Insider threat the mogad.., p.12
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       Insider Threat: The Mogadishu Diaries 1992-1993, p.12

           E. Clay
 
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

  Major Lewis also contacted the Stars and Stripes embed to capture the story. At 1300 hours, there was a huge crowd in the courtyard. Everyone was waiting for the Joint Public Affairs spokesman to arrive. At 1310, a representative from the Public Affairs Office called and rescheduled the press conference until 1400 hours in front of the JTF headquarters. It seemed that there was a decision to address a wider audience at a bigger venue. This news only made Major Lewis more arrogant about his accomplishment.

  “I will finally get the recognition I deserve.”

  I overheard him practicing his lines in his office. I wanted to vomit; it was a far cry from humility.

  There were hundreds of troops outside the JTF. There was a large platform with a microphone at center stage. Audio technicians were performing microphone checks just before the Public Affairs spokesman arrived. The speaker walked onto the platform, grabbed the microphone and waited for the crowd to settle down.

  Major Lewis took the opportunity to walk up on stage uninvited and stood next to the speaker, Colonel Peters (Senior PAO rep). Colonel Peters whispered something into Major Lewis’ ear. The brief conversation resulted in Major Lewis departing the stage with an attitude.

  Something was amiss. The comments that followed surprised everyone, especially Major Lewis.

  “Good afternoon, Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen. Many of you are aware of an incident that took place on our compound yesterday afternoon. It was most unfortunate. I have spoken with the Commanding General regarding the incident and it is his desire to issue a gag order effective immediately. Due to the sensitivity of the matter, you are prohibited from discussing the incident with the press and in public places. Failure to do so is a violation of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice. If you are not clear on these instructions please see your officer in charge and it will be explained to you. If there are no further questions, please report back to your place of work.”

  I think the reason why there were no questions was because we were just told not to talk about it, so how could there be any follow on questions?

  Major Lewis walked in front of me on the way back to MARFOR. He seemed to think there was a counterintelligence conspiracy at hand.

  “Divergence of protocol? What the hell does that mean. For crying out loud,” he bellowed. I gave him a wide berth.

  It was Tuesday morning. Everyone was overly excited about turning over the office spaces to the newly arrived troops. The UN officially took charge of the mission. The UN mission would now be led by a Turkish General. It was nice to see troops climbing into trucks and leaving the compound en route to the airfield. While sitting on my sea bag waiting to leave, I saw Eric in a Humvee pulling into the gate. I guess he had to see Tootie one last time.

  When Eric exited the vehicle, he looked for me. We were on the same manifest. Once he saw me, he headed straight towards me.

  “Eric. I thought you weren’t going to make it. You are lucky because we leave in about fifteen minutes,” I said.

  As I looked more closely at Eric’s face, it was apparent that he had been crying or something. His face was red and his nose was even redder. I didn’t ask him, I knew how he felt about Tootie. Tootie was leaving the following week.

  As we marched up the air stairs, I had to make sure of one thing. I was looking for Master Sergeant Howard. I did not see him, which gave me a sense of relief. I even asked around to ensure he was on another flight, and he was.

  Eric and I sat together on the plane and we hardly spoke the first couple of hours on the flight. He was missing Tootie so I just let him be until I finally broke the ice.

  “Hey Eric, guess what? I got a letter from my ex. You know, Melody. She is meeting me at Camp Pendleton. I think she wants to get back with me.”

  “Isn’t she the one that cheated on you with that married guy?”

  “Yeah, but at least it wasn’t high treason,” I joked.

  Eric reached into his pocket as if he were looking for something.

  “Speaking of letters. I have something for you. It’s from Ayan.”

  “Ayan?”

  “Here, she told me to give this to you. She gave it to me last night.”

  Eric handed me my diary and a letter. The letter was inside a light yellow envelope with my name on the outside. Even her handwriting was appealing.

  I slowly opened up the letter making sure I didn’t rip it. I didn’t know what to expect but my heart was beating fast in anticipation. The letter read…

  Dear Clay, March 20, 1993

  I just finished reading the rest of your journal. It was like reading a letter. I read it several times and it was only after I finished it, did I realize just how much you cared about me. I never knew you felt that way about me because you never seemed to want to advance things between us. Out of all the things you wrote in your journal, what I will remember most is…. “I would wait for her forever.” I especially enjoyed reading how your feelings blossomed from chapter to chapter in the absence of intimacy. I have your phone number and I promise you will hear from me again.

  Ayan

  Flashbacks of her and I hijacked my mind for the duration of the 20 hour flight. The sleepover, the beach and even our rocky start in the chow tent. Her scent perfumed the letter and I could feel her presence and hear her voice. Her kid-like voice. My heart belonged to Ayan.

  Chapter 32

  MARFOR Homecoming

  Camp Pendleton, California

  22 March 1993

  I fell asleep with Ayan’s letter in my hand. I was conflicted because I knew Melody was waiting for me back at Camp Pendleton. I felt like I was two- timing Ayan.

  Once we passed through the gates of Camp Pendleton, I really got excited about returning to life as I knew it. I was planning to surprise my son, so I purposely did not tell him when I was coming home. As we offloaded the bus, we were greeted by a huge welcoming party that included journalists from the Blade-Citizen, Oceanside’s local paper. We felt like rock stars. All the wives and children uniting made it a very emotional and memorable occasion. Eric and I exchanged numbers and did the fist bump before he got on the bus headed for Marine Corps Base Mirarmar. Despite not seeing much of Eric in Mogadishu, it was nice having him there. I wished him and Tootie the best. I waved goodbye to him as his bus departed.

  After almost a half an hour, some of us were still waiting for our rides.

  I saw Crocket on the other side of the parking lot sitting on her sea bag. Within a few minutes, a black Cherokee Jeep pulled up and honked. It was her ride.

  “Maybe I will get a glimpse of Jessica,” I thought to myself.

  For the last three months or so, I had an obsessive curiosity about Jessica. Crocket approached the car and got in. I waved to her as the jeep began to drive off. Moments later, I saw the reversing lights of the jeep as it slowly approached me.

  I was hoping to say goodbye to Crocket properly and to finally meet Jessica.

  “Gunny T., I would like you to meet someone,” Crocket called out from the passenger side.”

  It was the first time I had seen Crocket with such a big smile. I was happy for her.

  As I approached the jeep, I noticed the lady on the driver’s side. She was the same lady I had seen in Crocket’s wallet, the older lady with the reddish-gray hair.

  I introduced myself.

  “Hi, I’m Clay, it’s a pleasure to meet you ...”

  Before I could complete my sentence, the lady responded.

  “Ruth. I’m Crocket’s mom.”

  Okay, I was totally confused, but not for very long.

  I then heard an angelic-like voice from the back seat; she couldn’t have been more than four-years old.

  “My name is Jessica,” she said, strapped in her car seat.

  Jessica was the cutest little girl I had ever seen. She had long locks of curly red hair and freckles. Her reddish cheeks were made for squeezing. Her baby blue eyes made her look almost doll-like in her black and white polka dot dress.
r />   “I know who you are,” Jessica said.

  “Okay, who am I?” I said with my head sticking in the car window.

  “You are Gunny T. That’s what my mom calls you.”

  Jessica stole my heart from the moment she spoke.

  Crocket and I exchanged numbers and she gave me a long heartfelt hug.

  “Thank you,” she said as her mom put the car in gear and waved goodbye. I had only known Crocket about three months but I would miss her more than I would Eric, whom I had known for more than 20 years. Crocket was my girl and I would never forget her or Jessica.

  I was the very last person to be picked up. I was not happy that Melody was late and her three-year-old son was having a serious temper tantrum because he left his green Smurfs blanket at home. She greeted me with a kiss and a big hug but it didn’t feel the same as before. Ayan had ticked boxes that I never knew existed and to settle for any else had become difficult.

  On the way home, I turned to my favorite radio station 92.5 The Heat to see what new music was out. I could not believe Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” was on the charts, getting major airplay. Before I left, I had that song on constant loop in my head because it played so much.

  On the way to Melody’s house I was famished. After months of eating meals in a pouch, I was hoping for a home cooked meal, but we went to McDonalds instead. I had a Big Mac, large fries and a coke. Welcome home.

  I had to wait a week to see my son as he was away at football camp. Despite being back in the States, I still was not settled. I needed to see my son’s face. The entire time I spent with Melody, I replayed mental mind movies of time spent with my son. For some reason, I was fixated on one specific memory. It was a memory that wasn’t particularly emotionally laden, but it managed to drown out other memories I regarded as more special. Here we go.

  I became a single dad with the stroke of a pen, overnight. I was 26 years old and the only thing I knew about parenting came from my mom and dad. If it was good enough for me, it was good enough for my son. My parents were old school and rebellion was not an option for my sisters and I at home. My folks believed rebellion started with attitude and my dad was quick to nip that in the bud. He did this by playing a game with me. I would later call it the “Hitting Game.” It was a semi-playful game that allowed my dad to get inside my head and at the same time it helped me release my pent up frustration. Dad started the game by playfully punching me in the shoulder and then voicing his displeasure over something I recently did to annoy him. I was allowed to reciprocate and voice my issue as well. I liked the hitting game and I always felt better afterwards.

  I played the hitting game with Clay Jr. one summer when he was about five years old. We were standing in the middle of the living room in a standoff. I playfully punched him in his shoulder. He recoiled abit.

  “That’s for not cleaning your room and leaving your toys out,” I said staring him down.

  It was his turn to unleash his frustration and tell me why he had been so distant and aloof the last few days.

  He balled up his little fist and punched me in the shoulder with a frown on his face wearing his baseball cap on backwards.

  “And that’s for letting the milk spoil in the frig. I had to eat Frosted Flakes with water two days in a row!”

  It was easy to see why he would be upset. I apologized and immediately we headed to the 7-11 store a few blocks away and bought some fresh milk. When we returned home, he promptly went upstairs and cleaned his room and put all his toys away. When he finished, he came downstairs with a smile and gave me a big hug. He told me he loved me and asked if he could go out and play. I looked outside the kitchen window watching him play and I just cherished that moment…of having such a wonderful son.

  I decided to surprise my son by showing up unexpectedly at one of his football games Saturday morning. I sat in the bleachers knowing that the wait was finally over. The weight on my heart was giving way to excitement. Although his entire team marched on to the field with their uniforms and helmets, I easily spotted my son from a distance by his walk and mannerisms. Even though we had not spoken yet, I was becoming complete within myself. After the game he spotted me and took off his helmet running in an all out sprint towards me. He was excited to see his dad and it took all I had to keep it together. I managed to keep my emotions in check, but it was really hard. While in the car on the way home my son spoke a few words that were just classic for a nine-year-old.

  “Dad, I would have scored more touchdowns…but they kept tackling me.”

  Chapter 33

  MARFOR Awards Presentation

  Camp Pendleton, California

  27 March 1993

  All the troops who returned from Mogadishu got a four-day pass, and we needed it. The following week, there was an awards presentation for Marines whose service during Operation Restore Hope was commendable. Rumors spread quickly that anyone who engaged militias was a safe bet for an award. During my first month in Somalia, I had three skirmishes with militias to include the major offensive on 7 January against Aidid’s stronghold.

  I was still working for Major Lewis but only for a few more days, as I was due to report back to my base at 29 Palms, California.

  The morning of the awards presentation, Major Lewis called me into his office. When I walked in, he was reading an operator’s manual for a new camcorder he purchased from the PX (base store). He asked me to become familiar with it because he wanted me to film the presentation for him. Then he reached in his pocket and grabbed a coin from his wallet.

  “Heads or tails?” he said.

  “Excuse me?” I replied.

  “If it is heads, I will get the Legion of Merit. Tails, the Bronze Star,” he said as he placed the coin on top of his thumb.

  “Ah, heads, I guess,” I said as I attempted to placate him.

  “Let’s see,” he said as he flipped the coin. “Legion of Merit, so it is.”

  I was designated videographer, but I wanted to be in the film when my name was called.

  “Major Lewis, what should I do with the video camera when they call my name?” I asked as I placed the lens cap on the camcorder.

  “Gunnery Sergeant Thompson, they are not going to call your name. That is why I designated you videographer.”

  Of course not. I was naïve to expect anything from Major Lewis. I took it personally and was offended, but I remained silent. To argue for an award would be a losing argument. Major Lewis relished the idea of being in the spotlight. Recognition of those who helped get him there was an afterthought.

  The awards formation was held on the General’s lawn in front of the bleachers. Hundreds showed up with their families. It was a hot day and the occasional breeze was welcomed. The bleachers were separated by those who were spectating and those to be recognized. Everyone that I patrolled with was sitting on the other side of the stands in a designated area waiting for their name to be called. The Sergeant Major called everyone to attention as the General approached the platform in front of us.

  The General spoke highly of our accomplishments during Operation Restore Hope. He thanked our sister services and the families back home for their support. The General presented the enlisted awards (Private- Sergeant Major) first. It bothered me to see the same Marines I worked alongside get recognized while I was sitting on the sidelines. Even some of the mail couriers received medals.

  After all the enlisted awards were presented, the officers were standing by to be recognized. Major Lewis was standing proudly amongst the rest of the officers to be decorated. I didn’t know what he was going to get, but I knew it had to be relatively high for exposing a collaborator.

  Every senior officer prior to Major Lewis received either a Meritorious Service Medal or a Legion of Merit, an award commensurate for their rank and responsibility. Then the General stepped in front of Major Lewis and read his award.

  “For superior performance of his duties as MARFOR Operations Officer from 14 Feb to 21 March 1993,
Major Lewis demonstrated exceptional professionalism and ability in processing over 500 mission requirements and was the driving force behind JTF’s success.”

  The write up was impressive, but the award was a Navy Achievement Medal, an award typically given to an enlisted or junior officer. It was a slap in the face. As much as I did not care for Major Lewis, I thought he deserved much higher. I felt bad for him and I could not understand why he was marginalized.

  After the medals were presented, the General began to praise the counterintelligence effort. The General referred to the counterintelligence business model as “In by nine, out by five.” The General then read a Department of Defense award for Superior Achievement. The counterintelligence team received a prestigious and highly coveted award for the best tactical counterintelligence unit in the Department of Defense. The General asked Major Haycock to step forward to receive yet another distinction. The General extended kudos to all the team members and called them one by one to receive their commendation. Since I had the camera, I began filming. I could see Major Lewis trying to get my attention to stop filming, but I pretended not to see him.

  “Gunnery Sergeant Thompson,” The General called out.

  I wasn’t expecting anything and to hear my name called was more than a surprise, it was a shock. I gave the camcorder to the Marine on my left and he filmed the rest of the presentation. Although I was not a member of the counterintelligence team, I was grateful that they recognized me as one of their own. It more than made up for not getting recognized alongside my peers whom I served with. After the ceremony, I thanked Pritchard, Gator and Major Haycock.

  After we were dismissed, I returned the video camera to Major Lewis. Major Lewis took the video tape out and crushed it beneath his feet. He took the rest of the week off and that was the last time I saw him.

 
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Scroll
Add comment

Add comment