Gitmo Twelve

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic

NEGDEF turbulent times, getting prepared.

Charley Thirteen

Operation NEGDEF

       

The Naval Base got its water supply from the Cuban mainland. Fidel Castro didn’t like the fact that the U.S. had a renewable 100 year lease on the base. That was the price they paid for their independence after the Spanish American War. 

 

President Kennedy and the CIA tried several plots to have Castro assassinated because he was a ruthless dictator. He had thousands of his own people like doctors, lawyers and educators shot in front of firing squads. In retaliation for these attempts, Castro periodically would cut off the water going to the base.

 

The base water supply was kept in three large tanks on Hill 300 above the base. When Castro cut off the water, which was about every month or so, the base police would patrol using oud speakers blaring, “Water Condition Bravo.”

 

“Do not wash your lawns. Do not wash your cars. Do not wash your pets.”

The idea was to conserve water until a Naval ship could come in and desalinate sea water into potable drinking water.That was terrible stuff. If you bathed in it, it was so thin it wouldn’t rinse the soap out of your hair. My brothers and I bathed in a rain barrel on the backside of the house.

 

During these times the base would be under full alert called NEGDEF. NEGDEF was held at least once a month. Out would come the fatigues and C-rations and K-rations, getting everyone prepared just in case Castro decided to invade.

   

After one failed assassination attempt, President Kennedy sent Fidel Castro a thousand tractors as a good will gesture. (You probably never hear about that.) These were all factory rejects, Ford 8N lemons. Castro was so pissed he had them painted up like Easter eggs. He lined them up against the fence on permanent display.

Operation NEGDEF immediately went into effect.  This was a preordained administrative policy concerning the chain of command and the assignment of duties in the face of a pending attack.  Every base resident had responsibilities.

Lights in our homes were to be cut off after 10 o’clock. No movies, no traffic, stay indoors and the military would conduct training maneuvers across the base.For my brothers and myself, this was our cup of tea so to speak. We used our paths laid out in the tree branches so that we could come and go unseen. We would pepper the MP’s with our little home made bombs when they drove by with their searchlights mounted on the back of their jeeps. There usually was an SP (Shore Patrol driver) and a MP (Military Police) riding shotgun driving by. We hit them with a couple of our little pop bombs, then they would shine the searchlight on the tree branches like they were searching for insurgents. C’mon guys, don’t shoot. It’s just us.  They had to know, how could they not?

Our nights were filled with thoughts of plunder. We gathered and stored every item we thought we might need.  At the Public Works building we made slingshots and collected ball bearings for ammo also, bolas, spears, bows and arrows. They always left the light on and the doors wide open, we thought just for us.  It was always too hot to shut the doors.We tried to be as secretive as possible, but one night Duane dropped a coconut bomb in the dumpster behind the BOQ to scare the Filipinos.  That was really good for another ass whooping, for all of us. 

We carved little forts in the soft coral all over the cliffs near our house. We did this all up and down Radio Point. We piled up good throwing rocks, smaller ones for our slingshots. We stored water in canteens, sleeping bags and several boxes of C rations, just in case. We hid our bikes up in the tree branches just so they would be safe from people like us.

The guys on Shore Patrol kept complaining about their stuff going missing, like binoculars, night sticks, flashlights, batteries. When Dad asked us about it, we just told him that we didn’t need any.  We had plenty of that stuff already.


Submitted: April 16, 2021

© Copyright 2021 mike frailey. All rights reserved.

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