Wings of Justice
Thomas Calabrese –When the Green Berets arrived at the sanctuary, Diane gave the men an introduction “Falconry is an ancient art and was used to refer to a system of using birds of prey for hunting. Nowadays it is also considered a sport. It involves falcons, hawks, sparrowhawks, goshawks and eagles. Our bird of choice will be the Peregrine Falcon because they are the easiest to train and have a strong hunting disposition. Any questions so far?”
None of the men said anything so Diane continued, “The first thing you have to do is to gain the bird’s trust and since they are wild birds, this process can be very slow and difficult. For the first few weeks it’s a good idea to keep your falcon close, so that you get used to each other’s presence. Food is the fundamental link between the trainer and the falcon. This is the basis of training and the only stimulus these birds respond to by instinct. The first step will be to get the falcon to jump or fly to its owner’s glove, where a piece of food will be waiting. After that we’ll encourage the falcon to fly further away in order to develop its muscles and make it stronger. In order to do this, we’ll put a lure in a kite for the bird to go after.”
Rock Bottom inquired, “How long are we talking about?”
“I’m sure you’re used to extensive training. I want this experiment to be successful and I know how to not waste time, but certain parts of this process have to move at their own pace because you can’t rush nature. Falconry require constant dedication. It’s not the same as training a dog: falcons are wild and fearful animals, so I’ll give you specific techniques to establish a bond with your bird. You’ll have to repeat the exercises over and over until you and the bird have developed muscle memory. That’s my introduction, tomorrow the work starts.”
As time passed Diane became impressed with the work ethic of the Green Berets. She only had to tell them once and they never forgot what she said. Even when things didn’t go according to plan, the men just worked harder. They showed no frustration when they failed and didn’t dwell on their successes. The other thing that amazed Diane was the natural teamwork of the men.
Two months into the training, Diane and the Green Berets were having a barbecue to celebrate the completion of the course. Diane raised her beer to propose a toast, “Before I started this program, I wasn’t too optimistic that you could do it. Working with falcons requires a special subtleness and when I heard I would be working with Green Berets, I expected a more heavy handed approach, but you proved me wrong…big time. You not only accomplished the goal, you did it faster and better than anyone I’ve ever seen. The birds must be tuned in to the positive energy that you’re projecting.”
The Great Martroni explained, “Don’t give us too much credit, wild animals just naturally relate to each other,” and screeched like a bird.
It was time to put their training into action and the Army sent them to Ukraine with their birds of prey to deal with an advancing and ruthless Russian army.
The Peregrine Falcon is indisputably the fastest animal in the sky. It has been measured at speeds above 240 miles per hour during a steep descent. Its body is built to execute high-speed maneuvers as it dives through the air to snag its prey. Tailor-made wings and feathers reduce drag by allowing the falcon to shape itself like a bullet. A large keel bone allows it to flap its wings more vigorously and generate lots of power. Nifty modifications in the eye keep its cornea from drying up in-flight. A sophisticated breathing and circulatory apparatus gives it the ability to breathe at high speeds and not tire quickly. They weigh between 2.5 and 5.0 pounds. The bird is a marvel of evolution.
The Green Berets knew that the falcons weren’t big enough to take down human prey, but they had a different approach to attack their adversaries physically and psychologically. They attached small razor blades to the talon of the birds. The falcons had already had sharp talons, but these blades were dipped in a highly potent poison and the Green Berets did not want the poison on to get on the birds’ skin. The other modification was a very small device that made an eerie sound when air went through it. During a dive, the sound increased dramatically. It could best described as a cross between an air raid siren and a banshee wailing. The Green Berets got the idea for this trick from Germany who used something similar during World War II. They attached a wind-driven siren to a dive bomber and called it Jericho’s Trumpet. Its purpose was to terrify people on the ground.
The Green Berets would locate the enemy and prepare the falcons for flight. Each man had his own bird and would either stagger their take-offs or wait for one falcon to return before sending out another. It depended on the weather, numbers of targets and terrain. They would mark their target with a laser and when the falcons saw it, they would dive toward their prey. At the speed that they were moving, it was impossible for the enemy to see the birds of prey coming. All they heard was a bone-chilling sound growing ever louder. Suddenly the razors ripped through flesh, opening wounds and poisoning them. The falcons were gone before anybody knew what happened. Upon their return from the attack, they were rewarded with a mixture of beef, chicken and turkey and a protein rich supplement.
The men put hoods over their birds before driving back to their base because falcons rely heavily on sight so anything a raptor cannot see, they do not fear. Upon finishing their tours of duty, the Green Berets caught a flight from Germany to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California.
The Green Berets drove with their birds of prey to the wildlife sanctuary in Nevada. They had 30 days leave coming to them and this was the only place that they felt comfortable leaving their falcons while they were visiting their families.
Diane responded with joy when she saw the men, “I’m glad to see that you made it back safely,” and gave each man a big hug. The Green Berets spent three days at the sanctuary before leaving to visit their families.
Greg Turlock went to San Leandro, Gary Lozza traveled to Franklin, Kentucky, Bill Micelli had family in Moab, Utah, Steve Post decided to spend some time with his brother in Montgomery, Texas and Martin Garton found his way to Youngstown, Ohio where his mother resided.
The new orders arrived for the five Green Berets and did not include using falcons on this next deployment. Diane cheerfully accepted the birds and promised, “They will be here when you get back.”
Their next assignment was assisting the CIA in El Salvador. MS-13 gang members were pumping millions of dollars in illicit drugs across a porous Southern border and the Special Operators were there to destroy as much of their organization as possible.
Sergeant Bill ‘Two Meal’ Micelli commented, “If the current administration closed the border, we wouldn’t have to be here.”
“If ifs and buts were candy and nuts”, we’d all have a Merry Christmas, “Bunky reminded his friend, “Our job is to do our job.”
Martroni smiled, “Keep it simple, kill the bad guys and live to fight another day.”
“Roger that,” Duke agreed, “My finger is itching and I need a trigger to scratch it.”
Rock Bottom chimed in, “Let’s rock and roll!”
The Green Berets were the tip of the spear and a group of CIA civilian contractor were their back-up. The drug warehouse was located west of San Vicente, one of the poorest towns in El Salvador. The gunfight was intense and the guards were more afraid of the gang leaders than they were of the Americans so they fought to the death.
Sergeant Bunky Turlock was badly wounded in the battle and was medically discharged. After six months of rehabilitation he moved to Virginia City to help at the sanctuary. Because of his special skills, Bunky also volunteered to work with the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Unit became a member of the infamous Sierra Smoke Jumpers. He was lucky enough to meet retired Marine Colonel Bill ‘Bull’ Swilley, a decorated hero of the Vietnam War and one of the richest men in Nevada at a gun dealer in Virginia City.
Bull Swilley owned vast amounts of real estate, had significant interests in shipping, manufacturing and gambling throughout the state. He was a widower and his oldest son, Robert was a casino manager in Reno and his other son, Michael handled the family’s commercial property in the Minden Valley area. Despite their age differences, Bunky and Bull developed a close friendship. They didn’t discuss their military exploits, they were too humble for that, but they were kindred spirits with the same love of country.
Bunky bought a large motor home and parked it on the sanctuary property and supplemented his income by driving one or two days a week for Bull’s trucking company which had the contract to deliver Tesla electric motors and battery packs from their megafactory and warehouse outside Sparks, Nevada. Bunky’s current route included a stop in Sacramento then on to Las Vegas.
If there was a load coming back, Bunky would take it, if not he would turn the truck over to another driver then fly back to Reno. Bunky explained his reluctance to be a long distance truck driver to Bull when he was more offered more work, “I appreciate the offer, but this is as far as I want to be driving. I like helping out at the sanctuary more than I do being on the road. If that’s a problem, I’ll understand if you want to fire me.”
“That is not going to happen. If this is the way you want to keep it, I respect your decision. I wanted to give you other options. Hell, I own other businesses so if you ever want to try something else, just let me know. You’ve got leadership skills and I’ll make it worth your while,” Bull said.
“Thanks anyway, I appreciate your generosity, but can we leave things the way they are…at least for the time being?” Bunky asked.
“Roger that,” Bull said.
I have some good buddies that will be getting out of the Army in the near future do you think that you might have something for them?”
“Absolutely.” Bull responded without hesitation, “If they’ve served with you, then that is all the recommendation I need.”
The other four Green Berets eventually got out of the Army, with Duke being the last one to leave. The team was reunited and Diane was happy to have the men at the sanctuary. A large concrete pad was poured and each man had his own motor home. A large canopy was constructed with one hundred solar panels to shield the vehicles from the elements and generate power that was stored in lithium batteries. The former special operators were pro-active and if they saw something that needed to be done, they did it without being asked.
Bunky found Diane working with some wolf pups and said, “May I talk to you?”
“What’s on your mind?”
“If we were staying at a RV park, we’d have to pay rent so we decided that we should be paying you something for staying here, “Bunky said.
“You make up for it with the work you do around here,” Diane responded.
Bunky disagreed, “We’re working and making decent money so how about if we pay 1500 a month? You can use the money for the sanctuary and we’d be getting a good deal. It’s a win win situation from our perspective.”
Diane shook her head in resignation, “I guess it would be a waste of time to argue?”
“We’re friends, you can argue with me about anything…it just won’t change our minds,” Bunky said.
Bull was a big supporter of the sanctuary so he worked out a deal with the University of California, Davis Veterinary School for students to earn credits for volunteering at the facility. His generous gift to the program probably had something to do with the arrangement.
It wasn’t unusual for Bunky, Two Meal, Rock Bottom, Duke and the Great Martroni to take their mountain bikes on a ride with their falcons flying overhead and a pack of Belgian Malinois dogs running beside them. It was truly breathtaking to see, man, dog and bird.
Bull was at the sanctuary one day and he asked, “I’ve got a lakefront house at Lake Tahoe. It is empty most of the time because I keep it for high rollers who come to my casino. I’ve offered it to you before, how come you never want to use it?”
Duke responded playfully, “We went down one time to see it, but it’s too fancy for us. We’re just common riff raff .”
Bull played along, “You’re probably right, why would I want a bunch former of special operators in my house. I’d probably have to fumigate the place when you left.”
“You know what they say, the only thing worse than a Green Beret is a Marine,” Two Meal teased.
“We’ll have to agree to disagree on that point,” Bull smiled, “You guys still coming over for dinner on Saturday night?”
“Roger that,” Rock Bottom said, “Bunky and me are making a run to Vegas on Thursday, we’ll be back on Friday.”
Martroni added, “Two Meal, Duke and me are going to do some training with the search and rescue unit on Saturday morning.”
“At my age, I like to eat early…be there by 1700 hours,” Bull ordered.
Bunky and Rock Bottom were tandem driving and they planned on stopping in Beatty, one of the few small towns along U.S. 95, located about two hours north of Las Vegas. They would get some fuel, stretch their legs and pick up some snacks at the Death Valley Nut & Candy Company. They were hauling some very expensive lithium batteries and state of the art power packs. The cost of the cargo was close to two million dollars. Rock Bottom was at the wheel and Bunky was resting in the sleeper. A pick-up pulled up alongside the big rig and the passenger rolled down his window, pointed a rifle at Rock Bottom and ordered, “Pull it over.”
Rock Bottom tapped Bunky on the leg, “We got a problem.”
Bunky looked out the window and saw two vehicles and surmised, “Highjacking?”
“Looks that way,” Rock Bottom said.
Bunky reached into the cabinet and pulled out an M4A1 assault rifle with a 30 round magazine. He looped a bandolier with ten more magazines over his chest, put a Glock 19 in his waistband and slipped out the window as Rock Bottom pulled over and stopped.
Rock Bottom was instructed to step out of the cab and was thoroughly searched. The man in charge said, “Start walking into the desert and don’t stop.”
Bunky was on top of the trailer and peered down at the hijackers. Rock Bottom did as he was instructed while a calm and collected Bunky waited for the right moment to make his move. When Rock Bottom thought he was far enough away, he took a big right turn and started heading back to the big rig.
The six hijackers were standing on the shoulders and the leader said, “Larry take the wheel, let’s get out here.”
Bunky slid down from the trailer and came up behind the armed men and said, “Stick around, Larry.”
The men were obviously surprised, and the leader responded, “You can’t get us all.”
Bunky laughed, “Seriously, that’s your comeback… let’s see if you’re right. How do you want to do this?”
The six men spread out so that Bunky couldn’t shoot more than one man at a time with a single burst. By this time, Rock Bottom made it back to the truck and Bunky tossed him the pistol and Rock Bottom said, “Gunfight on Old 95…I like the sound of that.”
The six hijackers faced off against the two former Special Operators and it was eerily reminiscent of a scene out of an old time Western with the bad guys against the good guys.
Rock Bottom did his best cowboy impression, “Reckon you varmits can mosey on down the trail or take a trip to boot hill.”
The six men were not amused. Bunk spit like Clint Eastwood often did before one of his gunfights and said, “Pilgrims…skin those smokewagons.”
One of the men made the slightest move and that was all it took. Even though they were outnumbered, Bunky and Rock Bottom was far more proficient in the operations of firearms and close combat. In a matter of two seconds, six hijackers were lying dead.
Bunky and Rock Bottom loaded the dead bodies into the back of the pick-up. Bunky got in the big rig and Rock Bottom got in the truck and led the way to Beatty. They met with the Nevada Highway Patrol and after a few hours of answering questions, they were ready to get moving.
Nevada Patrolman Scott Molson noticed a small sticker on the back window of the big rig with three Latin words and said, “De Oppresso Liber, then translated the words into English, ‘Liberate the Oppressed,” then added, “thank you for your service,” and rendered a crisp salute, “The motto of the Green Berets.”
When Bunky and Rock Bottom returned to the sanctuary, Two Meal told them, “Diane’s uncle was robbed and beaten. Martroni went with her to the hospital.”
Duke replied, “He owns a restaurant at the Alameda Golf Course called Joe’s. They took him to the Alameda Hospital.”
Joe Mustin was in serious condition from a variety of injuries, including a fractured skull, inflicted on him by a ruthless street gang called the Fruitvale Marauders. These thugs had been victimizing residents and business owners for a quite a while and they needed to be stopped.
It took a few weeks to scout the area and develop a plan. By this time, Joe had been released from the hospital. It was just before sunset and the five former special operators, Diane and her uncle were on a boat in the Oakland Estuary.
Diane place her hand on her uncle’s shoulder and said, “You’re going to like this.”
They watched the street gang congregating by the High Street Bridge with binoculars then took the hoods off the falcons and the birds of prey went airborne. The targets were marked with lasers and the falcons went into their dive. The gang members heard the eerie sound and looked around, but never saw their aerial attackers. The razors ripped tore through their flesh and minutes later they fell over dead. It took a few more attacks, but eventually the Fruitvale Marauders were eradicated from the area.
This is a warning is to all felons and evildoers. Beware of the Falconers and the Wings of Justice, they could be coming after you next!
– This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.