General Hogan, after enduring many puns about it, finally decided he couldn't avoid the fake ID created for him - a Colonel Hoo Chin La. He did, however, limit his men to one wisecrack per hour about the name. Just like old times, Robert, he considered, you just have two doctors replacing Kinch and Carter. And, Carter would be available back at the 4077th if anything was needed, with Kinch monitoring radio traffic as well.
The five landed in a borrowed helicopter with the insignia of the Red Cross on it. A truck would take Hogan, Pierce, Hunnicutt, Newkirk, and LeBeau to the North Korean 912th, as they called it. Hogan, or Hoo, quickly handed papers to the guard at the front gate. This sure is more heavily guarded than our camp, considered Pierce. It probably reminds Hogan more of Stalag 13. Which it did.
After Hogan explained that his men knew no Korean, as they were from Russia, the sentry escorted him to the commander's office. A colonel Ying Li Ho greeted them, exchanging bows with the impersonator. Hogan's men did the same. "What brings you to this unit," inquired the colonel.
In remarkably fluent Korean, Hogan explained. "I have been in the Soviet Union for quite a while," he explained as he glanced at the picture of the Korean dictator Kim Il Sung. "Our illustrious leader, Kim, has asked for the co-operation of Stalin in transferring the Americans to Soviet gulags. There are some Soviets I have brought to assist - Doctors Piersinski and Honicuski, Captain Newkirski, and Lieutenant LeBoski, both Soviet air corpsmen."
"I see. Of course, you know, Colonel Hoo, this is a very top secret operation. If the Americans suspected something, it could mean war - even nuclear."
Hogan shook his head. "Our little workers' paradise would not stand a chance, would it," he deadpanned.
"No. The honorable Kim Il Sung has done great things for this country, we are hoping we can continue to be of great help to our Soviet comrades."
Hawkeye, anxious to show he was paying attention, spoke excitedly. "Da! Comrades," he exclaimed, pumping his fist in the air. "Tovariches!"
As the colonel stared, Hogan explained. "He gets a little excited sometimes. Especially when he hears his own language; he doesn't speak Korean."
"I see - I would have thought they would teach them some for this mission," noted the colonel, a little perplexed.
"Look, the American swine are in enough of an uproar that they are fighting Chinese here. If it was learned the Soviets were teaching their people Korean they might suspect something, right?" After a moment, the Korean nodded. Okay, this guy might be a little harder to convince, mulled Hogan. However, he at least fell for the first, and most logical, explanation. We're in good shape.
The Korean showed the men to the medical area, but explained. "We had not been planning on moving these for quite some days; I am afraid some are not in good shape to move." That's what Hawkeye and BJ are here to fix, Hogan considered.
As planned, Newkirk whispered in Hogan's ear. "Yes, you're right, Newkirski." Hogan turned to the Korean and exclaimed "Comrade Stalin will be most displeased; he felt you had a high quality rating. It would be a shame to have to tell him otherwise."
"Well, I understand, but...we just did not think it would be this fast that you came, until you called yesterday." As he opened the door to the post-op wing, Hogan and his men understood why. Conditions were far from sanitary; they noticed numerous objects which were clearly being reused without being sterilized. Blood was splattered in many places, some wounds were open more than they should be, and the entire scene appeared extremely untidy.
"Doesn't the Red Cross get to see this," muttered LeBeau.
Worried the Korean had overheard "Red Cross," Hogan quickly went into the second part of his plan to reel the Koreans in a little early. "My man wondered when the last time was that the Red Cross visited."
"That is just it - it was only three months ago they inspected." As Ying spoke, Newkirk and LeBeau began scanning the area for listening devices.
Hogan glared as some of the patients stirred and examined the group with great concern, especially considering the Russian uniforms. Angrily, Hogan shouted in Korean "you mean you let the Red Cross in here? Comrade Stalin would not have let them know that this hospital unit even existed, even since the start of the war! You Koreans do not know how to plan things!"
Hogan knew that the anger was likely to disturb the Koreans, since it was not a very normal cultural trait. As expected, it did. "I...I am sorry, Colonel La...we did not know until late last year, and as I said, the Red Cross..." stammered Ying.
"You did not understand that to be put to work in a labor camp, men must be fit to work?! These conditions are deplorable! I shall expect immense co-operation from you if I am not to report this to Comrade Stalin, and give him one more convict for the gulags." Hogan's men wished they understood Korean - whatever he was saying, it must be pretty powerful, they surmised. "Now, my men need to organize things to get these men moved to the trucks and to our waiting fleet of ships. My doctors must patch these men up. Newkirski and LeBoski need to plant a radar scrambling device atop your roof to prevent American planes from finding the unit by mistake and rescuing these people! Will you co-operate, or will you be purged?"
"You have our fullest co-operation, I assure you," came Ying, bowing quickly. He murmured "'radar scrambling...'"
Hogan knew he'd made that up, but chose to boast of Soviet technology. If Plan B had to be implemented, it would give them a leg up. "Yes, you mean you do not have that technology from the great Soviet factories - no wonder you cannot win the war. Now, give these doctors peace so they can get to work." With a quick bow, Ying departed. Hogan turned to Newkirk, who quickly pulled over a chair as LeBeau went to watch the door. Hogan motioned for Hawkeye and BJ to remain quiet and to look around for bugs first of all as Newkirk pulled a lamp down and removed a tiny microphone.
After spotting a couple more bugs and removing them, they pronounced the room secure. "Probably just for listening in to see if the patients give away any secrets."
"Gee, I thought we had enough bugs out here," noted Hawkeye, "without them making artificial ones."
"Good thing we brought our black bags - I feel like I'm in a Civil War hospital," remarked BJ. "There's still some things we could use, though."
"That's what I figured. Newkirk and LeBeau are going to put up an antenna allowing me to send my messages," noted Hogan. "They think it's for blocking American radar. I have the equipment on the truck with your stuff. Newkirk, LeBeau, bring the truck around." He handed them a slip of paper, written in Korean and Russian, requesting that the truck be pulled up right the entrance. "Show them the Russian first, just to see who recognizes it, as a double check. Doctors, check your patients, treat as well as you can, then make a list of what we need. I'll have it shipped here with some Red Cross choppers that use fake insignias."
As the other two left, the doctors marveled. "You've got this down to a science," Pierce noted as he walked over to sterilize some instruments in boiling water. "Shall we talk to the patients?"
"I'll handle that, a few can hear what we're saying, after all." The doctors nodded, BJ noticing one who looked quite incredulous. I imagine we look very odd with our fake beards, the doctor deduced. "Keep your chatter with them down to a minimum, and only when nobody else is here but our group. Remember, the N. Koreans think we're speaking Russian, but these are Americans, so they don't know Russian. So, we really shouldn't be able to understand each other."
Radar was filing papers when he heard the clatter of the telegraph several hours later. Carter, stationed near the telegraph, hobbled over on his crutches and sat down. As Radar jogged over to inspect, Carter relayed that they had received the message. "This was that Kinch's job all the time; a black person wouldn't make a realistic Nazi."
"No, I suppose not," was all Radar could say. He read the Morse code while glancing at the small code book. "Hmmm, 'arrived okay, stop.' How am I doing so far?"
"It says they have 23 - is that 23?" Carter nodded. "23 patients, 5 somewhat serious, stop. Trying operate but send chopper false...oh, false insignia." He smiled, looking up. "Hey, I'm good at this."
"There's another page here," Carter noted. "They're gonna move the other 18 in the next couple days, but need to patch them up better than these guys did. Hogan used the excuse they're gonna get 'em fixed up so they can actually work in the labor camps. He sent a list of supplies." He handed the sheet to Radar.
"We might have some of this stuff, I'll check." He started to leave.
"Do that, I'm gonna wire Kinch and tell him we need this stuff sent by one of those choppers." He put on the headphones and began to tap the telegraph.
Stopping just inside the door, Radar said "uh, our phone works, you might want to just call him." Carter grinned, a little embarrassed, and picked up the phone as Radar left.
"Hey Sparky," came Carter, "This is Sergeant Carter with 'Operation Deja Vu,' is your CO there?" He was. "Put him on....Hey, Kinch, how's it goin'?"
"Carter, long time, no see."
"Whaddayamean, you still can't see me. 'Course, I'll be comin' your way in a few days, once we pick up some packages. I got a foot crushed by an airplane."
"Oooh, that hadda hurt."
"Anyway, here's a list of what we need." He rattled off the list, then asked for two helicopters with the Soviet hammer and sickle on the side. "Think you can do that?"
"We'll have that stuff for you real fast. Hey, Sparky says to tell Radar 'hello.'"
"How's it feel to be an officer."
"Crazy. But I didn't want to be just an enlisted man; I made it up to Captain recently, but even if it weren't for this invisible ceiling they put over us I'd probably retire after this war, anyway." Kinch smiled. "At least they didn't mind me down there in your town when I visited for your wedding back in '47."
"As long as you're a veteran. You know me, I'd kinda let slip a few times about some of the things we'd done, so they had respect for you." Carter noticed the telegraph clicking again. "Oops, Hogan must need something else. Catch ya later."
Hogan had concealed the radio in a box of tongue depressors. In fact, it had been painted so that, except for the metal parts, it looked like a series of tongue depressors stuck together. The box was in an out of the way place, with the wires easily concealed. Another small box contained enough explosives to blow the hospital part and the CO's office, explosives made to look like medical instruments. Boy, Carter can do some great work, even on the spur of the moment, he pondered.
Now that this phase was complete, Hogan intended to try and get the defector's brother out of hiding. To do this, he needed to discover the fellow's whereabouts. The chopper carrying supplies would contain an agent disguised as a Korean. On the way back, this agent would, if feasible, land near the hideout, run and get Sung, and ferry him to South Korea via helicopter. If we'd had helicopters, he mused once more, we could have done pickups and drop-offs so easily. True, they'd have been noisy, and not as reliable until late '43, when we had air superiority more or less, but still...
Hence, Hogan began pecking away at the telegraph once more. He needed to get the location from the defector's brother. He hoped Radar or Carter would be able to run and get the information soon, so it could be sent to Kinch's outfit. He admired the way the team was working together after all these years...all these years? It had only been seven. Still, that seemed like an eternity, things had moved so fast.
While Hogan awaited a response, Hawkeye inquired "how did you ever stay sane being away from women for so long, General?"
"Wasn't easy. I had a few flings, but they were pretty far between." He decided not to tell him about Helga. Klink's secretary and he had had a brief romance after the war, when he was in charge of civilian relations in the American sector of West Germany. He'd fallen in love with her when he first saw her in '42. However, he was over ten years older than she, and it hadn't worked out - the flames cooled too fast on her end. It had been more puppy love to her. He enjoyed hobnobbing with former Underground workers, especially Mayor Kiesterman of Hammelburg. The only operation to even approach the glory of the Danish people required high level support, and he'd provided it. Kiesterman had fudged records and done many other things behind the scenes while privately encouraging people to resist the Nazis when he felt he could count on them to do so and not report him. This allowed the mighty Hammelburg Underground to flourish, as Kiesterman, a former major and WW I vet, was also the martial law leader of the town. However, once Helga and he parted, he was more than happy to be transferred away from there in mid-'47.
BJ remarked "I don't mind much, I'm married, but most of the other people in our camp are swinging singles. Makes a guy feel out of place."
Ensuring he didn't turn from the door, lest he see blood and faint, LeBeau spoke. "I was married for about a year before the war, but it didn't last. I enjoy my freedom. And life at Stalag 13 was ten times as tough for me because I'm French."
"What was your toughest assignment, General," BJ inquired. "If that's not privileged information."
Hogan got up from his kneeling position and sat on a bunk while awaiting a return message. He sighed, wondering how so much could have gotten out. At first, it was a reporter - he'd written a little after they'd gotten him out of Germany, but it was little enough the Americans could easily pass it off as propaganda. In fact, they'd hurriedly provided the fellow a job writing propaganda stories to be spread to the Axis powers if he would just keep his mouth shut about the operation and call it propaganda, which he did. After the war, that part had been pretty much protected.
However, next came the civilians. Once the war ended, they'd begun spreading rumors of a "great Underground operation which existed in Germany." Hogan himself hadn't been named. In fact, it wasn't even connected to a POW camp. It began when some German POWs brought back stories of the "Lone Ranger" legends in America. The story soon evolved into the existence of a "Lone Ranger" in Germany who always had a silver bullet solution for everything to keep the evil Nazis from winning. Hogan didn't mind that too much, though if it got too close to him he'd get very embarrassed. He'd never had near the ability of the Lone Ranger, nor could he keep innocent German soldiers, who were "just doing their duty," from dying when he blew up power plants, factories, etc..
These legends didn't bother Hogan too much, though. The big brass knew people would see these for what they were - just as there was a little Lone Ranger in everyone, so was there a little of this "German Lone Ranger" in every German. It eased the pain of some for not knowing of atrocities like the Holocaust - indeed, in the bedtime stories he knew German parents told in the years after the war, this "German Lone Ranger" knew nothing of the Holocaust, either. It broke his heart that he hadn't known, and that's why their Lone Ranger had gone into retirement. It made the character sort of a tragic hero, like something out of an opera.
Schultz's rebuilt toy company had taken advantage of these legends by producing products based on this myth. That's where part of the problem lied. The Schatzi Toy Company had begun to place this legend in a real setting. Instead of "riding off into the sunset," he returned to a base each night, where "sympathetic German guards" protected him. The stories were still fanciful, elaborate, and mostly disconnected with what Hogan had actually done. However, while Hogan hadn't kidnapped a general, snuck him aboard his plane at his own airstrip himself, and single-handedly bombed the general's base, flown him to England, then swum the English Channel to make it back to Europe, the story was close enough to something Hogan had actually done that it made the general cringe. Yes, he'd encouraged people to use their imaginations. Yes, he realized few would believe the legends. Still, he hesitated to reveal his toughest missions, partly to keep from even hinting at classified information, partly to distance himself so people didn't think he was some kind of superhero.
Hence, he told BJ "most of it is classified, though I'll tell you it's a lot more fun to believe the legends than what actually happened." And, much better for the government if the stories are considered legends.
"What legends," BJ wondered, considering whether he might have some good bedtime story material for whenever the war ended.
Hogan explained. "There are legends of a German Lone Ranger of sorts who did a lot of sabotage and rescue work. Purely fanciful." He decided to tell him one item. "We did help twenty airmen escape at once after they'd gotten free from another POW camp." This was Hogan's standard answer if others pressed him on the matter.
Hawkeye smiled. "At least we know you've got the experience. Were any wounded?" Hogan shook his head as he received back the information he requested. He asked that it be sent to Kinch, as well.
"What are some of these legends," BJ inquired.
"Well, it's been said this 'Lone Ranger' could take a German tank apart, copy the information down, and put it back together all in one hour. Sounds like Paul Bunyan," Hogan joked. "I'm surprised this guy doesn't have a big blue ox who helps him. Also, they say this guy could impersonate anyone; he'd done Hitler, Himmler, generals, everyone. He got prisoners out of Gestapo hands by posing as the kommandant of another camp, he did everything, all while never shedding one drop of German blood." BJ and Hawkeye whistled.
"Bet you wish you were that good," remarked Hawkeye.
Hogan spoke sincerely. "I wish. You're right, I wish I could have been."
LeBeau turned from the door. "Guard coming with something...wait, no, now they're arguing. What are they saying?"
Hogan hid the transmitter and jogged over to the door. "Wait a minute, I'll check." He walked out to discover the colonel chastising a young corporal holding what appeared to be a baby. "What's the problem, we have doctors trying to work and patients trying to rest."
Ying responded, bowing. "So sorry, this corporal had not informed me a member of the KGB was coming; he felt you had perhaps already told me." Hogan grumbled inwardly. "I instructed him never to assume such things again."
"Yes, well, of course I did not tell you, the KGB likes to keep things secret." He was glad he'd had enough experience with the Gestapo - this should be similar, he told himself. "How did the corporal find out?" came the incredulous query. Now, Hogan deduced, I have allayed any suspicion that question might have caused by acting as if the visit was supposed to be a complete surprise.
"He has just arrived at the air force base, and will be here to inspect things within the hour."