By H. P. Oliver

Copyright 2018 HPO Productions
All Rights Reserved

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Excerpted from
Chapter One

1900 Hours - Monday - 23 February 42
US Route 101 - Goleta

All right, I'll admit it.  I was driving a US government vehicle and burning up US government gasoline for private business.  No, that's not quite accurate.  This wasn't even private business.

Uncle Sam and my boss, Major General Chester Davis, needed me in Los Angeles on Tuesday, so I left the Military Intelligence Division's west coast headquarters at the Presidio in San Francisco a day or two before I really needed to in order to make a stop in Santa Barbara.

Why Santa Barbara?  Because that's where Susan Jackson lives, and Susan is the future Missus Johnny Spicer.  Angel—my pet name for Susan—and I met a little over two years ago while I was recovering from a gunshot wound in the private hospital where Susan is the head nurse, but that's another story.

Suffice to say my recall to active duty as a Major in the Army's Military Intelligence Division a few months back put a heck of a crimp in our love life, so now we had to grab a little time together whenever my assignments permitted.  Since my assignments for MID were in the realm of counter-espionage on the homefront and mostly involved installations and facilities on the west coast, we actually managed to see each other a lot more often than guys who were fighting the shooting war in far off corners of the world got to see their wives and girlfriends.

That bothered me sometimes, but only when I wasn't being a target for some Jap or Nazi spy I'd caught with his hand in Uncle Sam's cookie jar.  Yes, I'm in a shooting war, too, just one a lot closer to home.  Unfortunately, bullets in the good old U S of A are just as deadly as the ones being fired at Americans in those far off corners of the world.

Anyway, Susan and I decided to take advantage of a pleasant evening by driving up the coast a ways north of Santa Barbara to see the sights.  By the time we'd wandered up to Las Varas Canyon beyond Goleta, the sun set and there wasn't much light left by which to see sights, so I reluctantly turned the Army's Dodge business coupe around and we headed back down US101, which in these parts is also California Route One.

Susan was cuddled up next to on the seat next to me and I heard her sigh.  "I love just riding along like this.  I wish we could keep going and going."

"Sounds good to me.  Maybe we'll be able to do that . . . ."


I felt the explosion shake the road under our tires and a brilliant orange flash lit up the sky a half mile or so ahead of us.

Susan jumped.  "Johnny!  What was that?"

"I don't know, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't anything good."

Taking my foot off the gas, I let the Dodge coast as we drew closer to whatever was going on up ahead.  Charging into the fray, whatever the fray was, didn't seem wise until I had a little more information.


"There it goes again, Johnny.  Please tell me when I should get scared."

"Hold off on that a little while longer, Angel.  Let's see what . . . ."


"We passed an oil pumping facility on the way up here.  Those flashes are right about where it was."

"That's right, the oilfield and refinery at Ellwood.  What are you thinking?"



"Relax, Angel.  If my guess is right, we are witnessing something that hasn't happened in this country for a 130 years"

"Oh, wonderful!  You pick such swell times for history lessons.  What on earth are you are you talking about?"

"Unless I'm mistaken, the continental United States is at this moment under attack by a foreign enemy, which hasn't happened since the War of 1812.  A ship, probably Japanese, is shelling your oilfield."


"It's not MY oilfield!"

This time I was looking out to sea, watching for the muzzle flash.  The flash I saw looked like it came from a five-inch gun, and it illuminated a low profile, probably a submarine, a thousand or so yards out.

Figuring there was nothing official I could do about a Jap sub at this point, I saw no need to get any closer until things calmed down.  I braked to a stop on the shoulder of the road and pointed to where I'd seen the muzzle flash, "There's a submarine out there, Angel.  She looks to be a little less than a mile from the beach and her skipper is trying to blow up the oilfield."


Being the trooper that she is, Susan no longer jumped with each round fired, nor had she lost her sense of humor.  At least I assumed she was joking when she said, "Johnny, you are an officer in the United States Army.  Make them stop that!"