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Authors: Keith Douglass

Tropical Terror

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.




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Electronic edition: MARCH, 2003


Titles by Keith Douglass











This one is for
who kept the home fires burning during the wounded-wing times.

Thanks for saving our ship.


On every book project there are always new developments and technology that beg to be included. Some of them are far-out and off-the-wall, but some are so intriguing and fascinating that they must be included.

Watch for two of them in this book. One is the slippery little machine the Army is trying out to be used as a genuine replacement for the World War II Jeep. The Humvee isn't in the same class. It's too big and too observable by the enemy for actual front-line action. This new little horse is called the “Flyer,” has a diesel engine, four-wheel drive, and four-wheel disc brakes. It has a top speed of sixty mph, but has an extremely low profile, no top, mount for a .50-caliber machine gun, and is rugged. The driver sits in the single front seat, and two men in the rear seat. It has a high road clearance so it can work off-road. Price tag, about $100,000. It looked very good in testing when Marines put it through its paces recently at Camp Pendleton in California.

The other interesting development, which will soon work into civilian use, is the British Stealth Diving Suit. It's being used now by Britain's Ministry of Defense. It's the most technologically advanced underwater breathing apparatus yet developed. It's self-contained, no tell-tale bubbles. The heart of it is a computer-controlled oxygen and supplemental gas-delivery system to the closed breathing unit. This other gas often is nitrogen.

The unique part here is that the computer automatically controls the right mix of gases so the body can go up or down with total safety. Most current closed breathing systems are hard put to function at even fifty feet for any length of time.

Do you have any new weapons or systems that the SEALs might use? If so, drop me a line at my pickup box at: Keith Douglass, 8431 Beaver Lake Dr., San Diego, CA 92119.

Now, you have a good day.

—Keith Douglass
San Diego, CA






Commander Dean Masciarelli.
47, 5-11, 220 pounds. Annapolis. Commanding officer of SEAL Team Seven and its 230 men.

Master Chief Petty Officer Gordon MacKenzie.
47, 5-10, 180 pounds. Administrator and head enlisted man of all of SEAL Team Seven.

Lieutenant Commander Blake Murdock.
32, 6-2, 210 pounds. Platoon Leader, Third Platoon. Annapolis graduate. Six years in SEALs. Father important congressman from Virginia. Murdock recently promoted. Apartment in Coronado. Has a car and a motorcycle, loves to fish. Weapon: the new Alliant Bull Pup duo 5.56mm & 20mm explosive round. Alternate: H & K MP- 5SD submachine gun.


Willard “Will” Dobler.
Boatswain's Mate Senior Chief. Top EM in platoon. Third in command. 37, 6-1, 180 pounds. Nineteen years service. Wife, Nancy; children, Helen, 14; Charles, 11. Sports nut. Knows dozens of major league baseball records. Competition pistol marksman. Weapon: Alliant Bull Pup duo 5.56mm & 20mm explosive round. Good with the men.

David “Jaybird” Sterling.
Machinist Mate Second Class. Lead petty officer. 24, 5-10, 170 pounds. Quick mind, fine tactician. Single. Drinks too much sometimes. Crack shot with all arms. Helps plan attack operations. Weapon: H & K MP-5SD submachine gun.

Ron Holt.
Radioman First Class. 22, 6-1, 170 pounds. Plays guitar, had a small band. Likes redheaded girls. Rabid baseball fan. Loves deep-sea fishing, is good at it. Platoon radio operator. Weapon: Alliant Bull Pup duo 5.56mm & 20mm explosive round.

Bill Bradford.
Quartermaster First Class. 24, 6-2, 215 pounds. An artist in spare time. Paints oils. He sells his marine paintings. Single. Quiet. Reads a lot. Has two years of college. Squad sniper. Weapon: H & K PSG1 7.62 NATO sniper rifle or McMillan M-87R .50-caliber sniper rifle.

Joe “Ricochet” Lampedusa.
Operations Specialist Third Class. 21, 5-11, 175 pounds. Good tracker, quick thinker. Had a year of college. Loves motorcycles. Wants a Hog. Pot smoker on the sly. Picks up plain girls. Platoon scout. Weapon: Colt M-4A1 with grenade launcher; alternate, Bull Pup duo 5.56mm & 20mm explosive round.

Kenneth Ching.
Quartermaster's Mate First Class. Full-blooded Chinese. 25, 6-0, 180 pounds. Platoon translator. Speaks Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish. Bicycling nut. Paid $1,200 for off-road bike. Is trying for Officer Candidate School. Weapon: Colt M-4A1 rifle with grenade launcher.

Harry “Horse” Ronson.
Electrician's Mate Second Class. 24, 6-4, 240 pounds. Played football two years in college. Wants a ranch where he can raise horses. Good man in a brawl. Has broken his nose twice. Squad machine gunner. Weapon: H & K 21-E 7.62 NATO round machine gun.


Lieutenant (j.g.) Ed DeWitt.
Leader Bravo Squad. Second in command of the platoon. From Seattle. 30, 6-1, 175 pounds. Wiry. Has serious live-in woman, Milly. Annapolis graduate. A career man. Plays a good game of chess on traveling board.
Weapon: Alliant Bull Pup duo 5.56mm & 20mm explosive round. Alternate: H & K G-11 submachine gun.

George Canzoneri.
Torpedoman's Mate First Class. 27, 5-11, 190 pounds. Married to Navy wife Phyllis. No kids. Nine years in Navy. Expert on explosives. Nicknamed “Petard” for almost hoisting himself one time. Top pick in platoon for explosive work. Weapon: Alliant Bull Pup duo 5.56mm & 20mm explosive round.

Miguel Fernandez.
Gunner's Mate First Class. 26, 6-1, 180 pounds. Wife, Maria; daughter, Linda, 7, in Coronado. Spends his off time with them. Highly family-oriented. He has relatives in San Diego. Speaks Spanish, Portuguese. Squad sniper. Weapon: H & K PSG1 7.62 NATO sniper rifle.

Colt “Guns” Franklin.
Yeoman Second Class. 24, 5-10, 175 pounds. A former gymnast. Powerful arms and shoulders. Expert mountain climber. Has a motorcycle, and does hang gliding. Speaks Farsi and Arabic. Weapon: Colt M-4A1 with grenade launcher.

Tran “Train” Khai.
Torpedoman Second Class. 23, 6-1, 180 pounds. U.S. born Vietnamese. A whiz at languages and computers. Speaks Vietnamese, French, German, Spanish, and Arabic. Specialist in electronics. Understands the new 20mm Bull Pup weapon. Can repair the electronics in it. Plans on becoming an electronics engineer. Joined the Navy for $40,000 college funding. Entranced by SEALs. First hitch up in four months. Weapon: H & K G-11 with caseless rounds, 4.7mm submachine gun with fifty-round magazine.

Jack Mahanani.
Hospital Corpsman First Class. 25, 6-4, 240 pounds. Platoon medic. Tahitian/Hawaiian. Expert swimmer. Bench-presses four hundred pounds. Once married, divorced. Top surfer. Wants the .50 sniper rifle. Weapon: Alliant Bull Pup duo 5.56 & 20mm explosive round. Alternate: Colt M- 4A1 with grenade launcher.

Anthony “Tony” Ostercamp.
Machinist Mate First Class. 24, 6-1, 210 pounds. Races stock cars in nearby El Cajon weekends. Top auto mechanic. Platoon driver. Weapon: H & K 21E 7.62 NATO round machine gun. Second radio operator.

Paul “Jeff” Jefferson.
Engineman Second Class. Black man. 23, 6-1, 200 pounds. Expert in small arms. Can tear apart most weapons and reassemble them, repair, and innovate. A chess player to match Ed DeWitt. Weapon: Alliant Bull Pup duo 5.56mm & 20mm explosive round.

Oahu, Hawaii

Lieutenant Commander Blake Murdock squirmed deeper into the rain-forest foliage of the Koolau Mountains just off the Pali Highway overlooking Honolulu, and grinned. This was work? Here they were in the garden spot of the world. In a land where there were twenty shades of green and each one more vivid than the last. The trees and brush were tangled, beautiful, and always lush. Just beyond them he caught the sweep of the green of the valley far below that let him see all the way to the far side of Oahu.

He jerked his attention back to work as he saw a small tree shudder thirty yards in front of him. Somebody out there was damn good. He'd come up through the brush without any indication. Then he'd made one mistake. Murdock heard the chatter of a machine gun to the right. When the hell did they bring up that gun? Another deadly problem to worry about. He and the fifteen men of the Third Platoon of SEAL Team Seven were strung out along this upward slant of the Koolau Range in a thin defensive line.

He looked out and checked Honolulu in the distance, with Pearl Harbor just to the northwest. Hickam Air Force Base was down there right beside Pearl. Both famous as the targets
of the Japanese surprise attack on Hawaii on December 7, 1941. As President Franklin Roosevelt had said, it was a day that would live in infamy.

Something moved to his left through the tropical growth of the Oahu rain forest. The brush tops wiggled again. Somebody or something worked through the area just below.

He lifted his rifle and aimed at the spot. It was less than thirty yards away. A helmet covered with greenery lifted out of the foliage for just a moment, then went down and out of sight. Yes, one of the attackers. Murdock waited. He'd been a Navy SEAL now for over six years. Patience had been trained into him.

More brush movement, then the man belonging to the helmet, with a camo-painted face, came up in a rush charging forward.

Murdock fired twice. Both rounds drilled into the chest of the rushing soldier and he went down on the ground, a clear kill. Murdock heard the rattle of weapons going off to his left. They were hitting hard over there again. He chanced a radio call.

“Alpha Squad, any casualties?” he said into the lip mike. It was the Motorola MX-300 radio for personal communications. A speaker in his left ear brought the sound through a wire down the back of his neck and through a slit in his shirt, and plugged into the Motorola transceiver secured to his combat harness. A filament mike perched just below his lip.

“Oh, hell, no casualty here,” David “Jaybird” Sterling said. “They got some, though. Nailed me two. One KIA, the other looks like an arm wound. I'm A-okay. The line holds here.”

Murdock had rolled twice just after he fired, and saw six rounds splatter where he had been. He came up behind a huge koa tree. The species of acacia soared over seventy feet above him and the trunk was more than three feet thick. He peered around the far side at the suspect area.

“No casualty here, Skipper. I snuffed one of the bastards and another one got away. He was moving in your direction.” The voice belonged to Ron Holt, Radioman First Class and Murdock's radio operator.

The woods were quiet for a moment high on the ridge
line. Then the peace was spoiled by the faintly hollow sound of a machine gun spitting out rounds as it fired farther to the left.

“Trouble, Skip,” Bill Bradford, Quartermaster First Class, said through the earplug. “Got six of the bastards moving up. One MG you heard and some idiot throwing hand grenades too damn far. Shit, there goes another one. I'm a dead duck if I stay here.”

“Pull back to that pair of koa trees,” Murdock said. “Can anybody give him cover?”

“Oh, yeah, cover's my middle name,” Harry “Horse” Ronson, Electrician's Mate Second Class, said. At once his H & K 21-E 7.62 NATO round machine gun began spitting out five-round bursts of cover fire.

Murdock pushed forward two feet and parted some low branches on a young ohia tree. He could see down the narrow ridge the enemy had come up. There were at least forty attackers out there somewhere, with their job to overrun his smaller contingent of defenders who had not had time to dig in and presented a thin line of defense.

For a moment he stared beyond the ridge line to the sharp drop-off to the valley below. Several miles away he could see the soft morning fog burning off over Honolulu. What a marvelous place, Hawaii. If it wasn't for this current unpleasantness, this would be a true vacation. He grinned. Not really. He wouldn't have it any other way. This was what they kept training for year-round.

A flash caught his eye. It came from the area this side of Honolulu proper. Yes, the flash was near Pearl Harbor. He frowned. Another flash. Only then did the sound come through, the
of a massive explosion.

“What the hell?” Jaybird said on the net. “Those bombs I hear?”

Murdock had his binoculars up and trained on the area. Slowly he saw the pattern.

“It's Pearl,” he said. “Somebody is bombing Pearl Harbor. No, not bombing, those are missiles. Shit! Look at that one hit. Not a nuke but a damn big payload. Who the hell could be attacking Pearl Harbor?”

“Missiles, that's a Roger,” Lieutenant (j.g.) Ed DeWitt said
on the radio. “I count four hits already, one secondary explosion. What the hell is going on?”

“By God, we're going to find out,” Murdock said. He stood up and made a sign of time-out over his head. “Stop the clock, stop the exercise,” Murdock bellowed. “This training exercise is over.” Just then a red paint ball hit Murdock in the chest and he swore. “Hold fire, damnit. Can't you Brits understand English? The war games are over. We've got the real thing going on down there at Pearl.” He turned and looked around.

“Holt, fire up the SATCOM,” Murdock said. The SATCOM is officially the AN/PRC-117D portable radio. It makes direct connection with the Milstar satellite in a synchronous orbit 22,300 miles over the equator. It's fifteen inches high and three inches square and weighs fifteen pounds. It can be used to call any spot on earth.

Holt scrambled past some brush and dropped down beside Murdock. He had the small dish antenna folded out and aligned with the satellite, then turned on the set and looked at Murdock.

“What the hell,” Ching said, running up. “Those really missiles hitting Pearl down there? Christ, who the hell is shooting at us?”

A British SAS trooper with heavy camouflage on his helmet and uniform stood up twenty yards away. He ran up to the others.

“Missiles? What the fuck you mean? Missiles, real ones going off down there in Pearl Harbor? Hard to believe.”

“Believe it, Captain,” Murdock said. “We're going to find out what the hell is happening.”

“Voice?” Holt asked his skipper.

“Yes, on channel two.”

The speaker made the three small beeps indicating that the dish antenna was properly aligned. Murdock took the handset and stared at Pearl Harbor, where two more missiles landed creating large explosions.

“CINCPAC, this is Commander Murdock. Respond. Over.”

Nothing came over the air. Murdock repeated the message, but there was no answer. Two British SAS men stood from
the brush in front and hurried up to the others.

“I say, what's happening down there?” Captain Haworth, leader of the Brits, asked.

“Trying to find out,” Murdock said. “Looks like Pearl Harbor is getting plastered with some kind of medium-sized missiles.” Murdock made one more transmission, but had no reply.

“Go to TAC Two,” Murdock told Holt.

“What the fuck is happening?” Tony Ostercamp said on the Motorola. “The exercise over? You fuckers kidding about real live missiles on Pearl?”

“No kidding. Pearl is getting clobbered,” Ed DeWitt said.

Murdock repeated the message into the mike and they waited.

A moment later the set responded.

“Commander Murdock. Heard your transmission to CINCPAC. Not sure who the hell you are, but this is Air Force Eagle Six. We're airborne about five miles out on the leeward side of Oahu. I can't raise Hickam Field. You copy?”

“Eagle Six. Hickam might be off the air. Pearl Harbor next door has taken six or eight missile hits. Real ones. CINCPAC is off the air. There goes another missile into Pearl. We're on the Koolau Range about ten to twelve miles from the field. I can't raise CINCPAC.”

“Yeah, Commander, your boss man in the Pacific. So where do we put down? We have six Air Force birds here without a lot of reserve in the tanks.”

“You have an alternate field?”

“On Oahu? Only place they told us about was the Honolulu International, which also serves Hickam. Did the runways get hit?”

“We can't tell from here. I'd say the missile strike is over. But you can't land without some radio contact with the field. Suggest you make a call to Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station. It's just across the ridge from Pearl flying northeast. About fifteen miles from Pearl. You can try radio contact with them on the emergency channel. They have a long runway there.”

“That's a Roger, Commander Murdock. Thanks. We're out.”

By that time all of the SEALs had gathered near the big tree, and about half of the Aussies and Brits.

Leftenant Anderson of the Australian Special Attack Forces shook his head. “Is something afoot we don't know about?”

“If CINCPAC is off the air, something damn big is happening,” Murdock said. “They usually have security a mile deep down there and the communications room is like a tomb, it's so safe.”

“Only not this time,” Holt said. “How about giving Don Stroh a try?”

Murdock slapped Holt on the shoulder. “Good idea. Set it up and let's go.”

Holt adjusted the settings on the radio and nodded. Murdock took the handset again.

“Commander Blake Murdock calling Don Stroh. Don Stroh, if you're there, get on the horn. We've got trouble in paradise. Somebody just shot eight or ten medium-sized missiles into Pearl Harbor. Come back.”

There was no reply.

“It gets recorded and he gets beeped automatically when something comes in on his frequency,” Holt said. “So he'll get it as soon as anyone can find him.”

A British lieutenant came up with his men and asked what was going on.

“The training exercise is over,” Murdock told them. “It's been good working with you SAS guys, but now it looks like we've got ourselves a real war going on down there. We've been attacked by missiles from someone. Seems like most of the communications are down. Time we get down there and see what's going on. We're about two miles from our base camp. Get your men down there fast and let's pack up. The trucks are another hour's hike out. Let's move, people.”

After an hour, they stopped and tried the SATCOM again. The second time they had a response from Don Stroh.

“Yeah, Murdock. Good to know you're okay. We don't know what the hell is going on out there except that our reports show that someone has launched an attack against Oahu. Thinking here is it has to be China. Only one with any real problem with us in the Pacific who has the
capability. When we can, we'll put you on TAD with CINCPAC. Keep us informed.”

Murdock called Ed DeWitt over.

“Who was that commander who served as our liaison with CINCPAC the first day we arrived?”

“Somebody Johnson. Commander Johnson,” Ed said. He watched his CO. “What the hell we going to do?”

“Maybe this Commander Johnson can tell us. We reported in at Pearl, right? What department was that?”

“He was from the Pearl Harbor Training Command, as I remember,” Will Dobler, Senior Chief Boatswain's Mate, said. “He was grousing about it, wanting to get back to sea duty.”

“Francis,” Murdock said. “Commander Francis Johnson.”

“Right,” Ed said. “Only it was the CINCPAC Training Command.”

“Try that on the radio,” Murdock said. “Stow these paint guns and get out our usual weapons. We have live ammo, right?”

“Oh, yes,” Senior Chief Dobler said. “The Brits wanted to see just how much gear and ammo we carried when we went into a mission.”

“Pearl must be a mess after the attack, but CINCPAC is up on the hill five miles away,” Murdock said, thinking out loud. “Why are they off the air? They told us to give them a call at CINCPAC whenever we needed anything.”

“Hey, reminds me,” DeWitt said. “Johnson gave me a phone number in case we got cut off by the CINCPAC officialdom. Right here.” He handed a small notebook to Murdock.

The commander looked at Holt, who made two settings on the SATCOM and looked up. “Ready for you to dial the cellular phone, Skipper.”

Murdock hit the buttons and a few moments later the speaker came to life.

“Yes, yes. What do you want? All hell is still on the loose here. Who is this?”

“Commander Johnson, this is Lieutenant Commander Blake Murdock, with the SEALs. We were on the Koolau
Range when the missile hit. They were missiles, weren't they?”

“God, yes. But first, somehow they knocked out all of our radio communications. All we have are phones. Going mad. How fast can you get down here? The admiral wants you to do a small job for us. The faster the better. You have transport?”

“Right, we do. I'd say about an hour from here, depending on the traffic. Have the civilians panicked yet?”

“Not that we've heard about. All the damage is on-base. They were good, whoever the hell they were. Make it here in an hour and don't worry about stop signs and traffic lights. Blow your horn all the way. We need you here damn fast. Instead of Pearl, go right up to the Marine Corps' Camp Smith about five miles up the hill. The admiral has a job for you. A guide will be waiting for you at the gate. Move it, Commander.”

Half the men were in the three trucks. Murdock bellowed that they were moving out. The rest loaded in less than two minutes. Murdock sat in the front seat of the lead six-by and told the driver the drill.

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