You’ve waited long enough to read Chapter 1 of “The High Cost of Service, an Expose into PTSD and Agent Orange.

I hope you will enjoy the first chapter and I know you will look forward to reading Chapter 2 next week.

The High Cost Of Service, An Expose into PTS And Agent Orange

         This book is a fictional novel and may bear some similarities to situations or people. Any resemblance to a person, ship or incident is purely coincidental.

Chapter One

Aboard the USS Lawrence Mathers, U.S. Naval Destroyer:

“Bubba wake up!”

“What’s going on, Bob”, he said shaking the sleep from his eyes.

“Are we going around circles or is it just my imagination?  I thought this ship was supposed to be on the gun line in Nam? If I remember correctly, our pattern should be a rectangle.   What’s going on? I must find out what is happening.  There have been too many weird things taking place on this ship and I have a very uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I’m going up on the bridge to see what’s going on. Something is not right, and I want to find out what it is.”

Bob climbed up the ladders to the bridge. The bridge was a place with which he was familiar. The Captain was so impressed with his voice that he sent him to Naval school for professional voice training.  Bob made all the ship’s announcements from that day forward.  As he entered the bridge, he saw the Captain and four of his Chiefs.  The bridge was darkened and only the red lights illuminated the working spaces on the bridge.

Bob walked around the bridge without alarming the Chiefs who were engrossed in performing their duties.  When Bob looked up, he was taken back with what he saw.  Was it an oil drilling ship?

“God, that profile looks so familiar.  Why does it ring a bell with me? Bob questioned, why does it stand out in my memory?”  As his eyes focused upon the vessel, he began to put two and two together.

“Oh my God, it’s the Grand-mar Voyager! The last time Bob saw the Voyager it was in Long Beach, California being outfitted.”

“What the hell is it doing out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean?” he thought.  He never could find out what the mission was for this unusual ship.  It wasn’t an oil rig; it wasn’t a transport vessel; then, what was it?  The bigger question was what was it doing out here?

He heard reports that it was in Hawaii for its Shakedown cruise.  That had to be it!PTSD-Agent Organe

He remembered that the development of the vessel was draped in secrecy.  It was built inside of a huge building and it was rumored to be the pet project for a very wealthy man. Bob remained quietly on the bridge for a few moments and then decided to go back down to his bunk and contemplate what he saw.

As he lay awake in his bunk, the thoughts of what he just experienced flashed through his mind as if he was hallucinating or under the influence of LSD.  What was the Voyager doing here?

“Think, Bob, think!”  Sleep finally came to him like a welcomed visitor.  In the morning, he felt refreshed and ready to try to solve this mystery.

Bubba woke up after a sleepless night.  It bothered him that his best friend was so distraught.

“What the hell should I do?” questioned Bubba.

Bubba was a sonar man and held a top-secret clearance.  If anyone knew what was going on it was him.  This was something he never revealed to Bob.  Matter of fact, he rarely talked shop outside his work area.  It was just not the way you did things.

Bubba was a little older than Bob, had more experience and knew that sailors didn’t talk about their jobs.  The reason they became friends was mainly their farming background.

Bubba’s father was a Preacher who ruled with an iron hand. He preached the wrath of God and made sure his family was an exemplary model of a Christian household.  Preaching didn’t provide enough income to support a wife and five children, so he also ran a small family farm that was passed down from his father.  The farm not only provided garden vegetables but the meat for the table in the form of a few cows, goats and chickens.   It was just enough to supplement the Preacher’s income and make ends meet.

His mother was a stay-at-home mom who cooked, cleaned and canned what the farm produced.  The entire family sat down at the dinner hour and prayed over the food presented on the table.  Raising an honest and ethical family was the aim of Bubba’s father and mother.  Follow the Commandments, love your neighbor, be honest, don’t steal, and go to church every Sunday to thank God for what you have.  That was Bubba’s upbringing and his father modeled his life after these principles.

It was no wonder that Bubba was conflicted.  He had all the answers Bob was looking for but struggled with his inner demons debating whether he could share his secret with Bob.  Ever since that night two weeks ago, Bubba was never the same.  He remembered it as if it were yesterday.

He was on duty in Sonar when the Chief came screaming down to the sonar shack, wondering why they hadn’t picked up “the submarine”.

“What are you talking about, Chief?” questioned Bubba.  “No disrespect, Chief, but I just took over my duty station and orders stated to carry on as usual”.

Chief scowled and put his face right in front of Bubba’s face shouting, “Your stupid, asshole! We’re looking for a Russian submarine out here and it is on the critical list.  Do you understand sailor?”

Bubba looked a little confused but didn’t dare question the chief.  After all, the chief was god and you NEVER questioned him if you knew what was good for you.

“Yes, Chief will do!”

Bubba scanned the AN/SQS- 23 Sonar display eliminating the whales that went by and searching for the Russian submarine.  After several hours passed, Bubba noticed a blip on the display along with a weak “pinging” being emitted from the SQS-23.

“Chief, Chief, I think I have it”.  Bubba couldn’t help but contain himself.

If he was right, it would be a big “kudo” for Bubba; if he was wrong, he’d have the wrath of the chief on his case for the rest of his assignment on the ship.

Chief came over to see the display over Bubba’s shoulder, gruffly mumbling to himself. “It better the hell be that submarine or you can count on cleanup duty for the next month”.

Bubba knew he meant what he said and was hoping he found the Russian submarine.  After a few seconds, the Chief turned to Bubba and with a grin said, “By golly sailor, I think we have it.  Good job!”

The chief picked up the intercom and notified the bridge that “the missing sub was on their screen at bearing 305 degrees.”

The Captain came back with a “Well done, chief, don’t lose her”.

The chief looked at Bubba and said, “Sailor, I’ll take over now.  You can watch and learn from this experience.”

He homed in on the blip on the screen and flipped over from manual TMA (target motion analysis) to TDA (tactical decision aid).  His work at the land-based tracking station known as SOSUS gave him an edge up on just what Russian submarine he was looking at and what speed they were doing.  He started tracking the sub to get a better handle on which sub it was.

The chief listened to the propeller of the submarine and was able to identify it as a Russian sub. Then he heard a noise that was disturbing to him. As he carefully listened, he remembered the sound. “Oh no,” muttered the chief, “it was the sound of a missile being loaded into a firing tube. That son of a bitch is about to launch one of its missiles,” He couldn’t believe what he was hearing and waited a few seconds to verify what he heard. “Oh my God, get the Captain on the scrambled intercom now!  I said now as if it were yesterday.”

Bubba reached over for the intercom that was colored a bright red.  He never used it before except for trial exercises and felt a bit uncomfortable even picking up the receiver.  But, he did so on the chief’s orders.

“Chief, I have the Captain on the secured line.  What should I do?”

Chief grabbed the receiver and calmly stated, “Captain, we have the Russian submarine you’re looking for. She’s getting ready to launch one of her missiles. How do you want me to proceed, Sir?’

There was a pregnant pause from the Captain.  Then came the damning words, “Chief, sink that goddamn sub as soon as we’re in range. Did you hear me?”

The chief couldn’t believe his ears but uttered, “Yes, Sir repeating your command – sink the Russian sub.  Consider it done.”

Next Chapter >>>>>>

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