hat morning just before noon General Philbin returned to the Ready Room.  "The helicopter of which I knew was destroyed in a crash a while back.  He said he did own another - a Korean War Bell which had just been completely restored less than a year ago.  Has less than twenty hours on it.

"Would we be interested in trading a couple of Jeeps for it?"

"Where is it located?"

"Mena, Arkansas" came the reply.

"Tell him we'll bring the Jeeps and pick up the Bell at the same time.  Can we do it tonight?"

"Yep.  The deal is already set up.  If you can get the Jeeps in the 130 and secured, I'll go with the girls and finish the trade.  I'd like for Lt. Hall to check it out before we shake on it."

"Good idea Robert.  Short jaunt over there.  I'll get ahold of Old Joe Orozco and get the ball to rolling.  He's been complaining of not enough to do."

In less than an hour the big bird was lifting off and in just a little over an hour later it touched down in Mena.  Amy taxied that thing right up to the guys hangar in front of which was parked the Bell.  Lt. Hall gave it a once over and the guy was happy with the Jeeps.  Within another hour the swap had been finalized, loaded and Lt. Hall was securing it.

Being a private airport with no tower Amy radioed her intentions and was finishing her preflight runup.  An urgent message came was relayed from ground control to expedite.  Call for message as soon as possible.

The message chilled Amy to the bone when she received the message.  Fightin' 9's were pinned down on a short foray and they needed help ASAP.  Amy run the throttles to the dash and let the big bird fly.  She was to drop by the Bunker, take on a load of jumpers and deliver them to the drop zone.

At the top end of the Bunker runway was a turn around.  She dropped the big rear door and Andy let the Bell loose and was sliding it toward the ramp.  By the time he had it on the dirt the sixty jumpers were aboard.  Amy was by then through her runup checklist, had it stowed and started revving the engines to get the big moving.

Making a 180 turn on the ground was exceptionally hard on the big old gal.  Making as big a circle as possible she lined up on then runway then eased the fuel to her.  A longer than usual hop and she was in the air beginning a left hand roll out.  Taking off downwind is always a scary proposition.  She would be making a quiet fly by from high to give the men the chance to drift in.

Coming in by the vector suggested Ginger saw the torches on the ground.  Well in advance of the drop she cut her engines to let her glide close the area staying as quiet as possible.  The big bird would be on another drop with a full load of jumpers in less than six hours then another drop in about twelve hours.

D-Day was started!  William and General Sherman gave all the groups who were near their attack position to move in and clean this mess out.  Amy was instructed to come in short on the south end of the landing and hold short there.  The men to be loaded and the tug would meet her there.  As soon as the tug pushed her back into takeoff position on the runway she swapped seats with her mother.

After freshening up and taking her seat they started going through the runup lists.  The loading of the men onto the plane was fast and smooth and before the last guy even sat down Beau gave the order "up ramp" and the signal to lift off.  The big props came alive and began singing loudly as they again lifted off.

As soon as the last man was off the loading ramp, Ginger rolled out to the right and made a heading toward the Bunker complex in Virginia.  the Trip was taking longer than planned.  Major Randal Avery made his way toward the front of the plane and stood looking over Amy's shoulder.  Suddenly Amy felt some real good vibes coming from him and she turned to meet his smile.

She then turned to glance at her mother and Ginger got busy with something over on her side of the plane.  She liked what she was seeing!  An hour later he was seeing to the business of getting the plane ready for a new load of jumpers.

He stowed the static chute lanyards from the cables and had the container secured.  Within another hour Ginger eased back on the throttles to begin her descent to the Virginia Bunker.  Pickup and drop, and then back here to stow this plane.  After towing the 130 they had the Cessna 220 to fly back to the Texas Bunker and they could call it a day.  They were already well past being tuckered out.

Same process as the last loading of the men and the tug.  Ginger came in steep and slow for a short field landing and stopped so soon the tug had to drive to them.  "These she-pilots are the best I've seen" he thought to himself as he set the hooks on the front wheel of the plane.  He set the locks then started pushing the big bird backwards.

Lt. Neal Isaacson would be working on this plane when she returned from this drop.  He had some maintenance to do on the big bird and he prided himself on keeping her in tip top shape.  Between him and two excellent assistants they were kept very busy on the small flock of planes owned by the Old Patriots and the Tanks.

And he just learned they'd acquired a small Bell.  The Bell helicopter wasn't much more than a frame with a rather odd looking plastic cabin on it.  Single seat and was used mainly for hospital services during the Korean war.  Maintaining that baby was going to be a bit of a challenge but fun!  And where to get replacement parts?

He disconnected from the wheel, folded the tongue of the tug and backed it out of the way.  Ginger and Amy both waved as he started his journey back up the runway to stow the tug.  He keyed his mike and said "all clear from here you guys.  Bon Voyage."

As an afterthought he stated, "I know where there are five Hueys and a storehouse of parts to put two of them in running if William or General Randolph are interested."

"Thanks Lt.  I'll relay the message.  We've only one chopper pilot at the moment."

He keyed again.  "The guys who owns them are unoccupied at the moment.  I"ll put them in contact with Commander Travis."

"Amy gave him thumbs up and waved to him as the huge bird thundered by and lifted off.  It was amazing how fast they could get off the ground and the angle of attack when they had their nose in the air.  The noise faded out before the guards on duty came up behind him in the Jeep.  One jumped off and opened the smaller of the hangar doors, drove in and closed it after he had parked the tug.

The drop by Ginger was done and she would be setting the huge bird down again.  She would park the big bird up closer to the hangar doors this time so the heavy and slow tug wouldn't be exposed as long this time.  The guards had already perused the area with their night vision and reported the area clear.

He saw the big landing lights come on momentarily then went back off soon as the wheels touched down.  Two of the engines had already been feathered and were slowly winding to a stop.  Within fifty feet of the tug Ginger braked the plane to a stop and cut the other two feathered engines.

Dropping backwards out the pilot access door Ginger turned and looked straight into the face of a uniformed moslem.  He had a very nasty grin on his face.  Amy bumped into her as she came out.

Major Avery was stowing the gear in place and noticed three guys walk in from the dark and take the guards and Lt. Isaacson who was manning the tug.  He knew Ginger and Amy both carried concealed XD's the same as him.  But he grabbed his AR 15 and started to step around the wall when he heard footsteps coming up the gangplank to the cabin of the big plane.

He dropped the guy with a heavy blow to the head, then needled his heart with his Arkansas toothpick.  Some kind of commotion was going on outside with Amy and Ginger.  Turns out after his buddy climbed aboard the 130 the other guy decided to search the women.  He had them leaning up against the plane in the 'position' (to be searched).

With no firearms visible, he incorrectly presumed they were unarmed.  As his hand started over the breast of Ginger he received a kick to the knee that felt like a horse.  Amy delivered the coup de etat as she slugged him in the neck where she followed him to the ground making sure he would never search anyone again.  The Arkansas toothpick to the heart was quick, noiseless, bloodless and instantaneous.

The two Bunker guards and Lt. Isaacson were facing the wall away from the hangar door and knew nothing about the commotion going on outside.  Amy let out a scream and socked her hands together as the crept up on the two foreign guards.  Major Avery had scooted out the Pilots access and seeing Ginger and Amy ok, slipped under the plane to advance on the other side.

In broken English one of the moslem guards said loudly, "Ahmed, go easy on the ladies so we can have a turn.  Major Avery slugged him behind the head and the other guy died as he turned at the sounds.  Both those guards met their Creator that night as well as the first two.  The swine blood on the pig stickers would block their access of 72 virgins.

One of the guards rushed in as soon as he was free and sounded the alarm putting the entire Bunker on high alert.  Bunker Commander Antonio Overton was attempting to make connections with Commander Travis.  General Randolph was out in the field in makeshift headquarters running the whole show.

Lt. Isaacson pulled the big plane in as quickly as he possibly could closing the monstrous hangar door immediately.  The two guards ran out and picked up the body of the moslems lying on the tarmac, then he and the two guards along with Major Avery and the two women stripped the men of their clothes and checked them for trackers.  All had one.

Lt. Isaacson had an idea.  "I trapped a few feral pigs to roast over the fire.  Seven of them to be exact.  What say lets strap these tracker bugs onto them pigs and turn em loose?"

"I like it" Ginger laughed.  A quick check on the intercomm confirmed everything else was in order.  They started making plans to take off for the Texas Bunker.  But communications with them were down.

What to do?  Fly over there and risk another abduction.  They might not be so lucky next time.  They were discussing the pros and cons of the return to Texas Bunker when the outside alert sounded for someone wanting permission to enter.  It was one of their own men.

Tony motioned to the guards and instructed "he's supposed to be with General Randolph.  One guard meet Corporal Ben Stodges in the outer entry just inside the main door.  Scan the area with the camera before you meet him.  The only password was generated by General Randolph.  If he's by himself let him in with the correct password.  If not code 2331 on the key pad."

To the other guard he stated "position yourself just inside the inner door.  Scan him for ied's and weapons.  He does NOT come in here with a weapon.  Understand?"

"Yes sir" they chorused together.

"Password is Ol' Virginny.  Move out.  Lt. Isaacson, provide these ladies and Major Avery with some AR's.  We may be in for a battle.

The whole Bunker was on emergency conditions and all battle stations had been manned.  With communications down Ginger and Amy both figured there had been an attack on the Texas Bunker as well.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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Chapter XVI