The Dangerous Diplomat
Thomas Calabrese – Lee Carver was a staunch conservative multi-billionaire investor with business interests all over the globe. He could have lived anywhere in the world, but his love of America made it impossible for him to be a complete ex-patriot and turn his back on his country, no matter how frustrated he became. Carver kept a sprawling estate in Rancho Santa Fe and sporadically stayed there. His primary residence was a 350 foot custom yacht called the Betsy Ross that was docked in the Riviera Nayarit Marina in the small fishing village of La Cruz on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, 1,335 miles from San Diego and 334 miles from Cabo San Lucas. Because of his extensive holdings in Mexico that brought millions into the economy and his various charities that helped thousands of underprivileged Mexicans and abandoned animals, the government and powerful cartels left him alone. They also knew he could be a very dangerous enemy if provoked.
An airfield was situated near the marina and it held Carver’s custom Gulfstream G700 mid-size jet. One of his private pilots was former Marine fighter ace, Major Tim ‘Hacksaw’ Holman, who spent most of his 16 year career flying the AV-8 Harrier II and F-18 Hornet strike-fighter. He came to be hired by the multi–billionaire after an incident that happened while he was on deployment to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.
Major Holman touched down after a routine mission, heard a loud pop and his front landing gear buckled. His F-18 skidded off the runway and caught fire and Holman barely escaped with his life as the crash crew extinguished the flames before they reached the cockpit. A defective hydraulic cylinder caused the mishap and it was quickly and secretly replaced by aviation mechanics who were working for the defense contractor before the official military crash evaluation team could examine the plane. The official report stated Major Holman overcorrected and was totally at fault so he was grounded and assigned to an administrative billet. Several weeks passed and Major Holman still had not been cleared to return to flight status.
Staff Sergeant Henry Dillon, senior airframe and powerplant technician told him, “I was working late one night when I saw something that you might be interested in.”
“What is it?” Tim asked.
“I saw men from Southrup Baumann enter the hangar where your damaged F-18 was,” Sergeant Dillion said.
“Interesting,” Tim said, “How did they get past the guards?”
“I asked the corporal and he told me they had authorization from Central Command to let them in.”
“Thanks, I appreciate knowing that. It confirms my suspicions.”
“You’ve always treated me fairly, sir. I don’t know how much this helps, but I decided to check the rest of the F-18’s and found this.” Sergeant Dillion handed Major Holman the defective cylinder and showed him what caused the malfunction, “This is what happened to your plane.”
Major Holman said, “Why did you wait so long to show me this?”
“I was hoping that things would work out for you without me getting involved. That doesn’t look like it is going to happen,” Sergeant Dillion sighed, “Sorry.”
“Better late than never,” Tim said.
Major Holston knew from past experiences that ‘following the money’ was a good strategy. His investigation led him down the rabbit hole called the ‘military industrial complex’. Southrup Baumann was having an interior power struggle among its board members for control of the corporation. Its stock prices had dropped dramatically over the past few months and it had been lobbying for a massive government contract with Senators and Congressmen. Now that it received an order for 50 F-18’s at 65 million dollars each for a total of 3.3 billion dollars, it could not afford any delays or bad publicity. Major Holman accepted the fact that he was nothing more than collateral damage so he decided to resign his commission rather fight the insurmountable odds with no evidence to support this position.
Lee Carver owned several hundred thousand shares of Southrup Baumann and had access to some very sensitive information. When he found out what happened, he asked his trusted assistant, Trish Apton to conduct a discreet inquiry. Four weeks later she reported, “The crash was a result of a manufacturing defect by a sub-contractor to Southrup Baumann. Mechanics substituted a new part before the military could find the broken one. Since then it has been resigned and manufacturing is proceeding on schedule. They are also currently replacing the defective part on the F-16’s currently in service. That’s some good news…right?”
“What about the pilot, where is he?” Lee asked.
“Major Tim ‘Hacksaw’ Holman is his name,” Trish said, “Do you want me to find out about him?”
“I do,” Lee said.
Trish smiled, “I’ve already started.”
Since he wasn’t planning on leaving the Marine Corps under these circumstances, Major Holman didn’t properly prepare for the transition to the civilian world, but on the other hand he wasn’t in a big hurry to turn the page to the next chapter of his life either. His friend, Colonel Bob Malindi was currently the Commanding Officer of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 (HMLA-369) on Camp Pendleton and lived in a five bedroom home in the Arrowhead community near the back gate of the base. He told Tim, “Both my kids are away at College, Jane travels a lot with her job and I’ve got a big guest room with its own private entrance that’s not being used. Do I have to make it any clearer than that?”
“If I do accept your invitation, it’s only temporary,” Tim said.
“I’m not offering to adopt you, of course it’s temporary. You’re only going to stay until you don’t want to stay anymore or until I throw you out.” Bob said, “Don’t over–complicate the issue. You would do the same for me.”
Tim Holman was a Naval Academy graduate and majored in aeronautical engineering. He served on five deployments and was one of the few combat aces that was on active duty when he left the Marines, having shot down five enemy aircraft during his career, three Russian MIG’s and two Iranian fighters. He also graduated from Top Gun School in Fallon, Nevada and was fluent in Spanish, Italian and French fluently and was currently studying Russian. He was competitive as a triathlete and liked to ‘push the edge of the envelope’ both in his flight career and personal life. If a person Googled the word overachiever, a photo of Tim Holman might pop up on some websites.
The two Marine aviators were enjoying their Chile Relleno dinners from Bob’s favorite Mexican restaurant, El Capitan when Tim asked, “When is Jane due back?”
“She’s working on a merger between Singapore Telecommunications and Twitter. Elon Musk is a tenacious negotiator and everything has to be done just right. Every time she thinks she’s finished, Musk calls her for something else. She says he’s a tireless worker and expects people to keep up with him.”
“You have a better chance of becoming a multi-billionaire if you’re smarter and work harder than everybody else,” Tim surmised, “Speaking about work, I’ve got something lined up.”
Bob took a swig from his bottle of beer and asked, “What are you going to do?
“I bought a ticket for a luncheon fundraiser being held at the Veterans Center in Oceanside. It was for the Ernie Pyle Scholarship Fund and while I was there I saw Marty Nielsen. He used to be in my squadron when I was stationed at Miramar. His family owns several garages and towing services around San Diego and Orange County.”
“What are you going to do, work in the office?” Bob inquired.
“Negative, I’m going to be a tow truck driver.”
Bob laughed, “Aren’t you a little over-qualified for that line of work. You’re going to have a little trouble doing Mach 2 towing a Prius.”
“My dad told me, it’s not the job you have, it’s how well you do the job you have,” Tim responded.
Tim had been on the job for only a week, working the midnight to eight shift. His primary area of responsibility was along Interstate 5 from Encinitas to San Clemente including Camp Pendleton and Vista. He liked helping people and being on his own and this job checked both boxes. After finishing his shift on Tuesday night, Tim drove back to Colonel Malindi’s house for some breakfast before going to the fitness center for a workout. Trish Apton approached him in the driveway and said, “Major Tim ‘Hacksaw’ Holman?”
Tim turned around and asked, “You with the government?”
“Why do you ask?” Trish said.
“I’m out of the Corps and I don’t answer to that rank or call sign anymore,” Tim said.
Trish continued, “My employer would like to meet with you.”
“Who might that be?”
Trish handed Tim a business card and he looked at it and said, “Lee Carver, it seems that I’ve heard that name before.””
“He’ll meet you any time or place of your choosing,” Trish said, “You can call that number day or night and someone will answer.”
Tim was sitting on the outside patio at the Broiler Restaurant in the Oceanside Harbor. His appointment with Lee Carver was at 1400 hours and it was now 1357. He was looking out over the harbor and daydreaming when Carver sat down across from him. Tim instinctively looked at his watch and saw that it was precisely 1400 hours.
Carver commented, “I hope that I haven’t kept you waiting, Mr. Holman.”
“I’m sure you know that you’re right on time, Mr. Carver.”
The waitress walked over, “Are you ready to order?”
“I’ll have whatever you’re having,” Lee said.
Tim turned to the waitress, “Two specials, two strawberry ice teas and for appetizers, fried zucchini and calamari tempura.”
Lee Carver stated simply, “I’ll get right to the point, I want to offer you a job.”
“Why?” Tim asked.
“I know that you were treated unfairly during the crash investigation while you were in Afghanistan.”
“Nobody promised me that life was going to be fair. I deal with the issues and move on. I prefer to live in a world of meritocracy where I am judged on my ability and performance. I appreciate your offer, but I’m a former Marine aviator and I have no intention of crashing and burning into the hard deck of victimization and entitlement,” Tim said with conviction.
“You misunderstand me so let me clarify my position; I believe you were treated unfairly and your misfortune with the Corps is my good fortune. I’m not giving out charity, I’m just taking advantage of an opportunity. My associates did a complete background check on you and I like what I read. I want a man with your skills and mindset,” Lee said.
“Doing what?” Tim asked.
“What you do best, being a pilot. I’ll give you an excellent employment package, considerably more than you’ll ever make as a tow truck driver, no matter how many cars you can tow in a lifetime,” Lee joked.
“Unless you want me to fly fighters, I’m not rated for passenger jets,” Tim reminded his potential employer.
“A minor detail, I’ll pay for any additional training you need to obtain the proper ratings as quickly possible. Are you still interested?” Lee asked.
“I am,” Tim replied.
The waitress brought the food and Lee suggested, “Let’s enjoy our lunch,” then pulled out his cellphone and called someone, “Put a job offer together for Mr. Holman…make it a generous one.”
Six months passed and Tim had settled into his new job. It was almost too easy, he was only called upon a few days a months to fly Lee Carver to places around the world. The rest of the time, Tim was on his own. A fully furnished condo in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle was provided as part of his employment compensation.
John Michaels was a chemical and mining engineer who lived in Bali, Indonesia. He contacted Lee Carver about a unique business opportunity and Tim was given the word to get the jet fueled and ready for departure. A flight plan was filed for the 9,300 mile flight to Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali. Lee Carver would be traveling with two of his most trusted and capable bodyguards, Garth Carlson and Brad Rurgo. Garth was former Delta Force and Brad had served in the Navy Seals.
Lee met John Michaels at the St. Regis Bali Resort, one of Bali’s most private five-star hotels. John Michaels explained his proposition, “I have found a way to make a bio-degradable electric car battery. The main ingredients in a current battery includes lithium, cobalt, manganese, nickel, and graphite. My battery is made from hydrogen, magnesium, sodium and potassium. It lasts longer, is cheaper to produce and is more powerful.”
“I’d like to see it in action,” Lee said.
“Absolutely,” John said.
Lee asked, “Why did you contact me? There are a lot of other potential investors.”
“Because I don’t trust the current American administration or anybody associated with their agenda. China is buying up land all over the world to monopolize the worldwide supply of various minerals and they stand to lose billions in investments if my battery goes into production. They’ll never let that happen,” John warned, “This deal comes with significant risks.”
“The best deals always come with risks,” Lee said.
“I have the perfect place in Jakarta for a factory,” John smiled, “If we come to an agreement.”
Thy got up from the table and started walking. Tim had gone with Lee to the resort and was sitting near the pool when he saw his boss finish his meeting. Garth walked in front and Brad followed the group. Something didn’t seem right to Tim, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. That moment of doubt vanished when he saw a group of Chinese men moving toward Lee. The hair on the back of Tim’s neck bristled, kind of like when he was flying in the Marine Corps and was about ready to engage in a dogfight. He got up from his chair for a better vantage point and saw the bulges under the men’s shirts.
Looking even closer, Tim saw the tip of a rifle barrel protruding from beneath one man’s shirt and called out to Garth and Brad, “Echo Delta!” which was the code for ‘Extreme Danger’
Garth and Brad immediately shielded Lee and John as the Chinese drew their weapons. Tim came up behind and kicked one of the attackers in the back of the leg with such force that it broke his femur bone. He twisted the head of another man and his spine snapped like a dried twig. Tim grabbed one of their weapons and dived behind a wall as bullets hit around him. He signaled to Garth and Brad that he was alright as resort guests screamed and scrambled for cover. Right about this time, four more Chinese attackers came from the other direction firing automatic weapons. This put Lee, John and the two bodyguards in the middle of a deadly crossfire and they were running out of time.
Tim could have stayed behind the wall and remained out of the line of fire, but that wasn’t his style. He ran toward his trapped companions and dived next to Lee and John and commented, “Hey boss, hope you don’t mind if I drop in.”
Garth scolded Tim, “What the hell are you doing? You trying to get yourself killed! ”
Tim’s adrenalin was pumping so hard that he did not even know that he had been shot in the left arm. He responded, “I’m not trying, it just comes naturally.”
When one Chinese attacker charged into their position, he was riddled with bullets from Tim, Garth and Brad. Several more Chinese joined the firefight and by the time the shooting stopped, they had all been killed. Tim, Brad and Garth did their duty and protected Lee and John from injury, but all were badly wounded in the gun battle.
Lee came out from his hiding position and saw his blood soaked protectors lying next to each other and couldn’t think of anything to say but, “Thanks…are you alright?”
“Why do you ask…don’t we look alright,” Tim spit up a mouthful of blood.
This was the largest attack in Bali since October 1, 2005 when terrorists killed 20 and injured over 100. John Michaels mysteriously disappeared before the police arrived. Later on, Garth and Brad’s private security careers were ended by the severity of their injuries. Lee generously gave each man five million dollars as part of their severance package to show his appreciation for saving his life while Tim went back to Mexico to recover from his wounds.
Over the next six weeks, Lee used every means at his disposal to find out who was behind the assassination attempt. He went to Tim’s condo escorted by four heavily armed bodyguards. The men waited outside while Lee and Tim had a private discussion, “I’ve got an assignment for you if you feel that you’re up to it,” Lee said.
Tim replied, “I serve at your pleasure…like always. What’s going on?”
“John Michaels is under heavy guard in a South American country and I’ve increased my personal security tenfold. That is the reactive part of my strategy, but I’m finally prepared to go to the next stop of my plan.”
“Which is?” Tim asked.
“Michaels was under surveillance when we met and he warned me that certain individuals wanted to stop him.” Lee explained, “I should have been more aware of the potential dangers. You have my sincere apology.”
“None of us knew what we needed to know until it was too late. It happens that way sometimes,” Tim said, “No apology is necessary.”
“Here’s the rest of my plan,” Lee proceeded to explain in intricate detail.
Two days later, Lee contacted a high ranking female State Department official who had been on his payroll for ten years to make the necessary arrangements to get Tim hired by the United States Foreign Service. With his military background and education, Tim was more than qualified to be a Deputy Ambassador. He was assigned to the consulate in Bali and upon his arrival, Tim began compiling a list of suspected ‘Deep State’ operatives. Emilio Largo, a senior diplomat at Jakarta was at the top of it.
Tim stayed undercover for almost two years and played the part of a disgruntled and easily manipulated veteran to perfection. He infiltrated the foul smelling cesspool of the corrupt and depraved where morally bankrupt miscreants get rich at the expense of American citizens. Tim used his top secret clearance to access classified information about fraud, waste and corruption abuses in the world. He would relay the essential details to Lee, who would evaluate it then take the appropriate actions with his expanded force of highly skilled former military personnel.
Tim was eager to take his vacation and get back to being around some people with similar core values where he could let his guard down for a while. When he met Lee at one of his properties on the outskirts of Mombasa, Kenya, they walked to a large plane hangar on a private airfield. Lee pressed a button on his cellphone and the large door rolled open. Tim stared in disbelief at an F-18 Super Hornet with the call sign ‘Hacksaw’ painted on it and stammered, “What’s this?”
“A little bonus for your two years of hard work. It comes with a full maintenance crew and is ready for combat,” Lee smiled, “Do you still remember how to fly one of these?”
Tim walked over and put his hand on the fuselage, “Those skills are indelibly etched into my memory.”
“Take it up for a spin and we’ll talk later.”
Tim put the plane through a series of aeronautical maneuvers at Mach 1.7, 1300 miles per hour. It sure felt good to be back in the cockpit again, he thought to himself. After bringing the fighter jet in for a landing, Tim was overwhelmed with gratitude for the extreme generosity by his boss, “I don’t what to say. This is way over the top.”
Lee responded, “William Randolph Hearst once said, “Pleasure is worth what you can afford to pay for it. I can afford this and it gives me pleasure. I do have some selfish motives, I might call upon you every now and then to use your jet for a mission. Is that going to be a problem?”
“Depends on what it is, but you’ve never given me reason to say no before,” Tim smiled.
Emilio Largo was meeting with a large group of international criminals, corrupt politicians and radical terrorists at a secret fortress in the northeast corner of Afghanistan to discuss their plans for global chaos. Little did they know what was in the skies above them.
Tim’s F-18 was equipped with a 20mm cannon, Sidewinder, Sparrow and Maverick missiles. He was cruising at an altitude of 50,000 feet before putting the Super Hornet into a steep dive. Tim pulled up at 500 feet then rocketed through the long and narrow Wakhan Corridor while decreasing his altitude to one hundred feet while keeping his air speed at 1100 mph to avoid radar detection. He pulled up on the stick and put the F-18 into a steep climb and banked to the left. He fired all his missiles and destroyed the three main buildings behind the fifty foot walls of secret fortress. Tim circled around and did a strafing run with his 20mm cannon spitting death as a coup de grace before departing the area.
Tim decided to remain undercover in the Foreign Service because the Intel he was getting was invaluable in protecting America. After several more missions, Lee respectfully gave Major ‘Hacksaw’ Holman two new nicknames, The Dangerous Diplomat and the Ambassador of Annihilation.
Another great story. Makes good Sunday morning reading.
Unsavory international crooks and a Marine Hornet driver, turned Deputy Ambassador…what an unlikely but enjoyable combination. Mix in a handful of Chinese mercenaries and you’ve got a great story…as usual! Thanks for the nifty story!
As always I really enjoy your stories. We don’t realize how much research goes into each of your stories. Just keep it up, Tom.
The ambassador was some type of super hero. Other than the characters in this story the facts about the deep state are sadly too true
Tom, you continue to bless my soul with your consistent stories with total moral value. Thanks again.
Another very enjoyable story with a lot of action and information.
Another good story.
Lee Carver Got the $$. I expect. at some point he will add a gun boat to his arsenal in his war against terrorism and the deep state.
Excellent story in this Sunday’s Vista Press by Mr. Thomas Calabrese.
It is certainly refreshing to read a positive story about people that are concerned and love America. Wealthy people that use their money for the good of our country. This is a sign of a true philanthropist.
America could use more people with positive actions that benefits America making it stronger and in a position to aide others.
I love reading these positive stories. It helps to maintain my faith in our county to protect and serve mankind.
Thank you, Mr. Calabrese for an enlightening story this Sunday.
Great story, Tom
Good one. Better than watching it on TV.
Great story Tom. Isn’t your nickname Hacksaw?