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Only the toughest pilots can fly the F/A-18 Hornet, the Navy's best fighter attack aircraft. Two of these fliers—women hand-picked by the Pentagon—are assigned to the USS Ranger to break the gender line. Aboard ship, however, a covert cadre of officers will stop at nothing to keep the Navy "pure." Veteran investigative reporter Jack Warner is on deck to cover the story—while secretly working for top Naval brass to expose this...
Only the toughest pilots can fly the F/A-18 Hornet, the Navy's best fighter attack aircraft. Two of these fliers—women hand-picked by the Pentagon—are assigned to the USS Ranger to break the gender line. Aboard ship, however, a covert cadre of officers will stop at nothing to keep the Navy "pure." Veteran investigative reporter Jack Warner is on deck to cover the story—while secretly working for top Naval brass to expose this deadly conspiracy.
But little does Warner—and the crew of Ranger—know that the danger has only begun. Mercenary MiG fliers, out to collect bounty for American blood, are about to launch a stealth attack. Trapped by the enemy, a squad of Hornet pilots on a routine training mission will need all the guts, skill, and luck they have to win this war...and come out alive.
The New Topguns. The New Enemies. The New Navy. A thrilling new series that vividly takes you to the front lines of adventure!
Monday, 14 Oct/2000 EST
The pilot has already started our descent. Only now do I realize that not only haven't I made a hotel reservation, but I don't have enough cash to cover the fifty-dollar cab ride from Dulles to the city Meanwhile, back in my dirty apartment, sitting next to a pile of unpaid bills and a loaded answering machine, is yet another houseplant about to make the ultimate sacrifice. And I'm sure I forgot to take out the garbage.
This, my ex-wife would tell you--and anyone else in earshot--is par for the course. My name is Jack Warner; I'm a journalist specializing in military affairs, particularly those involving the Navy. You've read my work. I was nominated for a Pulitzer for my coverage of the Tailhook scandal. Truth is, I'm still pissed off that I didn't win.
Covering Tailhook made me a whole slew of enemies, particularly among the Navy brass; getting that award would have made the aftermath worth while. In those first couple years my name triggered a gag reflex among the Navy faithful, not unlike the mention of Charles Manson or, worse yet, Jane Fonda. Of course that's part of the job, but being a pariah, unwelcome at any base or function, made reporting on the Navy downright challenging.
So while every media type in the country lined up to take a whack at the Navy, I started a new series titled, The Other Victims of Tailhook. Scores of good officers, despite having been cleared of wrongdoing, had their careers devastated by congressional pundits who smelled votes. After that, the invitations and leads started rolling in.
In retrospect, it wasinevitable that I encounter the Secretary of the Navy. You might remember from civics class that the Secretary is a civilian and the Navy's gold-stripers take their orders from him. It turns out that I was a line item on his daily briefing. You know: so-and-so aircraft carrier is steaming here, our nuclear attack subs are deployed there, and oh yeah, Warner is at it again. A guy without a clean pair of underwear to his name, attracting the same level of attention as where our Trident nuclear missiles are hiding? Kinda scary, if you ask me.
Anyway, just this morning my editor, a cynical, cigar-chewing slave driver, gave me the word that not only was the Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Gerald R. Carroll, in San Diego on an unpublicized fact-finding trip, but he had requested a meeting with yours truly.
Her orders were typically blunt. "Get your ass over there most ricky-tick, buster And don't you dare piss him off until after you get the quote!"
Intrigued, I hustled over to Miramar Naval Air Station. After being escorted to the commandeered office of the base commander, I met the man himself.
"Jack," he said, after asking his staff to leave us alone, "there's not an organization in the world that scrutinizes itself with more diligence than the United States Navy. When a problem surfaces, we confront it by mobilizing the finest experts in their fields, and we investigate the matter fully, without prejudice, until we reach suitable closure."
My puzzled look made him chuckle.
"Good Lord, would you listen to me? I've definitely been in this job too long. I'm starting to sound like those nonsensical reports I have to wade through every morning." He motioned me to a chair, pulled one up for himself, unbuttoned his jacket, settled in, and peered over his glasses at me. The effect was disarming, a technique he'd no doubt perfected during his career as one of the world's top corporate negotiators.
"Let's get down to business, Jack. I've asked you here to discuss an exclusive."
"Exclusive"--now there's a word to make a reporter's heart race. It was tough keeping my expression neutral.
"As you know," he said, exchanging the official tone for a collegial one, "though we've successfully integrated women into most of the Navy's combat roles, we're a bit behind schedule in the Hornet community."
I couldn't let that one slide. "I take it that's Navyspeak for having all ten women pilots in the first class either quit, wash out, or crash?"
He flinched as if I'd poked him in the chest, but quickly recovered. "Point taken. Of course our official position is that, while it's been less than optimum, the task of flying Hornets off a carrier is unforgiving and demands exceptional talent. Yet, we're completely confident that we'll soon have perfectly capable women pilots joining their male counterparts."
"And what's the unofficial position?" I asked, fishing for that quote.
"Off the record?" He paused, eyeing me while waiting for my acknowledgment of the distinction.
Since I've always found that those three nasty little words tend to stick in my throat, I just nodded.
"Off the record, Jack, it's been a fiasco. I thought we'd lose a couple, maybe even half, but all ten? It makes even the most ardent pro-Navy supporter wonder what's going on."
"Surely you've investigated?"
"Yes, we have. The Navy has conducted a full investigation into each and every case. I've even had my own investigative resources take a look."
"And we've uncovered no evidence of organized resistance--it appears as if these young women were just in over their heads."Check Six!. Copyright © by Bob Norris. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Posted January 3, 2000
I really liked Check Six.. hope Bob produces more like it! Norris's style is great.. I couldn't put it down! If you read that, you've probably read these: Reading List for Aviation Challenge in Huntsville, AL.: Suggested Reading Material for Expansion of Brain Housing Group: Corps Values by Zell Miller; The Art of War by Sun Tzu; About Face by Col. (Ret) David Hackworth; Why Nations Go to War by ?; Scream of Eagles by Robert Wilcox; On Killing by LtC. Dave Grossman; Warthog / Flying the A-10 Over the Gulf by ?; Blue Jackets Manual by Navy Publications Institute; Gods and Generals by Shaara; The Killer Angels by Shaara; We Were Soldiers Once and Young by ?; The Ten Thousand by Harold Coyle; Team Yankee by Harold Coyle; Brute Force by John Ellis; Brotherhood of War Series by W.E.B. Griffen; The Corps Series by W.E.B. Griffen; Honor Bound by W.E.B. Griffen; Debt of Honor by W.E.B. Griffen; Final Dawn Over Jerusalem by Pastor John Hagee; 'Link' suggests H.P. Lovecraft; Non-fiction section: Tom Clancy, One of everything! (That would be Marine, Armored Cav, Carrier, Submarine, Fighter Wing etc.; A Bridge to Far by Cornelius Ryan.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.