Going another way today.
I wrote a short piece about 911 and some photos earlier
I though a more detailed telling would be in order today.
I though I had written this a long time ago, but I cant find it any where. I guess it was just in my head till now. It is a little long.
I was in an Islamic province giving a class on interview/ interrogation technique to my kids.
They were young, new, Police officers of the newly formed Democratic Republic. At least that was what it said in the press releases.
I called them my kids, because they were kids, and I had spent a year training them.
We worked long hours together in a place where everybody and his dog had an AK 47
They were eager and new to Police work. The whole program was thrown together so fast most of them had not been to any kind of academy yet so it was on the job training.
My cell phone rang. Now that was strange in itself because only about three people in the world had that number. Communications out of there were iffy at best and cell was the only way to go, when it worked.
I had been the only American in the Station for some months. That was against the policy, but policy went to hell when you got off the plane. About two weeks earlier two new Americans had come to the station. I moved them in with me until they could decide on lodging, and get their feet under them. By chance, both were former Special Forces reserve. We will call them Bill and Bob.
Bill was on the phone now; he was listening to the BBC on a hand crank world band radio he had brought with him. Electricity in the province was more iffy than the cell service. He said that something had happened in the US that the WTC and Pentagon had been hit with aircraft in terror attacks, that other aircraft were missing and that the white house had been evacuated.
I told Bill to walk over to the office, and we would make long-term plans from there.
I walked over to the office computer, and punched up the net. It was running at 2400 kbs. Not twenty four thousand, twenty four hundred, a page about every four minutes. Now that was pretty good considering I had to acquire all the materials and install them myself. Find a modem on the market some where and then phone wire. I had bought the modem and the phone wire out of pocket, and installed it in the office computer. Some creative wiring into the phone system and a few user codes “borrowed” from the UN got us the first internet capability in town. Even if yelling out the window was faster.
I punched up the Yahoo home page and got about 30 seconds worth of news blurbs on the home page.The acting station commander, an Austrian, walked in and grabbed me. “Come to my office right away” he said. Things were moving fast and I expected it would be a call from HQ or the American contingent commanders office, or even the company we were contracted to telling something and giving some guidance as to what was expected, a rally point, or what was going on. It wasn’t that. Those calls never came.
I walked into the office to a sea of humanity. The third worlders working at the station were packed in tight; all of them seemed to be there weather on or off duty. The Commander looked at me and said ”you have to explain to them what is happening”
Well boys it was time to tap dance, because I had no clue what was going on I walked to the only free spot in the room and that was behind the commanders desk, the devil in me briefly though of announcing that I was taking over the station in a coup, but better sense prevailed.
I told them that although this was a terrible event with the possible loss of many lives that the US
would be fine, that all of out financial institutions were not in that building and that their dollars would still be good. This seemed to calm them down considerably.
As I gracefully disengaged myself from the room I heard a heated discussion going on in the hallway. It seemed that my kids, the Muslims were arguing about who how many of them were moving in with me to protect us Americans. As I tried to quell that disturbance assuring them that we could take care of ourselves a Bulgarian Officer walked up to me.
He held a Bulgarian police patch pulled from his own uniform on my arm over my US
flag. “Take this and put it on so you won’t be a target”. I took the patch, but did not tell him I had no intention of covering that flag. It was a gift from one cop to another. He was trying to protect me as best he could. I still have the patch.
About that time Bob showed up. He had been on patrol and was called in by the commander. We decided that as no info was coming from higher up our best bet was to fort up at our house for a coupe of days. The station Commander said we were off duty till things worked themselves out. Bill walked in and preparations bargain in earnest.
I was Chief of Investigations. One of the things that went with that was I was in charge of all the seized weapons and munitions. We backed up a Toyota
four runner to the police
station and bucked brigaded in cases of 7.62x39 and all the 12gauge shells I could find.
We took a yugo AK each, a lonely Mossberg 12GA pump that who knows how it got there, and being a traditionalist I took a Thompson .45 SMG
We topped it off with a RPD belt fed light machine gun I had around and drove over to the house.
Living there was called by a better mind than I “ a one year camping trip” with electricity and supplies being on and off again we all squirreled up things so we were well stocked for a siege.
We opened the gate to our rented house and backed the four runner in.
You have to understand we lived ”on the economy” that is UN speak for your ass in the breeze. You are given some money and told at what station you will be working and then its good luck. Where you live what you eat and how you get around is up to you.
I had rented the top two floors of a three story house. The only way in was an exterior staircase. Even with just a Beretta 9mm I figured I could make life hard for anyone trying to come up those stairs. The Owner and his family lived on the ground floor.
He was glad to rent to Americans, because as a Serb, his house would be subject to attack. Our presence and the US
flag we flew from the house kept the place off the local hothead attack list.
He had about 20 words of English, and I had less Serbian, but when he saw the three Americans start unloading a truck load of ammo and automatic weapons, he knew something big was up. He called his children in the house and disappeared inside.
I sent for an interpreter and explained things as best I could.
The guys and I went up in the house and started cleaning guns and loading mags.
The RPD belt fed got stuck out the doors on the front balcony. It was visible to all and the message was clear. This is a hard target, go elsewhere. It was not like we could be covert anyway. Everyone knew where the foreigners lived.
Were cleaning gear and Bob was cooking some god-awful combination he had thought up from the things on the shelf. We were glued to the BBC.
It was months before I got back to the US
after 911. I understand that every channel every station every microphone was going 24/7. There was an overload of information, wrong information, and speculation coming through.
We had silence.
We never got any word at all. No heads up cell call or email, not even through the official channels in the station that were in microwave communication with HQ at all times.
There soon came a knock on the door. It was the land lord. He told me “Mr. Lewis come, come.”
I let him in and followed him up the stairs to the roof. There was a concrete room up there only accessible through my floors. The family kept extra furniture and things up there. Whenever there was a saint’s day and people were coming over there would be a parade of chairs through my house coming down from the storage room. I was about to find out some more about its uses.
The land lord took me in and started showing me something. He was pointing out of the room to different areas on the ground. The light came on. Fields of fire. He was showing me how to defend the house from the firing ports in the room.
I told him I understood and he left happy as could be under the circumstances.
We settled back in to cleaning, eating, and BBC.
There was a second knock on the door I opened it and it was the three Jordanian Police officers from our station. They had come over prepared to stay and protect us. Looking around at all the hardware one smiled and said “I should have known Lewis would be ready”.
They stayed and ate with us while we listened to BBC and tried to make some sense of the world gone mad yet again. The Jordanians were solid guys. One was in my Investigation unit we often socialized together. Good guys determined to stand with us if some one wanted to boost his rep by killing Americans.
The days went by and we went back to the routine. There were billboards posted around the city saying that the population stood with the US
. There was a huge “demonstration” in the capital where thousands of the locals silently marched holding candles and American flags.
The Finn Flag at half staff in 911 Lipljan station
The Finn Duty desk 911 Lipljan Station