Authors: Patrick Robinson
Prologue Captain Ray Kerman was shivering. Frozen half to…
1. Major Ray Kerman, on his second tour of duty with the…
2. Lieutenant Colonel Russell Makin, Commanding…
3. There’s Tension Up Here, even in the quietest…
4. General Ravi Rashood and Shakira Sabah sat in…
5. General Rashood and Commander Ben Badr sat await…
6. The Splash Headline on the front page of last Satur…
7. General Ravi headed back to the cold north of Russia in…
8. Shakira Sabah, at the age of twenty-seven, married the…
9. For Five Days and five nights the
10. Admiral George Morris left the White House right…
11. By Midnight on that Friday, Admiral Vitaly Rankov had…
12. The Most Powerful electricity generator within a few…
13. The Chinese Ambassador to the United States of…
Epilogue Ravi and Shakira sat companionably with a couple of…
Israel—A Place of Divided Loyalties
The Route of the
from Araguba to the Bering Strait, South of the Polar Ice Cap
’s long voyage around Siberia—to the east lies Alaska
Alaska and the Northwest—the Barracuda’s Principle Target Area
The Panama Canal Pacific Entrance (
)—Across the Gatún Lake to the Atlantic Ocean
John Clarke, the President of the United States (Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Armed Forces)
Vice Adm. Arnold Morgan (National Security Adviser)
Gen. Tim Scannell (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs)
Harcourt Travis (Secretary of State)
Robert MacPherson (Defense Secretary)
Jack Smith (Energy Secretary)
National Security Agency
Rear Adm. George R. Morris (Director)
Lt. Comdr. James Ramshawe (Assistant to the Director)
Capt. Scott Wade (Military Intelligence Division)
U.S. Navy Senior Command
Adm. Alan Dickson (Chief of Naval Operations)
Rear Adm. John Bergstrom (Commander, Special War Command [SPECWARCOM])
Rear Adm. Freddie Curran (Commander, Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet [COMSUBPAC])
Lt. Col. Russell Makin (Commanding Officer, 22 SAS)
Maj. Ray Kerman (Commanding Officer, Israeli Garrison)
Sgt. Fred O’Hara (Adviser, Israeli Defense Force)
Sgt. Charlie Morgan (Adviser, IDF)
Gen. Ravi Rashood (Commander-in-Chief, First Battalion, Military Assault Division)
Lt. Comdr. Shakira Rashood (Precision Targeting, Special Navigation Officer,
Capt. Ben Badr (Commanding Officer,
Lt. Comdr. Ali Akbar Mohtaj (Commanding Officer,
Lt. Comdr. Abbas Shafii (Senior Submariner, Iranian Navy)
CPO Ali Zahedi (Propulsion)
CPO Ardeshir Tikku (Auxiliary)
Maj. Ahmed Sabah (Freedom Fighter)
Adm. Zhang Yushu (Senior Vice Chairman, People’s Liberation Army/Navy Council, China)
Adm. Vitaly Rankov (Commander-in-Chief, Russian Navy)
Adm. Mohammed Badr (Iranian Navy)
Senior Ayatollahs and Hojjats (Iran)
U.S. Navy SEALs
Lt. Comdr. Bill Peavey (Team Leader Operation, Main Assault Group)
Lt. Patrick Hogan Rougeau (2 I/C Operation, Team Leader Recce Group)
Lt. Brantley Jordan (Bomb-Lashing Chief)
Lt. Zane Green (Overall Command Group)
Lt. Chris Hall (Overall Command Group)
Lt. Brian Slocum (Overall Command Group)
CPO Chris O’Riordan (Diver and Combat SEAL)
PO 2nd Class Brian Ingram (Combat SEAL and bodyguard to Lieutenant Rougeau)
PO Mich Stetter (High Explosives Expert and assistant to Lieutenant Commander Peavey)
PO Joe Little and PO Tony McQuade (Landing Area and Material Security)
Navy Air Wing
Lt. Comdr. Steve Ghutzman (Senior COD [Carrier On Delivery] Pilot)
Kathy O’Brien (Fiancée and Personal Assistant to Vice Adm. Arnold Morgan)
Mr. and Mrs. Richard Kerman (Parents of Maj. Ray Kerman)
Rupert Studley-Bryce, M.P. (School friend of Maj. Ray Kerman)
APTAIN RAY KERMAN
was shivering. Frozen half to death, he was shaking uncontrollably, lying down on the frigid concrete floor of his cell. He had assumed the fetal position, curled up tightly, striving for warmth, his backside resting in a three-inch-deep puddle of cold water, or worse.
They had taken off the hood, but the Captain wore no boots, just ripped, bloodstained socks. His pants and shirt were coated in mud. His warm military jacket had been confiscated. And now the hallucinations were growing worse, and he was drifting along in a no-man’s-land, somewhere between reality and mirage. He could no longer ascertain whether his eyes were open or closed in the icy darkness of the cell.
There was a jug of water somewhere, but he was too afraid to grope around to find it, in case he knocked it over. And so he remained tightly coiled, his mouth parched, his entire body racked by cold so painful he thought it might freeze his heart and cause it to stop beating.
They came for him at two in the morning, dragging him up, shoving him down a corridor, and throwing him into a room. Both of his captors wore the uniform of some eastern European army, and now they aimed an arc light into his eyes. Two young officers marched in, wearing similar foreign uniforms, and one of them cupped his hand under Ray’s chin and said in heavily accented English, “You will tell us your mission and that will save you being beaten half to death…that’s my specialty. I beat sniveling little spies…WHAT WERE YOU DOING OUT THERE ON THE MOOR….?”
I’m 538624, Captain Ray Kerman
…” Number, rank, and name.
The officer moved to the back of the room and returned with a wooden truncheon. “You see this…I’m going to deliver one blow with this…straight across your mouth and you’re never going to look the same again.”
He raised it high across his body and screamed, “TELL ME…OR I’LL REARRANGE YOUR UGLY FACE….”
“I’m 538624, Captain Ray Kerman.”
They kept him there for three hours, alternately threatening and bargaining. Threatening to execute his companions, threatening to jail him for twenty years. Bargaining for his knowledge about the Abbey.
After one hour they dragged him back to his cell, bound him again, and placed the hood over his head. At midnight, he heard the sound of marching feet, then the unmistakable sounds of a man being punched, beaten, the sound of a fist smacking against the flesh of a face. Then thumps of boots slamming into a human body. Moans, then screams, terrible screams, a pleading voice, “
Then someone booted his cell door open. And hands grabbed him, and the hood was removed, and someone took him by the hair, firmly but hard. “Right, and now we try something different.”
The screams along the corridor grew louder. And now the unseen man was begging, begging for them not to beat him again.
“I’m 538624, Captain Ray Kerman
All through the night, they kept him awake, firing questions,
demanding, threatening, always threatening. The same officer marched about with the truncheon. Another swished a riding crop. They gave him water, but nothing else.
They threatened to torture Andy. They told him it hardly mattered anyway because Charlie had broken down and told them everything. They just wanted his confirmation as the officer. Just the details of the mission on the moor.
“I’m 538624, Captain Kerman
They took him back to his cell at seven o’clock. Gave him stale bread. And then awakened him every half hour until midnight, making thirty-four different entries into his cell. Then at midnight, they piped earth-shattering music into the cell, cheap rock and roll. Ray had to sit with his fingers pressed into his ears to lock out the sound.
They changed his cell, and pushed and shoved him down into a cellar with deeper puddles of freezing water. They left him to his misery, and short fitful sleep, for two more hours, then hauled him out again, and poured a bucket of ice-cold water over him, and dragged him back to the interrogation room. Ray was trembling uncontrollably.
This time there were four lights aimed at his eyes. And two men, one obsequious, reasonable, bargaining, the other, an unshaven monster, threatening violence and torture. He kept hold of Ray’s chin, staring at him, insulting him, yelling at him.
Ray just kept saying over and over, “
I’m 538624, Captain Kerman
Now he had no idea whether it was night or day. He no longer had a grip on time. He had no idea what day it was, where he was, whether he was. Stripped of his dignity and most of his clothes, starving hungry, shaking with the cold, no longer with any grip on his words or actions, he knew he was on the verge of breakdown.
All he had left was defiance. Obdurate, hard-nosed, stubborn defiance. They could not beat it out of him. But they kept trying, marching him to the interrogation room. Shouting and screaming, taking him back to the cellar, throwing him down in the water, which seemed unaccountably deeper. There was nowhere dry to sit, and he just lay there, shivering, trying to sleep, trying to
ignore the screams of the tortured men, the ones who now ventured into his dreams.
He thought it was dark when the two interrogators came clumping down the stairs and booted the door open. But he could not tell, and they manhandled him to his feet, dragged him up the stairs, and stripped off his hood. He found himself facing the senior officer, crisp in a different uniform.
Hallucinating quite badly now, he answered instinctively, unaware of whether he was in a dream or reality, muttering, “
I’m 538624, Captain Kerman
To his amazement, the officer held out his hand. “Hello, Ray,” he said. “Welcome to the SAS…and will someone turn off those bloody recordings out there….?
“Now, Ray. Come on down to the officers’ mess. It’s 0500. You can have a bath, and some breakfast, and then sleep for the day. We have a clean uniform ready for you, and I thought we’d fly back to Hereford at around 1630.
“You’ve done very well…very well indeed…but I regret it was not a vintage intake…of the eighty men who applied, only five made it.”
Ray could barely gather his thoughts but managed to ask, “Anyone I know?”
“Yes. That young Paratroop Officer you started with, Lieutenant James, stuck it out. So did that Corporal you were on the moor with, Charlie Rider…. we lost a lot of chaps towing them across the moor behind the jeep. Your other pal, the Sergeant, Bob, I think, cracked about two hours ago under interrogation.”
“Jesus, you guys know how to put someone through hell….”
“We also know what we’re looking for. And no one pretends that courage on this scale is all that common.”
“No, sir…I suppose not.”
Captain Ray Kerman stood to attention in front of Lieutenant Colonel Russell Makin, the Commanding Officer of 22 SAS. “It is my very great pleasure to welcome you to this Regiment, Captain Kerman. I see from your record that you won The Sword at Sandhurst a few years back, so you are used to excelling. And I am sure you will find ample outlets for your undoubted talents here in the Special Air Service.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“You have seen from your training and indoctrination process what we demand. And I hope it will be of some reassurance that every single man here has passed the courses that you have just undergone. We are not like other Regiments, but when the bugle sounds, for our style of warfare, I think you will find yourself working among the supreme practitioners of our profession.”
“Yes, sir. I am sure that is so.”
The Colonel then stepped forward and handed to Captain Ray Kerman the distinctive, coveted beige beret of the SAS. On the front was the cloth badge of the Regiment, the upright winged dagger. Beneath it were the words
Thus at four minutes after ten on that Monday morning, Captain Raymond Kerman was accepted into one of the two top fighting military units in the world, the other being the U.S. Navy SEALs, four members of which were in residence at Hereford when Ray wore the beret for the first time.
He saluted the Colonel, made an about turn, and left the room. No one else had been present to see the little ceremony, and only those who had served in the SAS would have understood its significance—but a soldier’s own soul is an iron taskmaster, and there was a smile on the face of Ray Kerman.