OFFICIAL WEB SITE
TERROR AT THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL
Excerpt From Chapter Three of Dragon's Fury - The Long March
May 31, 2009, 11:53
In front of the Lincoln Memorial
The presentations and festivities had been under way for over an hour. Dignitaries from all around the country were speaking and extending their congratulations and thanks to the President, the armed forces and to the guest of honor, Stacey Urkut. Other honored guests from all over the free world had made their way here…to honor and commemorate the victories of late last year and the offensive operations they had generated that were continuing that very day.
Over one million people were literally filling up the Constitutional Gardens that ran from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument, and The Mall that ran from there back to the Capitol building. An excellent sound system was strung up all along the way, all around the Reflecting Pool back beyond the Washington Monument, so that everyone could hear.
People were assembled at the Vietnam Memorial and around it, in the trees in between and as far away as the Jefferson Memorial where a special gathering area had been set up for overflow visitors. Video displays were set up for live feeds of the proceedings at all of these places and throughout the wooded areas in between so everyone who was not in a direct line of sight…or was too far away…could watch the events.
People were picnicking with their families. The temperature was warm, but not oppressive for a late spring day in the nation's capitol. The press was broadcasting live to an excited and hungry nation. The good news was contagious and the viewing and listening audience for the event was expected to be one of the largest ever in the free world.
Security was tight.
The Secret Service was, of course, out in force surrounding the President close in to the presentation platform and surveying all of the ground and air approaches thereto. The Park Service Police, augmented by the Capital police were spread liberally throughout the crowd, almost six hundred officers present watching for any suspicious activity or movement in the crowd. There were over fifteen hundred National Guardsmen manning blockades, checkpoints and observation points in, and particularly around, the huge crowd. Over two thousand Marines were on alert.
Around the entire perimeter police and National Guard helicopters were patrolling from the air. Higher overhead a combat air patrol of no fewer that sixteen F-22 Raptor aircraft surveilled the entire region. The ground based Aegis Ballistic Defense missile batteries around the capital were on their highest degree of alert and, along the Potomac, no fewer that three Aegis vessels, one cruiser and two destroyers augmented the ground-based missile defense.
The presentation to Stacey Urkut of the Medal of Freedom was supposed to occur promptly at noon. It was one of the principle highlights of the day. The President was about to approach the podium and make his own speech prior to presenting the award, after which time Stacey Urkut would speak to the entire nation, and the free world, herself.
Joe and Elizabeth Trevor and Saundra McPherson were seated fifteen rows back in front of the presentation stand in an area reserved for VIP's and special guests. That section extended over fifty rows back and seated over two thousand foreign dignitaries, high ranking government officials and other guests of note like the Trevors.
Saundra McPherson, sitting next to her friend Elizabeth Trevor, was proud to be here.
"Yes," she thought, "Proud."
It amazed her. Where a little over a year ago she had been totally cynical of her government in general, and particularly belligerent towards the Weisskopf administration, now she sat in rapt attention at the presentation of an award by this administration for efforts in a war that a year ago she would have called unnecessary at best, and self-inflicted at worst. But now all of that had changed.
The unexpected discovery of the Human Reasoning Structures in early fetal tissue from Europe that she was digitally modeling had literally changed her world and the world around her. It had altered her world view and opened up the opportunity for the patriotic fervor that she felt today…something she had never really felt before.
Once she knew, beyond doubt, that the fetus was a living, reasoning human, like most of America she had stepped back in revulsion from what she had been doing…she was just surprised and ashamed that she had not realized it earlier…that it had taken an unmistakable and unarguable scientific proof to draw a conclusion that her own common sense should have told her long ago. She had already determined that she would spend the rest of her life making up for her previous misguided beliefs.
Now, here she was, with her good friends, the Trevors, and the President was beginning to address them as he prepared to present Stacey Urkut, a woman about Saundra's own age, a medal for heroism and citizen involvement that went above and beyond her normal duty as a citizen.
"My fellow Americans, as other speakers before me have already indicated, we are gathered here today…"
May 31, 2009, that same time
3 Miles Away in Quincy Park
The equipment had been unloaded and set up now for several minutes, partially obscured by the three pickup trucks in which it had all arrived. There, at the northeast corner of Quincy Park, those three pickup trucks were now parked in a triangular shape, right on the grass of the park as two of the drivers prepared to open up the end of the triangle and allow the packages to depart.
As they did, three ultralight aircraft throttled up their engines and began rolling along the grass to the southwest.
All three aircraft were outfitted with very strong engines that developed much more horsepower than normal ultralight engines required. All three of the frames of these particular ultralights were made of very light, very strong and very expensive composite material that allowed the aircraft to carry up to five times their normal weight. And each of them was carrying that full weight today.
One small-framed pilot was on a no return mission in each aircraft, strapped to 500 lbs of heavy explosives encased in shrapnel of all types.
As all three small aircraft cleared the pickup trucks and picked up speed in the open park, the leader of the team, who was known in America as Sam Hennison, but whose birth name was actually Sami al-Hinnasi, stood in the middle of the vacant ground between the trucks and silently bid them farewell.
"Go with God, Allah Akbar!"
May 31, 2009, that same time
Driving North on Quincy
Approaching Washington Blvd.
Nate Thompson caught movement out of the corner of his eye as he approached the intersection of Quincy Avenue and Washington Blvd.
He had seen the three late model pickup trucks in his peripheral vision sitting in the park and figured they were just some local people enjoying the late spring weather by picnicking in the park. But the movement from between the trucks attracted his attention.
Slowing down and turning his head for a better look, he saw the three ultralight airplanes lumber out from between the trucks that he realized now were further apart than he had thought. But it was those three ultralight aircraft that caught his attention.
"Those aren't supposed to be here," he said to himself.
"What in the world do those people think they're doing?"
Nate Thompson was an off-duty member of the local Home Guard Unit here in this part of Arlington. Having been an active member of the Home Guard for over two years now, he made it his business to know the Homeland Security rules for the area. There was a flight restriction for all light aircraft this close to the DC area and all ultralights had to fly at least six miles further out.
"They're less than three miles from the Potomac River here," he thought.
And then, as realization flooded into his mind, he voiced his thoughts out loud.
"My God, the big presentation over at the Lincoln Memorial!"
Nate always carried his communications gear with him in his vehicle, as well as his M-14 rifle. It was something that would have been unheard of four years ago, but it was a fact of life now.
As he came to a quick stop while pulling up to the curb, Nate called in his report of the three ultralight aircraft, which were now lifting off from the grass and becoming airborne, and asked for backup. He then grabbed his rifle and exited his vehicle.
May 31, 2009, three minutes later
Private Garage on F street near 21st
At the appointed time, the large garage door opened and very quickly, three heavy-duty, armored, panel vans, labeled with very official looking Brinks Security logos drove out of the garage and separated. Two turned right onto F Street and headed for 21st, while one turned left and headed for 23rd.
All three had additional armor on their sides and the latest armored glass on their windshields. It was the reactive glass armor that allowed those inside to shoot out through the windows, but would stop high velocity bullets from penetrating it. All three were loaded with over four tons of high explosives.
The first two vans turned south on 21st and crossed Virginia Avenue, in full view of a platoon of National Guard soldiers who had a blockade set up across C street, on the far side of 21st.
The first van picked up speed and drove directly for the concrete road block that was designed to keep trucks from driving through the blockade and penetrating further into their perimeter. But this van had no intention of trying to get past the blockade. Its sole purpose was to destroy it.
The soldiers, who for an instant had been fooled by the official looking nature of the security van, now began shouting for the van to stop. As it crossed C street towards them, they opened fire and people in the vicinity began to scream and scatter.
The fire was ineffective in stopping the heavily armored van, which ran headlong into the concrete barrier and then detonated with a deafening explosion that engulfed the entire squad of troops, several of the concrete barriers and a number of bystanders. The shock wave and blast severely damaged the structures along C street and set off fires, while tossing around the people within its reach…and breaking them…like so many twigs.
The driver of the second van had held back to watch the effects of the explosion. He closed his eyes immediately before the blast and said a silent prayer to Allah. The blast passed over and shook the van terribly, but it did not destroy it. As the dust was hanging heavily in the air, the driver started forward to make use of the path that had just been blown in the security perimeter surrounding the presentation at the Lincoln Memorial that had just been so loudly and brutally interrupted.
May 31, 2009, 11:58
In front of the Lincoln Memorial
The explosion had been several hundred yards away from the ceremonies and no one in the immediate vicinity of the President or the crowd there had been injured…yet.
The President was just about to wrap up his remarks and present the Medal of Freedom to Stacey Urkut when he had caught just the slightest out of place motion out along the diagonal road that led from the Memorial circular drive over to the intersection of 21st and Constitution Avenue, where C street could also just barely be seen beyond. When he turned his head in that direction to get a better view, the large truck bomb had gone off.
As the smoke and dust cloud was angrily billowing up, and as the President watched the rapid advance of the shock wave along the diagonal road, bedlam broke loose around the presentation stand.
Panic took hold of most of the people in the dignitary area and then in the large crowd behind it. Two Secret Service agents, one the head of the detail, Burt Stevens, rushed over to grab the President so they could protect him and guide him towards his armored limo which was parked a good hundred feet away from the presentation stand. Just as they reached for him, the shock wave from the bomb arrived and knocked them all to the ground. As his protectors got up off of him, from covering him with their own bodies, the President quickly regained his feet and looked for his wife.
There she was, not fifteen feet away and just beginning to get up off the ground herself, her own Secret Service agent detail already standing protectively around her.
"Burt, you've got to get me, the First Lady, the Secretary of Defense and Mrs. Urkut to the limo and away from here," the President ordered as the agents quickly combined them all into one group.
"What are you hearing?"
As the agents surrounded and protected them, and began to guide them all behind the presentation stand towards the limo and the rest of the security detail vehicles parked on the circular drive, the head of detail quickly responded to the President.
"Nothing yet, Mr. President, just lots of unanswered questions. We'll know more momentarily, I am sure. Let's just get you and the First Lady out of here."
Before getting to the limo, the head of the President's Secret Service detail received a concrete report through his ear phone which caused him to immediately begin scanning the skies around them.
"Aircraft approaching…three of them."
May 31, 2009, that same time
Secret Service Sniper and Stinger Team Position
Atop the Washington Monument
By the time the explosion at C and 21st streets occurred, the Secret Service agents atop the Washington Memorial had already received the call about the potential threat of the three ultralight aircraft. There were two expert marksmen operating as counter-snipers and a two-man team manning a Stinger missile launcher atop the Washington Monument. They had all hoped that the situation involving the ultralights just represented errant citizens in violation of the flying regulations around the capitol.
But with the tremendous explosion to the north and east of the Lincoln Memorial, all hopes of those types of simple explanations vanished. An assault was being made on the President of the United States, the man they were charged with protecting at all costs.
"There, at two o'clock, just coming over the Tidal Basin in front of the Jefferson Memorial!" one of the snipers exclaimed.
As the other sniper called in the location, and as the stinger missile team prepared to target the aircraft, one of the members of that team noticed movement in his peripheral vision and turned his head back towards Constitution Avenue and the White House.
"We've got another one, just crossing Constitution Avenue behind us!"
Both small aircraft were flying no more than a hundred feet off the ground and jinking wildly as they approached the Washington Monument. Both were flying at approximately 50 miles per hour.
The leader of the detail instructed the stinger missile team to take the closer threat, the one behind them, which was now ascending and clearly making an attack on their position.
As this was occurring, a U.S. Army National Guard helicopter swooped in directly behind that aircraft and began pursuing it, firing an M-60 machine gun at the dodging target.
The agent holding the stinger launcher was frustrated at the sudden appearance of the National Guard helicopter…and so was his equipment.
"I can’t get a lock…I'm oscillating between the ultralight and the chopper, but it wants to target the chopper…can’t you call that guy off?"
Flinching momentarily as another tremendous explosion resounded from the direction of the Lincoln Memorial, the leader of the detail had only a split second to make his decision, and it was a fateful one.
"The Guard will bring that guy down, switch to the second target. He's going to be tough to bring down with a bullet until he gets closer.
"See if you can take him before he gets across the Tidal Pool."
The stinger team did as they were ordered and quickly moved across the room, pivoted, got a clean lock on the approaching aircraft just as it crossed back over land…and over thousands of panicking citizens…and fired
The stinger rocketed from the top of the Monument with a WHOOSH, leaving significant smoke in its wake and momentarily blinding the agents on that side of the Monument. The missile quickly approached the ultralight, whose pilot saw it coming and immediately dove towards the crowd. Just before the missile impacted, some of the ill-fated members of the crowd below heard him yell, "Allah Akbar!" At that instant he detonated the package of explosives behind him and disappeared in a blinding flash, into which the stinger missile dove, and also exploded.
Over 4,500 shards of metal, ball bearings and other shrapnel were blasted at high velocity out of the explosion and into the crowd of people below, all of whom were madly running from the intersection of Independence Avenue and Constitution. Scores were killed, hundreds more were injured.
While this scene of carnage was occurring, another violent explosion occurred over towards the Lincoln Memorial as the third armored truck ignited. The pilot of the National Guard Blackhawk helicopter had no time to consider or worry about that third large explosion. His aircraft had already taken the other ultralight under fire and had wounded the pilot in his left thigh, causing the aircraft to begin to fly unstably as its pilot tried to maintain control of the aircraft. It became impossible for him to continue jinking to avoid the attacker behind him and he knew his fate was sealed.
The Blackhawk was now closing in for the kill from behind the ultralight aircraft which was only a hundred yards from the Washington Monument. Just as the gunner was preparing to take the final shots, the second terrorist pilot, finally realizing that he would never make it to his target, which had been the sniper team atop the Washington Monument all along, chose to detonate the explosives on his aircraft. In so doing at that particular instant, he unwittingly achieved his original purpose.
The explosion of the improvised destructive device threw shrapnel in all directions. Blown forward by the blast, hundreds of pieces impacted against the sides of the Washington Monument, a number of them finding their way into the observation post where the Secret Service agents were stationed. One of the agents was killed outright and another injured while below, the sky was raining shards of metal.
As the leader of the detail quickly checked for any sign of life from the dead agent, a crackling, wrenching noise in the air outside of his position drew his attention.
'My God," was all he had time to whisper to himself.
The blast from the second ultralight also expanded to the rear, and threw shrapnel behind it…right into the path of the oncoming National Guard helicopter. As the pilot madly adjusted his collective and cyclic controls to avoid the blast by climbing over and around it, the shock wave struck the helicopter and jammed both his cyclic and stabilator control systems into position. It also severely damaged the tail rotor. At the same instant, shrapnel blasted through the compartment, killing the pilot and severely wounding the co-pilot.
With the aircraft locked into its current attitude, the tail rotor tearing itself apart, and the helicopter beginning to spin wildly, the Blackhawk impacted the side of the Washington Monument, five feet below the doomed Secret Service detail leader and the remainder of his team, who were mercifully, quickly incinerated by the fire and blast that raced through their observation
…and there was still a third ultralight.
May 31, 2009, that same time
Near the Presentation Stand
The Lincoln Memorial
After the initial explosion, when the head of the President's Secret Service detail received word of the approaching ultralight aircraft, another warning was quickly communicated.
Another truck was seen racing east on C street towards the site of the initial explosion. This was followed almost immediately by yet another warning, a third armored security truck was approaching along 21st street.
Burt Stevens informed the President.
"Mr. President, we have to turn around and get out of here right now…more threats are appearing all around. Two more truck bombs are coming this way and will be here before we can make the limo.
"Follow me," he urged as he led them away from the Memorial, to the south and west.
As he did so, two agents, who had retrieved a LAWS (Light Armor Weapon System) out of one of the armored Suburbans parked in the circular drive on the south side of the monument, ran to the northeast corner of the Lincoln Memorial and took up a firing position there.
Just as they got set up, there was a mad crackling of small arms fire and then another resounding explosion to their northeast where another of the armored trucks set itself off against the last concrete blockade manned by National Guard troops, this one on Constitution Avenue.
The agents with the LAWS moved back behind the wall on the interior of the Memorial to avoid the worst of the shockwave, which blasted across the area, again knocking everyone in its path to the ground. When they returned to their position, they were greeted by the sight of an armored security van speeding madly out of the dust and debris, right down the diagonal road toward the Lincoln Memorial and the President's retreating party.
There was no time to wonder; there was no time to waste; there was only time to react in defense of their President.
"Target acquired. FIRE!" shouted the agent manning the weapon as his partner prepared another round.
But a second missile would neither be necessary, nor possible. Just feet from the circular drive, the missile impacted the onrushing truck and there was a third violent explosion. The shockwave from this explosion was not contained by trees or buildings. The two agents at the northeast corner of the Lincoln Memorial were killed immediately by the overpressure. The individuals in the President's party, now almost two hundred and fifty feet away and moving to the southwest down a slight incline away from the monument, were thrown down for a third time, this time much more violently.
As Burt Stevens got the President, who was now nursing a painfully dislocated shoulder, up…and as his comrades began carrying the first lady who had broken her leg, they were all briefly mesmerized by the final events at the Washington Monument, where the ultralight aircraft blew itself up in front of the pursuing National Guard helicopter, which then crashed into the Washington Monument itself.
"Dear God," the President uttered to himself, "It's like 9-11 or 3-15 all over again."