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Stan Steele – Thomas Calabrese

By   /  August 27, 2023  /  10 Comments

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Hardin Steele

Thomas Calabrese – Colt Steele was a rifleman in the Marines and served in Iraq and Afghanistan where he received the Silver Star and two Purple Hearts for his actions in combat. One of his wounds was a bullet wound that nicked his femoral artery. Colt would have bled to death except for the heroic actions of the platoon Corpsman who crawled through heavy small arms fire to administer life-saving first aid.

The Marine was an easy-going kind of guy who never took himself seriously. Don’t be mistaken, just because Colt didn’t go looking for a fight and was quick with a smile didn’t mean he was averse to settling a dispute with his fists if the other fella was bound and determined to choose that type of conflict resolution.

After leaving the military, Colt moved to Oakland where his friend Steve Assalli got him a job working at the Port of Oakland. He supplemented his income by participating in pick-up fights and poker games. There were a lot of tough men with money to gamble and Colt was happy to take it from them. He was also wise enough to invest in real estate in the Bay Area with his winnings.

After a few years, Colt was promoted to foreman and while he was in his office one day, Sergeant Cara Diamond entered and identified herself as a narcotics officer with the Oakland Police Department. Cara was a tall woman, standing almost six feet tall, with long brown hair that hung loosely around her shoulders and glistening green eyes. She had been a track athlete at University of California, Berkeley where she was nationally ranked in the heptathlon, a 7-event athletic contest that consists of the 100-meter hurdles, the high jump, the shot put, the 200-meter dash, the long jump, the javelin throw, and the 800-meter run. She was training for the Olympics when she sustained a dislocated shoulder and even with the injury, she still almost qualified when she came in fourth at the Olympic Trials in San Diego, the team only accepted the top three competitors.

After getting her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, Cara planned on attending law school, but that plan abruptly changed when her younger cousin died from a drug overdose during a beach party in Alameda. Cara joined the Oakland Police Department and after two years as a patrol officer where she distinguished herself, she transferred to the Narcotics Division. Three years after that, she was in command of her own strike team.

            “We received word from a confidential informant that a major shipment of cocaine is coming through the Port of Oakland and I would like your cooperation,” Cara said.

            “Absolutely, anything I can do…just ask,” Colt said.

            “In these situations, there’s usually an inside man so I would appreciate it if you don’t discuss this conversation with anybody,” Cara said.

            “No problem,” Colt said, “How do you know that I’m not the inside man?”

            “Because I did a background check on you and liked what I saw,” Cara said.

Three tons of cocaine with a street value of 760 million dollars came in on a freighter. The shipping container was off-loaded and it was placed on a flatbed truck then left through the gate. Cara and her team were in a dented and faded Ford Expedition and followed it from a distance. What they didn’t realize was that Colt was not far behind in his pick-up truck.

A lookout for the drug traffickers was posted in the 5th story of a nearby building and was watching out from his elevated perch. He made a phone call, “The truck is being followed.”

The order was given, “Take them out!”

The truck with the cocaine turned left and quickly drove into a warehouse as the door closed behind it. When Cara and her team made the same turn, they stopped when they lost sight of the truck. Cara felt a chill and run up her spine, “Let’s get the hell out of here!”

Before the driver could back up, they came under fire from several positions. In a matter of ten seconds, their engine was hit and they were left immobilized. Not far away, Colt had set up with his rifle and scope and used the marksmanship skills that he earned in the Marine Corps to take out three of the ambushers. The others quickly withdrew from the firefight. After a couple minutes with no gunfire, Colt walked over to where Cara and her fellow officers were hunkered down in their bullet ridden vehicle. He commented, “I thought you might need some help.”

            “I did not expect an ambush so quickly,” Cara said as she stepped out of the car and asked her companions, “Everybody alright?”

The other two men nodded.

            “Thank you very much,” Cara said, “The good news is we’re still alive, thanks to you. The bad news is we lost the truck.”

Colt looked around the area and saw a large puddle and tire tracks coming in and out of it. The tracks on one side led to a large roll up door. He said, “Maybe it’s not so far away.”

They found a side door and was able to pry it open. Cara pointed to the truck and several men standing next to it. She whispered to Colt, “You shouldn’t be here…why don’t you leave and we’ll take it from here.”

Colt smiled, “It’s better to have me and not need me then to need me and not have me.”

            “Stay here and cover us,” Cara ordered.

            “Yes Ma’am,” Colt replied.

Cara and her team slowly moved in She called out, “Drop your weapons!”

The drug traffickers were not about to give up their multi-million contraband without a fight. They opened fire on Cara and her team, but Colt was in position to take out several shooters and before long the other men realized that if they kept fighting, they would be killed so they surrendered. When Cara looked back, Colt was already gone.

On the way out of the warehouse, Colt noticed an open door to an office. Something caught his eye and he entered. There were duffle bags stacked against the wall. Colt looked inside one of them and saw that it was filled with 50 and 100 dollar bills. He took two and made a hasty exit.

As he drove away, Colt saw more police cars coming in his direction. The next day, Cara arrived at the Port of Oakland and found Colt on the dock near a freighter. She said, “I looked for you when everything was done. I wanted to thank you.”

            “As long as you’re safe, that’s the most important thing,” Colt said.

            “I’m going to put you in for a citizen’s commendation, it comes with a reward.”

Colt said, “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t. I like to keep a low profile and there would be too many questions to answer.”

            “I can respect that…you saved my life and I want to do something for you,” Cara asked, “If you’re not married or involved with someone, maybe I could buy you dinner.”

            “I am not married or involved and dinner would be nice,” Colt said.

            “You pick the place,” Cara said.

It took a couple weeks before both their schedules coincided enough so that they could meet at Marty’s Café on Lincoln Avenue in Alameda for an early dinner.

Cara was a strong independent woman and any man had to possess strength, integrity and courage if she was going to spend time with him.  From Colt’s perspective he respected the Oakland Policewoman’s dedication and toughness.  Even if he had not been attracted to her, Cara Diamond would still be someone that he would be proud to call a friend.

Both people were passionate about their beliefs and were not hesitant in expressing them to one another. When the couple were at a stalemate in a discussion and neither one were inclined to be swayed or change their position, Colt or Cara would sometimes say, “We’re going to have to agree to disagree.”  They moved on without regret, animosity or hard feelings. In fact, it brought them closer together because they always fought fair and never held a grudge.

The couple’s love was built on admiration and respect which meant it had a strong foundation. Colt informed Cara early in their relationship about his fighting and gambling habits. She responded, without animosity “If you get busted by vice, I won’t be able to help you.”

            “I wouldn’t expect you to. I could probably could keep my gambling secret from you, but it might be a little harder with the bruises and injuries that come with mix martial arts,” Colt smiled, “Are you going to ask me to give it up?”

            “No, that’s not my place, but I will ask you not to get too beat up…I’ve kinda’ gotten used to your face,” Cara joked and kissed him.

Colt knew that Cara was worried about his welfare when he was fighting just like he worried about her safety when she was on duty. He valued her much more than fighting so it was an easy decision to call it quit also decided to stop his playing in illegal poker games because he didn’t want anything to interfere with Cara’s career if it should somehow lead back to her. However, Colt still kept his skills sharp by going to Las Vegas and Reno for sanctioned poker tournaments.

It was a quiet evening when Colt said, “Would you ever consider being married to a man like me?”

Cara asked the same question, “Do you think that you would ever consider being married to someone like me?”

            “I can’t seem to think about anything else,” Colt said.

 Colt and Cara decided to get married and honeymoon in Lake Tahoe.  Upon their return, they moved into a house in Highland Hills in Pittsburg, California that Colt owned. Pittsburg is a city in Contra Costa County located 32 miles northeast of Oakland on the southern shore of the Suisun Bay. Colt worked hard at the Port and eventually received a promotion to superintendent which came with a significance pay increase. When Cara became pregnant, she discussed the issue of being a stay at home mother.

Colt replied, “If that’s what you want to do, then I fully support your decision. We’re financially secure and you never need to work another day in your life unless you want to.”

Cara gave birth to twin boys, Stanley and Hardin. Stanley was the name of Cara’s grandfather. Colonel Stanley Diamond, a pilot in the Air Force who was shot down and killed during Operation Desert Storm. Hardin was Colt’s mother’s maiden name.  Colt and Cara sold their home in Pittsburg and moved to Hercules, California where Colt owned two acres of property on the old Hercules Powder Works site. The company was named after the Greek mythological hero to showcase how potent their dynamite was. When the town became incorporated, the name Hercules became a natural choice for the community leaders, who were also the plant managers.

Steele and Diamond are two of the hardest materials on earth, a potent combination. The other Pittsburg in Pennsylvania flourished in the first half of the 20th century and produced more than half of the nation’s steel and was a prime example of America’s industrial success. Was this a coincidence or destiny at work?

Colt and Cara decided that the school district’s political agenda was in direct conflict with their core beliefs and so they decided to home school their two boys. They taught Stan and Hardin a basic curriculum when they were in their early years but as they got older, their education expanded to include languages, martial arts, marksmanship and strong physical conditioning. By the time they were ready for high school, Stan and Hardin were far ahead of their classmates in the areas of physical, mental and emotional well-being.

It wasn’t unusual for the Steele family to hold regular poker games between the four of them. Colt explained to his sons, “This will help you learn how to read people and make quick decisions based on probabilities and behavior.

Most people have a ‘tell’. A tell is a subtle change in a person’s demeanor that you can use to your advantage. It can be used in other situations besides poker so learn to be observant and it will serve you well in your life.”

Stan and Hardin inherited their parents’ athletic prowess and excelled in sports at Hercules High School because they were well conditioned and possessed a disciplined work ethic. After graduation, the two boys had to make a decision. Neither one was too inclined to deal with the college environment just to play football and baseball, but the alternatives were limited.

Stan said, “I’d like to continue playing.”

            “Me too,” Hardin said.

Cara advised her sons, “Give it a shot, if you don’t like it…don’t stay.”

            “I agree with your mother…you won’t know unless you try. You’re up for any challenge we have complete faith in you.”

Stan and Hardin wanted to play close to home so they agreed to accept scholarships to the University of Nevada at Reno. Both played quarterback, punted and did field goal kicking. In high school, sometimes one brother would play the first half and the other brother would finish the game. They alternated field goal kicking and punting duties. If there was any significant difference in their style of play, it was that Stan Steele was the prototype dropback passer who preferred to stay in the pocket and pick apart the defense. Hardin liked to roll out and throw on the run. In baseball, both were pitchers and first basemen. They played for the love of the game and were more proud of each other’s accomplishments than their own.

The two brother were walking across campus when they saw a table with two Marines passing out pamphlets to students, “The Marines are looking for good people!” A Sergeant called out.

Stan and Hardin sat nearby and watched as a crowd grew more hostile toward the recruiters. They started yelling profanities at the military personnel.

Stan commented, “That’s not very nice.”

            “That’s why we have a First Amendment…so people say things we don’t like,” Hardin replied, “It’s called protected speech.” When the crowd started throwing bottles and debris at the Marines, “However, that behavior is not protected.”

Stan and Hardin walked to the group and Hardin politely said, “Please don’t throw things at our military. It’s not right.”

When a man started to throw the bottle, Hardin grabbed his wrist and kicked the man’s leg out from under him. “I asked you politely, now I’m telling you.”

When another protester tried to hit Hardin from behind, Stan punched him in the mouth and knocked out two teeth. Suddenly a riot broke out and Stan and Hardin were surrounded and outnumbered ten to one, but Colt and Cara trained their sons well and protesters fell like tenpins.

By the time the fight ended, twelve protesters were injured and lying on the ground. One of the Marine recruiters walked over to thank Stan and Hardin, “Thanks for your help….where did you learn to fight like that?”

            “Our father was a Marine,” Hardin said proudly.

The two brothers were suspended from the football team and the school was considering expulsion. The local district attorney also had filed charges against Stan and Hardin for assault and various other charges.

Colt and Cara showed up at Dean George Kramer’s office with an offer of their own. Cara handed the school official a sheet of paper, “We intend to sue you and the University for the abuse of our sons’ constitutional rights and lack of due process.”

            “Is that a threat?” Dean Kramer snapped back.

Colt pulled out his cellphone and held it up so that Dean Kramer could see the video, “This is footage of the altercation. As you can see, the incident was provoked by the protesters and not by our sons.”

Dean Kramer stammered, “That doesn’t exonerate them.”

            “Are you an idiot or a liar? Cara said angrily, “Of course it exonerates them!”

Colt made the Dean an offer, “We haven’t released this video to the press. Why don’t we do that and see what happens.”

            “Where did you get that video….I thought…,” Dean Kramer asked.

            “Not everybody in your administration is as corrupt or politically correct as you,” Cara stated without hesitation

Colt got up from his chair and glared down at the frail bureaucrat, “You’ve got 72 hours to make your decision. A public apology will also be required.”

Colt and Cara left the office and Dean Kramer picked up the phone, “Get me the Head of Security now!”

Dan Butler entered the office a minute later, “You wanted to see me.”

            “I told you to destroy that video…the Steele family just showed it to me. Explain how that can happen,” Dean Kramer ranted.

Dan shrugged, “Somebody must have gotten to it before me.”

As the Steele family left the parking lot, Dan Butler was standing near the back of his car. The license frame read; Once a Marine  Always A Marine.

Colt nodded in appreciation as he drove by.

The University issued a public apology and reinstated the Steele brothers. The football team won their division and Stan and Hardin made all conference. After graduation, they competed in the NFL Scouting Combine in Las Vegas. During the interview process with some of the prospective teams, both brothers emphasized their strong support for the military, law enforcement and Christian values and their refusal to bend to politically correct guidelines.

The teams decided not to draft the brothers because of their strong patriotic and Christian views. They did this because they were too scared to stand up to the radical mob who would undoubtedly protest against two strong willed men whose parents were a police officer and a former Marine.

One General Manager said, “If you’re willing to make a public apology, we’ll draft you.”

            “That’s never going to happen,” Hardin replied, “We’re proud of who we are and even prouder of our parents.”

            “Why don’t you apologize for asking us to apologize and we might consider playing for you.” Stan counteroffered.

The Steele brothers decided to forget about a professional football career and focused their energies on baseball. They signed with the San Diego Padres and began playing for their Lake Elsinore Storm, a minor league advanced single-A baseball team.  Over a short period of time both brothers moved up to double-A and then to triple A before being called up to the ‘big show’. Since 1876 there have been more than 275 brother combinations as major league baseball, including six sets of twins. Stan and Hardin became a potent combination in the Padres’ pitching rotation and on the diamond. When one wasn’t on the mound, the other was either in the line-up as a designated hitter or first baseman. In one productive season, Stan won 18 games and hit .289 with 23 home runs and Hardin won 16 games, batted .301 and belted 26 home runs and the team won its first World Series.

Things worked out for the Steele brothers and they signed long term multi-million dollar contracts with the Padres. Their parents moved from the Bay Area to Rancho Santa Fe to be closer to their sons. The family decided to purchase a 20 acre parcel of land with 20,000 square feet of living space that included three completely separate living quarters, two guest houses  servants’ quarters, fully equipped fitness center and swimming pool.

The two brothers could have signed for more money with another team in another state, but they remained loyal to the team that took a chance and originally signed them.  While they weren’t happy about the rising crime rate, high taxes and the extremely poor leadership in California they chose to stay and try to help and make things better. They primarily focused on helping veterans and law enforcement officers and since Tunnel to Towers had the same goals, Stan and Hardin pledge millions to the noble cause. They also donated generously to the Helen Woodward Animal Center and other rescue organizations.

Hurricane Hillary was due to hit Baja California in Mexico and move north through San Diego as a strong tropical depression. Major League Baseball decided to move Sunday’s game to Saturday game and have a doubleheader. The brothers performed well, if not spectacularly. Hardin pitched into the sixth inning in the first game before being relieved and only gave up two runs. Stan had one single in the first game and a three-run homer in the second. The most important thing to the brothers was that the Padres won both games from the Los Angeles Dodgers. They had two days off before flying to the east coast for an extended road-trip that began with the Miami Marlins.

When the boys got back to their house in Rancho Santa Fe, Colt was in the driveway and greeted his sons, “Good games.”

Hardin responded, “Winning without your best stuff is a good thing.”

They walked into the house and into the dining room.

Elena, the family cook asked, “Are you ready for dinner?”

            “Whenever you are,” Colt replied.

Elena immediately began bringing out the food and setting it on the table.

Stan asked, “Where’s mom?”

            “She has a little stomach issue so she’s resting,” Colt said.

Cara walked into the dining room when her husband and sons were about halfway through dinner. Colt asked, “Are you feeling better?”

            “Not really,” Cara replied and turned to Elena, “Would you be kind enough to get me a cup of herbal tea with honey?”

            “Coming right up,” Elena responded.

Cara was a volunteer at the Helen Woodward Animal Center so she informed her family, “I’m scheduled to pick up a dog at the Twentynine Palms Animal Shelter in the morning and I want to get an early start and get home before the storm hits.”

            “Where’s the dog going?” Stan asked.

            “The Center is taking him, he’s having a little trouble getting adopted so the Twentynine Palms Shelter thought we might have better luck. His owner was a former Marine and had to give him up when he was sent overseas. We’ll keep him for a month and see how it goes. Since it will be Sunday, I don’t expect much traffic.”

            “Hardin asked his father, “Are you going too?”

            “I offered, but your mom declined,” Colt said.

            “Your father has a fundraiser breakfast for the Disabled American Warriors at the Veterans Center in Oceanside. It’s for a good cause so I don’t want him to miss it,” Cara said.

            “I don’t need to attend,” Colt said.

Cara was a little unsteady when she stood up from the table, “I’m a little queasy.”

Hardin suggested, “Stan and me will go instead, we’ve got a couple days off.”

            “Yeah, that way you can rest and dad can still go to his fundraiser,” Stan seconded.

            “You don’t mind?” Cara asked.

            “No, not at all,” Stan said, “Glad to do it.”

The next morning, Stan and Hardin got ready to leave their Ranch Santa Fe estate for the desert. Colt suggested to his sons that they should take the Toyota Tundra with the oversized tires, “It sits higher in case you run into heavy rain. Remember, it doesn’t take much to flood in the desert so be careful.”

The two brothers picked up the lab mix dog, named Ronnie at the Twentynine Palms Animal Shelter. He was an energetic and friendly two year-old so the brothers put him in the cab of the truck to ride with them instead of placing him in a crate in the back of the truck.

As they were heading home, the storm unleashed a torrential downpour on the hard desert ground and instead of soaking in, it stayed on the surface as if the sand was concrete and quickly created a dangerous driving situation.

A car coming from the other direction hydroplaned and was swept off the road and into a ravine that had quickly turned into a raging river. The two brothers stopped, got out of their truck, squinted against rain and assessed the life and death situation. The family was screaming for help and being swept away. There was no way for them to escape the car and reach dry land.  Something had to be done quickly.

Hardin spun the truck around then raced parallel to the car in the water. Even though it was difficult for him to control the vehicle in the pouring rain and buffeting winds, he did it. He got to a bend in the two lane road and skidded to a stop. The two brothers could see that the car was sinking and they didn’t have much time to do something.

Stan strongly suggested, “Are you ready for a swim?”

            “Don’t you ever get tired of being right,” Hardin said and jumped into the water with his brother right beside him and Ronnie the dog right behind them. They intercepted the car when it became wedged against a large boulder and tons of water pounded against it. Stan pulled the mother through the window while Hardin went underwater to free the two young children from the restraints on their car seats. Ronnie the dog kept the boy from sliding back into the water by clenching his teeth into his shirt, allowing Hardin to push him and his sister further up the face of the boulder. Stan kept the woman’s head above water as he struggled against the powerful current.

Stan reassured the fearful mother as she frantically searched for her children, “These flashfloods pass quickly, we’ll just stay here until the rain slows down. Don’t worry, my brother has your children.”

Stan put his arm around Ronnie and thanked him, “Good job, boy.”

Twenty minutes later, the raging waters stopped as quickly as it started and everyone safely made it back to the road and got into the truck.

If you think the names in this story were fortunate coincidences then ponder this unlikely scenario; the mother was the youngest daughter and the young boy and girl were the grandchildren of the Navy Corpsman who save Colt Steele’s life in Afghanistan.

 The woman was now married to a Marine Corps officer stationed at Twentynine Palms Marine Corps base. They were on their way home after visiting another military family on Camp Pendleton.

Luckily, Stan and Hardin were in the right place at the right time, but things have a way of working out when your heart is in an honorable place. If you were lucky enough to be born in Pittsburg, California and raised in Hercules, California by two American patriots, you would also be destined to Stan Steele as others turned and ran away in fear and become Hardin Steele when someone tried to break your spirit.

One more thing of interest, Ronnie the dog was rewarded with a forever home with the Steele family for his courageous actions.   

The End

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10 Comments

  1. wolf says:

    enjoyed it.

    we need more Stan Steel and Harden Steel on our college campus.to square away the woke. institutions

    and the Padres desperately need them. if they are to make a run for a World Series

  2. Clyde says:

    This story flowed well and kept my interest throughout.it had a really surprising twist at the end. I didn’t see it coming at all.

  3. John michels says:

    Very enjoyable work of fiction. There were a few tidbits of fact that made the story fun

  4. Robert says:

    Good story. Thanks no

  5. Skip says:

    Marines, law enforcement, athletic heroes and an animal companion; all the elements of a great action adventure. Great job! Thanks.

  6. Jeremy says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the story. What a great family. I could picture it as a television series.

  7. Tony says:

    What a neat family story about a neat family by Mr. Thomas Calabrese in this Sunday’s Vista Press. This story so inspirational and provides a positive outlook for the future of America, at least a great example for our young generation to emulate. One does not have to be a super humane being to be kind and honest or do the right thing even when not being observed. Mr. Calabrese touched on a lot of great point and qualities a person should have and maintain for the betterment of mankind. The young men depicted in this story are self started and did not need need supervision when left alone. They clearly understood right from wrong. Again, very nice and down to earth story that everyone can relate to Mr. Calabrese. Thank you.

  8. marty says:

    Wow! Great story Tom. Glad to see Marty’s reopening made the press.
    Keep up the great work.

  9. Janet says:

    I really loved the story.

  10. Bart says:

    Long and very well done story.

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