd Filipinos on the questionable premise that they aided U.S. Forces in the Philippines would both unnecessarily antagonize the Filipino population and would lend credence to the idea that U.S. Forces in the Philippines is in fact a military force which threatens us. We don't want that to happen."
"What makes you so sure U.S. Forces in the Philippines is not 'a military force which threatens us'?" Ieyasu demanded.
"Well, for one thing," Saikaku said, "we have been reading all their com-munications traffic with the Americans in Australia. They keep asking for sup-plies, including such basic items as radios and radio codes; and Australia keeps replying that their requests are being considered."
"I personally found that interesting, Major Ieyasu," Colonel Tange said. "If this man Fertig-and especially if he were actually a general officer-was sent here, or was left behind when the Americans surrendered, it would seem logical that he would have been provided with both good radios and a crypto-graphic system."
"Exactly," Captain Saikaku said.
"Perhaps, Captain Saikaku," Major Ieyasu said sarcastically, "you would be good enough to tell us how you would recommend the Colonel deal with this matter?"
"I am sure the Colonel has already decided how to do that," Saikaku said smoothly.
"Let's hear what you have to say, Saikaku," Colonel Tange said.
"Sir, I would arrest all the able-bodied males within a five-mile area of the robbery site-"
"Robbery and murder site," Major Ieyasu interrupted.
"-robbery and murder site," Saikaku went on. "And subject them to intensive interrogation. A thorough and skillful interrogation, by which I mean there would be no evident marks on their bodies on their release."
"On their release? In other words, before we arrest them, you don't think a 'thorough and skillful interrogation' will come up with anything?"
"I doubt that it will, Major Ieyasu," Saikaku replied. "But I think we have to try. We may find some information, perhaps nothing useful now, but useful to us later. Then we release the prisoners. By arresting them, and then releasing them without serious physical harm, we will accomplish several things. First, we will establish our authority by the very act of arresting them. Second, they will learn-and may be counted on to pass on-just how uncomfortable a Kempeitai thorough and professional interrogation can be. And finally, by releasing them, we will prove that while we are firm, we are just."
"Very interesting," Colonel Tange said. "I wish to consider that at my leisure."
Everyone in the room understood that Colonel Tange's decision would look very much like what Captain Saikaku had suggested-either because that was what he had already come up with on his own, or because Saikaku's ideas seemed to be the best offered. But to make that announcement now would cause Major Ieyasu to lose face.
"You said Lieutenant Hideyori is outside, Captain Saikaku?" Colonel Tange went on. "Has he something to report?"
"No, Sir. I spoke with him at length before I came here. Should the Colo-nel desire, I am prepared to give a brief report on his failure. I ordered him to be here in case the Colonel, or Major Ieyasu, would like to talk with him person-ally."
"Let's have the brief report," Tange ordered.
"There have been fewer and fewer communications between Fertig and Australia. I alluded to this before. He asks for supplies; they reply that his re-quest is being considered, and give him a time for his next transmission. The time between such contacts seems to be growing longer.
"This, however, makes Lieutenant Hideyori's efforts to locate the trans-mitter much more difficult, as Fertig seems to be moving his transmitter after every exchange with Australia. He moves the transmitter within an area thirty miles wide east to west and seventy miles north to south, and always where there are few roads."
"In other words, he's no closer to finding the transmitter than ever?" Col-onel Tange asked.
"I regret that seems to be the case," Saikaku replied. "Shall I send for him, Colonel?"
"In your judgment, is he doing everything he should be doing?"
"Yes, Sir. He is."
"Then there's really no point in wasting my time talking to him, is there?"
"I would not think so, Sir."
"Thank you, gentlemen, that will be all," Colonel Tange said. "Major Ieyasu, would you please stay behind?"
Rocky Fields Farm
Bernardsville, New Jersey
1615 Hours 25 October 1942
Miss Ernestine Sage stepped out of her bathroom stark naked, in the process of toweling her hair, having decided it made sense to bathe now, while her father and Ken McCoy were trying to fit in an hour or so of hunting before supper, rather than before she went to bed.
As soon as dinner was over, she intended to announce that she was tired, they all had a busy day tomorrow, and why didn't everybody go to bed?
Thirty minutes after that, she planned to sneak as quietly as possible down the corridor past her parents' bedroom and into the guest bedroom. Ken would not expect her to do that, and it would be a pleasant, if discomfiting, surprise for him. And she had no intention of going back to her bedroom, no matter what his protests.
If her parents heard her, that would be unfortunate. She was not going to lose the opportunity to sleep with her man when she had the chance, no matter what the circumstances. She didn't want to be here anyway; her father had shown up at her apartment in Manhattan early that morning and practically dragged both of them into his car to bring them here.
She glanced idly out the window to see how dark it was, to make sure there was time to finish her toilette before they returned. Her father and Ken were perhaps five hundred yards from the house, walking through the stubble of a cornfield, obviously headed for home. She'd thought she'd have at least half an hour, that they wouldn't return until it was really getting dark.
Oh, God, I hope Daddy didn't say anything to Ken that made him mad!
"Damn!" she said, and increased the vigor of her toweling.
She dressed as quickly as she could, in a brown tweed skirt and a light-green, high-collared sweater, slipped her bare feet into a pair of loafers, quickly applied lipstick, and went downstairs.
She found them in the gunroom. Ken was peering down the barrels of a shotgun. Her father was scrubbing the action of the gun with a toothbrush.
"Home are the hunters, home from the field," she said. "Much sooner than expected."
"It didn't take long," Ernest Sage said, watching with what Ernie knew was discomfort as she went to Ken and kissed him.
Ernest Sage was a slightly built, very intense man of forty-eight, who wore his full head of black hair slicked back with Vitahair. Vitahair was one of the 209 widely distributed products of American Personal Pharmaceuticals, of which he was Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer.
"Tell me," Ernie said.
"We were fifty yards into the first field. Two cocks jumped up. Before I could get my gun up, Ken got both of them."
"He's a Marine, Daddy. What did you expect?"
"He's a hell of a shot, honey," Ernest Sage said. "I'll tell you that."
Ernest Sage did not rise to the top of APP solely because he was the largest individual stockholder in the corporation founded by his grandfather, Ezekiel Handley, M.D. He thought of himself as an ordinarily competent, decently educated individual, who had somehow acquired an ability to get people to do what he wanted them to do, and to like doing it. Or the reverse, to not do what he thought they should not do, and believe that not doing it was the logical and reasonable thing to do.
He had often joked that there were only two people in the world he could not control, his wife and his only child. But even when he said that, he knew he had his wife pretty well under control.
Ernie was the one who did what she wanted to do, and didn't do what she didn't want to do, completely oblivious to the desires and manipulative efforts of her father.
Lieutenant Kenneth R. McCoy, USMCR, obviously confirmed that per-ception.
Ernest Sage often privately thought that if he compiled a list of undesirable suitors for his daughter's affections, right at the top of that list would be a Ma-rine officer with an unpleasant family background-they didn't have a dime, was the way he thought of it-with only a high school education, whose only prospects were the near certainty of getting himself badly maimed in the war- or more likely killed.
It deeply disturbed him, but didn't really surprise him, when Ernie told him that thirty minutes after she met Ken McCoy she knew she wanted to marry him.
Adding to his difficulties was the fact that he not only admired McCoy but rather liked him. He could not even console himself with the thought that McCoy was after his and his daughter's money. Ernie would marry him at the drop of a hat, he knew, either with his permission or without it. McCoy refused to do that. He thought it would be unfair to leave her a widow, or obliged to spend the rest of her life caring for a cripple.
Since Ernie almost always got what she wanted-because she was willing to pay whatever the price might be-one of the unpleasant possibilities that Ernest Sage was forced to live with was that she would get herself in the family way, either as a bargaining chip to bring McCoy to the altar, or-and with Ernie, this was entirely possible-simply because she wanted to bear his child.
He had discussed this subject with Ernie, and she had pointed out that any illicit fruit of their union would not wind up on public assistance, the annual income from her trust funds being three or four times as much as she was paid by J. Walter Thompson, Advertisers.
Since they were sleeping together-perhaps not here, tonight, because McCoy would object to that; but everywhere else, including a three-month pe-riod when they cohabited on a yacht at the San Diego Yacht Club while he was training for what had become the now famous Makin Island raid-the problem of her becoming impregnated was a real one.
He had come to understand that the only reason she did not allow herself to become pregnant was that she was afraid of Ken, or else respected him too much to go against his wishes. And this of course meant that Ken McCoy was doing what he was unable to do as her father, guiding the course of her life.
McCoy came into her life, perversely enough, through the young man Er-nest Sage and his wife had hoped for years would become, in due time, her husband. If one ignored his current role as a Marine fighter pilot, with odds against his passing through the war unscathed, or alive, this young man would have headed a list of desirable suitors. He came from a splendid family. His mother, who had been Ernie's mother's roommate and best friend at college, was the only daughter of Andrew Foster, of Foster Hotels International. His father-an old friend whom Ernest Sage could never completely forgive for arranging for the yacht in San Diego, knowing full well what Ernie wanted it for-was Fleming Pickering, now wearing a Marine general's uniform, but previously Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Pacific and Far East Shipping.
Ken McCoy and Malcolm S. "Pick" Pickering met and became buddies at Officer Candidate School at the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Virginia. On their graduation, Pick was sowing a few wild oats in a penthouse suite at the Foster Park Hotel on Central Park South-his one semi-disqualifying character-istic as the perfect suitor was his proclivity for wild-oats sowing.
Though Ernie unfortunately regarded Pick as a troublemaking brother, she somewhat reluctantly, at her father's urging, went to the party after he told her she was duty-bound to congratulate Pick on his second lieutenant's bar, and to wish him well in pilot training. There she met Ken McCoy, sitting on a ledge, his feet dangling over Fifty-ninth Street.
Fifteen minutes later, they left the penthouse in search of Chinese food in Chinatown.
One of the first things Ernie told her father about McCoy was that he spoke Chinese like a Chinaman.
"Well, they look pretty clean," McCoy said, handing Mr. Sage the shotgun barrels. "But what you really need is some Hoppe's Number Nine. I'll get some for you."
"When he sold me that stuff, the man at Griffin and Howe said it was the best barrel cleaner available," Ernest Sage heard himself say.
Why couldn't I have just said "Thank you" ? Am I looking for an excuse to fight with him?
"The best barrel cleaner is mercury," McCoy said matter-of-factly. "Next is Hoppe's Number Nine."
Mercury? What the hell is he talking about, mercury?
"You stop up one end of a barrel, fill the barrel with mercury, let it stay a couple of minutes, and then pour it out. Takes the barrel right down to the bare metal. I guess it dissolves the lead, and the primer residue, all the crap that fouls a barrel."
Unfortunately, I suspect he knows what's he's talking about. I will not challenge him on that. There probably is some chemical reaction, vis-a-vis steel, copper, lead, and mercury.
And then he heard himself say, "What you're saying is that the man at Griffin and Howe doesn't know what he's talking about?"
"Not if he said that stuff is best, he doesn't."
"Daddy," Ernie said. "Ken knows about guns. Why are you arguing with him?"
"I wasn't arguing with Ken, honey. I was just making sure I understood him correctly." He fixed a smile on his face. "The next step in the sacred traditions of hunting around here is the ingestion of a stiff belt. How does that sound, Ken?"
"That sounds fine, Sir."
Ernest Sage put the side-by-side Parker 12-bore together, and then put it in a cabinet beside perhaps twenty other long arms. He turned and smiled at his daughter.
I've been around guns all my life, but your Ken knows about guns, right?
"Into the library, honey? Or shall we go in the kitchen and watch your mother defeather the birds?"
"The library," Ernie said. "Mother hates plucking and dressing birds; al-ways prays that you'll never get any pheasant."
"I've never eaten a pheasant," Ken McCoy said.
"Really?" Ernest Page said.
They went into the two-story-high library. The front of what looked like a row of books opened, revealing a bar, complete to refrigerator.
Sage took two glasses and started to put ice in them.
"Yes, Daddy," Ernie said. "Thank you very much, I will have a drink. Whatever you're having."
"Sorry, honey," her father said. "Excuse me. I'm not used to you being a full-grown woman."
"Make her a weak one," McCoy said. "One strong drink and she starts dancing on tabletops."
Sage turned in surprise, in time to see Ernie sticking her tongue out at McCoy.
"Don't believe him, Daddy."
He made the drinks and handed one to each of them.
"What shall we drink to?" he asked. "The fallen pheasants?"
"What about Pick?" McCoy replied. "I feel sorry for him."
"Why do you feel sorry for him?" Sage asked.
"He's going on display on the West Coast right about now."
"I don't understand."
"A War Bond Tour. All the aviation heroes from Guadalcanal. Modesty is not one of his strong points, but I suspect the War Bond Tour will cure him of that."
"Pick is a hero?"
"Certified. Got the DFC from the Secretary of the Navy himself last week."
"I hadn't heard that."
"For doing what he did with you?" Ernie asked. It was a challenge.
"For being an ace. More than an ace. I think he has six kills. Maybe seven."
"What did she mean, Ken, 'for doing what he did with you'? You saw Pick in the Pacific."
"Yes, Sir. I saw him in the Pacific."
"If he got a medal, why didn't you?" Ernie demanded.
"Because I didn't do anything to deserve a medal."
"Huh!" Ernie snorted.
"What exactly is it that you do in the Marines, Ken?" Ernest Sage asked with a smile.
He knew that McCoy worked for Fleming Pickering. He didn't know what Pickering did for the Marine Corps-Pickering had told him he was the general in charge of mess-kit repair-and he thought he probably was going to find out right now.
"Well, right now, I've been trying to make sure that the Navy doesn't steal everybody who speaks an Oriental language from the Draft Board for the Navy; that The Corps gets at least a few of them. I've spent the last week at the Armed Forces Induction Center in New York."
"I mean, ordinarily."
"Whatever General Pickering tells me to do."
"You're his assistant in charge of repairing mess kits, right?"
"Yes, Sir. That's about it."
"You're wasting your time, Daddy," Ernie said. "I live with him, and he won't tell me anything either."
You had to say that, 'I live with him," didn't you ?
Maintaining a smile with some difficulty, Sage said, "I don't mean to pry, Ken. Would asking you how long you're going to be around be prying?"
"No, Sir. I'll be around a long time, I think. Four, five, maybe even six months."
Well, I suppose, if you're young, and in uniform, five or six months is a "long time."
"They haven't told me."
"And if they had, he wouldn't tell us," Ernie said, adding intensely, "I really hate this goddamn war!"
"You are not too big to be told to watch your mouth, young lady."
"What would you prefer, that I call it 'this noble enterprise to save the world for democracy'?"
"That has a nice ring to it," McCoy said.
"Oh, go to hell!" Ernie said.
Ken McCoy did, in fact, know where he would be going in four to six months-he'd been told the week before; it was classified TOP SECRET. And he had been really impressed with what he would be doing, and with the long-range planning for the war the upper echelons of the military establishment were now carrying on.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff intended to bomb the home islands of the Empire of Japan. Though the islands from which the planes would fly to attack Tokyo and other Japanese cities were now firmly in Japanese hands, the big brass was so sure that the war in the Pacific would see their capture that they had turned their attention to the details.
One of the details was weather information. Without accurate weather pre-dictions-including something called "Winds Aloft," which McCoy had never heard of before last week-long-range bombing of Japan would not be possible.
The ideal place to locate a weather-reporting station would be as close to Japan as possible. Since locating a weather station near Japan was out of the question, the next-best place-for reasons not explained to McCoy-was the Gobi Desert in Mongolia.
Until he had time to think about it, he was genuinely surprised that United States military personnel were presently in the Gobi Desert, which was about as far behind the enemy lines as it was possible to get. Though there were a few soldiers and sailors, the majority of them were United States Marines who had been stationed in Peking and elected not to surrender to the Japanese when the war began. They had made for the Gobi Desert for reasons that were not en-tirely clear but that certainly included avoiding capture.
They had taken with them a number of ex-China Marines, Yangtze River Patrol sailors, and members of the Army's 15th Infantry who had taken their retirement in China and considered themselves recalled from retirement. There were supposed to be sixty-seven of them.
They had established radio contact through American forces in China, and were now in direct contact with Army and Navy radio stations in Hawaii, Aus-tralia, and the continental United States. They were ordered to maintain contact and to avoid capture, but not informed of the plans being made for them.
Once they could be trained in a number of skills, including parachuting, it was planned that an initial reinforcement detachment would be sent to the Gobi Desert. In their number would be radio operators, meteorologists, cryptogra-phers, and other technicians.
Their ability to collect, encrypt, and transmit weather data from the Gobi would be tested, as would the efficacy of predicting weather from the data fur-nished.
Inasmuch as the personnel in the Gobi were predominantly Marines, and the Marines were part of the Navy, the Navy had been given overall command of the operation. The meteorologists, cryptographers, and communications personnel would be sailors. But the Secretary of the Navy, with the concur-rence of the President's Chief of Staff, had given the Marine Corps Office of Management Analysis responsibility for staging the operation.
The Deputy Chief of Management Analysis had in turn named Major Ed-ward Banning as Officer in Charge, with Lieutenant Kenneth R. McCoy as his deputy. Nothing had been said to McCoy, but he knew that Banning held a MAGIC clearance, and thus could not be put in risk of capture, so Banning would not make the mission. He also felt quite sure that he himself would not become Officer in Charge by default; command of the mission would not be entrusted to a lowly lieutenant. Consequently, sometime between now and the time the mission left the United States, a field-grade officer would be assigned.
But between now and then, he knew he would be in charge, turning to Banning only when he ran into a problem he could not handle himself. It would give him, as he had told Ernie and her father, four to six months in the States. And he was sure he could arrange his schedule to spend a good deal of time with her.
Starting, he thought, almost immediately. He was about to go through the Marine Corps Parachutist's School at Lakehurst, New Jersey. While he was there, he could go into New York City every night and every weekend. But he would also have to periodically return to Lakehurst to check on the progress of the others learning how to parachute themselves and their equipment from air-planes.
The thought of parachuting into Mongolia was a little unnerving, but he told himself it was probably a good deal safer than being a platoon leader on Guadalcanal. The real problem with the Mongolian Operation was that once he went in, it would be a long time before he could even think of getting out, perhaps not until the end of the war. But there was nothing he could do about that.
The Congressional Country Club
Fairfax County, Virginia
1 November 1942
Technically, the status of Major James C. Brownlee III, USMCR, at the Office of Strategic Services Reception and Training Station-the pressed-into-service Congressional Country Club-was "Agent, awaiting assignment."
That meant he had successfully completed the training program and passed the "Final Board"-a group of five senior OSS officers who had con-sidered his military background, the comments of his training officers at the Country Club, and then called him in for an hour-long session to finally make the determination whether or not he was the sort of man who could success-fully function behind the enemy's lines.
Jim Brownlee, a tall, blond, slender, twenty-seven-year-old who wore spectacles, had always wanted to be a Marine. While at Princeton, he par-ticipated in the Marine Corps Platoon Leader's Program, which was rather like the Army's Reserve Officer Training Corps. During the academic year, it ex-posed young men who thought they might like to be officers to courses with a military application. And then, during summer vacations, it gave them six weeks of intensive training in basic military subjects-"The Three M's," marching, marksmanship, and map reading-at USMC Base Quantico, Vir-ginia, and Parris Island Recruit Depot, South Carolina.
Jim Brownlee intended to apply for a commission in the Regular Marine Corps; but his eyes did not meet the Marine Corps' criteria for the regular ser-vice. Instead, on his graduation from Princeton in June 1937, he was commis-sioned as a second lieutenant, USMCR. After that, he went through the Basic Officer Course at Quantico, and was released to inactive duty.
He joined Marine Corps Reserve Battalion 14, based in New Orleans, Lou-isiana, as a platoon leader, even though this meant an overnight train ride-at his own expense-each way once a month from his home in Palm Beach, Florida, for the weekend training program. After two years of service with the battalion, he was promoted first lieutenant.
When he was not training with The Marine Corps, he was Vice President, Domestic Transportation, for the Brownlee Fruit Company (founded by his grandfather, Matthew J. Brownlee). The firm imported bananas-their own production and brokered-from Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, and El Salva-dor. His father was currently President, and his older brother, Matthew J. Brownlee III, was Vice President, Production.
What his title meant was that his father had put him to work under an expe-rienced longtime traffic manager, as a way to learn the business. Bananas were off-loaded from Brownlee ships at Port St. Lucie, Florida; Mobile, Alabama; and New Orleans, Louisiana. His job was to ensure the smooth flow of the bananas either to regional distribution centers or to the ultimate retailers.
He liked the challenge of quickly and economically moving vast amounts of bananas-they are, of course, highly perishable-from the off-loading port to their destinations, while keeping them as fresh as possible. At the same time, the intricacies of interstate motor freight laws, tariffs, and the like were rather fascinating.
Since the whole idea was to teach him the business, he also spent a good deal of time in Central America with his brother. Matthew, who was fifteen years older than he was, devoted his attention pretty much equally to showing Jim the plantation operations and trying to prevent him from giving in to what the Episcopal Church terms the sinful lusts of the flesh with dark-skinned na-tive girls.
On 15 October 1940, President Roosevelt ordered the mobilization of Ma-rine Reserve Battalions, which did not surprise Jim Brownlee. On April 9, Ger-many had occupied Denmark and invaded Norway. The next month, Germany invaded Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who had promised "Peace In Our Time," resigned 11 May, and Winston S. Churchill took his place.
What was left of the British Army after the German Blitzkrieg across France was evacuated from Dunkirk on 4 June; and just over a week later, the German Wehrmacht goose-stepped down the Champs Ely sees. On 22 June, the French surrendered to the Germans.
In July, a Marine lieutenant colonel who spoke to Jim's reserve battalion in New Orleans brought them up to date on the military picture as the Marine Corps saw it. He mentioned that as of 30 June, the total strength of the USMC was 1,732 Officers and 26,545 Enlisted Men.
He didn't say that the Marine Reserve was about to be mobilized, but he did say that there were obviously not enough Marines in uniform for the pre-sent circumstances.
Jim Brownlee reported for active duty with his reserve battalion to Marine Base Quantico, Virginia on 1 November 1940. Within a week of their arrival, the battalion was broken up, and its members were scattered all over the world, wherever Marines were serving.
A Marine Personnel Officer, a major whom Jim correctly suspected was curious how a twenty-four-year-old had become a vice president of a large cor-poration, questioned him at some length about his duties, and then sent him to see a full colonel, who was the G-4 (Supply) Officer at Quantico.
The Colonel questioned him even more intensively about his knowledge of what the Marine Corps called "Transport." Apparently satisfied with the answers, he told Jim he had been looking for someone with his qualifications, and as of that moment he could consider himself assigned to the G-4 Section as an Assistant Transportation Officer.
Jim's protests that he was trained as an infantry platoon leader were met with the observation that in the Colonel's experience good Marine officers went where they were sent and did what they were told to do, without com-plaint.
The year between Jim's call to active duty and Pearl Harbor went quickly, and he took a certain satisfaction from his work. He was more than a little surprised to learn how much truck operators serving the Marines had been able to get away with before he laid his expert eye on the invoices they had ten-dered.
He received during that year three letters of commendation for his official file and a wholly unexpected promotion to captain.
The attack on Pearl Harbor surprised him, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, he did not think the Japanese had the technical capability to strike with such strength at such a great distance. For another, though a surprise attack on the United States was possible, in his view, he thought it would probably come on the Panama Canal, either from the Germans in the Atlantic or the Japanese in the Pacific, or conceivably both.
On 8 December, he applied for transfer to duty with troops. His letter came back within a week, denied. He applied again thereafter on a monthly basis, and on a monthly basis his request was denied. In April 1942, he was promoted major. The ceremony was held in the office of the Commanding General. After offering his congratulations, he said he hoped it would mean the end of the monthly requests for transfer.
In May 1942, a memorandum from Headquarters USMC crossed Major Brownlee's desk. Applications were being solicited from officers for a non-specified duty of an intelligence nature. Preference would be given to those with fluency in one or more foreign languages, and/or who had spent time out-side the continental United States.
He submitted his application and promptly forgot about it, sure that it would suffer the same fate as his requests for transfer to duty with troops.
Two weeks later, his orders came through. He was transferred to some-thing called the Office of Strategic Services and ordered to report within forty-eight hours to the National Institute of Health Building in Washington, D.C.
There he was interviewed by another board of officers. This one consisted of three men in civilian clothing; two of them spoke Spanish. At the conclusion of the interview, one of the Spanish speakers shook his hand, offered his name, and said, "Please give my best regards to your brother. But don't tell him where, or under what circumstances, we bumped into each other."
That same afternoon, Jim Brownlee was transported in a Buick station wagon to the former Congressional Country Club to begin training.
The training was difficult, but not nearly so difficult for Major Brownlee as it was for some of his fellow trainees who had entered the OSS directly from civilian life-he had taken pains to keep himself in shape at Quantico and thereafter. Two fellow trainees had never held a weapon in their hands before coming to the Country Club.
As the training proceeded, he began to wonder where he would be as-signed. He gradually came to the conclusion that because of his fluency in Spanish, it would either be in Spain or somewhere in South America. In Spain, the policy of the United States Government was to keep Generalissimo Franco, known as "El Caudillo," neutral. If South America, he rather suspected he would be in Argentina, where the military-dominated government was in ev-erything but name an ally of the Germans. It was common knowledge around the Country Club that both the OSS and the FBI were deeply involved in Ar-gentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
There was a decent library at the Country Club, and Jim Brownlee spent many of his evenings trying to learn as much as he could about the history and politics of South America. He felt he would be given an assignment shortly after he completed the training and then got past the Final Board.
That didn't happen. Despite his "Agent, awaiting assignment" status, no assignment was forthcoming. What did happen was that someone in the office realized that he was the senior Marine officer present at the Country Club, and consequently, that administrative responsibility for all Marine Corps personnel assigned to the OSS was logically his.
At first, in what he believed was the interim between the completion of his training and his assignment, he didn't mind at all. For one thing, it gave him something to do, and he rather liked guiding fellow Marines through the rocks and shoals of Country Club training.
But then he began to worry if the same sort of thing that happened to him at Quantico was happening to him at the Country Club. Good administrators were hard to find. And more and more Marines had been accepted by the OSS.
The last thing in the world he wanted was to be sort of a Marine Mother Hen. He wanted to get out on assignment and do something more concrete against the enemy than shepherd other Marines through training. He was no closer now to being what he thought of privately as a "fighting Marine" than he had been at Quantico.
This awareness was made even more painful with the arrival at the Coun-try Club of First Lieutenant Robert B. Macklin, USMC. Macklin was not only a rather handsome man, but his uniform-and his person-were adorned with the symbols of what Jim Brownlee wanted rather desperately to be, a Fighting Marine. Macklin wore the ring of the United States Naval Academy at An-napolis. Colored ribbons on the breast of his well-fitting uniform indicated that he had seen service in the Pacific, and that he had twice been wounded. His face was scarred from one wound; and his slight limp, which he tried but failed to hide, suggested that the wound that caused it had been more severe than the one on his face.
He wore the wings of a parachutist. And when asked, he revealed that he had been wounded with the USMC 2nd Parachute Battalion storming the beach at Gavutu during the invasion of Guadalcanal. Brownlee had heard that the Marine paratroopers at Gavutu were literally decimated-one out of ten Paramarines were killed or wounded.
"I really have only one question, Lieutenant," Brownlee said. "With all the service you've seen, I should have thought by now that you would be at least a captain."
"The Major will note," Macklin replied, demonstrating impeccable mili-tary courtesy, "that my service records have been misplaced."
"Yes, of course," Brownlee said. "I'm sure they'll turn up."
Lieutenant Robert B. Macklin devoutly hoped they would not. He was de-lighted when a master gunner in Officer Personnel at Eighth and "I" informed him that his records were missing but they were going to send him to the OSS anyway, and "hope they turn up."
With a little bit of luck, they wouldn't ever turn up, which meant The Corps would have to "reconstruct" a new set. With just a little more luck, the "reconstructed" records would not contain a copy of the devastating Officer's Efficiency Report he had received from Captain Edward Banning, the S-2 of the 4th Marines in Shanghai.
Lieutenant Macklin had given that efficiency report, and its potential ef-fect on his career, a good deal of thought. Now that he had time to consider it, he was no longer surprised that Captain Edward J. Banning wrote all those despicable-and untrue-things about him. Under the circumstances, Macklin now realized, it was perfectly understandable that he did.
For one thing, while Banning was a career officer, he did not graduate from the Academy. If memory served, Banning went to the Citadel. If not the Citadel, then to VMI or Norwich, one of those quasi-professional private mili-tary colleges that for some reason, most likely political, were permitted to com-mission their graduates into the Regular Service. It was common knowledge that Norwich, Citadel, and VMI graduates were jealous of those who went to Annapolis and West Point, and that whenever the opportunity presented itself, stuck knives into the unsuspecting backs of those who had that privilege.
Furthermore, at the time, Banning's own career was in jeopardy, and he had no one to blame for that but himself. While the Citadel, or wherever he actually went, wasn't the Academy, Banning must have had the opportunity to learn what would be expected of him, in his personal life, as a Marine officer. Teaching potential officers what would be expected of them was one of the major reasons the Army and the Navy sent West Point and Annapolis gradu-ates to serve on the staffs of the private military schools.
Becoming involved, as Captain Banning did, with a Stateless Person, a Russian woman, was conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, in fact, if not in the law. If the war hadn't come along, it would have meant the end of Banning's career, and he must have known that.
Banning, furthermore, should have known better than to become close to an enlisted man, particularly one like Corporal "Killer" McCoy. McCoy was typical of the enlisted men in the 4th Marines, a product of the lower classes, obviously without a decent education. For those people, service in the Marines meant three square meals a day, a cot, and the opportunity to frequently forni-cate with the native women.
There are reasons for the line drawn between officers and enlisted men. Banning certainly knew about the line and the reasons for it, and he chose to ignore it. At the same time, it was perfectly clear that McCoy knew all about Banning's Russian mistress-and God only knows what other secrets Banning was hiding. That knowledge gave him a totally unacceptable advantage over an officer.
And then there was the matter of Lieutenant Ed Sessions's support of McCoy's outrageous charges. So far as that was concerned... it was, in fact, very disappointing. As a fellow graduate of the Academy, Sessions should have demonstrated at least a modicum of loyalty toward a fellow alumnus when that alumnus was under attack by an enlisted man. But Sessions not only knew that Banning was going to write his efficiency report but that Banning had gone off the deep end where Killer McCoy was concerned, and would take his enlisted buddy McCoy's word against anyone else's about what really hap-pened. So he went along.
The usual mechanism to keep personality conflicts out of efficiency re-ports was their review by a more senior officer. But that failed. Major Puller, the reviewing officer, already overworked preparing the 4th Marines' move to the Philippines, had the choice between believing Banning, whom he knew, and an officer who wasn't in their clique. It was as simple as that.
His subsequent assignment as a mess officer at Quantico was, Macklin knew, a direct result of Banning's efficiency report. That sort of duty does not fall to graduates of the Naval Academy. But he resolved then to do the best job he could.
And then-and he still found this incredible-Corporal Killer McCoy showed up at Quantico as an officer candidate. The only officer candidate in his class from the ranks. The only one who had not spent two weeks in a col-lege classroom, much less taken a degree.
In the matter of his encounter with McCoy at Quantico, Macklin was will-ing to admit that he made an error in judgment. On the one hand, obviously, he owed it to The Corps to do whatever was necessary to keep such a man from being commissioned. On the other hand, he should have approached the appro-priate officer at the school and told him what he knew of McCoy from personal knowledge-information that made the notion of commissioning him an offi-cer absurd on its face.
His personal knowledge would reveal that McCoy was not only insubordi-nate and untruthful, but the reason he was known in China as "Killer" was that he had become embroiled in a barroom, or brothel, encounter with Italian Ma-rines; he'd stabbed two of them fatally. Some sort of technicality kept him from getting what he deserved-twenty years to life in the Portsmouth Naval Prison. But clearly a man with murderous instincts who wallowed in drunken-ness and depravity was not qualified to be a Marine officer.
At the time, however, doing something official did not seem to be the best course of action. His good intentions, his concern solely for the good of The Corps, it seemed at the time, might be misunderstood.
If he had done something official, the question could very well have been raised, "Who is Lieutenant Macklin"? His service records would have proba-bly been examined. And they contained, of course, Banning's efficiency re-port. Until his performance of duty proved how unjust it was, the less frequently that efficiency report came to light, of course, the better.
And, of course, as an officer and a gentleman, it was beneath him to bear Killer McCoy any ill will. It wasn't, in the final analysis, McCoy's fault that he was in Officer Candidate School. Banning had arranged for that, written him an absolutely unbelievable letter of recommendation.
McCoy belonged in the ranks. In time, under the leadership of other offi-cers, he would probably become a decent sergeant. So the thing to do was to get him back to the ranks. Failing to make it through Officer Candidate School, with his background, was to be expected.
At the Club, he spoke to one of McCoy's tactical officers. Without getting into specifics, he made it quite clear that commissioning Killer McCoy would be a disaster. That officer also believed it ill-advised at the very least to com-mission a high-school graduate; and he seemed sympathetic to the idea of re-turning McCoy to the ranks by seeing that he failed Officer Candidate School, if not academically, then in the areas of "potential leadership" and "charac-ter."
That probably would have worked. However, at the time it seemed a good idea that there be some failure on McCoy's part on the military aspects of the course. Arranging for McCoy to fail the course's marksmanship requirements seemed a good way to do that.
Such a failure would do McCoy no lasting harm. As soon as he was back in the ranks, he would be given the opportunity to refire the standard course, and he could probably do that. In the meantime, he would be dropped from Officer Candidate School.
But the Post Sergeant Major put his nose in where it properly had no place and challenged McCoy's rifle range scores. McCoy fired again for record, and qualified as High Expert.
Shortly afterward, Macklin was called into the office of Deputy School Commandant, where he was told it would be in his best interests to apply for a transfer. There was no question in Macklin's mind that the Sergeant Major had gone to the Deputy Commandant, carrying tales about what he thought Mack-lin had been doing in the rifle range butts.
His application for parachute duty was quickly approved. And from there things moved quickly. First, they grew worse with the transfer to the Pacific and the invasion of Guadalcanal. It was only by the grace of God that he wasn't killed during the invasion. Quite literally, he missed death by inches.
But then, in the hospital in Australia where he was sent for treatment of his wounds, things started to get better. He was selected to participate in the First War Bond Tour, as a wounded Guadalcanal veteran. He did so well dealing with the public that on the completion of Tour I, the public relations people asked that he be permanently assigned to supervise Tour II.
The Marines sent on Tour II to encourage the civilian population to buy more war bonds and raise civilian morale were Guadalcanal aviation aces, pi-lots who had shot down at least five Japanese aircraft. But Macklin did not find these men impressive. He privately decided that most of them were disgraces to the Marine uniforms they wore-they were undisciplined, regarded military courtesy as a joke, and spent most of the tour making unwanted advances to women and drinking themselves into oblivion-and that aviators themselves were highly overrated.
It was one thing to get out of a clean bed and climb into an airplane and fly for several hours, and then possibly-but only possibly-engage in a minute or two of combat, before flying home to a hot meal and a dry bed. It was quite another to do what he had done-or would have done had he not been wounded in the opening minutes of the assault-to make an assault in a land-ing barge through heavy fire onto an enemy-held beach, to hear the crack of machine-gun fire and the scream of incoming artillery, and then to be called upon to lead men against a determined enemy.
Those introspections had caused him to consider what would happen to him when Tour II was over. Thanks to that damned efficiency report, he was still a first lieutenant. In The Corps, first lieutenants command platoons. While he would of course go where he was sent, and do what he was told to do, the idea of commanding a platoon in the assault of some hostile shore seemed a waste of his professional talents and experience.
He should be a teacher. He had been there. He could make a genuine con-tribution to The Corps, and probably save some lives, as a teacher, preparing men and officers for what they would find when it was their turn to go into combat.
If he just waited for The Corps to order him someplace, it would more than likely be to one of the newly formed divisions, where he would be just one more platoon leader.
He had been trying to think of some way to make the personnel people aware of his unusual talents and experience and the contribution he could thus make-he got so far as drafting several letters-when the memorandum vis-a-vis Special Assignment To Intelligence Duties came to hand.
It seemed to be just what he was looking for. Not only did he have the qualifications and experience-there weren't very many people around who could say they had intelligence-gathering experience in the Orient-but it seemed, with that in mind, that he could be utilized as an instructor. It was clearly a waste of assets to send someone like himself into, so to speak, the lines, when he could make a far greater contribution to the war effort by train-ing others.
When he was so quickly accepted, he thought perhaps his luck was chang-ing. When he learned that his service records had been "misplaced," he felt certain that Lady Luck was finally smiling at him.
Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff G-l
Headquarters, United States Marine Corps
Eighth and "I" Streets, NW
0945 Hours 2 November 1942
"Good morning, Sir," Master Gunner James L. Hardee, USMC, said to the tall, blond, bespectacled, and lost-looking major. "May I help you?"
"God, I hope so, Gunner," Major James C. Brownlee replied, smiling.
"The difficult takes some time," Gunner Hardee said, "the impossible usually turns out to be impossible."
Brownlee chuckled, and offered his hand.
"My name is Brownlee," he said.
"Hardee, Sir. What can we do for you?"
"I'm trying to get an officer promoted," Brownlee said.
"You and everybody else in The Corps," Hardee said, waving toward a section of his office where two typists, working under the eagle eye of a staff sergeant, were typing mimeograph stencils. "That's just about the end of last week's promotions," he went on. "Tomorrow, we start this week's."
"I'm not in personnel," Brownlee said. "So my ignorance of the process is complete and overwhelming."
"You're not part of our happy family here at Eighth and 'I', Major?"
"No, I'm not," Brownlee said. "Tell me, Gunner, what does it usually take to get a first lieutenant promoted to captain?"
"Well, presuming a first lieutenant can see lightning and hear thunder, isn't under charges, and has twenty-four months in grade-and that's about to drop-it's now nearly automatic."
Hardee gestured again toward the hardworking typists.
"I thought it was probably something like that," Brownlee said. "Gunner, what it is is that I have sort of a responsibility for an officer, a first lieuten-ant..."
"Sort of a responsibility, Sir?" Hardee asked, confused.
"The thing is, Gunner," Brownlee said, a little uncomfortably, "I'm with a rather unconventional unit."
"Which one would that be, Sir?" Hardee asked. He was beginning to sus-pect that he was not going to enjoy this encounter.
"I'm with the OSS, to put a point on it," Brownlee said. "And the chain of command is a little fuzzy in the OSS."
Master Gunner Hardee was not an admirer of the OSS, about which he knew little except that the service records of a couple of hundred officers who had volunteered for it had crossed his desk. Hardee had nearly thirty years in The Corps. So far as he was concerned the officer personnel requirements of The Corps obviously should come first. And with the to-be-expected excep-tions to that rule, like that sea lawyer "hero" Macklin a couple of days ago, here they were sending what looked to him like good officers to the OSS at a time when The Corps was up shit's creek without a paddle trying to find offi-cers to staff a Marine Corps that was growing larger than anyone ever thought it would.
"So I hear," Hardee said. "Exactly how can I help you, Major?"
"I'm the senior Marine officer at the OSS reception center," Brownlee said. "Yesterday, an officer, a first lieutenant Macklin..."
"... was transferred in. I generally go over the records of people coming into the OSS-Marines, I mean-to make sure everything is shipshape."
"And I went over Lieutenant Macklin's records. That's not exactly true. His records have been misplaced. Or possibly lost. Probably at Guadalcanal."
In fact, Master Gunner Hardee knew, the service record of First Lieutenant Macklin, Robert B., USMC, was thirty feet away, filed under the R's, in a file cabinet devoted to those officers "Absent, Sick In Hospital." The reason he knew this to be true was that he himself had put them there, in a place where he-but no one else-could readily lay his hands on them.
"Is that so?"
"I suppose that happens all the time," Brownlee said.
"Yes, Sir. It's not at all unusual."
"This officer is one hell of a Marine, Gunner."
One hell of an asshole of a Marine, is the way I hear it.
"He was twice wounded at Guadalcanal, storming the beaches, during the invasion."
"As a matter of fact, he was one of the heroes The Corps sent back from over there for the War Bond Tour."
"Is that so?"
"From what you've told me, Gunner, his promotion to captain should have come along by now, more or less automatically."
You and your fucking big mouth, Hardee!
"You think so, Sir?"
"Well, he's got the twenty-four months in grade you mentioned, and then some. And, even though his records have been misplaced, I think we can give him the benefit of the doubt about not being under charges, can't we?"
"I'm sure we can, Sir."
"I had to be in Washington today, Gunner," Brownlee said. "What I'd hoped I would be able to do here is see if we can't find his records and get him promoted, as he deserves."
"As you said, Major, his missing records do pose a problem. I can tell you I'll keep a sharp eye out for them, now that you've brought this to my atten-tion."
"I'd really hate to go to the Inspector General with this, Gunner..."
Oh, shit! That's all we need in here, the Inspector General running around trying to do right by this goddamned Marine hero!
"... because of the administrative problems that would inevitably cause."
"I understand, Sir."
And if I have to "find" this asshole's records, that would mean I would have to send them over to the OSS, where, after one look at this bastard's effi-ciency reports, they'd boot him out so fast it would take two weeks for his ass-hole to catch up with him.
And it would also be pretty embarrassing for Colonel Wilson, personally and officially.
"Major, how long are you going to be in Washington?" Master Gunner Hardee asked.
"I'm going to leave about sixteen hundred."
"Do you suppose it would be possible for you to come by here, say, at fifteen hundred? Let me look into this myself and see what I can turn up."
"That would be great!" Major Brownlee said happily. "Thank you very much, Gunner."
"My pleasure, Sir."
As soon as Major Brownlee had left the office, Gunner Hardee went to the R section of the "Absent, Sick in Hospital" file cabinet. He briefly examined a service record it contained, made a note of Macklin's full name and serial num-ber, and then went to the corner of the room where the two typists were prepar-ing mimeograph stencils of last week's promotion list.
He tapped the staff sergeant supervising the operation on the shoulder, and when he turned said, "One more for the captain's list."
"It's already done, Mr. Hardee."
"Do it again."
"Already printed and everything," the staff sergeant pleaded.
"Do it again," Hardee repeated.
"Aye, aye, Sir. Where's the records?"
"I'll take care of his records, you just get his goddamn name on the god-damned orders!"
"Aye, aye, Sir."
When Major James C. Brownlee returned to the office at 1600 hours, Master Gunner Hardee told him that while he had been unable to locate Lieutenant Macklin's records-he was still working on that-he had arranged to deal with the problem of his overdue promotion.
He gave Major Brownlee a copy of the promotion orders, so fresh from the mimeograph machine that the ink was a little wet.
Colonel David M. Wilson, USMC, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff G-l for Officer Personnel, never heard a thing about it.
Major James C. Brownlee's belief that master gunners were the people to see when you had a problem was reinforced.
Captain Robert B. Macklin, USMC, was of course delighted to receive his long-overdue-and in his opinion, richly deserved-promotion.
Master Gunner James L. Hardee, who had been on the water wagon for six months, went to a bar in Georgetown that night and got very drunk.
T O P S E C R E T
SUPREME HEADQUARTERS SWPOA
NAVY DEPT WASH DC
VIA SPECIAL CHANNEL
ORIGINAL TO BE DESTROYED AFTER ENCRYPTION AND TRANSMITTAL
EYES ONLY-THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY
MONDAY 2 NOVEMBER 1942
I THINK I HAVE GOTTEN TO THE BOTTOM OF WHY EL SUPREMO SHOWS NO INTEREST AT ALL IN THIS FELLOW FERTIG IN THE PHILIPPINES. I'M NOT GOING TO WASTE YOUR TIME TELLING YOU ABOUT IT, BUT IT'S NONSENSE. ADMIRAL LEAHY IS RIGHT, THERE IS POTENTIAL THERE, AND I THINK RICKABEE'S PEOPLE SHOULD BE INVOLVED FROM THE START.
I'M GOING TO TELL RICKABEE TO COME TO YOU, IF HE ENCOUNTERS TROUBLE DOING WHAT I THINK HE HAS TO DO. I SUSPECT HE WILL ENCOUNTER THE SAME KIND OF PAROCHIAL NONSENSE AMONG THE PROFESSIONAL WARRIORS IN WASHINGTON THAT I HAVE ENCOUNTERED HERE.
I HAVE BEEN BUTTING MY HEAD, VIS-A-VIS DONOVAN'S PEOPLE, AGAINST THE PALACE WALL SO OFTEN AND SO LONG THAT IT'S BLOODY, AND AM GETTING NOWHERE. IS THERE ANY CHANCE I CAN STOP? IT WOULD TAKE A DIRECT ORDER FROM ROOSEVELT TO MAKE HIM CHANGE HIS MIND, AND THEN THEY WILL DRAG THEIR FEET, AT WHICH, YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED, THEY'RE VERY GOOD.
FLEMING PICKERING, BRIGADIER GENERAL, USMCR
T O P S E C R E T
T O P S E C R E T
SUPREME HEADQUARTERS SWPOA
NAVY DEPT WASH DC
VIA SPECIAL CHANNEL
ORIGINAL TO BE DESTROYED AFTER ENCRYPTION AND TRANSMITTAL
FOR COLONEL F.L. RICKABEE
USMC OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT ANALYSIS
MONDAY 3 NOVEMBER 1942
DON'T TELL HIM YET, OR EVEN BANNING, BUT I WANT YOU TO TRY TO FIND A SUITABLE REPLACEMENT FOR MCCOY FOR THE MONGOLIAN OPERATION.
PUT HIM AND BANNING TO WORK FINDING OUT ABOUT GUERRILLA OPERATIONS, BECAUSE I BELIEVE THAT THIS WENDELL FERTIG IN THE PHILIPPINES IS PROBABLY GOING TO TURN OUT MORE USEFUL THAN ANYBODY IN THE PALACE HERE IS WILLING TO EVEN CONSIDER. I SUSPECT THAT THE SAME MENTAL ATTITUDE VIS-A-VIS UNCONVENTIONAL WARRIORS AND THE COMPETENCE OF RESERVE OFFICERS IS PREVALENT IN WASHINGTON.
THIS IDEA HAS LEAHY'S BACKING, SO IF YOU ENCOUNTER ANY TROUBLE, FEEL FREE TO GO TO FRANK KNOX.
IF YOU CAN DO IT WITHOUT MAKING ANY WAVES, PLEASE (A) SEE IF YOU CAN FIND OUT WHERE MY SON IS BEING ASSIGNED AFTER THE WAR BOND TOUR AND (B) TELL ME IF TELLING HIS MOTHER WOULD REALLY ENDANGER THE ENTIRE WAR EFFORT. SHE WENT TO SEE JACK NMI STECKER'S BOY AT THE HOSPITAL IN PEARL AND IS IN PRETTY BAD SHAPE.
KOFFLER IS GETTING MARRIED NEXT WEEK, FOR A LITTLE GOOD NEWS. I DECIDED I HAD THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE HIM A STAFF SERGEANT AND HAVE DONE SO.
FLEMING PICKERING, BRIGADIER GENERAL, USMCR
T O P S E C R E T
Water Lily Cottage
0815 Hours 9 November 1942
When he walked into the kitchen of the rambling frame house-the term "cot-tage," he had decided when he rented the place, was another manifestation of Australian/British understatement-Brigadier General Fleming W. Pickering, USMCR, obviously fresh from his shower, was wearing a pale-blue silk dress-ing gown that reached almost to his bare feet.
He went to the stove, poured himself a mug of coffee, and then sat on a high stool at the kitchen table. A tall, muscular, deeply tanned man of the same age, wearing a khaki shirt and Marine-green trousers, was already sitting at the table. Something about him suggested illness and/or exhaustion.
For a moment they quietly examined each other without expression.
"Sergeant Stecker," Pickering finally said, "you realize that you and I did not set a good example for the men last night. I trust you are properly ashamed of yourself?"
Lieutenant Colonel Jack (NMI) Stecker, USMCR, who had the previous day flown into Brisbane from Guadalcanal, chuckled. Then he replied slowly, with a smile, "Don't worry about it, Corporal Pickering, I don't think anyone was in any condition to notice."
Pickering looked at his old friend with affection and concern-they had once, a generation before, in a previous war, in France, actually been Sergeant Stecker and Corporal Pickering.
"God, I hope so, Jack. I haven't been that plastered in years."
"I used to think I could handle my liquor," Stecker said.
"That was before we got old," Pickering said.
"Or started drinking with the Coastwatchers. In particular the head Coast-watcher," Stecker said. "I think that is the root of our problem. With the honor of The Corps at stake, I tried to match Commander Feldt drink for drink. That was a colossal error in judgment."
"Well, no real harm done, and I suspect that the newlyweds will remem-ber their reception for a long time."
"Probably not too fondly," Stecker said. "They're nice kids, aren't they? Staff Sergeant Koffler doesn't look old enough to be a father-to-be, or a staff sergeant, or to have done what he did on Buka. And the bride looked a little younger."
"I don't think they come much better," Pickering said. "I was about to ask where the hell the cook is, but on reflection, I'm not sure I'm up to looking a couple of sunny-side-up eggs in the face."
"I have been sitting here wondering whether a little hair of the dog would make me feel better."
"What was your conclusion?"
"I don't want to breathe fumes on the senior Marine officer aboard when I report for duty."
"His name is Mitchell. Do you know him?"
Pickering nodded. "Oh, yes, I know Colonel Lewis R. Mitchell," he said, not very pleasantly. "The Special Liaison Officer between CINCPAC and SWPOA. What do you mean, you have to report to him?"
"He's the senior Marine officer at SWPOA. I'm supposed to 'coordinate' with him."
"Fuck Mitchell. Stay away from him."
"I don't see how I can, Flem. Anyway, what have you got against him?"
"Well, for one thing, the minute the pompous sonofabitch showed up here, he tried to tell Eric Feldt how to run the Coastwatcher Organizer, and walked all over Ed Banning in the process. I heard about it, and had Forrest send him a radio telling him in some very plain language to butt the hell out of our business."
Major General Horace W. T. Forrest was Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Headquarters, USMC.
Second Lieutenant George F. Hart, USMCR-his chest and biceps strain-ing the material of his skivvy shirt-came into the kitchen.
"Good morning, General," Hart said. "Colonel. I thought I heard some-thing in here."
"What you probably heard was my stomach growling," Pickering said. "George, get on the horn. Present my compliments to Colonel Mitchell, and tell him that I will be 'coordinating' Colonel Stecker's activities at SWPOA. And on your way back in here, bring a bottle of Courvoisier. Colonel Stecker and I require a medicinal dose."
"Aye, aye, Sir."
"And if you feel the need, George, have one yourself. But just one. You're going to help Colonel Stecker move his things from the BOQ here."
"Aye, aye, Sir," Hart said. "Welcome to Water Lily Cottage, Colonel."
Stecker smiled uneasily, but waited until Hart had left the room before speaking.
"I think we had better think about my moving in here, Flem. I don't know what you're doing here..."
"For one thing, I'm the senior Marine around here, so don't argue with me, Colonel."
"... except that it's highly classified."
"You don't look like a Japanese spy to me. Just don't ask too many ques-tions, Jack."
"I don't want to be in the way."
"If you would be in the way, Jack, I wouldn't have asked you to move in," Pickering said. "And I need you. With all these kids around, I feel like I'm trapped in a fraternity house. I need someone my own age to keep me com-pany."
Stecker looked as if he was framing a reply.
"Changing the subject, Colonel," Pickering said. "Through the haze, I seem to recall that we discussed guerrilla operations at some time last night. Do you remember what you said? And if so, would you mind repeating it?"
Stecker looked at him in surprise, then thought aloud.
"You're serious, aren't you?"
"Yes, I am. What was it you said about the ratio between the strength of a guerrilla force and conventional forces required to contain them?"
"What I said-and Fleming, I don't regard myself as any kind of an expert on this-"
"How long were you involved, down in the Banana Republics?" Picker-ing interrupted.
"I did three tours in Nicaragua and two in Haiti. So did a lot of other peo-ple. Chesty Puller, Lew Diamond..."
"Until somebody comes along with more experience than you have, you're my expert," Pickering said. "Go on, please, Jack."
"What I said was that when The Corps was in Haiti and Nicaragua, we used to say that one guerrilla tied up seven Marines."
"Define a guerrilla for me."
Stecker considered his reply before giving it:
"An armed man who is willing to take a risk to make things difficult for an occupying force."
"Anything from ambushing his supply lines, blowing up his supply dumps, denying him the use of roads unless he sends large military forces to guard his convoys, to... I don't know quite how to put this, making him look bad, incompetent, ineffective, in the eyes of the native population."
"One guerrilla ties up seven men?" Pickering quoted thoughtfully.
"At least seven. I always thought that it was closer to ten. We outnum-bered the banditos in Nicaragua ten to one, and they gave us a lot of trouble."
"What sort of supplies does a guerrilla need?"
"A good guerrilla operation lives off the land. Like the Chinese Commu-nists do. Getting the civilians-without antagonizing them-to provide food and shelter. And intelligence. Paying for it, if at all possible. Aside from that, nothing but the basics, the Three B's-boots, bullets, and beans."
"Is there a racial factor?"
"What do you mean?"
"In the Banana Republics, the guerrillas came from the native population. It was the brown man against white gringos. Is that right?"
"Yes, I suppose it is."
"In the Philippines, what would it be?"
"Oh, I see what you mean. You're asking would the Filipinos support an American guerrilla operation?"
"Fleming, over the years, you've spent as much time in the Philippines as I have."
"I'm asking you."
"Unless American officers did something really stupid-and that's a real possibility-I think seventy-five percent, eighty-five percent of the Filipinos would help an American guerrilla operation."
"Are you going to tell me why you're interested in this?" Stecker asked.
"There's a chap on Mindanao, a reserve officer who chose not to surren-der. His name is Wendell Fertig. He's trying to set up a guerrilla operation."
"We know he's got some Marines with him. That seems to make it our business. We're looking into what, if anything, we can do for him, and what, if any, good he can really do against the Japs."
"Frank Knox, Chester Nimitz, and me. El Supremo doesn't seem to be at all interested."
There aren't very many people around, Stecker thought, who can so casu-ally refer to the Secretary of the Navy and the Commander-in-Chief Pacific, by their first names. Or refer, with obviously amused affection, to General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander, South West Pacific Ocean Areas, as "El Supremo.
I probably should have insisted on obeying my orders, but the truth is, I'm glad he's going to keep this Colonel Mitchell off my back. And, in the final analysis, Flem Pickering is the senior Marine officer around here; I really don't have any choice.
Lieutenant Hart returned to the kitchen carrying a bottle of Courvoisier cognac and two crystal cognac snifters.
"Colonel Mitchell's compliments, Sir," he said. "He asked me to tell you that he stands ready to render any assistance to Colonel Stecker requested."
"Shall I pour, Sir?" Hart said, smiling.
"Those snifters are for officers and gentlemen, Hart," Pickering said. "At the moment, what you have is just a couple of badly hung-over old Marines. Just pour about an inch of that stuff into our coffee, will you, please?"
SUPREME HEADQUARTERS SWPOA
NAVY DEPT WASH DC
VIA SPECIAL CHANNEL
ORIGINAL TO BE DESTROYED AFTER ENCRYPTION AND TRANSMITTAL
FOR COLONEL F.L. RICKABEE
USMC OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT ANALYSIS
MONDAY 9 NOVEMBER 1942
I DON'T KNOW IF YOU'VE HEARD OR NOT, BUT LT COLONEL JACK NMI STECKER IS HERE IN BRISBANE. HE WENT TO STAFF SERGEANT KOFFLER'S WEDDING WITH ME, AS A MATTER OF FACT, AND IS AT THIS MOMENT MOVING HIS STUFF FROM THE ARMY BOQ INTO MY HOUSE. HE'S HERE TO SET UP FACILITIES FOR THE FIRST MARDIV WHEN THEY ARE RELIEVED FROM GUADALCANAL AND BROUGHT HERE FOR REHABILITATION AND REFITTING. ACCORDING TO STECKER, THEY ARE IN REALLY BAD PHYSICAL SHAPE; ALMOST EVERYBODY HAS MALARIA.
STECKER WAS RELIEVED OF HIS COMMAND OF SECOND BATTALION, FIFTH MARINES, AND IS NOW OFFICIALLY ASSIGNED TO SWPOA IN SOME SORT OF VAGUELY DEFINED BILLET. I AM UNABLE TO BELIEVE HE WAS RELIEVED FOR CAUSE, AND STRONGLY SUSPECT THAT IT IS THE PROFESSIONAL OFFICER CORPS PUSHING ASIDE A RESERVIST/UP FROM THE RANKS MUSTANG TO GIVE THE COMMAND TO ONE OF THEIR OWN. I CAN'T IMAGINE WHY GENERAL VANDEGRIFT PERMITTED THIS TO HAPPEN, BUT IT HAS HAPPENED, AND IT MAY BE A BLESSING IN DISGUISE FOR US.
I HAD A TALK WITH STECKER AFTER THE WEDDING, AND IT CAME OUT THAT HE HAS HAD EXTENSIVE EXPERIENCE WITH GUERRILLA OPERATIONS IN THE BANANA REPUBLICS, ESPECIALLY NICARAGUA, BETWEEN THE WARS. IT SEEMS TO ME THAT IF YOU KNOW HOW TO FIGHT AGAINST GUERRILLAS, IT WOULD FOLLOW THAT YOU KNOW HOW TO FIGHT AS A GUERRILLA... AND CERTAINLY TO KNOWLEDGEABLY EVALUATE HOW SOMEONE ELSE IS SET UP, AND EQUIPPED, TO FIGHT AS GUERRILLAS.
I HAVEN'T SAID ANYTHING TO HIM YET, BUT I KNOW HTM WELL ENOUGH TO KNOW THAT HE WOULD RATHER BE DOING SOMETHING EITHER WITH, OR FOR, THIS FELLOW FERTIG ON MINDANAO THAN ARRANGING TOURS OF PICTURESQUE AUSTRALIA OR USO SHOWS, WHICH IS WHAT THE CORPS WANTS HIM TO DO NOW. AND THERE IS NO QUESTION IN MY MIND THAT HIS CONTRIBUTION TO THIS EFFORT WOULD BE OF MUCH GREATER VALUE THAN WHAT HE IS DOING NOW. SO I WANT HIM TRANSFERRED TO US, WITH A CAVEAT: HE HAS ALREADY SUFFERED ENOUGH HUMILIATION (GODDAMN IT, HE HAS THE MEDAL OF HONOR; HOW COULD THEY DO THIS TO HTM?) AS IT IS, SO I WANT YOU TO TAKE EVERY PRECAUTION TO MAKE SURE THERE IS NO SCUTTLEBUTT CIRCULATING THAT HE HAS BEEN FURTHER DEMOTED BY HIS ASSIGNMENT TO US.
DO IT AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN, AND I THINK YOU HAD BETTER SEND MCCOY OVER HERE, TOO, AS QUICKLY AS THAT CAN BE ARRANGED. I THINK THE SOONER WE GET SOMEBODY WITH CAPTAIN/GENERAL FERTIG, THE BETTER.
FLEMING PICKERING, BRIGADIER GENERAL, USMCR
T O P S E C R E T
Naval Air Transport Station
0455 Hours 14 November 1942
First Lieutenant Kenneth R. McCoy, USMCR, was not in a very good mood when the Consolidated PB2Y-3 Coronado splashed down in Brisbane Harbor; a drenching in the whaleboat that carried him ashore made his mood worse; and when he saw Second Lieutenant George F. Hart, USMCR, standing on the wharf, the golden cords of an aide-de-camp hanging from his epaulets, his mood grew worse still.
The sonofabitch hasn't been in The Corps long enough to be a goddamned corporal, and there he stands in an officer's uniform!
The flight from Pearl Harbor in the huge, four-engined flying boat was long and rough. A Medical Corps lieutenant commander got airsick thirty min-utes out of Pearl, threw up what looked like the remnants of an entire Hawaiian luau and two quarts of beer all over himself and the deck, and then spent the rest of the flight either moaning, dry-heaving, or rubbing his vomit-soaked uni-form in McCoy's face as he made his way-every fifteen minutes-to the head.
Before McCoy boarded the Coronado at Pearl Harbor, he had run into a zealous Navy lieutenant who wouldn't let him get on the airplane-AAAAA priority or not-until his shot record was up to date. McCoy's shot record re-corded that he had been injected with every inoculation against every disease known to the Navy Medical Corps. The record itself, however, was in Wash-ington. Ed Sessions had suggested that since he was going to be around for a while, it would make sense to have the contents of the shot record incorporated into all his official records.
Sessions hadn't gotten it back to him when the hurry-up call from General Pickering to go to Brisbane came in.
The idiot at Pearl actually wanted to give him the entire series of inocula-tions again. But a medical lieutenant commander at the hospital was more rea-sonable. He gave McCoy "credit" for all the shots given Marines in the States, but insisted that McCoy take the series prescribed for people headed for the Pacific and/or South West Pacific Ocean Areas-despite McCoy's protesta-tions that he had been in Australia only the month before, and had had the shots then.
So he suffered from the side effects of half a dozen inoculations-includ-ing a left buttock that felt as if it had been bitten by a poisonous snake. He couldn't sit on his sore left buttock without pain, and there was no way, on the pipe-and-cloth seats of the Coronado, to avoid sitting on it.
Before the Coronado took off from Pearl Harbor, there was a long flight on an Army Air Corps B-17 Flying Fortress from San Francisco. He spent that flight making himself as comfortable as possible on a pile of mail sacks.
McCoy climbed out of the whaleboat and then, carrying his bag, made his way up the stone steps cut into the wharf.
Second Lieutenant Hart saluted First Lieutenant McCoy.
There was nothing wrong with the salute. It was crisp and accompanied by a smile.
"Give me your bag, Mr. McCoy," Hart said. "You must be a little weary."
McCoy returned Hart's salute and handed over his bag. Hart picked it up effortlessly-the sonofabitch really has a build-and then gestured down the wharf. McCoy looked and saw General Pickering's Studebaker staff car.
"You're cleared through the arrival processing, Mr. McCoy," Hart said. "The General arranged it."
"Thank you," McCoy said, and started walking toward the Studebaker.
There's nothing really wrong with Hart. He didn't ask for that gold bar; and for that matter, I'm the guy who recruited him for General Pickering from Parris Island.
And, oh, shit, I know for a fact he's not a candy-ass. When I told him I was going to leave him alone overnight on the beach at Buka, all he said was "OK." That took balls.
What's wrong around here, McCoy, is you. You've got a bad case of candy-ass yourself. "It isn't fair that I'm back here."
"I don't think the discipline of the entire Marine Corps would collapse if you called me 'Ken,' George."
"That would presume I have forgiven you for leaving me on that beach all by my lonesome, Mr. McCoy. I'm not quite at that point yet."
"Well, in that case, go fuck yourself, Mr. Hart."
"Hey, before I forget it: When you see Koffler, and he thanks you for his wedding present, just say 'You're welcome.' "
"You bought him a wedding present, and said it was from me?"
"Two sets of pajamas, from the Officers' Sale Store."
"Now that you mention it, four-fifty each, plus two bits to have the fly sewn shut on the bride's. Nine and a quarter."
McCoy stopped, took out his wallet, and handed Hart a ten-dollar bill.
"Thanks, George," he said, and then thought aloud: "How did you know you'd get your money back?"
"You ever hear what they say about bad pennies, they keep turning up?"
In other words, you didn't. You 're really a nice guy, Hart.
"How's the General?" McCoy asked.
"Ask him yourself," Hart said, and effortlessly waved McCoy's bag to-ward the Studebaker.
Brigadier General Fleming W. Pickering was in the process of stepping out of the front passenger seat.
"Jesus Christ," McCoy muttered. "It's five o'clock in the morning. What's he doing up at this hour?"
"I think he wants to talk to you before you get out to Water Lily," Hart said. "As a matter of fact, I know he does. He told me."
"I'd welcome you to Australia, Ken," General Pickering said as McCoy came near. "But I'm afraid you'd throw something at me. Sorry about this; it was necessary."
McCoy saluted crisply.
"Good morning, Sir."
"How was the flight?"
"I've had better, Sir," McCoy said.
"You all right? You're walking funny."
"I had a shot where I sit, Sir. It's a little sore. I'll be all right."
"Get in the back, Ken," Pickering said. "I want to talk to you before we get to the cottage."
"Aye, aye, Sir."
"George, take twenty minutes or so to drive us home."
"Aye, aye, Sir."
"I didn't think. Ken, are you hungry?"
"I'm all right, Sir."
"Somehow, I suspect that's not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."
"I'm all right, Sir. I can wait until we get to the cottage."
"If you're sure," Pickering said doubtfully. "I'd really like to get this out of the way."
"I'm all right, Sir," McCoy repeated.
"OK, then get in."
A general officer, McCoy thought, is holding the door for me.
There were two reminders that Pickering was a general officer-first when Hart removed the covers from the red-starred general officer's plates on the car, and again when they passed the guard at the gate to the Navy base. He started saluting the car long before they reached the guard shack.
Pickering returned the guard's salute casually, then extended a cigar case to McCoy. McCoy took one.
"Thank you, Sir."
"Cuban," Pickering said. "The Pacific Commerce called here. Unfortunately for her master, I remembered he was a cigar smoker. I pulled rank on him and relieved him of his stock. So he smokes his thumb on the long voyage to San Francisco, and you and I and El Supremo have something to smoke."
Typical General Pickering, McCoy thought. If he got cigars from one of his ships, it was because he asked for them politely, not demanded them, and the captain gave him all he had, not so much because Pickering owns Pacific and Far East Shipping, but because the captain, like everybody else I've ever known who works for him, would give him the shirt off his back.
"Two questions, Ken," Pickering said. "How would you feel about going back to the Philippines? I mean by rubber boat off a submarine?"
"I'm a Marine, Sir. I go where I'm ordered."
"That's not what I asked."
"Every time I start feeling sorry for myself, Sir, I remind myself I'm not on Guadalcanal, living in the mud, with people trying to kill me."
"Are you feeling sorry for yourself right now?"
"I thought I was going to have four or five months in the States."
"With Ernie, you mean," Pickering said. It was not a question. "How is she?"
"Just fine, Sir."
She was fine when she put me on the plane, but when Ed Sessions showed up at her apartment with my plane tickets, she lost it. I'd never seen her cry before.
"You coming back must have been tough on her. But she's a tough little lady."
You didn't see her cry.
"Yes, Sir. She is. I have a package for you-it's in my bag-from Mr. Sage. I was going to send it with an officer courier, but then..."
"How do you get along with him?"
"If I were him, I don't think I'd like me, either. Ernie deserves better than this, than me."
"Better than this, maybe. But if I had a daughter, I wouldn't be laying barbed wire to keep you away from her."
McCoy chuckled. "Thank you, Sir."
"Second question: How do you get along with Colonel Jack Stecker?"
What kind of a question is that? How do I get along with him ? He's a light colonel and I'm a first lieutenant. He'll tell me what to do, and I will do it.
"Colonel Stecker is a fine Marine, Sir."
"And he was a fine buck sergeant in the First World War. My question was, 'How do you get along with him?' "
"I say 'Aye, aye, Sir' to him a lot."
"Am I hearing, 'He's a fine Marine, but I don't like him'?"
"No, Sir," McCoy replied quickly and sincerely.
"Does the name Fertig mean anything to you?"
"He didn't surrender in the Philippines?" McCoy asked.
"I picked up on a little about him in Washington," McCoy said.
"Right. He's a reserve Army officer, a captain..."
The way I heard it, he's a light bird, McCoy thought, but said nothing.
"... who has a radio, an obsolete code machine, and says he is establish-ing a guerrilla force. He's got some people with him, including some Marines. El Supremo is a little embarrassed about him-after he announced there was absolutely no possibility of guerrilla activity in the Philippines, this fellow Fer-tig shows up-but Nimitz, and more important, Leahy and Frank Knox think he may have potential."
"What I want to do is send you and Jack Stecker into the Philippines- specifically, onto Mindanao. You'll take Fertig some supplies, a radio, some codes, medicine, small arms, et cetera."
"Aye, aye, Sir."
"But your primary mission will be to evaluate him, the people around him, and his, their, potential. Between you and Stecker, I think you have the experi-ence and the knowledge to come up with some valid answers."
The last poop I had was that Eighth and Eye was giving Colonel Rickabee a bad time about transferring Stecker to Management Analysis. Did they fi-nally get off their fat asses?
"I'm going to have Stecker transferred..."
What's he doing, reading my mind?
"... to us. I asked for him some time ago, got no response, and finally had enough of the feet-dragging at Eighth and Eye, and went right to Frank Knox."
Well, that ought to get them off their fat asses. But they'll have their knives out for you, and Stecker, and anybody connected with either one of you.
"Unfortunately, until he is transferred to us-he's here in Australia to set up for the First Marine Division's refitting and rehabilitation when they're re-lieved from Guadalcanal-I can't involve him officially. As far as that goes, I haven't even asked him if he'd be willing to go. But I've been pumping his brain and his experience, and Feldt is trying to get an Aussie submarine to take you and the supplies. If that falls through, I think I can get one from the Navy, from Nimitz. When you speak with Stecker, stay off the subject of him going with you."
"Aye, aye, Sir."
"How soon do you think you could be ready to go?"
"Did you say, Sir, that Colonel Stecker's arranged for the supplies you want me to take in?"
"They're available on twenty-four hours' notice."
I don't want to go to the goddamned Philippines. What I want to do is go home, and put my arms around Ernie, and tell her I'm back and I'm going to be there awhile.
"Then, if we have an Aussie submarine, we can go in twenty-four hours, Sir," McCoy said, and then raised his voice. "Hey, George, you want to go for another rubber-boat ride?"
"No, Sir. Thank you very much just the same, Sir."
"George can't go," Pickering said. "For reasons I can't tell you."
Which means that Hart now has one of these MAGIC clearances I'm not supposed to know about. Just got it. He couldn't have gone along on the Buka Operation if he had had a MAGIC clearance. Banning wouldn't have gone with me to the Gobi Desert, and Hart can't go with me to the Philippines. Peo-ple with MAGIC clearances are not expendable. Stecker and I don't have them, so we're expendable.
How about giving me a MAGIC clearance, General, so I can't do crap like this? And while you're at it, how about throwing in one for Colonel Stecker?
"It won't be in twenty-four hours, obviously," Pickering said. "But don't sign any long-term leases, Ken."
"Aye, aye, Sir."
"Take us home, George," General Pickering ordered. "We're done."
"Aye, aye, Sir."
"You sure you don't want to change your mind, George?" McCoy asked. "Maybe this time you won't fall out of the boat."
"Once is enough, thank you just the same, for that sort of thing," Hart said.
"Ken, I said George can't go," Pickering said.
"I'm just pulling his chain, Sir."
Water Lily Cottage
0605 Hours 14 November 1942
Two U.S. Army jeeps, a jeep with USMC markings, and a 1938 Jaguar Drop Head Coupe were parked in front of the cottage when Hart pulled the Studebaker up in front of the wide porch that circled the rambling frame building. Without thinking consciously about it, McCoy identified the vehicles and con-cluded that just about everybody who lived in Water Lily Cottage was "home."
The Jaguar was the General's personal vehicle, made available to him by its owner, an Australian executive of Pacific and Far East Shipping Corporation. "One of the world's great automobiles," Pickering often declared, "presum-ing you can get the sonofabitch to start, and if you don't mind a leaking roof."
The Marine Corps jeep was probably Colonel Stecker's. The U.S. Army jeeps, which carried the bumper markings of the SWPOA motor pool, were assigned for the use of the "Dungeon Dwellers": The Dungeon-more for-mally known as the SWPOA Cryptographic Room-was so called because it was located in the subbasement of the Supreme Headquarters SWPOA Build-ing, behind a creaking steel door, and with walls that oozed condensation.
Within the Cryptographic Room (which was actually a suite) there was another room behind another heavy, always locked steel door. It was a crypto-graphic section guarding one of the most closely held-and vitally impor-tant-secrets of the war, which went by the code name MAGIC.
Navy cryptographers at the Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, Navy Base had broken many-by no means all-of the Japanese Imperial General Staff and Imperial Navy codes. Not only was the very fact that the codes had been broken classified TOP SECRET, but access to intercepted and decrypted mes-sages was limited to a very few people, personally approved by the Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief, Admiral William Leahy, or by the President himself. The Commander-in-Chief, Pacific, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, and the Supreme Commander, South West Pacific Ocean Area, General Douglas MacArthur, were on the list. So were Brigadier General Fleming Pickering, USMCR, and Colonel F. L. Rickabee, of the Office of Management Analysis.
McCoy was assigned to the Office of Management Analysis after he was commissioned, and in the course of events learned more than he had any right to know about MAGIC. He did not consciously seek this knowledge, but it was not difficult for him to pick up a fact here and a fact there-it would have been difficult, or impossible, for him not to-and assemble a rather clear picture of MAGIC, and of how USMC Special Detachment 16 (the official unit descrip-tion for Management Analysis personnel stationed in Australia) were involved with it.
It was clear to McCoy that Major Hon Song Do, Signal Corps, USA, on "Temporary Duty" with Detachment 16, and Second Lieutenant John Marston Moore, USMCR, were far more than a pair of cryptographic officers as-signed to handle routine classified material for SWPOA.
Hon, a Korean-American from Hawaii, was not only absolutely fluent in Japanese, but held a Ph.D. in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Moore was born in Japan to missionary parents, studied at the University of Tokyo, and was equally fluent in Japanese.
At least once a day, sometimes more often, one or the other of them had a private session with General Douglas MacArthur, and sometimes his Intelli-gence Officer, Brigadier General Charles Willoughby. They went to these meetings-without leaving the SWPOA Headquarters Building-with a brief-case chained to their wrists, and carrying.45 pistols under their uniform tunics.
Hence, carrying something really secret. What sort of secrets? Secrets that could not be shared with the other general officers at SWPOA; secrets that had to be handled with even greater care than other TOP SECRET material coming into SWPOA; under a classification, MAGIC, that no one was even supposed to talk about.
Hon was a mathematician. Mathematicians broke codes. Hon and Moore were Japanese linguists. By definition, Japanese linguists dealt with the trans-lation of Japanese.
In other words, McCoy correctly concluded, Hon and Moore were reading, translating, interpreting, some kind of highly classified Japanese material. Why highly classified? There would be no strict security involved if all they were doing was reading captured Japanese documents; the more people who knew what the Japanese were doing and thinking, the better.
Unless, perhaps, they were reading intercepted Japanese encrypted radio messages-and didn't want the Japanese to know that their code was broken. That would explain a good many things-why so few people had access to MAGIC material, why anyone who had knowledge of MAGIC was absolutely forbidden to go anywhere where there was any chance at all of their falling into Japanese hands.
Major Hon Song Do, a very large man-tall, muscular, and heavyset- was sitting sprawled on a couch in the living room when General Pickering and Lieutenants McCoy and Hart walked in.
"Welcome home, Ken," he said. He had a thick Boston accent.
He came off the couch with surprising grace for his bulk and offered his hand. His left hand, McCoy noticed, held a briefcase, from which a chain led to his wrist.
"Thank you, Sir," McCoy said.
"Now that you have paid due and appropriate homage to my new and ex-alted rank, you may revert to calling me 'Pluto,' " Hon said.
"I didn't know Army field-grade officers got up at this time of the morn-ing," McCoy said.
"I haven't been to bed," Pluto said, and then looked at Pickering. "When you have a moment, Sir?"
"I could have come to the dungeon," Pickering said.
They both looked at McCoy.
Whatever is in Pluto's briefcase is none of my business.
"Why don't you show Ken where he'll be sleeping?" Pickering said to Hart.
"Aye, aye, Sir."
Lieutenant Colonel Jack (NMI) Stecker was sitting in one of the wicker arm-chairs in the bedroom when McCoy came out of the bathroom, a towel around his waist.
"You do get around, Lieutenant, don't you?" Stecker said, smiling. "You're living proof that if you join The Corps, you really will see the world
"Good morning, Sir."
"How are you, Ken?" Stecker asked, offering his hand without rising out of the chair. "The General said you had some trouble with shots?"
"They gave me one in the tail. I have no idea what it was."
"You all right? Fever? Sweaty? Sick to your stomach?"
"Just a sore tail," McCoy said, touched at Stecker's concern. "The bath made it better."
It's been a long time, McCoy had thought as he soaked in the large, old-fashioned tub, since I've had a bath-as opposed to a shower. Here he had no choice. The showerhead was at the end of a long, flexible cable. The moment he lifted it from its cradle and turned it on, it developed a powerful leak, spray-ing water on the ceiling and over the top of the shower curtain. He quickly turned it off, gave in to the inevitable, and took a bath.
Stecker nodded, then pointed to a table set against the wall. McCoy saw there a silver coffee service and a napkin-covered tray.
"I see you live pretty well around here," Stecker said.
"I'm a nice guy. I'm entitled," McCoy said.
"I'm having a little trouble believing how well," Stecker said. "Under the napkin, your choice of breakfast rolls. And there's real cream in that pitcher. And if you want, for example, ham and eggs-fresh eggs-all you have to do is push that doorbell and someone will come and ask you if you want them over easy or sunny-side up."
"Colonel," McCoy said, smiling. "This is what they call 'the lap of lux-ury.' You'd be surprised how easy it is to get used to."
"You want some breakfast, Ken?"
"I'd like some coffee," McCoy said, then walked to the table and poured two cups of coffee, carrying one of them to Stecker.
"The General said something about you setting up for the First Division coming here from the 'Canal?" McCoy asked, but it was a statement.
"That's what I'm here for," Stecker said. "But since the division's move-ment here is still classified, there's not really much I can do. And since the Army's handling the major logistics, quarters and rations, I really don't know what the hell I'm supposed to be doing."
"He also told me you were setting up my little operation," McCoy said.
"He's decided I'm some sort of an expert on guerrilla operations, which I am not. But what I have been doing is coming up with the supplies-medicine, small arms, and ammo-I think you should take with you. But it's your show, McCoy. I'm just trying to make myself useful. If you don't like what I'm sug-gesting, or you want something else..."
"Colonel, I know less about guerrilla operations than anybody I know. My expertise here is in paddling rubber boats, which is a lot harder than it looks."
"Hart told me," Stecker said, laughing, and then growing serious. "I wanted to talk to you about that. About how we pack the stuff you'll be taking with you."
"In small packages, nothing that can't be handled by one man," McCoy said. "Getting the stuff off the submarine into a rubber boat is tough, and then getting it out of the boat and onto land is harder. Ideally, small, waterproof packages that can be handled by one man, and that float."
"Koffler's working on something that may help. You know what plastic is?"
McCoy shook his head, no.
"I was surprised to hear that Koffler's out of the hospital. He's back on duty?"
"Back on duty and married."
"I heard about him getting married," McCoy replied. "The last time I saw him, he looked like death warmed over. And not old enough to even think about getting married."
"He's the youngest staff sergeant I ever saw," Stecker said. "General Pickering promoted him so he'd be eligible to get married. Anyway, his wife has been giving him lots of tender, loving care. Howard's still pretty weak. Apparently, the medicine they give to kill intestinal, and blood, parasites is some kind of poison. Poisons, plural. It hit Howard harder than it hit Koffler."
"Howard had a nurse girlfriend," McCoy said, making it a question.
"He still does, according to Major Hon. But they decided not to get mar-ried, because the minute they do, she gets shipped home."
"Some regulation. It's apparently designed to keep innocent Marines from the clutches of lonely nurses. But speaking of Mrs. Koffler... you're having dinner with them."
"She wants to show her appreciation to you and Hart for getting him off Buka."
"I'll pass, thank you, Colonel."
"Is there any reason you couldn't go tonight? I know the General has noth-ing for you to do then. And he told me he thought a home-cooked meal would be good for you."
"That sounds like an order."
"The General feels sorry for her."
McCoy's eyebrows rose in question.
"You don't know the story?"
McCoy shook his head, no.
"According to the General, Koffler got her... in the family way the night before they dropped him on Buka," Stecker said. "That happened to be the night they had a memorial service for her husband, who was killed in Africa."
McCoy's eyebrows rose again, but he said nothing, waiting for Stecker to go on.
"They kicked her out of the Royal Navy..."
"Royal Australian Navy," McCoy corrected him, thinking out loud.
"... when they learned she was pregnant. And her family has... Ken, her father wouldn't even come to the wedding. They've just about kicked her out of the family. That's pretty vicious. She's a nice girl, and the General likes her."
"Let the General have dinner with her."
"He already has."
"I wasn't the only one on the Buka Operation. Hart was there. God, Pick Pickering was flying the airplane that picked us up. He and Charley Gallo-way."
"Young Pickering is somewhere in the States. Galloway is in Hawaii. Hart and you are here, and the General thinks a good home-cooked Aussie meal would do all of you some good."
"What? Roast kangaroo?"
"I knew you would be delighted," Stecker said.
"What were you saying about Koffler and... what did you say?"
"What is it?"
"Have you seen the airtight, waterproof stuff they're packaging equip-ment in lately?"
McCoy shook his head helplessly.
"That aluminum-backed tar paper?"
"No. Not that. Plastic. Hart will tell you all about it over dinner. It'll give you something to talk about."
The Amhurst Apartments
1915 Hours 14 November 1942
Despite a map General Pickering had drawn for him, it took McCoy a long time to find the Amhurst Apartments, a four-story brick building overlooking the harbor. They were driving the Studebaker President.
"Not bad for a nineteen-year-old staff sergeant," McCoy said to Second Lieutenant George F. Hart, USMCR, as they climbed the stairs to the third floor.
"Yeah, I guess I am," McCoy said.
"Just for the record," Hart said as McCoy reached out to punch the door-bell, "I was devoutly hoping you'd be able to talk us out of this."
"Just smile and be nice," McCoy replied.
The doorbell, when pushed, caused a clang. A moment later, the door was opened by Staff Sergeant Stephen M. Koffler, USMCR. Sergeant Koffler was five feet seven inches tall, weighed approximately 130 pounds, and looked two years younger than his nineteen years.
"Good evening, gentlemen," he said, clearly having rehearsed his open-ing remarks, "please come in."
"Good evening, Sergeant Koffler," McCoy said, and thrust a brown paper bag at him. It contained a bottle of Famous Grouse scotch.
"How are you, Steve?" Hart said, and thrust a somewhat larger brown paper bag at him. It contained two bottles of "a damned nice Aussie Cabernet Sauvignon," as General Pickering said when he intercepted the two of them leaving Water Lily Cottage and handed them both bags.
"Welcome," Mrs. Daphne Koffler said from behind her husband. "Thank you for coming."
"Thank you for having us," McCoy said.
Even in her flat shoes, Mrs. Koffler was an inch taller than her husband. She had hazel eyes and peaches-and-cream skin. She wore her light-brown hair done up in a bun at her neck, and she wore only a light lipstick as makeup.
"We wanted-I especially wanted-to thank you for what you did for Steve. For the both of us."
"For the three of us," Koffler chimed in. His wife blushed.
McCoy found himself looking at Mrs. Koffler's belly. To his embarrass-ment, she was just starting to show.
"That's not necessary," McCoy said.
"If you hadn't gone into Buka, he'd probably be dead," Daphne Koffler said. "And God only knows what would have happened to me and the baby."
Christ, she sounds like Ernie. Says exactly what's on her mind. And looks you right in the eye when she says it.
"We're Marines, Mrs. Koffler," McCoy said. "We go where we're sent. Steve was sent to Buka, and Hart and I were sent in to get him out. No thanks are necessary."
"Indulge me," she said. "Let me say Thank you.' "
"OK. You're welcome. Now can we change the subject? Hart told me we're going to have roast kangaroo. Is that true?"
"No, of course it's not. We're having steak. Pluto brought some from the officers' mess."
McCoy was momentarily taken aback by the casual reference to Major Hon Song Do, and then he remembered Koffler's pregnant wife was in contact with Pluto, as an assistant to Commander Feldt, long before he was.
"Why don't we have a drink?" Staff Sergeant Koffler said.
McCoy saw that Mrs. Koffler looked a little uneasy.
She knows what's going to happen, McCoy thought. The Boy Sergeant is going to get plastered.
I wonder how they got together? Christ, she's older than he is. More so-phisticated. What the hell did she see in him? What the hell does Ernie see in me ?
I know two things for sure. Whatever the reason she let him... went to bed with him the night before he went to Buka, it's not because she's a slut. This is a nice girl. And her look just now when he offered the drink was of concern for him. She loves him.
Why am I surprised? Because he looks likes a high-school cheerleader?
The drinks Staff Sergeant Koffler provided for his guests were about twice as strong as they should have been.
"Koffler, would you break this one into two? Or three?" McCoy asked. "I would like to be sober when I eat."
Mrs. Koffler looked at McCoy with appreciation. Staff Sergeant Koffler looked at him in embarrassment, as if he had committed a terrible social blun-der.
"Koffler, I just got here," McCoy said. "It was a long trip. And Colonel Stecker had me running all day. I can't handle much liquor when I'm tired."
"I was out stealing plastic from the Army all day," Koffler said.
"What's plastic?" McCoy asked.
"I don't know what the hell it's made of, but the Army is wrapping stuff in it. It's waterproof and airtight. Just what you need for the stuff you're going to take into the Philippines."
He went into the kitchen, carrying McCoy's glass.
Jesus Christ, I don't know how this Fertig operation is classified, but it's at least SECRET, and probably TOP SECRET. It should not be casually intro-duced into conversation.
Well, I doubt if Mrs.- Koffler will spread it among the girls over coffee. I'll have a word with him later about talking too much. If he's sober enough later to listen.
Koffler returned with the drink.
"I hope this is better," he said, and turned to Hart. "Can I... make yours weaker, Lieutenant?"
"I'll just go slow," Hart said.
"Tell me about plastic," McCoy said.
"Well, it looks like a cross between oilcloth and cellophane," Koffler said. "The first time I saw it was when Pluto got the cryptomachine you're going to take with you from the Army-"
"How many other people know about the Philippine Operation?" McCoy interrupted, a tone of annoyance, or exasperation, in his voice.
"I'm not going to discuss this with the ladies during morning tea, if that's what's concerning you, Lieutenant McCoy," Daphne Koffler said.
McCoy, embarrassed, raised both hands in a gesture of surrender.
"Steve thinks he's in the company of friends," Daphne went on firmly, again reminding McCoy of Ernie, "who have the appropriate security clear-ances. And while his wife no longer has the appropriate clearances, he believes she can nevertheless be trusted to keep her mouth shut."
McCoy looked at her but didn't reply.
"Especially since Steve wants very desperately to go with you," she added.
What did she say? He "wants desperately to go"?
"I don't think that's likely," McCoy said.
"You must know, Lieutenant," Daphne said, "that my husband is a rather determined man."
"You need a radio operator," Koffler argued. "So far the General hasn't come up with anybody. And Pluto already showed me how to operate the crypto machine."
"For Christ's sake, why would you want to go with us?" McCoy asked.
The question obviously discomfited Koffler.
"You just got off of Buka. You just got out of the hospital," McCoy said, warming to his subject. "You just got married, for Christ's sake!"
"That's why," Koffler said softly.
"I have obligations now. Daphne. And... a family."
"And so you want to go running around in the Philippines, hiding from the Japs?"
"I want to be an officer," Koffler said.
McCoy looked at him long enough to see that he was serious, then breathed, "Oh, Jesus!"
"Lieutenant Moore was a sergeant when he came here," Koffler said rea-sonably. "He went to Guadalcanal, came back, and they made him an officer."
"Moore is a college graduate; he's a Japanese linguist, a cryptographer; and he's twenty-three years old."
Koffler didn't choose to hear the reply.
"Lieutenant Hart came here as a sergeant," he went on. "He went to Buka with you; and when you came back, they made him a lieutenant," he argued.
"Hart is older than Moore," McCoy replied. "Before he came in The Corps, he was a detective. They made him an officer because it makes things easier for the General, not because..." The absurdity of Koffler's reasoning, and the determined look on his boyish face, triggered something close to hilar-ity in McCoy's mind. "... not because he fell heroically out of his little rubber boat trying to paddle ashore on Buka Island."
"How did you get your commission?" Koffler asked. It was a challenge.
"I went to Officer Candidate School at Quantico, as a matter of fact. With General Pickering's son, incidentally. We spent six months busting our asses-excuse the language, Mrs. Koffler-to get that damned gold bar." Koffler now looked hurt and embarrassed.
"You want to be an officer, apply for OCS," McCoy said reasonably. "I'm sure the General would recommend you for it. Hell, Koffler, I'll write you a letter of recommendation myself."
"I already looked into that. I can't even apply until I'm twenty-one, for Christ's sake."
"Is that what the regulation says?" McCoy asked.
"Nobody asked me how old I was when I jumped onto Buka," Koffler said.
McCoy could think of no reply to make, and made none.
"Oh, hell," Koffler said, as if finally accepting the logic of McCoy's argu-ment. "But I still want to go with you."
Not if I have anything to say about it, McCoy thought.
"Koffler, give yourself a chance to get your health back. Enjoy your fam-ily. Remember that sacred Marine Corps saying, 'Never volunteer for any-thing.' "
"You volunteered to get Howard and me off Buka," Koffler argued.
"Jesus Christ, you don't know when to quit, do you?" McCoy snapped. "For Christ's sake, Koffler, drop it!"
McCoy looked at Daphne Koffler in time to see that she didn't like at all the words or the tone of voice he had used on her husband.
"I'm sorry," he said. "Maybe it would be best if I left."
"That would just make things worse," she said. "And you didn't say any-thing to him I haven't already said. Please stay."
"Fix me another drink, Koffler," Lieutenant Hart said. "And then tell Lieutenant McCoy about plastic."
"Sure," Koffler said.
McCoy met Daphne Koffler's eyes.
"Fix me one, too, while you're at it, please," he said.
She nodded her head, just perceptibly, in approval.
When her husband went into the kitchen, she walked to the couch and sat down beside McCoy.
"Thank you," she said.
"You're wrong about me, Lieutenant," she said. "I married Steve be-cause I love him, not because I'm carrying his child."
"Believe it or not, Mrs. Koffler, I'd already figured that out."
She looked into his eyes again.
"You had, hadn't you?" she said, as if surprised.
"Now that we're all pals," George Hart said, "do you think you two could stop calling each other 'Mrs. Koffler' and 'Lieutenant McCoy'?"
McCoy looked at him.
"Mr. Hart," McCoy said, "second lieutenants should be seen and not heard. Isn't that so, Daphne?"
"I believe that's true, Ken," she replied.
T O P S E C R E T
SUPREME HEADQUARTERS SWPOA NAVY DEPT WASH DC
VIA SPECIAL CHANNEL
ORIGINAL TO BE DESTROYED AFTER ENCRYPTION AND TRANSMTTTAL
EYES ONLY-THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY
SATURDAY 14 NOVEMBER 1942
WORD JUST REACHED HERE THAT THE BATTLESHIPS WASHINGTON AND SOUTH DAKOTA HAVE SUNK THE JAPANESE BATTLESHIP KIHISHIMA, EVEN THOUGH THE SOUTH DAKOTA APPARENTLY WAS PRETTY BADLY HIT IN THE PROCESS. I'D LIKE TO THINK THAT ADMIRAL DAN CALLAHAN SOMEHOW KNOWS ABOUT THIS. I WAS PRETTY UPSET WHEN I HEARD HE WAS KILLED THE DAY BEFORE. REVENGE IS SWEET.
THE MORE I GET INTO THIS FERTIG IN THE PHILIPPINES BUSINESS-SPECIFICALLY, THE MORE I HAVE LEARNED FROM LT COL JACK NMI STECKER ABOUT THE EFFICACY OF A WELL-RUN GUERRILLA OPERATION-THE MORE I BECOME CONVINCED THAT IT'S WORTH A GOOD DEAL OF EFFORT AND EXPENSE.
WHERE IT STANDS RIGHT NOW IS THAT A YOUNG MARINE OFFICER, LIEUTENANT KENNETH MCCOY, WHOM THEY CALL "KILLER," BY THE WAY, JUST ARRIVED HERE. HE HAS ALREADY MADE THE MAKIN ISLAND MARINE RAIDER OPERATION, AND WENT ASHORE ON BUKA FROM ANOTHER SUBMARINE WHEN WE REPLACED THE MARINES THERE. HE IS AS EXPERT IN RUBBER BOAT OPERATIONS AS THEY COME, IN OTHER WORDS. HE SEES NO PROBLEM IN GETTING ASHORE FROM A SUBMARINE OFF MINDANAO.
HE AND STECKER HAVE COME UP WITH A LIST OF MATERIEL THEY FEEL SHOULD GO TO FERTIG, ESSENTIALLY, AND IN THIS ORDER, GOLD, RADIOS, MEDICINE, AND SMALL ARMS AND AMMUNITION. BECAUSE OF THE SMALL STATURE OF THE AVERAGE FILIPINO, BOTH FEEL THAT THE US CARBINE IS THE PROPER WEAPON. I HAVE THE RADIOS AND THE CARBINES AND AMMUNITION FOR THEM, AND HAVE BEEN PROMISED AN ARRAY OF MEDICINES WHENEVER I WANT THEM. I HAVE ALSO BEEN PROMISED A SUBMARINE, PROBABLY THE USS NARWHAL, WHICH IS A CARGO SUBMARINE. THE PROMISE CAME FROM CINCPAC HIMSELF, WHO SHARES MY BELIEF THAT ANY GUERRILLA OPERATION IN THE PHILIPPINES SHOULD BE SUPPORTED ON STRATEGIC, TACTICAL, AND MORAL GROUNDS.
I ONLY NEED TWO THINGS MORE: I NEED $250,000 IN GOLD. ACTUALLY, WHAT I NEED IS A CABLE TRANSFER OF THAT MUCH MONEY TO THE BANK OF AUSTRALIA, WHO WILL GIVE MB THE GOLD. THE SOONER THE BETTER.
THE SECOND THING I NEED IS FOR YOU TO GOOSE THE MARINE CORPS PERSONNEL PEOPLE. THEY STILL HAVEN'T TRANSFERRED LT COL STECKER TO ME. COLONEL RICKABEE REPORTS THAT HE'S BEEN GETTING A VERY COLD SHOULDER ABOUT THIS, ALTHOUGH NO EXPLANATION HAS BEEN GIVEN, AND YOUR NORMALLY INCREDIBLY ABLE CAPTAIN HAUGHTON HASN'T BEEN ABLE TO GET THEM OFF THEIR UPHOLSTERED CHAIRS, EITHER. I NEED STECKER FOR THIS. HE'S AN EXPERT IN GUERRILLA OPERATIONS, AND THIS IS CERTAINLY MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHAT THE CORPS WANTS HIM TO DO VIS-A-VIS SETTING UP PROPHYLACTIC FACILITIES AND AMATEUR THEATRICALS. MCCOY GOING ASHORE ALONE WOULD NOT BE NEARLY AS EFFECTIVE AS THE TWO OF THEM GOING TOGETHER.
I EARNESTLY SOLICIT YOUR IMMEDIATE ACTION IN THIS REGARD.
FLEMING PICKERING, BRIGADIER GENERAL, USMCR
T O P S E C R E T
South West Pacific Ocean Area
1715 Hours 16 November 1942
The two Army Military Policemen on duty at the entrance of General MacArthur's headquarters saluted crisply as Brigadier General Fleming Pickering, USMCR, strode briskly through the door.
Pickering returned their salute with a smile. He walked quickly to the Studebaker President with the letters usmc on each side of the hood and the Marine Corps insignia on its front doors, slid into the driver's seat, and started the engine.
Second Lieutenant George F. Hart, USMCR, the aiguillette of his aide-de-camp status flapping up and down as he ran, slowed as he passed through the door long enough to exchange salutes with the MPs and then broke into a trot to the car, as if afraid he would be left behind.
As soon as Hart was in the car, the Studebaker, with a chirp of its tires, backed out of the RESERVED FOR GENERAL OFFICERS parking space, stopped abruptly, and then, with another squeal of tires, drove away.
The two MPs exchanged glances and small smiles. With the exception of the Marine general, every other general and admiral at Supreme Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Ocean Area, had an enlisted driver for his official vehicle. The driver would jump out of the car when he spotted his general or admiral, open the rear door, stand at attention until the general or admiral had climbed in, close the door, and then, after making sure the aide-de-camp was in the backseat, get behind the wheel and chauffeur his august passenger in the ritual dignity to which he was entitled by virtue of his rank.
Not so General Pickering. Not only did he normally drive himself, but more often than not he wasn't accompanied by his aide-de-camp.
There was more. It was reliably rumored that General Douglas MacArthur called General Pickering by his Christian name. Every other officer was ad-dressed by his rank, except for a very few whom El Supremo honored by ad-dressing them by their last names.
This, and a number of other personal idiosyncrasies-General Pickering did not live, for example, in the quarters provided for the very senior officers, but in a rambling frame house he rented near the racetrack-had not, most of the enlisted men knew, endeared General Pickering to his peers, the other gen-eral and flag officers of Supreme Headquarters, SWPOA.
It was therefore perhaps natural for the enlisted men, and many of the jun-ior officers, to look fondly upon General Pickering. Anybody who had most of the big brass pissed off at him couldn't be all bad.
"Goddamn the way these people think," General Pickering said, as he wheeled, entirely too fast, around a corner and headed toward the Closed For The Duration racetrack.
George Hart did not reply. He wasn't sure if he was being spoken to, or whether General Pickering was thinking aloud. But a smile flickered across his lips.
There was a silence of perhaps thirty seconds.
"Fertig was a light colonel when Bataan fell," Pickering said. "Not a goddamned captain."
Lieutenant Hart now deduced that whatever had put General Pickering in his current very pissed-off frame of mind concerned Wendell Fertig. Again, he elected not to reply.
Pickering glanced over at Hart. "That sonofabitch must have known that, George," he said reasonably, "and he should have told me."
"That sonofabitch," Lieutenant Hart correctly suspected, was Brigadier General Charles Willoughby, USA, MacArthur's G-2 (General Staff Officer, Intelligence).
"Yes, Sir," Hart said. "How did you find out?"
"I ran into Phil DePress," Pickering said. "He told me."
Lieutenant Colonel Philip J. "Phil" DePress, who still wore the lapel insignia of the proud, now-vanquished 26th Cavalry-it had been forced to eat its horses before the Philippines fell-had somehow escaped and was now one of MacArthur's staff officers.
Hart met DePress in Washington, three months before, shortly after he went to work for General Pickering. Private George F. Hart, formerly Detec-tive Hart of the St. Louis, Missouri, Police Department, had been recruited from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, to serve ostensibly as an orderly, but in fact as a bodyguard, to General Pickering, then recuperating from wounds and malaria in the Army's Walter Reed Hospital in Washing-ton.
Colonel DePress, who had been sent to Washington as an officer courier from MacArthur's SWPOA headquarters, showed up in Pickering's hospital room bearing a personal letter from MacArthur congratulating Pickering on his promotion to brigadier general.
At the time, Hart was having more than a little trouble adjusting to the sudden changes in his life. One day he was just one more boot in a basic train-ing platoon. Then he was summoned, late at night, to the Bachelor Officers' Quarters, where a cold-eyed Marine first lieutenant (whom Hart correctly sus-pected was younger than he was) asked him rapid-fire, but pertinent, questions about his law-enforcement background. Apparently satisfied with his answers and with Hart personally, he offered him an assignment as bodyguard to a Gen-eral Pickering, adding that General Pickering didn't want a bodyguard.
Two days later, he was in Washington, still wearing his boot's shaven-head haircut, promoted sergeant, and living not in the Marine barracks, but in General Pickering's apartment in the Foster Lafayette Hotel, whose windows looked out across Pennsylvania Avenue onto the White House.
Information was thrown rapidly at him. For instance, he learned that Gen-eral Pickering was a reservist who had earned the nation's second-highest award for gallantry, the Distinguished Service Cross, as a teenaged enlisted man in France in the First World War, and that, in civilian life, he had been Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the Pacific and Far East Shipping Corporation.
Hart had also learned that Pickering was not in the ordinary chain of com-mand in the Marine Corps. He reported directly to Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox. And on a mission to the Pacific for Secretary Knox (not further de-scribed to Hart then), he had been on Guadalcanal, where he contracted ma-laria. Later, aboard a destroyer taking him from the island, he was wounded when the warship was strafed by a Japanese bomber. After her captain was killed, he earned the Silver Star for assuming command of the vessel, despite his wounds.
Hart had heard, of course, of the Marine Raider attack on Makin Island (in which President Roosevelt's son participated); and after what he knew about General Pickering, he was not really surprised to find out that the cold-eyed lieutenant who had "interviewed" him at Parris Island had made the raid. Nor even to find out that the lieutenant-who was in fact three years younger than he was (he was twenty-five)-was the near-legendary "Killer" McCoy.
At the time he met Colonel DePress, Hart was devoutly following the ad-vice of his father-Police Captain Karl J. Hart-that when you're involved in something you don't really understand, keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut. Thus, when Colonel DePress came into General Pickering's hospi-tal room, he thought like a cop, and not like a Marine Corps boot promoted far beyond his capabilities to sergeant. And as a cop, trained to read people, he recognized that DePress and Pickering were kindred souls, and that they them-selves were both aware of their kinship.
When he came to Australia with General Pickering, he was not surprised that Colonel DePress became one of the very small group of people uncon-nected with General Pickering's mission who were welcome at Water Lily Cottage.
Not much surprised George F. Hart anymore. Not even when he found him-self in a rubber boat with Killer McCoy, paddling ashore onto the Japanese-held island of Buka, nor the gold bars on his collar when the other boots in his platoon at Parris Island were still hoping to make PFC.
He was well aware that his promotion had to do with facilitating General Pickering's mission, and not with his being some kind of super Marine. He was beginning to understand his role as a Marine: In addition to the bodyguard role, it was to make himself as useful as he could to General Pickering. And he liked this role. He had some time ago realized that Pickering was special, and work-ing for him a privilege.
More than that: General Pickering was the only man in his life he admired as much as his father... perhaps more than his father, as disloyal as this might sound.
Pickering drove the Studebaker President past the boarded-up racetrack, turned right, and two blocks beyond turned off the street onto the clamshell-paved driveway of Water Lily Cottage.
A Chevrolet pickup truck with Royal Australian Navy markings was among the vehicles pulled nose-in against the porch of Water Lily Cottage. It belonged to Lieutenant Commander Eric A. Feldt, RAN.
Pickering had stopped the Studebaker, pulled on the parking brake, and was halfway up the steps of Water Lily Cottage before Lieutenant Hart could open his door.
When Pickering walked into the room, Feldt and Hon were comfortably sprawled on the rattan furniture with which the cottage was furnished. Hon started to get to his feet, but Pickering waved him back.
"I knew you wouldn't mind if we started without you, Pickering, old sod," Feldt said, raising a glass dark with whiskey. "Particularly since I am the bearer of bad tidings."
"No sub?" Pickering asked, walking to a table holding a dozen or more bottles of liquor.
"Three weeks is the best I could do," Feldt said, "even begging on my knees. Sorry."
"Well, thanks for trying," Pickering said.- "It was a long shot anyway."
He picked up a bottle of Famous Grouse scotch whiskey and poured an inch and a half into a glass. Then he turned to Hart.
"You want one of these, George?" he asked.
"No, thank you, Sir. I've got the duty tonight."
"That may be a blessing in disguise," Pickering said thoughtfully, obvi-ously referring to the unavailability of an Australian submarine. "Nimitz may be able to loan us the Narwhal."
"The Navy has two transport submarines. Underwater freighters, so to speak. One of them is the Narwhal; I don't know what they call the other one. If we can have it, we could take Fertig a lot more than we could carry on a regular sub."
"You think he'll be willing?" Feldt asked.
"We'll soon find out," Pickering said. "Pluto, send Nimitz a Special Channel Personal, saying we need the Narwhal, and where should we plan on rendezvousing with her?" He paused and added, thinking aloud, "Which means we'll probably have to fly them to Espiritu Santo; it would take too much time to bring the Narwhal here; which in turn means I'm going to have to fight the Army Air Corps for several tons of space on their transports."
"Yes, Sir," Major Hon said. "Would you like to see the message before it goes out?"
"I have a profound faith in your spelling, Pluto," Pickering said, smiling, "but you better send an information copy to Haughton. I'm sure there are thirty admirals on CINCPAC's staff, with twice as many good reasons why CINC-PAC should not let us have the Narwhal. I may have to go to Frank Knox about this, and Haughton should have forewarning."
"Yes, Sir," Pluto said. "Haughton but not Rickabee?"
"Ask Haughton to advise Rickabee," Pickering said, and then asked, "Where are they?"
Major Hon pointed to the rear of the cottage.
Pickering took a healthy swallow of the whiskey, then set the glass down beside a row of empty glasses. He then immediately picked it and the empties up with the fingers of one hand. With the other, he grabbed the bottle of Fa-mous Grouse by the neck.
He walked out of the living room and down the corridor to a closed door, and knocked on it with the whiskey bottle.
"Open up!" he ordered.
The door was opened by Staff Sergeant Steve Koffler.
"It's the cocktail hour," Pickering said. "Didn't anyone notice?"
He handed the Famous Grouse to Koffler, and walked to a table in the middle of the room and set the glasses on it. Lieutenant Colonel Jack (NMI) Stecker and First Lieutenant Kenneth R. McCoy were sitting at the table, their uniforms protected by flower-patterned aprons, obviously borrowed from the kitchen. The table held three small rifles, technically U.S. Carbines, Caliber.30, Ml, broken down. Pickering saw their trigger group assemblies were also in pieces.
"When you can part with that adorable apron, Jack," Pickering said, "stick these in your pocket."
He tossed a small cellophane-covered package onto the table. It contained two silver eagles, the insignia of a colonel.
"That's a little premature, isn't it?" Lieutenant Colonel Stecker asked, a little uncomfortably.
"The Secretary of the Navy told me, I told General MacArthur; and to-morrow morning at oh eight forty-five, with suitable ceremony, El Supremo will pin those on you."
Stecker shook his head.
"That really wasn't necessary," Stecker said.
"There will be a photographer," Pickering went on. "Elly will soon have a picture of her husband the Colonel, with El Supremo beaming at him, with which to dazzle her neighbors."
Elly was Mrs. Jack (NMI) Stecker.
"I suppose," Colonel Stecker said, reaching for the bottle of whiskey, "that it would be bad manners if I were to say I wish to hell the General had minded his own business?"
"I suppose you've heard the bad news? No Aussie sub?" Pickering asked.
"Feldt told us," Stecker said. He held the bottle over one of the glasses and asked with a gesture if Lieutenant McCoy wanted him to pour.
McCoy held up fingers, indicating that he wanted about an inch and a half.
"Thank you, Sir," he said.
"And will Mrs. Koffler banish you from the marriage bed if you come home smelling of this?" Stecker asked Sergeant Koffler.
"I've got some Sen-Sen, Sir," Koffler said. "A little one, please."
"Now that you've taken those apart, can you put them back together again?" Pickering asked, indicating the carbines. "What are you doing, any-way?"
"Working on the sears," Stecker said.
Pickering was aware that the carbines were almost certainly in perfectly functioning order as they came out of their crates. But he was not at all sur-prised that Stecker and McCoy felt it necessary to fine-tune them. They were not only Marines, nor even only Marine marksmen-both had drawn extra pay as enlisted men for being Expert Riflemen-but weapons experts.
"I think we can get them back together, General," McCoy said. "And if the Colonel can't, Sergeant Koffler can."
"And you're determined that's what you want to take with you?" Picker-ing asked.
"I'd rather take a Garand," McCoy said.
"I thought I'd explained why we... why you should take the carbines," Stecker said.
"That's not what the General asked, Colonel," McCoy said, smiling at Stecker. "The General asked me what I'd rather take. I will take one of these, but I'd rather take a Garand."
"He was a sea lawyer the first time I ever met him," Stecker said, smiling at Pickering. "Wiseass little China Marine corporal in a handmade uniform. Knew everything. Had Expert medals pinned all over him. But when he went on the KD range, he couldn't hit anything but the butts. It looked like a Chinese fire drill, with all those Maggie's drawers flying." (The KD range was the known distance small-arms range, while Maggie's drawers was a red flag waved from the target butts to signal a complete miss.)
"Christ." McCoy chuckled. "I forgot about that. Until I figured out what that bastard was doing to me, I thought I was losing my mind."
"Until what bastard was doing what to you?" Pickering asked.
"General," Stecker said, "I know you'll find this hard to believe, but there were a number of officers who didn't think Corporal McCoy should be an officer and a gentleman."
"There was a Master Gunny who didn't think so either, as I remember it," McCoy said.
Before being called to active duty as a reserve officer, Stecker was the senior master gunnery sergeant at Marine Base, Quantico, Virginia.
"I didn't say that," Stecker said. "I said that if by some miracle you got through OCS, you would probably be the worst officer in the history of The Corps. And time seems to have proved me right."
"Are you two going to explain what you're talking about?" Pickering said.
"As I was saying, General, before this impertinent sea lawyer interrupted me," Stecker said, "there was a lieutenant who was sent right up the wall by the prospect of this young man putting on an officer's uniform-"
"Macklin," McCoy interrupted. "Robert B. Macklin. That was the sonofabitch's name!"
"That's the man," Stecker said. "What happened, General, was that he tried to get the sea lawyer here kicked out of OCS."
"Why?" Pickering asked.
"I had a run-in with him in China," McCoy said, "when I was working for Ed Banning. He was-is, if he's still alive, and I suppose it's too much to hope that he isn't-a miserable, lying sonofabitch. Banning wrote him an effi-ciency report that should have gotten him kicked out of The Corps, and would have, if the war hadn't come along."
Whatever happened in China, Pickering decided, if Ed Banning sided with McCoy, the officer in question was dead wrong.
Stecker saw the confusion on Pickering's face.
"I didn't know any of this at the time," he explained. "Ken being too proud, or too dumb, to ask for help."
"What was I supposed to say, 'Gunny, this lieutenant doesn't like me, and is being mean to me'?"
"Yeah," Stecker said. "Exactly. That's exactly what you should have done. And told me why he didn't like you."
"You would have laughed me out of your office," McCoy said.
"Anyway," Stecker said. "I heard that McCoy wasn't qualifying on the KD range. That didn't seem right, so I went and had a look, and found this Lieutenant Macklin in the pits, scoring McCoy's targets himself. He was scor-ing every third shot as a Maggie's drawers. Then I did some snooping around and got the rest of the story."
"In other words, General," McCoy said, "if it wasn't for the Gunny here sticking his nose in where it didn't belong, I would now be a buck sergeant in some nice, safe mess-kit-repair platoon somewhere."
Instead of, Pickering thought, getting ready for the third time to climb into a rubber boat and paddle it ashore from a submarine onto a Japanese-held island. First the Makin Island raid, then Buka to get Howard and Koffler out,
and now the Philippines.
"There's a word for someone like you, Lieutenant," Stecker said. "It's spelled ungrateful sonofabitch."
"I didn't think full bull colonels, Colonel, were supposed to swear at inno-cent junior officers like me," McCoy said piously.
"Speaking of sonsofbitches," Pickering said, having decided that it was time to get to what he'd come to tell McCoy. He waited until both Stecker and McCoy were looking at him, and then went on.
"I ran into Phil DePress," he said. "And learned from him that Fertig is a light bird, or was, before he promoted himself."
"How does that make Phil a sonofabitch?" Stecker asked.
"The sonofabitch is the unnamed brigadier general, Army type, on El Su-premo's staff who certainly knew this and elected not to tell me."
"Why not, General?" McCoy asked.
"Aside from his being an all-around sonofabitch, you mean? Here's what I'm thinking. For one thing, Fertig, who came on active duty as a captain, was twice promoted for outstanding performance. By whom? If not by El Supremo himself, then by somebody high up in the palace guard. Two promotions-in what, six months?-means that he was doing an outstanding job."
McCoy nodded, and made a motion of his hand toward Colonel Stecker. The meaning was obvious. Here's the proof of what you just said: When the 1st Marine Division landed on Guadalcanal, Stecker landed on Tulagi-across the channel from Guadalcanal-as a major, commanding 2nd Battalion, Fifth Marines. Shortly after that, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel on Guadal-canal. And earlier today, there was a Special Channel Personal message to Pickering from the Secretary of the Navy. A paragraph of that informed him that Stecker was shortly going to be transferred to Washington, and was pro-moted to full colonel.
Colonel Stecker took McCoy's meaning, and grew uncomfortable. His promotion and transfer meant that he would not be going into the Philippines. Two things were wrong with that. Personally, he'd rather go to the Philippines than to Washington. He thought he might be of some genuine use there; he wasn't at all sure that would be true in Washington. And secondly, although he would have been happy to publicly announce that Ken McCoy was one hell of a Marine officer, he thought that by sending him in alone to the Philippines, Pickering was placing more responsibility on his shoulders than he should re-ally ask of a twenty-two-year-old.
Pickering nodded. "Precisely," he said. "And Fertig being an outstanding officer does not fit in with the picture El Supremo, and especially Willoughby, want to paint of him now."
"You've lost me, Flem," Stecker said.
"It is their official position that setting up guerrilla activities in the Philip-pines is impossible. Unless, of course, they set them up, at some unspecified time in the future. And here comes this guy, a reservist, who announces that he has recruited people, set up U.S. Forces in the Philippines, and appointed him-self as commanding general; then says that as soon as we can get him the materiel to do it with, he will commence guerrilla activities against the Japa-nese. Since it wasn't their idea, obviously it's bad, and so is this guy. And if he succeeds, he will make Willoughby, and by inference El Supremo himself, look foolish."
"You're not suggesting they hope Fertig will fail?" Stecker asked.
"I think that's a possibility, Jack, that we should keep in mind," Pickering said.
"Did you call Willoughby on this?" Stecker asked.
"You bet I did. He vaguely remembers hearing something about Fertig getting promoted to major, but that the records have of course been lost, and officially, they have to consider him as still being a captain."
"Christ," McCoy said in disgust.
"A captain who appoints himself commanding general of anything looks like somebody who may not be playing with a full deck," Pickering said. "Somebody you don't pay a lot of attention to, or more importantly, send arms and ammunition to. It's a hell of a lot different when the fellow is a highly regarded lieutenant colonel."
"According to Phil DePress, Fertig is a good officer," Stecker said. "And I'm sure he's told Willoughby that," Pickering replied. "Wil-loughby has selective hearing; he doesn't hear what he doesn't want to hear. But what really bothers me is wondering what else they haven't told me."
"Now I really wish I was going with McCoy," Stecker said. "Particularly with the silver chickens on my collar."
"You know that's out of the question, Jack," Pickering said. "For the sake of argument, let's say McCoy finds Fertig and decides he's not a lunatic and can do what he says he can do. If they're ignoring what DePress-one of their own-tells them about Fertig, what makes you think they'll listen to McCoy? 'On such an important matter as this, we can't trust the judgment of a Marine lieutenant.'
"That's pretty simple, Jack," Pickering said. "I trust McCoy's judgment. And I'm not going to run his report of whatever he finds in the Philippines past Willoughby and company and give them a chance to snipe at it. My recommen-dation goes right to Frank Knox, who will lay it on Admiral Leahy's desk. Leahy trusts Knox, Knox trusts me, and I trust McCoy. So will the President, I think, once he learns-as 1 intend that he will-that the Killer was with Roose-velt's son on the Makin Island raid."
Stecker smiled. "OK. But you're not supposed to call him that, you know," he said.
"Sorry, Ken," Pickering said.
"No offense taken, Sir," McCoy said, not very convincingly. "OK, we're getting down the line. I just told Pluto to message Nimitz at Pearl Harbor asking for the submarine Narwhal. I think he'll give it to us. I figure ten days, two weeks on the outside, before we get it." Both Stecker and McCoy nodded.
"Is there anything else you think you need, Ken? I'm prepared to override the Colonel here if you really want to take a Garand with you."
"No, he's right," McCoy said. "If we're going to equip the Filipinos with carbines, that's what the Americans should carry. And with a little bit of luck, I won't have to shoot anybody anyway."
"I'm glad you brought that up, Ken," Pickering said. "You're not being sent to shoot at the Japanese. I want your honest assessment of Colonel Fertig, and his potential. If you get yourself killed..."
"I'll do my very best not to, Sir."
"Back to the original question. Is there anything else you would like to take with you?" Pickering saw McCoy's eyes light up momentarily, but he said nothing. "What, Ken? If I can get it for you, it's yours."
"How about a gunnery sergeant?"
"Anyone in particular?"
"We served together in China, working for Banning. He was on the Makin Island raid. I saw him on Guadalcanal. He was running the weapons shop for VMF-229"-Marine Fighter Squadron 229. "He's an Old Breed Marine. Speaks Spanish, two or three kinds of Chinese, and even a little Japanese. I think he'd be useful. His name is Zimmerman."
What the hell is a man who speaks Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese doing repairing weapons? Pickering thought, more than a little angrily.
"Give me his full name and his serial number, if you've got it, and I'll get right on it," he said, and then had a second thought. "Ken, you're sure he'd volunteer for something like you're going to be doing?"
McCoy smiled at him. Tolerantly, Pickering thought. I just asked a stupid question, and this young man is smiling tolerantly at me.
"He's an Old Breed Marine, General," McCoy said. "Old Breed Marines don't volunteer for anything. They go where they're told to go, and do what they're told to do."
"I stand corrected, Mr. McCoy," Pickering said. "And if you and this other Old Breed Marine here can get those weapons back together in the next hour or so, I will make amends by taking the both of you out to dinner."
Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff G-l
Headquarters, United States Marine Corps
Eighth and "I" Streets, NW
0915 Hours 17 November 1942
Master Gunner James L. Hardee entered the office of Colonel David M. Wil-son, waited until he had the colonel's attention, and then announced that Colo-nel F. L. Rickabee, Deputy Chief of the USMC Office of Management Analysis, was outside, asking to see him.
Following a hand-delivered, classified SECRET, interoffice memorandum from the Deputy Commandant of The Marine Corps ordering that no personnel actions-read transfers-involving officers assigned to the USMC Office of Management Analysis were to be taken without the specific approval in each instance of Major General Horace W. T. Forrest, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Colonel Wilson and Gunner Hardee had correctly surmised that the Office of Management Analysis probably had more to do with intelligence than either management or analysis.
They had no idea what it had to do with intelligence, and did not consider it their official business to make inquiries. Colonel Wilson had run into Colo-nel Rickabee at various times during their long service; but with the exception of the time they'd spent as students at the Naval War College, he could not recall ever knowing what Rickabee's assignments had been. Neither were Rickabee's records in the files of the Officers' Branch, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-l. They had been "borrowed" a long time before by the Office of the Secretary of the Navy and never returned. There had been no reply to two requests for their return.
I haven't seen Rickabee since the War College, Wilson thought as he made a show him in wave of his hand to Gunner Hardee.
"How are you, Fritz?" Wilson said, trying to conceal his surprise that Rickabee was in civilian clothing. "Long time no see."
"David," Rickabee replied. "How are you?"
"What can I do for you?"
"I came here looking for Charley Stevens," Rickabee said. "He's out of the office."
Colonel Charles D. Stevens was head of the enlisted branch of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-l.
"Charley went down to Parris Island to show some congressmen around."
"He and his deputy, and his deputy's deputy, leaving a young major in charge," Rickabee said. "I didn't want to show him this, so I came to you."
He handed Wilson an obviously decrypted radio message.
"Strange paper, Fritz," Wilson thought aloud, as he felt the unusual, slick paper.
"It burns rapidly," Rickabee said matter-of-factly.
SUPREME HEADQUARTERS SWPOA
NAVY DEPT WASH DC
VIA SPECIAL CHANNEL
ORIGINAL TO BE DESTROYED AFTER ENCRYPTION AND TRANSMITTAL
FOR COLONEL F. L. RICKABEE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT ANALYSIS
MONDAY 16 NOVEMBER 1942
WHILE JACK NMI STECKER'S PROMOTION IS RICHLY DESERVED, IT MEANS MCCOY WILL BE GOING ON THE FERTIG OPERATION JUST ABOUT BY HIMSELF. THE MAN WHO SHOULD REPLACE STECKER OBVIOUSLY IS BANNING, BUT THAT'S OBVIOUSLY IMPOSSIBLE. MCCOY HAS ASKED ME FOR A CHINESE- AND JAPANESE-SPEAKING GUNNERY SERGEANT WHO SERVED WITH HIM IN BOTH CHINA PRE-WAR AND WAS ON THE MAKTN ISLAND RAID WITH HIM.
UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, I THINK MCCOY SHOULD HAVE WHATEVER HE THINKS HE NEEDS. THEREFORE PLEASE ARRANGE THE IMMEDIATE REPEAT IMMEDIATE TRANSFER OF GUNNERY SERGEANT ERNEST ZIMMERMAN FROM VMF-229 (WHICH IS NOW AT EWA, HAWAII) TO US HERE. DO WHATEVER IT TAKES, AND KEEP ME ADVISED.
FLEMING PICKERING, BRIGADIER GENERAL, USMCR
T O P S E C R E T
EYES ONLY, SECNAV
"I'm surprised you showed me this," Wilson said. "It says, 'Eyes Only SECNAV.' "
"It also says 'do whatever it takes,' " Rickabee said.
"I'm also surprised that General Pickering knows that Jack (NMI) Stecker was promoted. That was supposed to be kept quiet."
"Yeah, I know. And I know why. And I know that General Pickering knows about it because the Secretary of the Navy told him."
"What's this 'Fertig Operation'?"
"Sorry, that's classified."
"What do you expect me to do with this?"
"Transfer Gunny Zimmerman."
"For one thing, Fritz, that sort of thing is in Charley Stevens's basket of eggs. I handle officers. For another, even if Zimmerman was an officer, I couldn't just order his transfer on the basis of this. Who is this General Pickering, anyway? What makes him think he can just wave his hand and have people transferred?"
"Because what he's doing has a high priority."
"From whom? What kind of a priority?"
"To stop the flow of bureaucratic bullshit, you're telling me you won't have the gunny transferred?"
Wilson's temper flared.
"What I'm telling you, Colonel," he said coldly, "is that I can't, because I don't have the authority to summarily order the transfer of enlisted men." As quickly as his temper had boiled over, it subsided. "Charley will be back the day after tomorrow. You're going to have to wait until Charley can act on your request. I'm sure his major will decide, correctly, he can't do it on his own authority."
"Thank you for finding time for me in your busy schedule, Colonel," Rickabee said, and marched out of Colonel Wilson's office.
Office of the Secretary of the Navy
1015 Hours 17 November 1942
"Well, look who's here!" the Secretary of the Navy said, pleasantly, when Colonel Rickabee walked into his outer office, trailed by Captain David Haughton. "Good morning, Colonel. We don't often see you here."
"Good morning, Mr. Secretary. I came to see Captain Haughton."
"Morning, Fritz," Haughton said.
"Anything I can do?" Secretary Knox asked.
"A request from General Pickering that I need some help with, Sir," Rick-abee said.
Knox's eyebrows rose in question.
Rickabee handed him General Pickering's special channel radio message.
Knox glanced at it and handed it back.
"I saw this at breakfast," he said. "Is there a problem?"
"I had a little trouble with G-l at Eighth and Eye, Sir. The officer who handles this sort of thing is at Parris Island."
"Take care of it, David," Secretary Knox said.
"Aye, aye, Sir."
THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY
16 November 1942
Lieut. General Thomas Holcomb
Commandant, United States Marine Corps
Dear General Holcomb:
The Secretary of the Navy desires the immediate transfer of Gunnery Sergeant Ernest Zimmerman, USMC, presently assigned VMF-229, to the USMC Office of Management Analysis, with duty station USMC Special Detachment 16, Brisbane, Australia, and further desires that travel be accomplished by the most expeditious means available.
David W. Haughton
Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy
The White House
1910 Hours 17 November 1942
Admiral William D. Leahy rose quickly to his feet when Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox came into his office.
"Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for making time in your schedule for me," he said.
"My time, Admiral, like yours, is the Master's time," Knox said, gestur-ing toward the closed door to the President's Oval Office.
"Well said, Mr. Secretary," Colonel William J. Donovan said, chuckling. Donovan, a stocky, silver-haired man in civilian clothing, rose from his red-leather upholstered chair and offered Knox his hand.
"How are you, Bill?" Knox asked.
"Very well, thank you," Donovan replied, and added, "As a matter of fact, I'm at the moment feeling rather chipper. I think I see a problem on the way to its solution."
"Is that so?" Knox said. "And what problem is that?"
"The intractable Douglas MacArthur," Donovan said.
"The Director, Mr. Secretary, has come up with a suggestion the President feels has considerable merit."
He called Donovan "the Director," Knox thought. Not "Colonel." Is that because Donovan wants it that way, because "the Director" reminds peo-ple that he is not just one more recalled World War I colonel but the Director of the Office of Strategic Services-on the level off J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI, who also likes to be called "the Director"?
Or is it because he wants to remind me that Donovan ranks higher in the hierarchy than a lowly colonel? On the other hand, Secretary of War Stimson, who also served in France as a Colonel, likes to be called "Colonel."
The rank structure here is confused, almost certainly because Franklin Roosevelt wants it to be. Admiral Leahy is a serving officer of the Navy. I am Secretary of the Navy. Therefore he is legally subordinate to me. But he is also Chief of Staff to the President. If he were de facto subordinate to me, instead of de jure, this meeting would be held in my office. After he had called Haughton and asked for an appointment.
I am here. Ergo, he speaks with the authority of the President. "May we speak frankly?" Donovan asked. "Among the three of us."
"Of course," Knox said.
"I am advised by my Brisbane station chief that General MacArthur has not, as of yesterday morning, found time in his schedule to receive him-de-spite, I am sure, the best efforts of Fleming Pickering."
"You suggested we speak frankly," Knox replied. "I am advised by Gen-eral Pickering, Bill, that General MacArthur does not want-how did he put it?-'the nose of your camel under his tent.' "
"The President does," Donovan said abruptly.
"The President sent General Pickering over there with express orders to convince General MacArthur that the Office of Strategic Services has a contri-bution to make to SWPOA."
"He has apparently been unable to do so," Donovan said. "The word you used to describe General MacArthur a moment ago was 'intractable,' "
Knox said. "I have every confidence that General Pickering has done his best to comply with the President's instructions."
"I like Fleming Pickering," Donovan said.
That's not the way I heard it.
"I offered him a job in my shop, you know," Donovan went on. "He declined it."
You offered him a job at the second or third level, which was either stupid-ity on your part, or vindictiveness. He didn't like the size of the bill you sent him in a maritime case, and told you so in blunt and unmistakable terms. You are not used to being talked to like that; you didn't like it; and when he volun-teered for the OSS, you put him in his place.
Which, in the final analysis, was stupidity. He told me the first time I met him that I should have resigned after the debacle of Pearl Harbor. I was smart enough to realize that a man who not only owns, but runs, the second- or third-largest shipping fleet in the world is both accustomed to saying exactly what's on his mind and is wholly unimpressed with political titles.
I put him to work, and his performance exceeded even my high expectations.
"Did you really think, Bill, that Fleming Pickering would be willing to work two or three levels down your chain of command?" Knox asked.
"The President is determined," Admiral Leahy said, trying to change the subject, hoping to avoid a confrontation between the two powerful men, "that General MacArthur will accept the services of the OSS, for the good of the war effort."
"I wonder why the President doesn't simply send him a radio message to that effect?" Knox asked.
"Because he knows, as you know, and I know, that MacArthur would at best pay only lip service to such an order," Donovan replied. "And, at worst, with his judgment questioned, he'd threaten to resign. He did that twice when he was Chief of Staff, you know. And when it became apparent that he was about to lose the Philippines, he announced that he was going to resign his commission and go to Bataan to fight as a private soldier. Our Douglas has a flair for the dramatic."
"The President, Mr. Secretary," Admiral Leahy said, "is reluctant to issue General MacArthur an order that might-from his point of view-ques-tion his authority or his judgment to the point where he might... respond inappropriately."
Politics again. The carefully nurtured image of the President as Commander-in-Chief would be badly tarnished if any one of his senior generals or admirals resigned in protest. When that senior general was General Douglas MacArthur, the heroic defender of the Philippines, whom Roosevelt had praised so often and effusively, and had awarded the Medal of Honor, the dam-age would be enormous.
Particularly if MacArthur-still furious that the Philippines had not re-ceived supplies, and that General George Marshall had effectively taken com-mand of the Philippines away from him the moment he got on the PT boat to go to Australia-came back and started giving speeches about Roosevelt's mili-tary ineptitude. And MacArthur was fully aware he did not have to obey any orders, from anyone, that he didn't like.
"You said, Bill, you thought you have a solution to the problem?" Knox said.
"I have one that will accomplish what everybody wants," Donovan said. "One that the President finds very interesting," Admiral Leahy said.
I'm fully aware that you speak with the authority of the President, Admi-ral, thank you very much. But if this brilliant idea has Presidential approval set in concrete, I would be told about it, not asked.
"Tell me, Bill, what is it you think I want?"
"What the President wants, what Admirals Leahy and Nimitz want, what General Pickering wants."
"To assist this chap Fertig in the Philippines," Donovan said. "I also sus-pect that in his heart of hearts, Douglas MacArthur would like to help him, too. But Douglas is worried about two things: He has stated publicly that guerrilla operations in the Philippines are impossible at this time; and he doesn't want to be proved wrong. Even worse than that, from his perspective, he would hate to admit that he was wrong, that this chap Fertig does indeed exist, and then have it proved that Fertig is a lunatic-that business of his promoting himself to general is more than a little strange-and that guerrilla operations are indeed not possible. That would make him wrong twice. Douglas MacArthur doesn't like to be wrong at all."
"I'm not sure I follow you," Knox said.
"The first thing I thought, frankly, was to have General Pickering assigned to the OSS. That would solve a good many problems."
"It would also cause some," Knox said. "Speaking frankly, as you sug-gested we should, not only would General Pickering rather violently object to that, but so would I."
"I made that point to the President, Mr. Secretary," Admiral Leahy said. "It is his feeling that General Pickering should be transferred to the OSS only as a last resort."
"And what are the intermediate steps? The first resort?" Watch it! You 're being sarcastic! The fact that I don't like Donovan does not make him a fool. Antagonizing him would accomplish nothing whatever.
"Best case, a team of experts is sent into the Philippines, finds that Fertig is what he says he is, that, with support, he can deliver what he promises to, and once that is accomplished, MacArthur makes the announcement, gets the credit."
"OK. What's the worst case?"
"Fertig turns out to be a disaster, a lunatic, and the team comes out and so reports. That would make MacArthur's statement that guerrilla operations in the Philippines are impossible at this time perfectly accurate."
"Bill, you're not suggesting, I hope, that the OSS take over this opera-tion?"
"Would you have problems with that, Mr. Secretary?" Donovan asked.
"Bill, they're just about ready to go."
"The colonel you were going to send in is no longer available," Donovan said. "Pickering is planning on entrusting the great responsibility of evaluating this man Fertig to a lieutenant."
"Frankly, Bill, I'd like to know how you came by that information," Knox said coldly.
"From Admiral Leahy," Donovan said. "I don't see why that should of-fend you. For God's sake, we're both on the same side in this war. I heard of that radio station on Mindanao through OSS channels. When I discussed this with the Admiral, he filled in the details of Pickering's involvement."
He's right, damn him. He is the Director of the OSS; he has every right to access to the details of this operation.
"General Pickering has great confidence in that lieutenant," Knox said. The expressions on both Colonel Donovan's and Admiral Leahy's face made it plain they had little faith in Pickering's judgment on this subject.
And they 're right, too. I didn't say anything to Pickering, but I was sur-prised when he didn't ask Colonel Rickabee for a more senior, more experi-enced, officer than his Lieutenant McCoy. And he knows there is a problem; otherwise he wouldn't have gotten into the business of arranging for that ser-geant to be transferred to go with McCoy. He even referred to Banning, a major, as the man he 'd like to send with McCoy.
"All right, Bill, what are you proposing?" Knox asked. "Among the Marines you have seconded to us are a major and a captain who I want to send in with Pickering's lieutenant," Donovan said.
"How do you suggest that this affect Pickering's role, his authority, and his responsibility in this operation?"
"Not at all. All we'll be doing is providing some assistance," Donovan said smoothly. "They will not reveal their OSS association unless and until the Operation Windmill is successful. The Major is fluent in Spanish. Good family. They have interests in the Banana Republics and Cuba, and he appar-ently has spent some time down there. He's a Princeton graduate, a reserve officer..."
There are those, Secretary Knox thought, who believe that OSS stands for Oh, So Social. And it's a fact that Donovan seems to recruit his people from the Ivy League, people whose "families have interests" in exotic places. But so what? George Patton's an aristocrat; his aide is Charley Codman of the Bos-ton Codmans. And they're both splendid soldiers. Franklin Roosevelt's son made the Makin Island raid, and by every definition I know, he's an aristocrat. And so, for God's sake, are Fleming Pickering and his son. Why am I so antag-onistic toward Donovan?
"... The Captain's a regular, an Annapolis graduate. He served in China before the war, speaks a little Japanese, which might prove helpful. He was wounded-serving with the Marine paratroops on Tulagi-during the Guadal-canal invasion. I can't see how they could be anything but helpful, Frank."
"Your thinking, obviously, is that if this operation goes well, you've got MacArthur on a spot. How can he be against the OSS if your people worked so well?"
"That's the general idea."
"What will you do, Bill, if MacArthur says, in effect, I still don't want your camel's nose under my tent?"
"Then I'll think of something else," Donovan said. "May I tell the President how you regard Director Donovan's proposal, Mr. Secretary?" Admiral Leahy asked.
"With these caveats, Admiral, I will go along with Director Donovan: First, that there is no diminution whatever of General Pickering's authority."
"Agreed," Donovan said.
"Which means that General Pickering will have the final say, once he meets these officers, about whether or not they get to go."
"I'm sure General Pickering will be delighted to get them."
"I'm not so sure. You agree that he will have the final decision? About them? About everything?"
"Agreed," Donovan said. "I'm trying to get my nose in Douglas MacArthur's tent, Mr. Secretary, not yours."
"You understand my position, Admiral?"
"Yes, Mr. Secretary."
"Then you may inform the President that I'm willing to sign on," Knox said. And then he thought of something else. "One more thing: The present schedule will not be delayed in any way by the attachment of your two offi-cers."
"As soon as I get back to my office, I will telephone the Country Club, where these two are sitting on their packed bags, and order them to report to Colonel Rickabee at eight o'clock tomorrow morning." Knox knew what he meant by the Country Club.
"I'll arrange for their air priorities, Mr. Secretary, if Colonel Rickabee encounters a problem," Admiral Leahy said. "And I will advise Admiral Nimitz, with a Special Channel Personal, of the President's interest in this opera-tion. That should ensure a submarine when and where General Pickering needs it."
Why do I feel I have just been talked into something I shouldn't be doing?
"Thank you, Admiral," Knox said.
He got out of his chair and started for the door.
"Here's their names, Frank," Donovan said, and handed him a three-by-five-inch card on which two names were typed.
Knox glanced at it.
Brownlee, Major James C. III
Macklin, Captain Robert B.
He recognized neither name.
Office of the Secretary of the Navy
2105 Hours 17 November 1942
Chief Petty Officer Stanley Hansen, USN, entered without knocking the office of Captain David W. Haughton, USN, Administrative Assistant to the Secre-tary of the Navy, and laid a single sheet of typewriter paper on his desk.
"The Secretary said I should run that past you, Captain, before I send it," he said.
T O P S E C R E T
THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY
VIA SPECIAL CHANNEL
ORIGINAL TO BE DESTROYED AFTER ENCRYPTION AND TRANSMITTAL
SUPREME COMMANDER SWPOA
EYES ONLY BRIG GEN F. W. PICKERING, USMCR
(TIME TIME TIME) 1? NOVEMBER 1942
FOLLOWING PERSONAL FROM SECNAV FOR BRIG GEN PICKERING
I JUST CAME FROM A MEETING WITH ADMIRAL LEAHY AND COLONEL DONOVAN OF THE OSS IN WHICH THE SUBJECTS OF EVALUATING FERTIG'S GUERRILLA OPERATION AND ITS POTENTIAL AND OSS OPERATIONS IN MACARTHUR'S SWPOA CAME UP. I BELIEVE THE MEETING WAS HELD WITH EITHER THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE PRESIDENT OR AT HIS DIRECTION.
COLONEL DONOVAN, WHOSE DETAILED KNOWLEDGE OF YOUR OPERATION CAME FROM BOTH HIS OWN SOURCES AND FROM ADMIRAL LEAHY, PROPOSED THE FOLLOWING AS A MEANS TO OVERCOME GENERAL MACARTHUR'S RELUCTANCE TO ACCEPT OSS SERVICES.
HE WILL DETAIL TWO USMC OFFICERS PRESENTLY SECONDED TO THE OSS TO MANAGEMENT ANALYSIS TO PARTICIPATE, UNDER YOUR COMMAND, IN THE MISSION TO FERTIG. DONOVAN SAYS BOTH AGENTS, A MAJOR AND A CAPTAIN, ARE HIGHLY TRAINED IN THIS SORT OF THING. HE MADE THE POINT THAT DESPITE YOUR HIGH REGARD FOR LIEUTENANT MCCOY, GIVING A YOUNG JUNIOR OFFICER THAT LEVEL OF RESPONSIBILITY IS ASKING A GOOD DEAL OF HIM. DONOVAN'S AGENTS WILL NOT REVEAL THEIR OSS CONNECTION UNLESS AND UNTIL THE MISSION TO FERTIG PROVES SUCCESSFUL.
HAD YOU BEEN ABLE TO MAKE PROGRESS WITH MACARTHUR VIS-A-VIS SWPOA AND THE OSS AND/OR HAD COLONEL STECKER BEEN AVAILABLE, OR SOME OTHER SENIOR OFFICER, I MIGHT HAVE DECLINED DONOVAN'S OFFER TO HELP.
ONCE I AGREED TO IT, LEAHY VOLUNTEERED TO SEND A SPECIAL CHANNEL PERSONAL TO NIMITZ GUARANTEEING A SUBMARINE WHEN AND WHERE YOU NEED IT. HAUGHTON WILL COORDINATE TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS, ET CETERA, VIS-A-VIS DONOVAN'S PEOPLE, WHO WELL REPORT TO RICKABEE TOMORROW.
BEST PERSONAL REGARDS FRANK
END PERSONAL SECNAV TO BRIG GEN PICKERING
HAUGHTON CAPT TJSN ADMIN ASST TO SECNAV
T O P S E C R E T
Haughton read it, then glanced at his watch, crossed out TIME TIME TIME, wrote in 2110, and handed it back to Chief Hansen.
"Is he still here?"
"He was when he gave me that, Sir."
Haughton picked up a telephone, which automatically rang a similar in-strument on Secretary Knox's desk.
"That Special Channel looks fine, Mr. Secretary," he said when Knox picked up. "May I show it to Colonel Rickabee?"
Chief Hansen could not hear the Secretary's reply.
"Have it sent," Haughton ordered. "But bring that back. I'll take care of burning it."
"Aye, aye, Sir."
Haughton reached for another of the telephones on his desk and dialed a number from memory. It was answered on the second ring
Although he suspected Rickabee had good reasons for ordering the tele-phones at the Office of Management Analysis answered in that manner Haughton was always annoyed when he heard the recitation of the number
"Captain Haughton for Colonel Rickabee."
"Sorry, Sir, the Colonel is not available at this time."
"Where is he?"
'Tm sorry, Sir, I am not permitted to give out that information."
"Do you recognize my name?"
"Get in touch with Colonel Rickabee and have him call me. I'm in my office."
"Has the Colonel your number, Sir?"
"I think he does," Haughton said icily, and hung up.
The private line on Haughton's desk rang not more than two minutes later.
"What's on your mind, David?" Rickabee's dry, emotionless voice asked.
"Something's come up. The sooner we get together, the better."
"It doesn't have to be. Would it be convenient for you to come here?"
"Well, then, where are you?"
"At the Foster Lafayette. General Pickering's suite."
"May I come there?"
"Of course. Banning and Sessions are with me. Will that pose any prob-lems?"
"No. And it will probably spare you having to tell them what this is all about. I'll be there in fifteen minutes."
There was a click, and then a dial tone.
Haughton held the telephone handset in his hand, staring at it in amaze-ment and some annoyance, before placing it in its cradle.
"Colonel Fritz Rickabee, USMC," Haughton said aloud, shaking his head, "having decided that nothing else need be said, hung up."
He picked up the direct line to Knox's desk, intending to ask if the Secre-tary required anything else of him before he left the office, but there was no answer. Secretary Knox had gone home.
He waited four or five minutes for Chief Hansen to return from the cryp-tography room with the original of Knox's message, told him "Thank you, Chief, and go home," and then folded the message in thirds and put it in his shirt pocket.
Then, feeling a little foolish, he opened a drawer in his desk, took out a Colt.380 automatic pistol, and, somewhat awkwardly, slipped it into a leather holster on his trouser's belt.
Colonel Rickabee read Frank Knox's Special Channel Personal to Pickering, made a wry face, which could have meant contempt or resignation, and then asked with a raised eyebrow and tilt of his head if he could give it to Banning and Sessions. Haughton gestured with a wave of his hand that he could.
Rickabee knew that something like this would inevitably happen; he had, in fact, seen it coming when the President sent Pickering back to Australia to plead Donovan's case for the OSS to MacArthur.
Rickabee had long ago come to understand that everything in Washington was politics. This meant compromise, sometimes reasonable, sometimes not, between powerful people with different agendas, sometimes noble, sometimes not, and sometimes-as in this case-based on nothing more than personal or professional egos.
Rickabee knew Donovan, and respected him. And he was convinced that Donovan knew as well as he did that the role the Office of Strategic Services envisioned for Europe-which in Rickabee's professional opinion was going to work-simply would not work in the Pacific.
It was relatively easy to parachute agents into France, or Norway, or any of the other countries now occupied by the Germans. Most of the agents would be natives of those countries. They would be fluent in the language, know the country, and have contacts inside the country willing to risk their lives to fur-ther the liberation of their countries. Furnished with excellent forged identity documents, an agent fluent in the language could relatively easily lose himself in a sea of other white faces.
The situation in the Pacific was different. A white face seen anywhere in territory occupied by the Japanese would stand out like a flashing lighthouse in a sea of yellow and brown faces, and would be immediately suspect. The En-glish who had been in Singapore and Hong Kong were now in prison camps. So were the Dutch who had been in the Dutch East Indies; and, for that matter, most of the French in French Indochina-the exception being those who could prove their loyalty to Marshal Petain's German allied government in Vichy.
Rickabee knew the story of Captain Ralph Fralick, who had been commis-sioned with Fertig in the Philippines. Fralick blew up bridges, railroads, and supply depots in the face of the advancing Japanese on Luzon; and then, rather than surrender, made an incredible journey from Luzon to Hanoi in French Indochina in a fifty-foot boat. On landing in Hanoi, Fralick lined up his forty men and marched them off to report to the French authorities. Salutes were exchanged, and then the French turned Fralick and his men over to the Japa-nese.
For most of the people in territory now occupied by the Japanese, there would be very little profit in risking one's life, and the lives of one's family, to fight the Japanese... especially when the result would not be liberation from occupation, but simply the reinstallation of the British or the Dutch or the French as colonial masters.
There was an exception to this analysis-in Intelligence, there was always an exception-and that of course was the Philippines. Most Filipinos did not hate the Americans who had been running their country since they took it away from the Spanish at the turn of the century. The Filipinos believed-because it happened to be true-that the United States really intended to give their coun-try independence as soon as possible. The Philippine Army fought with great valor against the Japanese invaders, and when further resistance was impossi-ble, they went with their American comrades-in-arms into prison camps.
Meanwhile, the Japanese made the same mistake in the Philippines the Germans made in Russia: They treated the native population brutally; and so they lost any chance of cooperation-or at least docile acceptance of the occu-pation.
Consequently, American agents sent into the Philippines would have a rea-sonable chance of obtaining all sorts of assistance from the Filipinos.
But getting them there was going to be a problem, and so was logistics. (Mindanao, closest to Australia, was not the hour or so's flight time away that France and Scandinavia were from American bases in England.) Still, some-thing could be done in the Philippines, and Donovan knew it could.
But that wasn't Donovan's only motive in pushing so hard to be included in Pickering's mission to Fertig, Rickabee believed. He wanted the OSS to be involved worldwide. If the OSS was operational only in Europe, that would diminish its stature, and thus the stature of Colonel William J. Donovan.
Donovan was already engaged in a personal ego war with J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI. On the one hand, Hoover claimed the FBI had sole responsibility for Intelligence and Counterintelligence in the Western Hemisphere. On the other hand, Donovan claimed the OSS had worldwide responsibility for Intelli-gence, Counterintelligence, and Special Operations-read sabotage and sub-version. And-predictably-Roosevelt had declined to make a decision between the two of them. The result was that FBI and OSS agents in Argentina, Chile, Peru, and even Mexico spent more time fighting each other than harm-ing the German, Italian, and Japanese "Axis."
In Rickabee's view, not only was Pickering being used as a pawn in this political war, but as soon as he saw the Special Channel Personal, he would know he was being used, and it would bother him a great deal.
He hoped Pickering wouldn't do anything foolish. Certainly, Pickering wasn't a fool, but he was naive in the ways of Washington politics. Rickabee admired Pickering.
At first, he was willing to admit, his own ego smarted when Frank Knox named Pickering Chief of the Office of Management Analysis. Rickabee had built the organization from scratch over many years, and had run it with some skill and success. He didn't think he needed the advice, much less the supervi-sion, of an amateur like Pickering. He had no choice, however, but to swallow his resentment-consoling himself with the thought that Pickering's flag offi-cer's rank would be useful. In rank-conscious Washington that was important. And Rickabee believed he could control Pickering.
That did not prove necessary. For Pickering immediately made it quite clear that he considered Rickabee the expert, while he himself had some expe-rience in "a situation like this"-being in charge of someone who knew more than he did. Pickering explained how the death of his father had suddenly elevated him to the office of Chairman of the Board of Pacific and Far East Ship-ping Corporation when he was still in his twenties.
"All of sudden, Colonel," Pickering said, "I found myself giving orders to the Commodore of Pacific and Far East Shipping Corporation's eighty-one-ship fleet, who was not only old enough to be my father, but under whom I had sailed as a second mate."
"That must have been difficult."
"You're not old enough to be my father, Colonel, but I recognize your experience and expertise. So I hope to build the same kind of relationship with you I had with the Commodore."
It was at that moment Rickabee realized that Pickering understood the sub-tleties of command.
"While the responsibility for everything that happens is now mine," Pick-ering went on, "I am perfectly aware that you've been in charge here because you are the most experienced and competent officer available. It would there-fore be foolish of me to question your judgment in any but the most extraordi-nary circumstances."
At the time, Rickabee wondered if Pickering meant what he was saying, or simply pouring oil on potentially troubling waters. It soon became apparent that Pickering meant what he said.
Pickering rarely questioned any of Rickabee's decisions, and only once went against his strongly felt advice. In Rickabee's professional judgment, the effort and the assets required to take Lieutenant Joseph L. Howard, USMC, and Sergeant Stephen M. Koffler, USMCR, off Buka could not be militarily justified.
Pickering overrode that logical conclusion on what he admitted were emo-tional grounds: He had learned in the trenches in France as an eighteen-year-old that Marines did not leave their wounded behind. He ordered the rescue operation.
This episode taught both men something about the weaknesses of the other. Pickering learned that Rickabee was indeed, where necessary, abso-lutely ruthless. And Rickabee learned that despite the stars on his uniform, Pickering thought like a Marine sergeant.
The confrontation in no way diminished the respect, and the growing af-fection, they had begun to feel for each other. A Marine officer charged with clandestine intelligence had to be ruthless. And a Marine general officer's heartfelt concern for the welfare of a junior officer and an enlisted man could hardly be called a character flaw.
"Am I permitted to ask what's going on around here?" Captain Haughton asked.
The coffee table of General Pickering's suite was covered with paper. Also covered with paper was a folding card table and something like a typewriter. After a moment he recognized it as an obsolete Device, Cryptographic, M94.
"Well, for the last half hour or so, Banning has been trying to teach Ses-sions how to use that thing. Sessions is taking it and some other stuff to Bris-bane, where he will teach McCoy how to use it. Until we make the first physical contact with Fertig, take him a decent crypto device-which Sessions will also teach McCoy to use-we have a small communications problem: Where does Fertig think McCoy should get off the submarine? When should he get off the submarine?"
"Yeah," Haughton said thoughtfully. "What other stuff is Sessions tak-ing over there?"
"Banning's been talking to a Navy psychiatrist-" "Brilliant man," Banning interrupted. "He certified me as sane when I came out of the Philippines."
Haughton chuckled a little nervously, and then Rickabee surprised him.
"That's true, that's true," he said, laughing. "If I'd remembered that, I'd have sent you to another one. Anyway, he's come up with sort of a checklist, things McCoy should look for to see if Fertig might be off the rails."
"1 also talked to some people who had guerrilla, counterguerrilla, experi-ence in the Banana Republics," Banning said. "They came up with some ma-terial, organizational material, McCoy's going to offer to Fertig."
"How are you going to handle the problem of getting McCoy... McCoy and the others ashore and in contact with Fertig?" Haughton asked.
"Well, in the final analysis, that's up to McCoy. What I'm going to recom-mend is that shortly before we send McCoy and Zimmerman ashore, we will send Fertig a vague message saying to expect visitors-"
"You heard that the Secretary told General Holcomb to arrange that trans-fer?" Haughton interrupted.
Banning nodded, and went on:
"-to make contact with Fertig. When that's done, Fertig will contact the submarine, which will be lying off shore, with a new code McCoy will have (who'll also have a new crypto device, of course); and he can set up a place where the supplies and gold can be off-loaded from the sub. How they'll get out, and when, is still up in the air." Haughton nodded. "Maybe these OSS people will have some ideas," Banning said. "We get them tomorrow?"
"First thing tomorrow morning."
"There may be some trouble getting them over there," Rickabee said. "We laid on only one AAAAA priority, for Sessions. Now we'll need three."
"If you have any trouble, let me know."
"I will," Rickabee said.
"Who are these people? Have you got names?" Banning asked.
"Yes, I do," Haughton said. He dug in his pocket and came up with the three-by-five card Colonel Donovan had given Secretary Knox, and which Knox had passed on to him.
"Brownlee, Major James C. III," he read, "and Macklin, Captain Rob-ert B."
"What was that second name?" Banning asked, incredulously.
"Macklin, Captain Robert B."
"I don't believe this," Banning said.
"You know him?"
"If it's the same guy-and I don't think there's that many Marine officers around named Macklin-yeah, I know him," Banning said. "I sent him home from China with an efficiency report, endorsed by Chesty Puller, that should have seen the sonofabitch kicked out of The Corps."
"Tell me about him," Rickabee said coldly.
Banning delivered a sixty-second precis of the multiple character flaws of Captain Robert B. Macklin, USMC. "I wonder what moron promoted the sonofabitch," he observed bitterly when he was finished.
Rickabee looked thoughtful for a moment.
"Captain Haughton," he said formally, "if it is determined that the officer in question is indeed the one with whom Major Banning is familiar, it will be necessary to inform Colonel Donovan that he is unacceptable to us."
"Christ, Fritz, I don't know," Haughton said.
"If he is the officer with whom Major Banning is familiar," Rickabee re-peated, "he is unacceptable to us." Haughton shrugged.
"How do we find out?"
"Presumably, Banning will recognize him when he reports for duty," Rickabee said.
USMC Office of Management Analysis
Temporary Building T-2032
The Mall, Washington, D.C.
1105 Hours 18 November 1942
Captain David L. Haughton, USN, walked into the office of Colonel F. L. Rickabee, USMC, and handed him a square envelope.
"Sorry, Fritz," he said.
Rickabee opened the envelope and took out the single sheet of paper it contained.
THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY
18 November 1942
Colonel P. L. Rickabee, USMC
USMC Office of Management Analysis
Commandant, United States Marine Corps
Dear Colonel Rickabee:
Inasmuch as I have been led to believe that assignment of officer personnel within the Naval Service is my responsibility, I was somewhat surprised to hear from Captain Haughton that you feel that one of the officers being seconded to you from the Office of Strategic Services is "unacceptable."
You are directed to carry out the operation in question with the personnel assigned to it by me.
No further discussion of this issue is desired.
Secretary of the Navy
Rickabee looked up at Haughton but didn't speak.
"Out of school, Fritz," Haughton said, "he went right through the roof."
"He doesn't want to risk a confrontation with Donovan," Rickabee said. "Donovan might go to the President, accuse Knox of going back on a deal, and Knox might lose. That's what this is all about."
Captain Haughton did not think it would be proper for him to reply, even though he'd had the same thought when he witnessed Knox's surprisingly angry-and highly unusual-response to Rickabee's request.
"Well, I can always arrange to have the sonofabitch run over by a truck," Rickabee said.
"Don't say something like that, even as a joke," Haughton said.
Rickabee nodded but didn't reply.
Captain Haughton felt a sudden chill.
"For God's sake, Fritz, I hope you were joking."
Rickabee's eyes, cold and expressionless, met Haughton's.
"When Major Brownlee and Captain Macklin reported to me this morn-ing," he said, "I informed them only of what they had Need To Know at this time. Specifically, that tentative arrangements have been made to fly them, this afternoon, to Pearl Harbor, for further transportation to an unspecified location somewhere in the Pacific."
"Captain Macklin assured me that while he was of course willing to go wherever ordered, he nevertheless felt obliged to inform me that not only had he not completed the training course offered by the OSS, but that he had not yet fully recovered from the wounds he suffered at Gavutu."
"You will see, won't you, Colonel-personally, I mean-that Captain Macklin makes it safely to the airport?"
"Unfortunately, David, I am one of those people who obeys his orders."
South West Pacific Ocean Area
1405 Hours 18 November 1942
Brigadier General Fleming S. Pickering, trailed by Second Lieutenant George F. Hart, passed through the two MP-manned security posts barring entrance to the Cryptographic Facility of Supreme Headquarters, SWPOA, and then walked down an inside corridor to an unmarked steel door leading to the Spe-cial Section.
Hart snatched a.38 Colt snub-nosed revolver from under his tunic and rapped three times with the butt on the door. A lighter knock on the thick steel door-with the knuckles, or even with a Zippo lighter or keys or something else metallic-could not be heard inside; it was necessary to make the door ring like a drum.
In a moment, a three-by-five-inch panel in the door screeched open.
"It's me, Pluto," Pickering said.
The panel screeched shut, there was the sound of metal bars sliding out of place, and then the door creaked open. Pickering and Hart entered the small room.
"I didn't expect you, Sir," Major Hon said, pulling his tie into place. He was also wearing a.45 automatic in a shoulder holster. Pickering looked past him. On a table was an open briefcase, to which was attached a chain and half of a set of handcuffs.
"Going somewhere, Pluto?" Pickering asked.
"To see you, Sir," Pluto said, as he closed the steel door behind Pickering and slid the bars back in place.
Pluto went to the briefcase and came out with a business-size envelope. He handed it to Pickering.
"That just came in," he said. "I thought you'd want to see it right away."
Pickering tore open the envelope. His lips tightened.
"Somehow, I didn't think you were going to like that," Pluto said.
"Anyone else seen this?"
"Nobody but you, Hart, and me does, OK, Pluto?"
Pickering handed Hart Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox's Special Chan-nel Personal announcing that Colonel Wild Bill Donovan of the OSS-with Knox's blessing-was sending two OSS agents to participate in the Fertig Op-eration.
Pickering's first reaction-which he immediately recognized as such- was fury.
"Goddamn Franklin Roosevelt," he said, and was immediately sorry. Not for the thought, but for the emotional outburst.
The one thing I cannot afford to do here is lose my temper.
Pluto and Hart looked at him in surprise.
"Am I missing something here?" Hart asked. "Or is that one of the ques-tions I'm not supposed to ask?"
Pickering smiled. "I suppose this will come as a shock to you, as a devout Democrat, George, but our beloved Commander-in-Chief makes Machiavelli seem innocent as Francis of Assisi."
"I never said I was a Democrat," Hart said. "And I still don't under-stand."
"There are a number-by God, this is Machiavellian!-of factors at play here, George. In theory, President Roosevelt is the Commander-in-Chief, and MacArthur, like every other officer in a uniform, is supposed to obey without question any order received. Roosevelt wants the OSS to start operating in SWPOA. MacArthur wants nothing to do with the OSS. On the surface, the simple solution would be to simply issue the order. That is not going to happen. Why?" he asked rhetorically. "Because Roosevelt has decided that issuing the order would not be in his best interests. Why? Because MacArthur-having made his feelings about the OSS known, through me-is very likely to disobey that order."
"Can he get away with that?" Pluto asked, not sounding very surprised.
"Oh, yes. In two ways. Maybe three. For one thing, he could simply ig-nore the order. In effect, he's already done that. The way it's supposed to work is that when the desires of the Commander-in-Chief are made known, every-body is supposed to jump through a hoop to see the desires satisfied. MacAr-thur has not yet found time in his busy schedule to even talk to Donovan's people. That's why I was sent over here this time, to sell Donovan's people to him."
"What's El Supremo got against the OSS?" Hart asked.
"El Supremo doesn't want anything going on in his ballpark that he can't control; and he thinks-probably correctly-that he will not be able to control the OSS because Bill Donovan has the President's ear. This is the proof of that, come to think of it," Pickering said, waving Knox's Special Channel Personal in his hand.
Hart looked confused.
I have no business explaining this to them, Pickering thought. But on the other hand, Roosevelt and Knox had no right putting me in the middle of their chicanery.
Another seed of thought appeared in the back of his mind, quickly sprouted, blossomed, and then gave fruit.
Of course, that's what this is all about! Or at least has a hell of a lot to do with it! Roosevelt is one of those people who believe that "If you're not with me, you're against me" nonsense. If I quietly go along with this business, which would mean not telling MacArthur, deceiving MacArthur, then I will have chosen sides, joined Roosevelt's team. His political team, not his military team. When he ordered me over here to try to sell MacArthur on the OSS, as a serving officer, I had no choice but to obey my orders, even though I thought that Donovan's OSS will probably be more trouble here than they're worth, and that Bill Donovan personally is an arrogant, goddamned Democrat New York lawyer and New Dealer.
And Christ knows I tried to sell Donovan's people to El Supremo.
I went to work for Knox to be his eyes and ears over here. While I really think I could be of more use to this war running a shipping operation- God knows I could do a better job of that than three-quarters of those chair-warming admirals in Pearl Harbor-there was a certain value to that. I think I've done some good.
But I did not sign on to be a political errand boy for Knox. Or for Roose-velt. And that's what they're asking me to become.
I'll be damned if I'll go along.
He became aware that both Pluto and Hart were waiting for him to go on.
"When in doubt, Pluto," Pickering said, "tell the truth. Write that on the palm of your hand so you don't forget it."
"Let me at that phone, George," Pickering said. He squeezed past Hart, picked up a red telephone, and dialed a number.
"Fleming Pickering, Sid," he said into it-telling Pluto and Hart that he had dialed MacArthur's personal number and that Lieutenant Colonel Sidney L. Huff, MacArthur's aide-de-camp, had picked up the telephone-"I would like a few minutes of the Supreme Commander's time at his earliest convenience."
There was a pause.
"No, Sid, squeezing me in for a minute or two at nineteen thirty will not be satisfactory."
There was another pause.
"I'll tell you what you can do, Colonel," Pickering said, his voice icy. "You can speak to the Supreme Commander, relay my request to him, and then relay his reply to me."