Why did the Admiral’s son go underground? What is the chief-of-staff covering up? What is the involvement of the Public Affairs Senior Chief?
"Moveable Forts and Magazines: A Novel of Vietnam" explores the sibling themes of conscience and responsibility. The thoughts and feelings of two men—one young, innocent and practical; the other, older, experienced, and idealistic—are examined.
Re-live six months in 1968 as you move from the skies over the Mekong Delta to the Admiral’s headquarters to the classroom to the coffee house of the anti-war movement. Officers, enlisted men, college students and newsmen act and interact, frequently on the basis of incomplete, inaccurate or deliberately falsified information.
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MONDAY, OCTOBER 21, 1968
Santa Ana rushes in,
Hot and full of Dry.
October is Southern California is strange. The hot days of summer have passed; the overcast mornings and rainy days of winter have not yet come; it should be cool and mild. It usually is. But there is always the unpredictable Santa Ana, the hot dry wind that sweeps down the canyons from the high deserts. Like her middle eastern relations, the sirocco of the Libyan desert and the khamsin of Arabia, Santa Ana dries the air, dusts the lungs with little tickles, and drives men to actions they might not normally take.
Such is the reputation of the wind.
With or without the Santa Ana, Southern California is affected also by the myriad of military bases that dot the coast-lines and flat areas like a random and not too serious rash upon the skin. Training camps, recruit commands, SAC bases, and fleet homeports are everywhere.
One such area is Pt. Cambiar, a small operation support base for the Navy’s fleet units. It sits on a small peninsula, a mini-city, isolated from the civilian community by a reinforced chain-link fence, a concrete wall, and a state of mind, known, not always with affection, as “The Navy Way.”
The Santa Ana had been blowing for days on that dry October morning when the telephone rang, a routine sound for a Monday morning. However, on this particular dry October morning, it was not a routine telephone call.
Senior Chief Journalist Dan Levin, U.S. Navy, nodded his head affirmatively at the telephone mouthpiece and continued to listen, to take notes, and to voice an occasional, non-committal “okay.” On his desk was the Press Query clipboard. He filled in the time and date: 0815, 21 October, the newsman’s name and organization: Bill Edwards, Pt. Cambiar Beacon, and the query, itself: He’s heard rumr Adm’s son has asked for sanctuary rthr thn rtrn to Nam. Wnts us to ck & vrfy. Dan added his initials: DL.
For probably the dozenth time that morning — and it was still early — he wondered what he was doing there. He looked at his watch, 0945. His plane had left almost two hours earlier. He wasn’t on it. He wasn’t on his way back to Long Duc, wasn’t on his way back to those “defensive” routine patrols over the Mekong Delta, wasn’t on his way back to playing God twice a day — and three times when someone got sick — wasn’t on his way to anywhere.
Or was he? He was on his way to a meeting with his own conscience. Hetherington cringed inwardly at the cliché. Also at the timing. He probably should have met his conscience before making his decision not to return. But he hadn’t had time. So now the decision had to be right because he’d already taken the action. Just as the people he killed had to be VC because he’d killed them.