illiam and General Randolph were in deep confab with the Four discussing the drone that was greatly debilitating the operations of the OP.   Someone, somewhere, was spying on them via a miniature drone.

While it was certainly no threat as an attack weapon, it certainly was an indirect threat in that it could direct other much more powerful drones able to launch offensive attacks.

Four of the group had already caught glimpses of it, literally hovering down in close proximity to the item in question.   As of yet, there was no act of offense, but, if someone was flying that thing around gathering information, then it would only be a matter of time.

Whoever were flying these things had to be stopped in their intelligence gathering before they learned the way in . . . if they hadn't already figured it out.

There was one thing in the favor of the Old Patriots though.  These things, although quite small, not over twelve inches square, had four propellers: and that made them noisy and vulnerable.  Too, the batteries didn't last very long so they had to be flown back to the vehicle for a change out.  That could lead to the discovery of the remote controller of the little drones.

Keith Roberts had been assigned to relieve the OP of these little beasts.  Dressed in camo gear, members of his group would sit quietly and let the drones come to them, then with a twelve gauge shotgun, blow them away.  But they didn't to be getting of them in this manner.

They changed their plan to sneak up to the rear and shoot it.  The problem was determining the rear from the front.  They'd discovered that the best defense of this thing was a good old shotgun.   Even better is if they had several of them.  The problem is the camera would catch whoever is shooting at it, so it must be done from cover.   They wanted to get control of one so they could reverse-trace the signal and perhaps take out the command center.

All ingress and egress had to be curtailed and would have to be through a remote opening away from the bunker system in which they lived.   Beau and Jesse Orozco had searched out the mines for which Hanoi Hilton was fronting.   It had taken the better part of a week, but they found a total of three openings to the outside world.

One of the neat things they found was two of the new remote entrances led to rooms large enough to harbor all their rolling stock (vehicles with wheels).  One cannot grasp the size of these caverns created by the salt mining industry.

The ability to park inside would eliminate the continual covering of the vehicles with camo-net (camouflage netting), which was labor intensive and time consuming.

Also, they located several more caches of arms, another bullet making center, a defunct swimming pool and living quarters for another seventy five persons.   That would greatly aid in their ability to keep more troops with which to fight.   There was a communications system between The Bunker, the Hanoi Hilton and LQ (living quarters), as well as the airport.   In the communications system there was a huge camera monitoring system.

No wonder whoever had laid prior claims to this facility wanted it back!

They could hangar all but the 130, over which a huge camo-net placement system installed which would lower the sides down at the push of a button.  The cotton picking thing was just hard to hide.  The camouflage paint helped immensely.

Still, the big bird was vulnerable and Ginger worried over it constantly, checking time and again the sentries posted to secure it as much as possible.  So the easiest solution was to hangar it over at the Virgina Bunker where they'd acquired it.

Lockheed Martin C130 Hercules Transport

Repairs had been done on the Hanoi Hilton with what meager building supplies were available.  That afforded them the ability to house another two hundred men.   It sure helped out the overcrowding of The Bunker.

Since the airport was stationed out of the Hilton, Ginger and Amy moved out there with several others interested in piloting and maintenance of the planes.  Student pilots were also housed there.

Ginger spent a lot of her time in training pilots and between her and Amy, they had some sixteen pilots besides William, Sharon, General Randolph and Sung Wu.   Beau had located several caverns large enough to do firearms training and was holding classes on several methods of firearms and IED's (improvised explosive devices).

One day William and Sharon were having lunch in the cafeteria discussing the meager rations they were all subsisting on.   Sharon mentioned the garden again, and William changed the subject.   The subject of plans brought up in this mornings mission planning was lingering on his mind exceptionally strong.   The speaker made mention "I wonder how many more sets of plans are available to this place . . ."

But that wasn't all.  "I wonder who all knows about this place?" he thought out loud.  The 'kicked-in-the-stomach' feeling had rested heavy on Williams mind since the intruders led to the new door.  There was without a doubt, others who at least 'knew of' the system.   There just had to be.

Precaution took a huge step up above many other places.   Especially the Hilton.   It was above ground and very obvious.   Someone was stationed at the communications center twenty-four-seven to monitor any approaches.  Things were actually going quite smoothly for the Old Patriots.

But trouble was on the very close horizon.   Amy and Ginger were busy planning and preparing for a trip to Pennsylvania.   They were to fly to the Virginia (Harrington) Bunker and pick up the C130, take it to the Mena, AR airport from which they were to pick up a huge load of foodstuffs, deliver it to the Hilton, then take the remainder on back to the Virginia Bunker, returning in the original smaller plane.

Bringing the 130 into a little place like this was always a hair raising experience, but it was something Ginger loved, and she was good at it.   She lived for it and would have become a military pilot had her dad not gotten so bad about the time she was of age.   He was almost fifty when she was born.   But he had spent the biggest part of his life in a plane and he was military, and he trained her constantly.  They were both heartbroken the day his pilot's license was yanked.

But he could still train, and with Ginger in the left seat, he drilled her constantly on emergency situations, stalls, spins, flat spins, STOL activities, multi-engine planes.  When it came time for her to get behind the yoke of a C130 military transport, her time in several other four engine planes served her well.  She took to it exceptionally quick.

To eliminate the enormous strains on the big bird in extremely tight turnarounds on the ground they found a solution.  Time consumning, true.  But it saved on the old gal.

Ginger would just land the bird as short as possible, then after unloading (which meant handing the contents of the haul twice) the extra tug from the Viginia Bunker had be brought over.  They could just simply push the big bird backwards to the takeoff zone.

Back to the subject at hand, she had just landed the 130 in Mena, AR., of all places to pick up a load of supplies.  Mena was the place in which Slick Willie Clinton, was governor of AR., flew drugs into this distribution point and guns for the Sandinistas out.  By the military plane loads.  (Don't believe it??  Check it out for yourself: The Clinton Chronicles)

When the big old 130 lumbered down the runway to lift off from Mena, there was a plane ready to follow them.   Seems like there were some very interested parties to the big plane.   There were some six other men besides the crew of thirteen aboard the plane for loading, and whatever else needed doing.

But when they first landed at Mena, AR., Roger, loading captain of this crew, noticed the arrival of the big bird was getting an awful amount of attention.

It just did not sit well with him, and he watched the situation the whole time they were loading.   By the time the C130 was ready to lift off, the overly interested group of watchers had rolled a plane out of the hangar, had it ready, and it was just sitting there prop already spinning.   Ginger still had a working satellite phone with which she called William about the situation.

William did not like at all the way in which this matter seemed to be heading, so he called Beau and the General for a confab.   Quickly, they assembled a team with some sharp shooters and big rifles and headed off down the tunnel on the electric donkey.   It seemed like things were beginning to come down around their ears all of a sudden as one potential danger after another surfaced.

They would intercept the tail and attempt to discourage it from following the 130.   Beau was sitting left seat and he was in a hurry.   With the plane already prepped and ready to go by the time they arrived, he quickly threw his stuff in, and started through his check list.  By the time he had the plane warmed the others had finished loading and had boarded.

Beau had chosen the DeHavalind cargo plane to be readied, then upon loading, put the plane in the air and set his direction for the top of Louisiana where they'd decided to rendezvous with the 130.  The plan was that Beau would intercept and distract the tail and allowing the 130 to escape.  When safe the 130 would turn and head for the Hilton.   Beau had orders to distract and dissuade the tail; or, if that was not successful . . . simply shoot it down.

The DeHavalind cargo was not so much of a fast plane but it was faster than the tail.  The main reason for the choice was the doors.  True, it would be windy, but it would allow for some rifle work if need be.  Lucky for Ginger and Amy, the group who decided to put a tail on them did not have time to prepare a faster plane, and it simply would not match the speed of the 130.

When she had gained her altitude she just simply ran off and left the small plane.  Amy called headquarters to report and decline the support plane intended to eliminate the tail, but William declined the suggestion to send the DeHaviland home.  They decided to make the intercept at Junction City, AR. as agreed, then turn west toward Texas.  Sure, it was out of the way, but they didn't want to lead the tail back to their headquarters unnecessarily.

The C130 was at the intercept point and was well into the westward leg toward home when they finally made visual contact with Beau.  They were cautious to fly within the altitudes as specified in the US:

From 0-179 degrees, pilots will fly at ODD thousands of feet. From 180-359 degrees, pilots will fly at EVEN thousands of feet.

With the economy failed air authority was a bit lacking and certainly didn' t need to take unnecessary risks.  Since the 130 was so much faster than the DeHavalind, Beau turned and headed back west just after making radio contact.

The 130 would overtake and pass them in short order.  As they overtook the DeHavalind, they slowed down quite a bit, and the DeHavalind, with throttle to the dash, could keep up.

But the men in the tail wasn't discouraged by being left behind, and he had a few tricks up his sleeve too.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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Chapter I