Admiral Yamashita Visits
11 December 2426
In the speakers in my helmet, I could hear, “5-5 Golf Sierra, this is Moody IAFB tower, come in. Over.” The speaker was Janice Bronson, a pretty blond haired, green eyed 22-year-old native of Lubbock, Texas. However, I was too busy focusing on my aircraft’s instrumentation to respond immediately.
After waiting a few seconds, during which time I didn’t respond, she spoke again, a little more insistently. “5-5 Golf Sierra, this is Moody AFB tower, come in. Over.”
Finally, I respond, saying, “Moody tower, this is 5-5 Golf Sierra. How ya doing today, beautiful? Sorry I didn’t respond sooner; I was a bit busy keeping a close eye on my instrumentation. Over.”
From her response, I knew that Technical Sergeant Robert Chan was standing nearby, “Dispense with the pleasantries, William. What are you doing? Over.”
I wasn’t going to be deterred. I replied, “I am sure you have your pretty green eyes glued to your radar screen, Senior Airman Bronson. So, I know that you know that I’m flying my jet. Over.”
With a bit of disgust in her voice, Janice said, “Don't get smart, William. You know what I mean. Sergeant Chan is on the phone with your father right now. Over.”
I laughed as I said, “Janice, if that were true, you wouldn’t have told me. However, I will tell you that I am attempting to set an altitude record for non-military pilots. I want to surpass 65 kilometers. Over.”
From the sound of Sergeant Chan’s voice, I knew that a look of horror was slowly crossing the faces of Airman Bronson and Sergeant Chan. I could hear Sergeant Chan as he said, “Engage the remote control! Get him back down here before he kills himself! The General will kill us if that happens.”
I immediately said, “Sergeant Chan, it won’t do any good using the remote control to bring me down, I disabled it about four months ago. Over.”
I could hear Sergeant Chan pound his fist on a desk as he shouted, “Damn!”
About 15 minutes later, I heard Senior Airman Bronson in my helmet saying, “5-5 Golf Sierra, this is Moody tower come in. Over.”
I replied. “Moody tower, this is 5-5 Golf Sierra. What can I do for you now, beautiful? Over.”
She replied, “There is someone here who wishes to speak with you. Over.”
After a short pause, I said, “What does my father want? Over.”
After a couple of seconds, I heard my father, Major General James Watson, saying, “William, what in the name of Hell do you think you are doing? Over.”
“Dad, have you ever been this high when you flew? Over.”
Still with a hint of anger in his voice, my father answered, “No, I haven't. What has that go to do with anything? Over.”
“It's beautiful up here. I can see stars and the curvature of Terra. Over.”
A little impatiently, my father responded, “Don't change the subject. Answer my question. Over.”
“No civilian has ever flown a private aircraft this high before. I wanted to be the first. Over.”
“You do realize the International Aviation Authority will cancel your pilot's license, don't you? Over.”
“Perhaps they will. But, by then, I will be a celebrity and they won't be able to do it publicly. Over.”
I could imagine my father pausing momentarily and smiling slightly as he thought about how well I had thought everything out beforehand. Finally, he said, “According to the radar screen, you seem to be in control of the craft. You are flying straight and level. How are you doing that? You are too high to have enough air to be able to operate the control surfaces adequately. Over.”
“Do you remember all that time I spent in the hanger over the last few months? Over.”
“I was installing a large air compressor and air tanks in the fuselage and air nozzles in the wings, nose and tail in preparation for today. I remember reading about an aircraft that was capable of vertical takeoff and landing back in the late 20<sup>th</sup> and early 21<sup>st</sup> centuries. That aircraft used something similar to what I did to my aircraft to control the aircraft when it was in the hover mode. It was while I was installing the air compressor, air tanks and air nozzles that I found the remote control and disabled it. Over.”
After an instant, with a slight laugh in his voice, he said, “So, you have been planning this flight for several months. Perhaps you should be in intelligence. You sure are good at keeping a secret. However, you better survive today, boy! Because, when you come back down, I am going to bust your ass! Do you read me!? Over!”
“Loud and clear, sir, loud and clear. Does mom know? Over.”
The change in subject seemed to have caught my dad temporarily off guard. After a couple of seconds, he said quietly, “I haven't told her. But, I’m sure she’ll know before you land. The International News Network and the TransGlobal News Corporation are interviewing anyone associated with this situation. I don't know how they found out about it, but if they find out who you are, they will hound your mother to death for her take on what is going on or they will blow the story up to show the irresponsibility of the military or both. You know how they are. You mother, in turn, will chew my ears off. You she will accuse me of putting this idea into your head. Over.”
“Well, Dad, the two news agencies learned about my attempt because I leaked the story five minutes after I took off. Over.” Suddenly, I laughed.
Dad said, “What’s do damned funny? Over.”
“Sorry, Dad, I just find it funny that the roughest, toughest Major General the International Air Force has ever known, a man that could easily have been a Major General in the IMC, could be bossed around by a 160 cm tall, 44 kg woman. Over.” I laughed again.
After several seconds, with a bit of concern in his voice, the General said, “William, I . . .”
“Dad, I know you’re concerned. But, don't you remember the modifications I have been making over the last few months? Over.”
“Other than the air compressor, air tanks and air nozzles, what modifications? Over.”
“I have larger wings, both longer and wider, larger control surfaces and a larger horizontal stabilizer. I’ll be all right. Besides, I have a parachute, although it won't do me any good until I get down to where the air is thick enough to use it and by then the air will run my engine. Over.”
I could hear my father ask someone, probably Airman Bronson, “What is his altitude now?”
“He is just below sixty kilometers and descending at the rate of one kilometer every five minutes. At that rate of descent, he should be low enough to attempt to restart his engine in approximately,” I imagined her doing a quick glance at a calculator to verify her computations, “150 minutes, sir.”
I don’t know if it was by design or not, but the mic was left open and I could hear, “Damn, by then—Sergeant Truman!”
heard Sergeant Truman say, “Yessir!”
“Get my wife on the phone.” I heard him as he muttered. “I might as well get an earful now rather than wait until the news media blows this all out of proportion, as usual.”
The day after my exploit I was sitting in my room in front of my computer working on schoolwork when I heard the front door open and my father’s booming voice as he spoke in a rather excited voice.
“Julia! William! Everyone! Come in here! It’s important!”
We all rushed to the living room where my father was still standing. My mother said, “James, what’s wrong? Why are you so excited?”
Dad said, “Early this morning not long after I arrived at my office, my videophone rang. I read on the screen who was calling and answered. ‘Good morning, Admiral Yamashita. Please don't tell me you are calling about yesterday's news story.’
“‘Actually, General Watson, I am. However, I would prefer to speak to you and your son in person. Do you mind if my wife and I fly down to Moody for a few days?’
“‘I'm sorry, sir. Yes, of course you can fly down and visit for a couple of days. We would be honored. I will even have base housing prepare a house for you and your wife to use while you’re here.’
“‘Thank you. We should be there in a couple of hours. I’ll call you when we’re over Georgia.’
“As soon as I hung up the phone, I came straight home. My office will forward the call here as soon as Admiral Yamashita calls me.”
About two hours later, Admiral Yamashita's plane was taxiing along the runway to the terminal at Moody IAFB. As soon as the engines shut down, the door opened and a stairway was lowered to the tarmac. The Admiral, accompanied by his wife, descended the stairway and my father and I met them at the bottom. (1)
My father stuck out his hand and said, “Admiral Yamashita, welcome to Moody IAFB.”
“Thank you, General.”
“Come this way, sir. I’ll have your luggage delivered to your quarters. We’ve prepared appropriate housing for you and your wife.”
“Thank you again, General.” Jeremy offered Mai his arm and the three of them entered the terminal building, passed through and entered a waiting vehicle at the curbside. After a short five-minute drive, they arrived at Base Temporary Housing Unit 744.
Mrs. Yamashita whispered to her husband and he said, “Do you mind moving us? Mai was brought up in a more traditional Japanese family and the numbers 4 and 7 are considered very unlucky.”
“Of course, Admiral. Allow me to make a call to Base Housing.”
After talking to the Housing Officer, the vehicle was redirected to Housing Unit 653. My father said, “I am sorry about the original house number, Mrs. Yamashita. Even though I had spent time in Japan in my younger days, I had forgotten about the unluckiness of the numbers 4 and 7 in Japan.”
Mai said, “That’s quite all right and understandable, General Watson. Personally, I don’t follow most Japanese traditions like my parents do; but, I also prefer to not tempt fate. I want my husband's visit here to be as fruitful as possible. So, if we can avoid bad luck, then we should. Do you not agree, General?”
Smiling, my father said, “I agree most heartily, ma'am.”
The four of us exited the vehicle and got Admiral and Mrs. Yamashita set up in the house. My father also called and had the luggage redirected to the new house. The adults decided that the Yamashitas would have dinner with us so that the Admiral and my father could ‘have a little chat’ with me.
Admiral and Mrs. Yamashita arrived at our home at 1600. After relieving the driver until he was called later, Admiral Yamashita offered his wife his arm as they walked up to the front door and rang the doorbell. Dressed casually, Dad answered the door and asked them to enter. The three of them walked into the living room where the appropriate introductions were made.
Yamashita said, “Since we were too busy to say anything to you earlier I can now say so, this is the famous pilot who thumbed his nose at the IAA rules and regulations.”
Sheepishly, I replied, “Well, sir, I wouldn't put it quite that way; but, yes, sir, I guess I am the guilty party.”
My mother and Mrs. Yamashita left us guys alone and headed into the kitchen to put the finishing touches on dinner. While they were gone, Admiral Yamashita told us about his decision to meet me.
“I had just arrived home, in Washington, D.C., after an arduous meeting with Senator Tyrene Koshuvala of Nirtana Selipe at the Terran Interstellar Federation capitol on the Crimean Peninsula.
“My wife greeted me at the door with a kiss and a hug. Ah! Seeing my wife always makes me feel 20 years younger. She’s the most important thing in my life and I let her know regularly. She had dinner prepared and we ate. I started feeling a bit nostalgic as we ate dinner.
“For so long our huge house had heard the laughter and conversations of our six children. Only three months ago, the last of the children had left for college and we were all alone.
“I said, ‘Mai, do you ever get lonely when I’m away?’
“Maiko's parents had been extremely traditional and had chosen more traditional names for their children. Mai, on the other hand, had not been traditional and had named our children names that she and I liked. Two had Japanese names, Hiroshi and Yuriko; two had English names, George and Marcia; and two Spanish names, Alejandro and Mateo.
“‘Of course, I do, sweetheart. But, I know that, as soon as your business is completed, you will return home to me. You always have and I believe that as long as you live you will.’
“I smiled at her and said, ‘I miss you so much when I am away from you. I thank God that I can fly home from Crimea in less than four hours.
“‘Oh, speaking of Crimea that damnable Senator Koshuvala is going to get us involved in an interstellar war. I just know it.’
“Mai replied, ‘Now dear, why don't you go watch the news while I clear the table? That should calm you down a bit.’ As she entered the kitchen, she said, ‘Oh, there was an interesting story broadcast today. I think you will be interested in it.’
“‘Thank you.’ I said.
“I turned on the video screen just as a teaser for the story was being shown. After the commercial break, the news caster told the story of your flight and I watched the story intently. After the story ended, I sat in my chair thinking. While I was thinking, Mai came out of the kitchen and sat in my lap. Unconsciously, I put his arms around her waist, but I stared as if I didn't even know she was there.
“Finally, Mai touched my nose and said, ‘Earth to Yamashita, are you there, Jeremy?’
“Startled out of my reverie, I said, ‘What are you planning tomorrow?’
“‘Nothing, why do you ask?’
“‘Good, we need to take a short vacation.’
“She looked at me with knowing eyes and said, ‘You mean a working vacation, don't you?’
At about 5:00, my mother came into the living room and announced that dinner was ready. Everyone walked to the dining table and sat down, Dad at the head of the table, the Admiral opposite him, each of the wives seated in the center to their husband's right. My siblings and I were seated with me and my brother on Dad’s left on either side of Mrs. Yamashita and my sisters on his right on either side of Mom. I was seated between Dad and Mrs. Yamashita.
“Well, General, I see your family is almost as large as mine. But, you are young yet.”
Mom said, “If he wants more children, he better either adopt or find another wife. Four is plenty enough for me.” Everyone laughed uproariously.
“Then, I guess four children is all I will ever have.” Looking at me, he added, “However, sometimes I think one would have been too many.”
Admiral Yamashita said to me, “I am curious. How were you able to fly to an altitude of 65 kilometers? What happened to the remote control?”
“I found it and disabled it.”
Intrigued, the Admiral said, “You disabled a government designed and installed remote control? How were you able to do that?”
“It was simple really. When I discovered it during the renovations I was doing, I studied it for a couple of days then I simply rewired it.”
The Admiral looked at Dad and saw a slight look of admiration on his face, even the Admiral admired my abilities. No one had ever rewired a government remote control and still be able to fly the aircraft to which it was wired in the four hundred years since the first one was installed.
“How did you rewire it?”
“I simply connected two self-tapping junction boxes to the wires leading into and out of the remote control.”
“That wouldn't disable it.”
“No, sir, it wouldn't. However, the junction boxes were connected to each other with a wire that had a radio signal jamming device in the middle of the wire. I had to program the device to only jam one frequency. That was the tricky part.”
“How do you mean?”
“I had to know what the command to activate the remote control was; how it was transmitted, meaning by voice or computer; how to deactivate the remote control, etc.”
“How did you get that information?”
Dad jumped in, “Senior Airman Bronson, right?”
“Actually, Dad, no. When I started asking her about the remote controls on aircraft, she became very suspicious and wouldn't tell me anything.”
By now, everybody at the table was listening to the conversation. Dad said, “Then, who told you what you wanted to know?”
“No one person gave me all the information I needed. If I had asked one person all the questions, he would have gotten suspicious. So, I asked different people different, unrelated, questions and I asked these questions over several weeks. By sifting through the answers, I managed to figure it out.”
Dad said, “I knew you would make a good intelligence officer.”
He added, “I have to know. Are you seeing Airman Bronson?”
“No sir. She has a boyfriend. I just flirt with her because I’ve known her since she arrived here as an E-1.”
“Who is her boyfriend?”
“Sir, I wish to invoke my Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination as is guaranteed by the United States Constitution.”
After giving me a “You smart ass” look, Dad said, “Is he married?”
“Is he Terran?”
“Yes, sir, he is.”
“I don't like playing 20 questions, son. Just tell us who it is.”
“And I don't like betraying a trust, dad. You taught me that.”
Admiral Yamashita said, “Let me ask a question. Is her boyfriend a commissioned officer?”
“Then, her boyfriend has to be one of her superiors.”
Dad, who had been deep in thought, said, “If that’s the case, it has to be Sergeant Truman or Tech Sergeant Chan.”
Shocked, Admiral Yamashita said, “Truman? Did I hear you say Truman? Stephen Truman?”
“Yes, sir. Why do you ask?”
“God, I haven't seen Stephen Truman in fifteen years. His father and I were stationed at Yokosuka Naval Base together before I transferred to the ITN. In fact, Stephen's family lived next door to us, remember Mai?”
“Yes, I remember. He used to be best friends with our Hiroki. I thought he would follow in his father's footsteps and join the Navy.”
After dinner, the Admiral and Dad sat down in the living room. I walked into the living room and sat down as well. The Admiral looked at me for several seconds before saying anything. “William, you haven't heard from the IAA yet, have you?”
“No, sir. I have been expecting it ever since I landed yesterday.”
“Well, you won’t. I talked with the head of the IAA and asked her to wait a few days before issuing a suspension of William's pilot's license. She will use the excuse of investigating the claims against you, William.”
Dad said, “Why, sir?”
“James, after watching the newscast about William's exploits, I came to realize that the Interstellar Terran Navy is going to need young men like him, and soon. I am willing to pressure the IAA to overlook his violation of their regulations, if he commits to the Interstellar Terran Naval Academy as a star fighter pilot trainee upon graduation from high school.”
Dad looked at me. I returned the look. Finally, Dad said, “If he’s willing, I have no problems with your request, Admiral. However, I do believe he should be punished for his boneheaded stunt.”
“I agree, James. So, if William will sign the papers committing to the Interstellar Terran Naval Academy in Jacksonville, FL, I will have the IAA temporarily suspend his license for a period of three months. If he does not fly aircraft during those three months, his license will be reinstated. I will also have the IAA announce that because William had set the altitude record for civilians, his license would be suspended. Is this agreeable to you, William?”
“Yes sir. When I was at 65 km, I saw the stars and curvature of Terra. At that moment, I decided that I wanted to go into space. If you will give me the paperwork, I will gladly sign. I want to be a star fighter pilot and I know that this is the only way I can be one.”
“Good.” Admiral Yamashita handed me the paperwork and I signed it. “Now that we have your signature on the paperwork, William, I need to tell you that I would prefer that you not tell anybody, and I do mean , about our agreement. Do you understand, William? Nobody. In two years, the whole world will know, but right now, I want this to be our little secret.”
“Yes, sir. I don't know why you want it to be a secret, but I am willing to go along with it.”
Dad said, “Sir, I can assure you that William knows how to keep a secret. He kept his disabling of the remote control a secret for over four months. He can keep a secret if he wants to.”
“Good. I will see you when you graduate from high school in two years.”
6 June 2428
I was one of the last graduates receiving his diploma from Valdosta High School. I was also valedictorian, outstanding senior, senior class president and honor graduate. I was nothing if not an overachiever. After I left the stage, I was met by my parents, siblings and, not surprisingly, Admiral Yamashita, who was now a full four-star Admiral. Admiral Yamashita respectfully waited until I met and hugged my family before he stepped forward to shake my hand.
“Admiral, I’m glad to see you here.” I said enthusiastically.
“Well, I happened to be in the neighborhood.”
I laughed and said, “Yeah, right. I do have a pretty good memory, sir. I remember you saying you were going to be here at my graduation. I have kept my promise to you, too. I haven’t done anything foolish after my pilot's license was reinstated two years ago.”
“Good. How about aerobatics? Have you been practicing them?”
“Yes sir. Several of my friends and I fly mock combat every weekend. We do it under the supervision of the IAA. I’ve been practicing several maneuvers that I’ve read about that were used 500 years ago during World War II. It always surprises my friends when I pull the Split S and Immelmann turns.”
“Good. If you surprise them, you might possibly surprise any enemy pilots that you may run into if we’re involved in an interstellar war.”
“Do you think those maneuvers will work in zero gravity?”
“I couldn't tell you for certain, William. I do know that no one has ever tried them. Perhaps you’ll be the first to try them and show that they can be done in zero gravity.”
“Are we going to announce where I am going to go to college, sir?”
“Yes, we are, son. As a matter of fact, I’ve already put out a press release making certain that your exploits from two years ago are noted.”
“Thank you, sir. Now, it’s time for the traditional post-graduation party. I’ll see all of you tomorrow. I hope that includes you as well, Admiral.”
“I’ll be here.”
The next day, Admiral Yamashita and his wife arrived at our home at 0900. When I answered the door, Admiral Yamashita was surprised at my maturity. “Thank you for coming, Admiral. You as well, Mrs. Yamashita.” I said enthusiastically. “Come on in.” Turning my head, I yelled, “Dad, Admiral and Mrs. Yamashita are here.”
From the back of the house, Dad yelled back, “William, how many times do I have to tell you to not yell in the house.” This caused Admiral Yamashita to smile.
Walking to the living room, Dad extended his hand to Admiral Yamashita. “Welcome back to our home, Admiral. Julia has been in a tizzy all morning. She’s worried about what to prepare for lunch. I keep telling her that we could just go to a restaurant, but she won't hear of it. So, we’ll be spending a lot of time just talking.”
“That’s all right with me. I’m sure that Mai will be happy talking to Julia. Won't you dear? Dear?” He turned just in time to see Mai and Julia laughing, talking and walking into the kitchen. Smiling, he said, “I guess I was right.”
Turning to me, Admiral Yamashita said, “William, are you mentally prepared for four years at the Academy?”
“Yes, sir. I’ve been studying things that I believe will help me there. I hope I was right.”
“Knowing you, son, I have no doubt you were right.”
“Admiral, would you like to experience my flying abilities?”
Dad said, “You should fly with him. It’ll give you an idea of how good of a pilot he actually is.”
“In that case, I’d love to fly with you.”
After telling the wives where we were going to be for the next couple of hours, the three of us, along with my younger brother, Edward, left and headed to the airport. We went to the hanger where my personal jet was being housed. However, since that jet was a one-seater, we walked over to a low wing twin-engine jet aircraft with engines in the wings in a manner similar to the propeller engines of the ancient Beechcraft Super Twin Bonanza only much more streamlined. After preparing for take-off, everyone entered the plane and buckled in. I started the engines and taxied out of the hanger. I called the tower, spoke with Staff Sergeant Janice Truman and got permission to take off on runway 14. (2)
A few minutes later, we were airborne. I flew east toward the Atlantic coast. At a cruising speed of about 725 kph, we arrived over Cumberland Island in less than 30 minutes. After making a legal low pass over Cumberland Island, I banked right and flew toward the St. Mary’s River sound. Then I made a circular turn, flew north just off the coast and the length of Cumberland and Jekyll Islands, on to St. Simons Island and then, after crossing the Altamaha River delta, I turned south-westward back toward Moody AFB. After another 30 minutes, I was taxiing the plane back into the hanger and shutting down the engines.
Turning in the seat, I asked Admiral Yamashita, “Well, sir, what do you think?”
“Considering you made absolutely certain to not violate any IAA regulations, I am very impressed. You’re going to make a good pilot, William.”
After tying down the aircraft and chocking the wheels, everyone got into my dad’s car and headed back home. We walked into the house just as lunch was being put out. As we ate lunch, we talked about my future in the ITN.
“William,” Admiral Yamashita said, “You know that your training at the ITN will be difficult. You’ll have to deal with a lot of upper classmen who feel it’s necessary to try to make you quit the Academy. And to tell the truth, as much as I hate the idea of hazing, I must agree with the end results of such hazing. We need only the most strong-willed to be officers and pilots in the ITN. Do you believe you can handle the hazing?”
“I can't say for certain, sir, but I can say that I’m much more likely to turn it around on the hazers. I’ve been accused of being a notorious practical joker.”
“Good. I hope you can succeed. We need young men like you and many, many more.”
After we ate lunch, all of us walked to the living room where we talked for a couple of hours. At about 1500 Admiral Yamashita looked at his watch and said, “Jeremy, we need to be leaving.”
Turning and looking at me, he said, “I look forward to seeing you graduate from the ITN Academy in four years. I feel certain you’ll make a great officer in the ITN.” Giving me a stern and serious look, he added, “Don't let me down.”
“I won't, sir. I promise.”
1-Normally, when I didn’t have school, my father would take me with him to learn more about his job as a Major General in the International Air Force.
2-In the two years since my exploits, Janice Bronson and Stephen Truman had revealed their relationship and married a few weeks before I was graduated from high school.