Late Night Rambling

Read headlines like this one. . .

Three Bombs Explode Outside Police Station in Central Athens

. . .and ask yourself just how safe will the Athens Summer Games be this year?


I can’t answer that question, but I can tell you a story.

14 years ago, my bride’s father was the base commander of Hellenikon Air Force Base outside of Athens. The base has since been turned over to the Greeks, but at the time it was home to the USAF 69th Tactical Fighter Squadron and their 24 F-16Cs. A small base with a small, but very potent, striking force.

In fact, the base was so small that LTC Richard S. Davis, base commander, and his family had to live in the city. What, with the November 17th terrorist group out to kill any American officers they could find, security for the Davis family was a bit of a concern.

So I’ve heard the stories about Baby Brother Scott, then nine or ten years old, helping the security guys run fiber optic cable up the chimney — he was the only one small enough to fit up there. There were the well-armed and better-trained drivers who escorted Dick to his office every day, never taking the same route twice.

One night, one of the kids spotted a cigarette glowing on the roof of a building across the street. The bad guys had found out who my father in law was, what he looked like, and where he lived.

(Note: You learn the darnedest trivia from people who have spent lots of time overseas. Apparently, property owners in Greece don’t pay property taxes until their buildings are complete. So the “top floors” of multistory buildings in Athens somehow never get built. From high enough up, the city looks like a forest of rebar.)


So the Powers That Be decided that Col. Davis had to give up his command, and take up new responsibilities in the UK. Problem: How do you get there from here?

No, I’m not kidding. The 11/17 group was so focused on killing American officers, that the Air Force was really, truly worried about how to get one man and his family safely out of the country. How worried? They decided the Davises had better not fly out of Athens.

Or for that matter, out of any Greek airport.

In fact, the Air Force told them the safest way to London was to drive there. Yes, drive. Drive up almost the whole of Greece, through all of war-torn Yugoslavia, across Italy’s Po Valley, from south to north through the whole of France, and — finally — to get on a ferry at Le Havre for the final leg to Britain.

Better to do all that than to take a plane out of anywhere in Greece.

So whenever I think of the Olympics taking place this summer in Athens, it’s almost enough to make an atheist pray.

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