HOGS #5: TARGET SADDAM (Jim DeFelice’s HOGS First Gulf War series)

BOOK: HOGS #5: TARGET SADDAM (Jim DeFelice’s HOGS First Gulf War series)
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HOGS 5

 

Air War in the Gulf

 

TARGET SADDAM

by

JIM DEFELICE

 

Book
#4 in the HOGS air war series based on the exploits of the A-10A Warthog pilots
in the 1991 Gulf War

 

 

Copyright © 2001 by Jim DeFelice.

All rights reserved.

This book may not be reproduced
in whole or in part, by any means, without permission from the author, except
for short quotes in reviews or discussions
.

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

TARGET SADDAM

TABLE
OF CONTENTS

A-BOMB’S
HOG RULES

PART
ONE

VOLUNTEERS
& MANIACS

CHAPTER
1

CHAPTER
2

CHAPTER
3

CHAPTER
4

CHAPTER
5

CHAPTER
6

CHAPTER
7

CHAPTER
8

CHAPTER
9

CHAPTER
10

CHAPTER
11

CHAPTER
12

CHAPTER
13

CHAPTER
14

CHAPTER
15

CHAPTER
16

CHAPTER
17

CHAPTER
18

CHAPTER
19

CHAPTER
20

CHAPTER
21

CHAPTER
22

CHAPTER
23

CHAPTER
24

CHAPTER
25

CHAPTER
26

CHAPTER
27

CHAPTER
28

CHAPTER
29

CHAPTER
30

PART
TWO

VULTURE
DEATH

CHAPTER
3
1

CHAPTER
3
2

CHAPTER
33

CHAPTER
3
4

CHAPTER
3
5

CHAPTER
3
6

CHAPTER
3
7

PART
THREE

LAZARUS

CHAPTER
38

CHAPTER
39

CHAPTER
40

CHAPTER
41

CHAPTER
42

CHAPTER
43

CHAPTER
44

CHAPTER
45

CHAPTER
46

CHAPTER
47

CHAPTER
48

CHAPTER
49

CHAPTER
50

CHAPTER
51

CHAPTER
52

CHAPTER
53

CHAPTER
54

CHAPTER
55

CHAPTER
56

CHAPTER
57

CHAPTER
58

CHAPTER
59

CHAPTER
60

CHAPTER
61

CHAPTER
62

CHAPTER
63

CHAPTER
64

CHAPTER
65

CHAPTER
66

CHAPTER
67

CHAPTER
68

EPILOGUE:

WARMING
THE SOUL

CHAPTER
69

CHAPTER
70

CHAPTER
71

A
NOTE TO THE READER:

Other
Books by Jim DeFelice

 

 

A-BOMB’S
HOG RULES

 

1.
Never leave base without your wingmate.

2.
You can never be too ugly, too low, or too slow.

3.
Pay attention to the plane, not the explosion.

4.
If God wanted you to fly higher than five hundred feet, he’d have given you an
F-15.

5.
For every action by the enemy, there is an opposite and disproportionate
reaction— be sure to administer it harshly.

6.
The hotter the target, the better the bang.

7.
If you can’t read the sign, you’re not close enough to smoke it.

8.
Never fire your cannon when taking off unless absolutely necessary.

9.
Under no circumstances should you attempt to eat anything with pits during a
bombing run.

 

PART
ONE
VOLUNTEERS & MANIACS

 

 

 

CHAPTER 1

HOG HEAVEN

KING FAHD ROYAL AIR BASE, SAUDI ARABIA

27 JANUARY 1991

0001 HOURS

 

Lieutenant
Colonel Michael
“Skull” Knowlington stepped out from his office in the ramshackle trailer
building known as “Hog Heaven”— headquarters for the 535
th
Tactical
Fighter Squadron at King Fahd Royal Air Base in eastern Saudi Arabia. The cold
air of the desert night stung his eyes closed; the Devil Squadron commander had
to stop and rub them open.

He
began to walk again, ignoring the soft glow of the moon above, pretending he
didn’t hear the uneasy murmur that came from the nearby hangar area where his
A-10A Thunderbolt II “Warthog” fighter-bombers were resting after a long day of
bombing Iraq. A few mechanics tended to battle damage; here an engine was being
overhauled, there a wing was being patched. The workers might account for some
of the noise, but not all of it— the A-10A had always seemed more animal than
machine, and tonight a distinct murmur rose from the parked planes, as if they
were rehashing their missions in a late-night bull session. In a few short
hours, the planes would be back at it, loaded with missiles and bombs and
bullets, jet fuel packed into their arms and bellies. They waited now in the
shadows, metal bones shrugging off fatigue, green skins still sparking with the
electricity of the day. If any warplane could be said to be more than a simple
machine, it was the Hog, a two-engine stubby-winged dirt mover so ugly most
pilots argued she
had
to have a soul. Aeronautics alone would never have
gotten anything that ungainly off the ground.

Knowlington
ignored the Hogs. He ignored the moon. He ignored the cold. He ignored the
acknowledgment of the security detail. Like the planes and their pilots, he was
due a few hours in the sack. More, actually. He’d been strapping planes around
his narrow frame for just about thirty years now, and if it weren’t for the
fact that he was a bona fide, decorated war hero with tons of friends in high
places and could be a serious SOB besides, Michael Knowlington would be retired
by now. He was due a long, long rest— the kind of rest where the most important
thing you did all day was check the obits to make sure you were alive, then went
back to bed.

Some
people wanted him to take that rest. There were reasons beyond length of
service, the same reasons that kept him a lieutenant colonel when most of his
peers were either long gone or wore stars on their uniforms. But Skull had
never been good at resting, much less reading obituaries. He wasn’t even very
good at sleeping, especially not when there was a war on, especially not when
he had an enemy on his ass and gravity was pinching his face and chest from all
directions.

Which
was how he felt now.

Which
was good.

Something
flashed in the sky behind him. The muscles in his neck snapped taut but didn’t
flinch. He walked on, moving stiffly through the shadows, pushing toward a
large parking garage at the other end of the base. He skirted the edge of Tent
City, a mass of tents and temporary housing units where many of the base
personnel— and all of Devil Squadron— lived. He walked quickly and with purpose
but without fear. More importantly, he walked without desire.

For
Michael Knowlington, fear and desire had often walked together. Not fear of the
enemy, not desire for glory. It would be wrong to say that he wasn’t afraid of
dying, or that he didn’t like the honor of recognition. But from the very first
day in Thailand eons ago when he had wedged himself into the cockpit of a Thud
and taken off for Vietnam, neither the enemy nor glory had haunted him.

The
fear he felt was much more basic. He’d been afraid of letting others down. And
he
had
let others down: as a wingman: that time when his mate nearly got
shot down by a trailing MiG that Knowlington should have handled; as a leader,
when his flight got nailed by a battery he should have scoped out before the
mission; as a squadron commander, when one of his boys had gotten in over his
head.

The
last had happened three times, once in Vietnam, once in the States, and once
last week.

Fear—
and its guilt— fueled a deep, unquenchable desire. It was mundane, it was
ordinary, but if was very real. For much of his Air Force career, Michael
Knowlington desired, thirsted, for alcohol. It had tugged at his athletic frame
and dulled his reflexes; it had rounded the sharp edges of his brain. Worst of
all, the thirst had fueled the fear, which in turn increased the thirst.

But
it was gone now. He’d been sober for only 22 days, and had come perilously
close twelve hours before to falling back. But as he walked across the darkened
base, ignoring the moon, ignoring the planes, nose stinging with sweat and jet
fuel, he realized he didn’t want a drink.

And
that was good, though nothing to bank on.

A
Hummer carrying two Air Force MPs shot out of the darkness as he finally neared
his destination. As the Humvee pulled up alongside him, a sergeant leaned out
and spoke in a pseudo whisper, as if raising his voice would wake some sleeping
giant nearby.

“Colonel,
excuse me,” he said, “but there’s a Scud alert. Sir, I have to ask you to take
shelter.”

Knowlington
nodded but said nothing, continuing to walk. The MP started to repeat himself,
but his words were drowned out by a loud shriek in the distance.

Skull
kept walking. The ground rumbled. It was an explosion, but nothing that
threatened him. He knew that from experience.

During
his first tour in Vietnam, Knowlington had manned a machine-gun post with a
frightened E-5 whose specialty was developing recon photos. Guerrillas had attacked
a small base Skull was visiting on a liaison mission; he and the sergeant had
worked through ten belts of ammo while ducking at least five grenade attacks.
During his second tour in Vietnam, Skull had spent two nights at the Marine
base in DaNang when it came under rocket attack— as sure a glimpse into the
bowels of hell as ever offered a live human being. Distant explosions didn’t
impress him; he kept his pace and ignored the comments from the Hummer, which
vanished back into the darkness.

The
two Delta troopers standing guard at the entrance to the parking garage wore
the blank expressions of stone statues as he approached. Though both sergeants
instantly recognized the Air Force officer, they challenged him as fiercely as
if he were an Iraqi infiltrator. For the humble parking garage was the Saudi
home of the Special Operations Command; its officers were running a variety of
top secret operations north of the border. And while Lieutenant Colonel Michael
Knowlington was one of the handful of men permitted access to the “Bat Cave”
inside, even General Schwartzkopf himself would have had to withstand the
ritual humiliation of passing the Delta boys’ sentry post.

Not
that Schwartzkopf would have done so as quietly— nor as quickly— as Skull. But
then, Skull tended to hold the D boys in higher esteem, and the feeling was
mutual.

Cleared
through, Knowlington proceeded to the operational headquarters, a collection of
sandbags, filing cabinets, and desks in an area that had once housed the car
collection of a minor prince. Skull got about as far as the former parking spot
of a yellow MG roadster when one of the general’s aides accosted him.

“Colonel,
General’s not available, sir,” said the lieutenant, who despite the hour and
locale could have cut himself on the creases in his uniform.

“Shit-yeah
he is.” Skull made sure his gravelly voice carried well through the complex. “I
talked to him a half-hour ago. He’s either on the cot over there or sitting at
his desk.”

BOOK: HOGS #5: TARGET SADDAM (Jim DeFelice’s HOGS First Gulf War series)
12.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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