This is a long story about a long story. Many years ago I was advised to call it a novel.
I pulled my last cigarette from the pack and stuck it in my mouth. Then I asked the bartender for change for the machine. When I came back and took my seat, it was my turn to buy the round.
When the drinks arrived, Reed picked up the conversation again.
“So you’re saying your brother got that way all because of that file room incident, John?”
“No Reed, there was a heck of lot more to it than that.”
“Well what happened next?”
I found out later that around that same time, in Washington, Dwight Eisenhower was having a little conversation with Allen Dulles and a fellow named Richard Bissell. The conversation concerned something called the U2. I understand it went something like this.
“Ike, we need you to sign off on one last flight.” “Allen, I thought we agreed there wasn’t going to be any more of those flights.” “I’ve got to have this one Ike; we’ve got to take a look at their progress at Sverdlovsk.” “The last time this came up, Allen, you told me that the Russians are getting pretty close to being able to take that aircraft out.” “Ike, I say they're still two months off and that’s exactly why it needs to be done before next month.” “What are the possibilities you’re wrong and they can do it now?” “Our feeling is that they probably have a missile capable of taking it down now, but they don’t have it deployed yet. They’d have to have the flight plan and take off time, and that’s not possible.” “Allen, they know we’re doing this and I’m sure as hell this is a big priority for them.” “Ike, you have my personal assurances we can pull this one off.” “I am totally opposed to it, Allen. I think we’re going to the well one time too many. Dick, what’s your feeling of this?” “Well, Mr. President, it certainly is risky all right, especially with the summit coming up.” Dulles interjected, “Ike, that’s exactly why I think this is the perfect time. Khrushchev wants this summit and I don’t think he’s going to blow it away with an incident.” “All right, Allen, but this is it. I’m signing off on it based on your personal guarantee. And Allen, you better get that damn satellite program up and running and I mean pronto. Understood?” “Yes Mr. President.”
Pat interrupted with a little skepticism, “Hey, how does someone like you know something like that?”
I just smiled, “Like I said, it took over 30 years to fill in all of the blanks. Besides, Pat it’s already in all of the history books.”
Pat gave me a “Hmmm.” Then Reed jumped in, “Hey let him go on with the story. Go on John.”
“Okay, let’s see,”
Now back at the university, things were starting to run smoothly for Bob, especially with the draft board off his back, He was rapidly becoming an aerial map expert and management was aware of it. The file room incident had just faded away and he was even reinstated into The Rifles.
Once again, Walt called him into his office. “Bob your work on those German aerial maps has been exceptional. In fact, we’re considering moving you into the compounding room next month. If we do, this would be a major promotion for you.
By now I am sure you realize that some of the work around here is extremely sensitive. So before you can enter that room, we’re going to have to get you a security clearance. Now the first step is that you sign this agreement. Understand, by signing this agreement you are bound to The Secrets Act and any violation can put you in jail for ten years or more. So take your time and read it.”
Bob read it carefully and it seemed routine, so he signed it and Walt handed him a stack of forms. “I want you to fill out all these forms and answer all of the questions on them truthfully. It is very important to be truthful no matter what, because you will be investigated. Lying on these forms or intentionally leaving out critical information is an act of perjury and you will be prosecuted. When you are finished, bring them back to me and I’ll start getting them processed.”
With a big promotion coming up Bob started to get extra extremely serious about his work. At the same time his buddy Kenny was starting to get serious with the girl he was seeing. On a rare occasion Kenny’s girl friend would set up a blind date with one of her girl friends for him and they doubled, but in general Kenny wasn’t around as much as he use to be. So Bob took up with Mark again on a limited basis.
About three weeks later, another incident occurred. This one ended Bob’s career at Argyle. He didn’t know it at the time, but it also ended any possible future career for Bob, anywhere.
Well Cody, It was on a Saturday and Saturdays were a little more relaxed. Bob was looking forward to that promotion and even pushing a little. Anytime he made a breakthrough on something, he immediately brought it to Stan’s attention, knowing Stan would fill in Walt.
At , that day, Stan dropped off a folder that Bob had been working on the day before. Inside the folder Bob found seven very interesting aerial photos that weren’t there before. On some of them there were Mig 19’s on the ground, so they definitely weren’t old Nazi photos. Bob studied them for about fifteen minutes with great intensity. “These were absolutely amazing” he thought to himself. Then his concentration was suddenly broken by Stan’s voice. “What do you have there, Moran?”
Five minutes later, Stan walked into Walt’s office. When Walt looked up, Stan dropped the photos on his desk. Walt turned white as he flipped through them, and then exploded. “What the hell are these doing out of the compounding room, Stan?” “I borrowed them from Mr. Moran. He was calmly studying them, when I happened to notice it. He said they were in his folder. Now Walt, I personally checked out that folder myself and they weren’t in there when I handed it him.” “Walt barked, “Get Moran in here now.”
Actually this didn’t have to be a big problem for Bob. Walt knew in an operation of this size screw ups were bound to happen. He even considered that may be Stan screwed up and he was just covering his own ass. But when Bob arrived in the office he kind of put the noose around his own neck.
He was thinking about his big promotion coming up. What better time to ice a promotion then by demonstrating his brilliance, he thought.Yup, he slipped his head right into the noose, the second Walt asked, “How long did you have those pictures for Bob?”“I don’t know, I guess about ten may be fifteen minutes or so.” “You knew they didn’t belong in that folder, why didn’t you turn them in immediately?” “Well, Mr. Douglas, these photos are really amazing.” “How so?” “I’m pretty sure they are photos of a Russian fighter base outside of Sverdlovsk.” “What makes you think that?” “Well I can tell by the topography and some of the road structure in the approach photos.” “Really? And exactly where do you think this recon aircraft came from?” “Well I can tell it was approaching from the west. So either Iran or Turkey I’d say. In fact, I’m pretty sure it would have to be Turkey.” “Why Turkey?” “Well, you got to figure that you want to fly a recognizance flight in a straight line so you can get in and out of there fast. If it took off from Iran, it would have to fly in large wide loop to make that approach. That would give the Russians plenty of time to know it was coming.”Walt just smile, “That’s a very interesting fantasy you’ve come up with Bob. But the fact is those photos were actually taken over North Korea in 1954. Those aircraft you were looking at are modified Mig 15’s. Now the question is how did those photos end up in that folder? Any ideas Bob?”
Bob knew something was very wrong. He had seen a picture of a Mig 19 in a Time Magazine he read on the way to school a couple of weeks before. The article also said the Russian were getting ready to initially deploy the aircraft. There was no way they were parked in North Korean in 1954. Bob decided this was a good time to beat a hasty retreat. So he just smiled, “No Mr. Douglas, I don’t have any idea how they got it that folder.” “Okay, you can go back to work Bob.”
When Bob walked out, Stan turned to Walt. “Was he right?” “I don’t know Stan. That one is above my pay grade.” “Walt, I like to think we’re friends, so I am going to remind you that I have to write this up. So for God’s sake, don’t try to sit it on this, you write it up too.” Walt just stared for second and said, “Do what you have to do.” Then Walt started to dial the phone the minute Stan left the room. “General Gardner, Please.”
Stan went back and gave Bob a new assignment and a new work area. “Bob I got a new job for you. These are captured German Army Maintenance Manuals. At the end of each day, you’ll return them and your translations directly to me, understood?” “No more maps Mr. Harris?” “Not for now, Bob, this is a special project that has to get done.”
That night at First Army Headquarters on Governors Island, another brief meeting was taking place. This one was in Major General Gardner’s office.
“I understand you’re getting married next year young man.” “Yes sir, I sure am.” “Well, then this is a top notch opportunity for you. If you do this right, you’re career with the army will definitely be on the fast track. I guarantee it. In fact, effective as of tonight, you will be receiving major’s pay. If all goes well, it won’t be long before you’ll be able to wear the Oak leaves that go with it.”
“Now tomorrow, there will be a meeting here. You will be present as a guard. You’ll be wearing an enlisted man’s uniform, understood?” “Yes, sir.” “Under no circumstances are you to participate or engage in conversation with any of the parties present. I just want you to listen and observe and fade into the background, understood?” “Yes sir.” “Good, then it’s sharp in the conference room. Dismissed.”
A half hour later a second young man appeared before the general. But this time the conversation lasted close to three hours.
The next day Walt and Stan attended the meeting.As soon as they walked into the room they were confronted with a slide projector, screen and a stenographer seated in the corner of the room.
Gardner quickly opened the meeting. “Is everybody here? Good, guard, please lock the doors.Gentlemen, take your seats and we’ll proceed. The general first directed his attention to Douglas and Harris. “I have reviewed your reports concerning the incidents at Argyle and I am deeply disturbed, Gentlemen. Have you initiated the procedure I instructed you to regarding Mr. Moran?” “Yes sir.” “Good.” Then he addressed the entire group. “Before we get into any detailed discussion of Mr. Moran, gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Mr. Davis. Jim is with the FBI and is senior agent for counter espionage for the New York area. Jim, would you be good as to proceed with your presentation?” “Certainly General, lights please” and then the projector was flicked on and he began his presentation.
“The gentleman we are observing here is a Mr. Mark Abrams. Mr. Abrams is a student at the university. His parents are also card carrying members of the communist party. The young Mr. Abrams himself is a member of and a former regional president of the Young Communist Student League. In addition, he holds memberships that we know of, in eleven other communist front organizations. Several months ago we picked up Mr. Moran in one of our surveillance of Mr. Abrams. We checked Moran out of course and he came back clean. When we received your direction to put Moran under surveillance, the picture changed dramatically. In short, we were not aware of the fact that Moran was working for you people up until that time.” Then he continued to flick slide after slide. “Now here’s Mr. Moran entering Abrams parents house. This sequence shows Mr. Moran engaged in lengthy conversations with Abrams on campus. Then we have here, Mr. Moran spending one of several evenings at The Lost Soul. In case you’re not aware of it, The Lost Soul is a Beatnik joint in the Village frequented by members of every communist youth group in the city.” Davis halted for a minute and loaded in another section of slides, then continued. “The situation starts to really become serious as we view this series of photos. Here we have the Intercontinental Book Store on Union Square. This store gentleman is owned and legally operated by The Government of The Soviet Union. Officially its purpose is to make Soviet Literature available to Russian speaking Americans. Unofficially, as everyone knows, it is a major KGB drop. As you can observe, Mr. Moran is a frequent visitor. In fact, he’s on a first name basis with most of the staff. On this slide we see Mr. Moran in front of the book store conversing with a Mr. Alexei Meninchov. Officially Mr. Meninchov is a minor trade attaché at the Soviet conciliate. Unofficially, he happens to be a very senior KGB operative. That gentlemen end my little slide show. Any question?”
Douglas turned bright red and blurted out, “Why the hell wasn’t this brought to my attention?” Davis responded, “Colonel Douglas, we were on our way to see you when the general called.” Then the general interrupted, “Thank you very much Mr. Davis, that will be all for now. I really appreciate you coming down here on such short notice.” With that Davis and his assistant packed up the projector, said their good byes and left.
When the door closed again, Gardner broke the deafening silence. He quickly turned to Douglas and Harris, “Now gentlemen, Colonel Clay has a lot of questions to ask you. I’ll see you in my office when he’s through.”
Three hours later Walt and Stan reported in with the General. With a solemn look on his face, Walt asked, “Well how do we handle this from here sir?” Gardner thundered back. “There is no we here gentlemen. I’m am taking personal charge.” “You’ll be at Argyle sir?” “Yes, and unfortunately colonel, you and Major Harris, you will not. Both of you are being immediately reassigned to infantry units overseas.” “But sir, our families.” “I’ll say this one and one time only, you have compromised National Security. Both of you have had outstanding records up until now and that’s the only reason you are going to be allow to retire with a pension. But you’ll do it our way or so help me I’ll see that you leave here with empty pockets. Is that understood?” “Yes sir.” “Here are you’re orders, you’ll report to FortDix next Friday for reassignment. I suggest you both go home now and pack gentlemen. Dismissed.”
When Bob showed up for work after classes Monday, Buck told him the big boss wanted to see him in Walt’s office. When he entered the main office he noticed everyone was packing boxes. But he just proceeded on to Walt’s office. When he walked in there was a very distinguished looking gentleman in a suit standing next to the flag. He looked like a big boss okay, so Bob approached him. “Excuse me sir, my name is Bob Moran. I understand you wanted to see me.” “Why yes, Bob, please have a seat.” Then he began, “Bob I guess you may have notice that something is going on here.” “Ah..Yes sir.” “I’m afraid this little venture just wasn’t very profitable for our company. So we are closing down here. I’ve heard what talented man you were so I just had to meet you for myself. Oh, and of course, I also wanted to see that you got your last paycheck.” “Will I be working tonight sir?” “No Bob, I’m afraid this is it.” “What about references sir?” ‘Oh we’ll be mailing those out to you in a week or two Bob.” Then the general cut him short. He handed Bob his check and smiled, “Well, Bob I wish you the very best and it was a pleasure meeting you.”
Well, that seemed to be the end of Bob’s problems with the job. However, two weeks later Colonel Stanton called him in for some more bad news.
“Bob I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to resign from the ROTC.” Bob was totally shocked, “Why sir, my grades are good?” “Well it’s more than a matter of grades Bob. It’s our consensus that you just don’t possess the natural leadership ability we look for in our officers.” “But sir, I did extremely well in my leadership courses.” “Book wise yes, but personality wise, I’m afraid it’s just not there.” “But sir, I want to serve as an officer.” “I’m sorry Bob, I’m afraid that’s out of the question.” “Is there any way I can appeal this sir?” “No Bob, this is our decision and The Army has spoken.”
With no choice in the matter Bob resigned. Then he made a bee line to Whitehall Street. This time there wasn’t any problem, they acknowledge his S2 deferment. They told him he was safe for another two years as long as he maintained his grade average.
Three weeks later Bob picked up a newspaper to read on the train to school. The headline read “Soviets Down U.S. Spy Plane.” Bob read the story with great interest. When he was through, he just smiled to himself, “I knew I was right about those pictures.” Unfortunately for Bob, other people knew he had been right about them too. “
At that point I needed make a quick trip to the head. When I returned Cody asked, “So was that it for him?” “Well for a little while Cody.”
The next year was pretty uneventful for Bob. Disappointment about the ROTC lingered and his former buddies there gave him a wide birth. All except for Kenny, that is. Kenny kept showing up, even though he was married now.
Bob finally had some free time for a change, but he filled it with part time jobs and excessive studying. However, you might say his life was finally taking on a reasonable structure. Then in his senior year, the time came to start putting out resumes. Bob’s marks were great and opportunity seemed to lie at his feet. After all, he was fluent in Russian and would soon have a university degree. The state department, several major corporations and even the UN responded favorably to his resumes. It wasn’t long before the interviews started and they seemed to go great too. However, when follow up time came, it was like he had the plague. “I’m sorry we just don’t have any openings right now, but we’ll keep you on file.” That somehow became the standard response. Finally graduation came and he graduated with minor honors. Kenny got his silver bars too, but Bob still didn’t have anything solid where a job was concerned.
For the next two years it was the same old story for Bob. Appointment; interview; sorry no thanks. Finally it got to the point where he even took the test for U.S. Customs and through an accident; someone finally spelled it out for him.
Bob receive a form letter from Customs notifying him that he scored in the top three percent on the test. Then two weeks later, instead of receiving a report to interview letter, he received an application rejected letter with no explanation in it. This time he when down to Wall Street for a personal explanation.
He arrived at the Customs building around lunch time and there was only a small staff on duty. He strode up to the counter with the letter in hand. “Excuse me, he said to young man who got up from his desk. The guy smiled, how can I help you?” “I want to talk to someone in personnel.” “And what is it in reference too?” “I’d like an explanation as to why I received this letter.”
The clerk asked to see the letter and looked it over. He calmly looked up, turned to my brother and asked. “Have you ever been in prison?” “Of course not.” “Then I’m afraid you must be a spy. I wouldn’t waste my time applying for anymore government jobs if I were you my friend.” Bob was startled; he just turned and walked away with his mouth opened.
He told me at times that he thought the jobs were falling through because of government interference, but I always thought that deep down inside he only half believed that himself. But this hit him right between the eyes, “My God he thought, they really are out to get me.
A month later he received a letter from the draft board informing him that they were changing his draft status to 4F. It stated that they had reviewed a previous physical he had taken and it revealed a minor scar on his ear drum that disqualified him from military service. He didn’t buy it, but he didn’t complain about it either. He thought this might actually be a plus for him in the job market, that is, getting his eligibility for the draft out of the way. But quite frankly, it really didn’t help all.