As in the previous story I'm awaken very
early in the morning and told to get up. We had a photo shoot
to go on.
"At 5 in the morning?"
"Come on. We're late already."
"At 5 in the morning we're late. For
"Just get up. I'll explain in the
Same old same old.
I'm in the car and the conversation goes
"So what's so important that I have
to get up at 5 in the morning?"
"General Anderson is meeting some
people over by the C130's hanger."
"Who's he meeting?"
"Do you know anything?"
"Just where the meeting is taking
"Let me get this straight. We are
to photograph the General greeting someone at 5 in the moring
over by the C130 hanger? And you don't know who he is meeting
"Why didn't I get told about this
"I don't know."
Always the same. And I kept asking it.
We get over to the C130's hanger area in
only about 5 minutes. Only Marines there were the guards. They
too thought we were nuts. No General.
"You sure this is the place. You know
I just noticed someting."
"No planes. Usually there is C130s
and F4s everywhere. Wonder where they moved them to and why?"
"You should be the reporter. You're
always asking questions."
"And no answers. Well all we can do
is wait. You bring any coffee?"
"No don't drink coffee."
"That isn't what I asked you! Now
where is the coffee?"
"Don't have any."
"All right, here comes General Anderson.
And there's General Elwood. Oh boy not him too?"
"You know I love making that guy look
silly but he just makes it to easy. Lets
go over to General Anderson's aid and find out what's going on."
"Not me. They'll think were just stupid."
"They already do."
"You go ahead. I'll wait here. They
know you anyway and for some strange reason they like you."
"That's because I get the job done
and never, and I mean never, make the General look bad. Now with
General Carl the verdict is still out."
So I get out of the warm press car and
go over the General Anderson's aid, a Major, name forgotten, but
one of the good guys.
"You want a cup of coffee John?"
"Thanks Major. Would love it. Got
"Of course. How
about your reporter?"
"He's cold and scared."
"Another new one?"
"Yep. So what's going on Major?"
"Three or four transport planes with
a group of NATO officers for a demonstration of a beach landing
over at Camp Lejeune. Right after the transports pull out the
copters from New River will come in and pick everyone up."
"So that's why the tramac is empty
of C130s and F4s. Anderson, Elwood and Carl will greet the planes?"
"O.K. I hope there is enought light?
All I need is another half hour and there should be plently."
"Yea by the time the planes land,
taxi over, and get the stairs to the doors there should be plently
"O.K. Now I got a stupid question.
Is there a seat on one of the copters for us?"
"No. Didn't know you wanted one."
"I don't think anyone did. O.K. We'll
drive over to Lejeune. You pay for our speeding tickets, right?"
No comment from the Major.
After a refill of my coffee and my third
donut I go back to the car and explain the situation.
First thing out of the reporters mouth,
"But nobody said anything about going to Camp Lejeune."
"What's the primary matra of all Marines?"
"Matra? What the hell is that?"
"Improvise Marine! Improvize!"
"You stay here and I'll get the photos
of the Generals greeting the NATO officers and then I'll get a
couple of shots of the copters loading up. Then we go like hell
to Lejeune and shoot the beach landing."
"But we weren't told to go to Lejeune."
"We weren't told anything. So we go.
Anyway I've never seen one of these things. Should be fun. And
if we screw up I'll get the blame and if we come back with some
good stuff you'll get the credit."
It was. Great fun. Got some good photos.
And the reporter was praised for his ability to improvise.
But first about the copters. They had every
copter the Marines had available in North Carolina landing that
morning at Cherry Point. That alone was worth the price of the
ticket. What a fuckin site. Just beautiful.
Even with all the copters that did show
up, they still had a tight squeze getting everyone onboard.
Getting to Camp Lejeune wasn't a problem.
But once there we had no idea where to go. I think we convinced
an MP to escort us to the demonstration area. Anyway we made it.
And we had time to spare. We missed the landing of all those copters
but we still saw a great show.
And I did get one really good photo.
At one end of the demonstration beach is
a pier. At the end of the pier is the bleachers for the visitors
to view the landings. Before the bleachers is a restricted area
that has the control center for the explosives. A Major stood
in front of a large control panel that had the complete layout
of the beach in front of him. This guy controlled the whole show.
With the help of some Cherry Point officers,
that were also there to see the show, I was able to get into the
restricted area and get a photo of the Major looking over the
control panel at the entire beach landing area.
The shot I took had all this and an A4
Skyhawk flying directly over us while explosives were going off
on the beach and Marines coming on shore.
So the Windsock publishes the photos of
Generals Anderson, Elwood and Carl greeting the NATO officers.
No "Letter of Appreciation" for
the reporter but he did get promoted. [Next]