Read The Peacemakers Online

Authors: Richard Herman

The Peacemakers (62 page)

Lynne took her hand. “Thank you for everything. May I ask you a question? It’s very personal and you can tell me to mind my own business.” She lowered her voice. “Are you going to marry him?”

Jill smiled gently. “Maybe. But he’s going to have to work for it.”

Lynne beamed. “Yes!” Jill got out of the car and walked towards the Irregulars while Lynne joined her father and Ben. “I really like her,” Lynne confided in a low voice.

“So do I,” Allston replied.

Ben was much more enthusiastic. “Works for me, Colonel.”

Allston suppressed a laugh at the echo of himself.

Lynne gave Allston her serious look. “Dad, don’t blow it this time, okay?”

They walked slowly to the gravesites. Allston had to stop and catch his breath. He took it all in; the April sky, the ordered rows of crosses, the structured dignity and predictability of a military funeral that bound his universe. They joined the families sitting by the graves and found seats in the second row. A low murmur swept over the mourners when General John Fitzgerald followed the honor guard. He stood with them as Master Sergeant Jerry Malone called the Irregulars to attention. Six Irregulars carried each coffin and they placed their fallen comrades over the open graves. “Parade Rest,” Malone called. The chaplain read the service and stepped aside for Malone. Again, Malone called the Irregulars to attention and asked the mourners to please stand for the rendering of honors. His “Present arms,” echoed in the quiet. The honor guard fired three volleys and the bugler played taps. “Order arms,” he called. “Please be seated.”

The pallbearers stepped forward and folded the flags into the time-honored shape of a tri-cornered cap. The head of Marci’s detail presented the flag to Malone who passed it to Fitzgerald. The general knelt in front of her parents. “On behalf of the President of the United States, the Department of the Air Force, and a grateful nation, we offer this flag for the faithful and dedicated service of Captain Marci Louise Jenkins.” He repeated the presentation three more times and came to attention as three C-130s approached from the east in a V formation.

Allston looked up. “Dick Lane,” was all he said.

Ben responded to his father. “Dad, do you think I could be a trash hauler? Like them?”

“That’s your decision, son. But it would make me very proud.”

Fitzgerald’s eyes followed the C-130s. He slowly turned to the families to offer his condolences. “Thank you for allowing us to join you today. I cannot express how proud the Air Force and all who serve their country are of your loved ones. I know there is little any of us can say to comfort you in your loss but may I offer this: Captain Marci Jenkins, First Lieutenant Bard Green, Technical Sergeant Leroy Riley, and Staff Sergeant James MacRay truly made the ultimate sacrifice, not only for their country but for humanity. They were a crew and they served and died together, and it is entirely fitting and proper that we should inter them together. I want to thank you for your understanding and allowing this day to happen.

“They didn’t hesitate to risk their lives to save others, and helped stop the genocide that has cursed a troubled land. Your children were our conscience as they strove to right a terrible wrong. By fighting and dying for a people they hardly knew, they made it possible for us to create a better peace. They are the true Peacemakers of our world.” He came to attention and saluted the coffins. It was over.

Allston paid his respects to the family, and alone, made his way to the coffins. He stood there, proud of them beyond measure, and their faces were seared into his very being – Marci, Bard, Riley, and MacRay. And G.G. was there, standing with them. Their images glowed with life and the promise of what could have been. But they were lost because he had failed them. “I’m sorry,” he said aloud. A hand slipped under his arm. It was Jill.

“Don’t blame yourself,” she said softly, holding him tight.

“I didn’t get them out.”

“You got everyone else to safety. And how many Africans did you save? You started on that very first day with NyaMai – remember her? And you never stopped. It’s not an equation a human being can solve, so stop beating yourself.”

An inner voice told him that she was right. He let the quiet wash over them, not sure what to say. “I have to deliver a message to Captain Bouchard’s widow in France. Her name is Clarice. He said to tell her that he loved her more than life itself, but he had to follow. I guess he meant he had to follow Vermullen. You speak French and I can use some help.” Jill nodded in answer and stood quietly, waiting. “Is there a future for us?” he finally ventured.

“I hope so.” She looked at him, her eyes misting. “What do you think happened to Idi?” The legionnaire would always be a presence in their lives.

“I don’t know.” Allston looked up. High scattered clouds scudded across the Spring sky reaching for the horizon. “But if we need him again, he’ll be back.”

Jill looked at the man she loved, knowing him for what he was. “No, he won’t. But you will.”

The End


Because of the advent and growth of e-books and print-on-demand, every morning seems to bring a new dimension to the world of writing and publishing. But writing is still a lonely business, and few writers work in a vacuum. I am no exception and owe a debt of thanks to a few friends. James L. Kenny introduced me to the reality of flying C-130s in the Sudan. Val Herman and Judy Person performed wonders in copy editing the manuscript. Gretchen Ricker did yeoman labor in taking me through the complexities of designing and formatting a manuscript for electronic publication, which is no small task.

As always, William P. Wood, the co-publisher of Willowbank Books, offered countless suggestions and endless encouragement, and without the patience and gentle support of my wife, Sheila Kathleen, I would have never started my first novel, much less finished The Peacemakers.

Table of Contents






























Other books

Phule's Paradise by Robert Asprin (rsv)
Knocked Up by the Bad Boy by Waltz, Vanessa
The Next Move by Lauren Gallagher
Ice Magic by Matt Christopher
Absorbed by Emily Snow
Holocaust by Gerald Green
Lifesaver by Louise Voss
The Soul Stealer by Maureen Willett Copyright 2016 - 2023