0704 hours, 21 January

That International Hotel, Bangkok

Marine Captain Fraser approached the That army officer and saluted.

“Well, Colonel,” he said. “What’s it going to be?”

Colonel Vang Chitiburit looked past Fraser toward the low, ultra-modern

sprawl of the That International. “Do you seriously believe you have a

chance, Captain?”

“We have a chance. We sure as hell can’t wait this bastard out.” The

That colonel considered that. “No,” he said at last. “You are right.”

The colonel had returned from his conversation with the rebel soldiers

only minutes before. Their leader, Colonel Kriangsak of the Royal That

military staff, no less, wanted–demanded–a helicopter to fly him, his

men, and a number of American hostages out of the city. He’d not said

what his destination was, but U Feng would be the obvious guess.

“Those are Americans that son of a bitch has in there,” the Marine

officer added quietly, without emotion. “The Marines are here to

protect them.”

“Your plan has risk.”

“So does giving the bastard what he wants. And damn it, he claims he’s

going to start shooting people in thirty minutes! You want to see if

he means it?” There was a long hesitation. Fraser wondered if the man

was trying to decide whether or not to buck the problem up to a higher

command. The problem was, the higher command was busy just now with a

coup. At best, the confrontation at the That International was a minor


“Very well, Captain,” Vang said stiffly. He sounded relieved, though,

rather than reluctant. Probably, Fraser thought, he was happy to have

the responsibility for success or disaster riding on someone else’s

shoulders. “I turn the situation over to you.”

“Thank you, sir,” he said, saluting.

Vang looked uncertain. “Will there be anything you or your men need,


“Yes, Colonel Vang.” He smiled. “A small diversion.”

“A diversion?”

“When I give the word.” And he began to explain what he had in mind.

0730 hours, 21 January

That International Hotel, Bangkok

Master Sergeant Phillip Loomis lay flat on the ground, watching the

hotel. Captain Fraser had snagged him almost the moment he’d returned

to the embassy earlier that morning, explaining that there were

Americans being held hostage at the That International and ordering

Loomis to round up fifty volunteers for a rescue.

The mission, Loomis thought to himself, would have been better suited to

a Recon Marine force, but the only Recondos within a thousand miles were

north at U Feng, spotting for the Navy A-6s and Hornets.

Very slowly, he raised his head, studying the hotel over the slight,

grass-covered rise he and twelve other Marines were hiding behind. The

nearest entrance was fifty yards away. He could see one rebel soldier

standing guard by the door. There might be others, but if so they were

staying out of sight.

Loomis checked his watch. Zero-seven thirty. Where were they? It was

time to go …!

He heard the stuttering drone of an approaching helicopter.

He looked toward the east and saw it approaching low above the buildings

in the direction of the embassy.

The captain had explained it to him before they deployed. One of the

Marine Sea Stallions, deploying now off the Jefferson, was to be flown

in and landed directly in front of the hotel’s front door. While the

rebels were watching the landing–they’d be expecting a trick–Loomis’s

Marines, Assault One, would storm the side entrance. Assault Two was

waiting on the far side of the building, ready to do the same thing.

And there would be still more Marines, code-named Sunday Punch, waiting

inside the helicopter as backups.

The Sea Stallion drifted toward the front of the hotel, its rotor wash

lashing at the palm trees lining the parking lot. Loomis could hear a

singsong barking over a megaphone–Colonel Vang speaking to the rebels

in That, explaining that their demands were being met and that the helo

was coming to take them and their hostages away.

Loomis kept his eye on the sentry beside the side door. The man had a

Colt CAR-15 in his hands, was holding it at the ready as he took a few

steps in the direction of the helo, trying to see past the corner of the

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Categories: Keith Douglass