A New Life
An Italian fisherman and his son are out in the middle of the sea when along comes a couple of Tomcats zooming across the sky. The radar plane notifies them of a couple bogeys. In the cockpit we see the pilot, a Captain Boone, also the CAG, and his female RIO, Lieutenant Arutti, exchanging flight chatter as they prepare to intercept the bogeys. We get a sense of the CAG’s feelings toward his RIO. Once the bogeys are identified as enemy MiGs, the CAG dismisses his wingman, much to the surprise of his RIO. Lieutenant Arutti prepares the Phoenix missiles for the impending dogfight but the CAG tells her stand them down. This concerns her as well. As they are attaching their oxygen masks, a couple of missiles are inbound. The CAG shows his stuff by rolling out the missile’s path. As the aircraft jockey for air superiority, the CAG is able to take out one of the MiGs with a Sidewinder and the other with his regular guns. With both the enemy aircraft neutralized, the two Tomcats return to their carrier, the USS Seahawk.
The plane captain climbs aboard to congratulate the CAG on his success. The word is out. The plane captain watches with ‘appreciation’ as Lieutenant Arutti climbs down from the cockpit. He congratulates her on “busting her cherry,” the military euphemism for making your first enemy kill. She does not like the term at all and tells him he needs a new one for today’s Navy.
Once inside the superstructure, Lieutenant Arutti chases down the CAG before mission debriefing to ask him why he didn’t use the Phoenix missiles. He claims that a “couple of camel jockeys” aren’t worth the amount of money it takes to make a Phoenix missile. She also wonders why they took the two MiGs on alone. He says he wanted to see if she had the guts for it and told her that he didn’t think she did. She complains that it wasn’t fair. “Well, hell, I don’t have to be fair, Lieutenant. I’m the CAG.”
In come Lieutenants Mace and Painter, the CAG’s wingman and his RIO. Painter is very excited for her getting her first enemy kill, while Mace acts snide. He makes the comment to Painter that he thinks she “wet her panties” up there. Painter sticks up for her.
In her quarters, Lieutenant Arutti, while listening to her tape of the mission she flew with the CAG, is busy writing something up on a computer. We are shown that it is a letter of resignation.
Down in the hangar deck, a group of sailors are cheering on someone bench pressing. It turns out to be a woman, a very buff woman. She gets up and passes the bench and the barbell to “Ripper.” Evidently they are having a contest and Ripper has just lost for the third time. He is not very pleased and talks trash about how she’s probably taking steroids and the flight surgeon is looking the other way.
The very buff woman turns out to be Angela Arutti’s roommate. Angela is putting her flight suit on as Cassie walks in. Cassie tells her that a reporter is coming in on the morning COD to do a story on the first woman in combat. Angela doesn’t want to be on the news. Cassie reminds her how much female aviators need good press because of the Tailhook incident. Angela confides to her how scared she was and how she almost wet her pants. Cassie tells her how useful fear can be. Angela grabs a flight jacket and heads out the door for some air. Once Angela is gone, Cassie logs onto their computer and pulls up the document Angela had been working on and abruptly closed when Cassie first returned from her workout. She sees that it is a resignation letter.
Angela surreptitiously makes her way up to the flight deck and then into the COD, which has been secured for the night. Inside she is thrown to the floor and kissed thoroughly. She must know this person as she tells him how much she needs him tonight. (Imagine some amount of time has passed while Angela and her mystery friend spend some time together.) She makes her way back across the deck and trips over the Jet Blast Deflector as it is activated for a launch. Angela is thrown over the side of the deck, but manages to catch onto some sort of ladder. She is able to pull her way back to safety and watches the water for a moment as she catches her breath. As she turns to head back to her quarters, she is pushed and falls straight down to the dark, choppy sea.
Admiral Brovo, the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, is in his office watching the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Jay cracks a couple of very funny jokes. He says, “This just in…One of the Navy’s F-14 Tomcats shot down a couple of Serbian MiGs over Bosnia this afternoon. Listen to this…the radar intercept officer of the Tomcat was a woman…You thought getting shot down by a woman in a bar was bad…Oh, my God.” The Admiral’s aide comes in and is asked if he’s watching this. The Admiral suggests that Admiral Drake (not sure what position he holds, perhaps a fleet commander) make Lieutenant Arutti more famous than Amelia Earhart. The aide, Lieutenant Teddy Lindsay, tells Brovo that ‘she’s’ missing. Brovo jokingly asks if anyone told FDR. Lindsay finally explains that Lieutenant Arutti is the one who’s missing. The Admiral queries Lindsay on who’s available to investigate. He decides to send a junior officer so as not to intimidate the carrier’s skipper and a female “j.g.” who is easy on the eyes. Lieutenant Rabb is called away from a party at the French embassy to be enroute within 20 minutes. Leno’s other joke: “Another thing about that female aviator…And this has got to be embarrassing for Bill Clinton and Dan Quayle. Now women their daughters age have more combat experience than they do…(laughter).”
A helo is traveling over the ocean and inside we see our JAG team, Lieutenant Rabb and Lieutenant (j.g.) Pike. She is excited to see the carrier looming ahead and tells Lieutenant Rabb that it’s her first time aboard one. She asks if it’s his first time, as well. We are taken back in time and shown a very young Harm sitting in the cockpit of a F-4 Phantom. Lieutenant Rabb jumps off the helo and Lieutenant Pike is helped out by one of the deck crew. Her cover is blown off at once by the strong winds blowing down the length of the deck. Lieutenant Rabb, however, made no such mistake. Lieutenant Pike glances over at her partner to see him taking in the sights and sounds an active carrier with something akin to longing.
Eventually, the spell is broken by the arrival of the Public Affairs Officer, Ensign Bud Roberts. He tells them that he has been sent by the Skipper to escort them to the Navigations Bridge. “If you’ll just stick to my six—that’s what pilots call their tail—I’ll lead the way,” says Ensign Roberts. Lieutenant Pike asks him if he’s a pilot. He says no, but that everyone on board a carrier tends to use pilot jargon. As they make their way toward the island, a Tomcat comes in but has to immediately take off again. “Bolter!” calls out Ensign Roberts. When Lieutenant Pike asks what happened, Harm replies, “He didn’t trap…touched down long, missed all four wires,” and takes off toward the superstructure. Ensign Roberts comments that he didn’t know that Lieutenant Rabb had been on a carrier before. She didn’t either.
Up on the flight bridge, the air boss is questioning the wisdom of having Lieutenant Puller (she’s the one who just boltered) flying seeing as how her roommate is the one who is missing. CAG comments that it wouldn’t matter if she were a man. Just then CAG gets a phone call from the skipper.
“Damn, CAG, he looks like Hammer.”
“Yeah, too bad he couldn’t fly like him.”
“I thought it was a night vision problem.”
“So they say, Skipper.” CAG continues to watch Lieutenant Rabb’s progress toward the island.
Harm enters the island and heads up the ladder toward the Navigations Bridge. Ensign Roberts flags him down to tell him that he’ll meet him in the officer’s wardroom later as he’s got to baby-sit the press. Harm changes direction and heads to the officer’s wardroom instead to talk to the reporter. Lieutenant Pike is on Harm’s heels. The ensign tries to remind them that the skipper wants them on the bridge ASAP.
As Harm, resplendent in his dress whites enters the wardroom, the reporter whispers to his camera man, “Hey, Berrini…Berrini, wake up! The ‘Good Humor’ man is here.” When Kate enters he continues, “And he’s got a ‘Good Humor’ lady with him.” While wondering aloud why a couple of JAG lawyers in dress whites are out on a carrier in the middle of the ‘Med,’ the reporter, Chuck DePalma, suddenly realizes he recognizes Harm.
“Don’t I know you?”
Harm nods. “We met about 15 years ago in Bangkok, Sir.”
“You…gosh…Harm, right? Harmon Rabb, Junior…golly. His father is an MIA. At sixteen he sneaked into North Vietnam to look for him. That was a gutsy move.”
“A very futile one.”
“That doesn’t make it any less gutsy.”
Harm suggests that Ensign Roberts and Lieutenant Pike escort the cameraman up on the flight deck to shoot some B-roll. Kate does not look happy about being gotten rid of and gives Harm a look. DePalma and Harm sit down to negotiate and Harm requests that DePalma sit on the story for twenty four hours so he can figure out what happened. DePalma says he can’t do it…Harm asks him his price and ends up exchanging a couple of rides in a jet for the requested hold time of DePalma’s story.
Up on the Navigations Bridge, Harm and Kate finally ‘report’ to the skipper, Captain Miller, who wonders why they took a detour to the officer’s wardroom instead of reporting directly to him. Harm explains that he heard that there was press on board and reveals the deal he made with Mr. DePalma. The skipper looks at the CAG, knowing that CAG doesn’t like what he just heard. With an, “on my six, mister,” the skipper, the CAG, Harm and Kate move to a more secluded area of the bridge to discuss the deal. The CAG says his ‘boys’ are not there to fly tours and the Skipper agrees with him. Harm tells them that it is in the Navy’s best interest to allow Mr. DePalma his flights and that he has the latitude to authorize those rides if necessary. Harm mentions the murder investigation, which catches the Skipper’s ear and he, why to know why it’s now murder. Harm tells him that CinCMedNaples received a message, which said, “She was murdered.”
Skipper wants the sender of that message found. He warns Harm and Kate not to interfere with the mission of the ship and that their investigation will be given full cooperation. Before Harm leaves the bridge, the Skipper asks him how his mother is. Harm tells him that she’s fine. CAG asks is she’s still married to that used car salesman. Evidently they know one another personally. It turns out that Harm’s step-dad is a VP of Chrysler.
Once Harm and Kate are gone from the bridge, the Skipper asks CAG if he still thinks that Lieutenant Arutti committed suicide. He does. He also thinks that this incident will make Washington realize that an aircraft carrier is no place for women. The Skipper warns him to keep those thoughts to himself, for the sake of his career.
Ensign Roberts is leading Harm and Kate to ‘female officer country’ so they can search Lieutenant Arutti’s quarters. On their way Harm requests a change of uniform for them and a few toiletries. Harm assumes that Lieutenant Arutti’s roommate is also a RIO, but Ensign Roberts tells them that she is a Tomcat pilot. They are both a bit surprised. Harm sends the ensign on his way to find uniforms. Kate takes over the computer, hacking in to Angela’s files. Harm tries to get into her personal lock box. A friendly little wager ensues over who can get ‘in’ first, Kate into the computer or Harm into the lock box. Harm wins even though Kate had a head start. Just then Lieutenant Puller walks in and is incensed that Harm has broken into her lock box. Angela slept on the bottom. She also asks if Kate is in her (computer) program. She announces that she just got back from a mission and she needs to work out. Harm starts to excuse himself, but she cuts him off, “What? You never seen a naked sailor before?” She proceeds to change right in front of them. At first Kate is entranced by Cassie’s muscles, but then looks quickly away and back to the computer.
Harm turns away to work on the correct lock box. He finds birth control pills, which Lieutenant Puller informs him were to regulate her period. Harm also finds a pocket tape recorder. Puller tells Harm and Kate that Angela recorded her missions and then studied them later. When Harm checks the tape it’s blank. Lieutenant Puller warns them to be gone by the time she returns from her workout. Harm tells her that he’ll need to officially interview her. Kate is able to hack Arutti’s computer files and finds a letter to her family. Harm asks if there’s any helpful info in it and Kate replies that women don’t get as lonely as men.
“Gee, I wonder why?” Harm asks sarcastically holding up the birth control pills.
Harm and Kate are in the officer’s dining room debating whether or not a possible love triangle had anything to do with Lieutenant Arutti’s disappearance.
“Why are you so adversarial, Kate? We’re supposed to be on the same team,” Harm comments.
“Sorry,” she replies. “I’ve just worked more cases against you than with you.”
“Believe me, it’s more fun to be on the winning side,” he teases.
Ensign Roberts shows up to let them know he’s arranged quarters for them but is still working on a change of uniform. He offers to take her handbag and both their covers.
As Kate and Harm look for an empty table, Harm comes across an old adversary. He introduces Kate to Lieutenant Mace, who in turn introduces his RIO, Lieutenant Painter.
“You here for a cocktail party, Harm?” Mace asks snidely. “So, you’re a JAG lawyer now. That’s one way to serve on a carrier.” There is no love lost between the two.
Lieutenant Painter asks if they have any clues as to who murdered Angela. Harm wants to know why he thinks she was murdered; he suggests that she fell or perhaps she fell or maybe she committed suicide. Lieutenant Painter hotly denies any of those possibilities before leaving for a briefing.
Kate asks Lieutenant Mace if Painter was in love with her. Mace tells them that they had been close in RIO school but that Angela had been an ‘ice queen’ on the carrier. Harm asks Mace if he knows how the murder scuttlebutt got started.
“Don’t ask me. You’re the JAG lawyer. I’m just a guy with gold wings and an F-14 to play with,” he replies and then invites Kate up to Vulture’s row to see ‘how a night trap is supposed to be done’ all the while looking at Harm. Kate picks up on the animosity, commenting that Mace doesn’t like him.
“We’re not here to be liked, Kate,” Harm says.
“Oh, he likes me. It’s you he’s got a problem with,” she returns. She asks how they know one another. Harm remarks that they served together in the past. Kate asks if Harm had been a pilot. Harm ignores that question and suggests that Painter sent the message. Kate calls him on it and he flat out tells her it’s none of her business and then gets up and walks out.
Harm is up on Vulture’s row watching a Tomcat come in to make a trap. He begins remembering the flight that ended in a ramp strike, the death of his RIO, and the death of his career as a Navy pilot.
A Serbian rebel shoots down a UN relief flight over Sarajevo.
Lieutenant Lindsey approaches Admiral Brovo, who is out in the JAG garden playing his clarinet, to tell him that he has been summoned to the White House.
Admiral Brovo wonders why. He realizes it must have something to do with the Seahawk incident. The admiral knows that unless Harm finds it was an accident, someone is going to find fault with the investigation.
“Don’t worry, Teddy. Junior officers get thrown to the sharks first,” Admiral Brovo reassures Lieutenant Lindsey. “And Lieutenant Rabb is the one sailing into harm’s way.”
“Yes, Sir,” replies Lindsey seriously.
“ ‘Harm’s’ way? Lieutenant Rabb’s first name is Harm,” the admiral explains.
“Oh-oh, yeah…Yes, Sir.” The lieutenant nods finally getting it.
“You need a sense of humor, Teddy, otherwise people are going to think you’re a lawyer,” Brovo chides him and walks away.
“I am a lawyer, Sir,” Teddy replies.
On the bridge, the Chief has found Lieutenant Arutti’s ball cap in one of the safety nets. The skipper dismisses him but before he leaves he comments on how nice Lieutenant Arutti was and that he’ll miss her.
Once the chief leaves, the CAG says that the chief is use to losing men in action, not women to suicide. Kate asks the CAG how he knows it was suicide. The CAG tells her that it must have been since there are too many safety nets for someone to just stroll off the deck and that no one on board would throw someone else off the deck.
Kate asks if Lieutenant Arutti was depressed. CAG remarks that he is not a psychiatrist. Kate correctly points out that she was his RIO and an officer under his command. Kate and the CAG get into a shouting match until Harm pulls rank on her and requests permission to leave the bridge.
Once off the bridge, Kate makes her displeasure with Harm clear. Ensign Roberts catches up with Harm and Kate, finally having found a change of uniform for each of them. Kate makes sure that she will not be wearing Lieutenant Arutti’s stuff. The ensign tells her that Lieutenant Puller actually offered a flight suit for Kate to wear. This surprises Kate—Bud was surprised too, and explains that it should fit “because of how tall you are and how big her chest—“ The ensign realizes his faux pas and abruptly suggests they follow him to their quarters. Harm thinks it very funny but Kate warns him not to say a word.
Chuck DePalma catches up with them Harm and asks about Arutti’s ball cap. He then concludes that it must have been suicide.
Kate stops walking. “No,” she says firmly.
“No?” he asks.
“No,” she repeats and resumes walking.
“That’s a very emphatic negative, Lieutenant,” DePalma remarks. “Do you know something I don’t know?”
“I don’t believe it was suicide,” she replies.
“Oh…well…and do you have anything to base that on—other than gender identification?” DePalma asks. Kate stops, crosses her arms across her chest and just looks at him. He holds up his hand between them, “Oh, man. I’m being targeted. He steps over to Harm, “I fly in the morning right? Cuz if I don’t, my story will.”
Ensign Roberts leads them to Harm’s temporary quarters. As he prattles on about toiletries, Kate ushers him to the hatch.
“Ma’am, you're in female berthing—” he tries to explain.
“I remember the way,” she says, pushing him through the hatch.
“Ma’am, it’s a big, big ship,” he reminds her.
“I’m a big, big girl,” she tells him closing the hatch in his face. She turns to Harm who has already begun stepping out of his dress whites, and begins her tirade. “I am twenty-seven years old, a Harvard law school graduate, and a lieutenant in the same Navy as you. Don’t treat me as anything less.” Kate takes a quick look at Harm’s chest.
“The CAG was about to a sidewinder up your six,” he says.
“I can defend myself,” she asserts.
“Ticking him off is not going to help our investigation,” he says, removing his trousers.
“Oh, is that strictly your prerogative?” she asks.
“I know the guy, Kate. I know when to push and when to walk away. This was a time to walk away,” he says.
“How do you know the CAG?” she demands.
“He was my dad’s wingman the day he was shot down,” he admits, pulling on a clean undershirt. “You know, Kate, maybe DePalma was right, your gender is blinding your objectivity,” Kate turns and walks away from Harm, tugging at her collar. “At this point in the investigation, the CAG’s suicide theory is as plausible as murder. You’d realize that if Lieutenant Arutti wasn’t female.”
“And if she was male, would the CAG be talking suicide. He knows damn well that if the first female in combat commits suicide, the Navy will re-evaluate the whole program,” Kate tells Harm.
“Okay, you’re both pursuing theories based on gender bias,” he says, pulling his flight suit on.
“And you're not?”
“No—I like the idea of going to sea with women,” he says as he zips his suit up and offers her a sexy smile.
Kate can’t help but smile back even though she doesn’t want to. “Those wings look good on you,” she says of the black name patch embossed with gold wings.
“Well, you know what they say about gold wings and dress whites…” he says as he slowly approaches her. “…They’ll get you in bed anywhere.”
She smiles and chuckles as Harm moves in to kiss her. “Except here,” she whispers and ducks out of his personal space.
July 16, 11:28
The White House
Admiral Brovo and Lieutenant Lindsey approach a group of other high ranking individuals in a White House courtyard. Another admiral breaks away to speak with them and comments about them being dragged over there, too. Admiral Brovo had been under the assumption that this other admiral had requested his presence. The admiral doesn’t know why Brovo is there, but he himself is supposed to convince the president to approve and alpha strike in retaliation for the C-130 that was shot down. The original group of officers is admitted to see the President as Admiral Brovo wonders who sent for him. It turns out to be the First Lady.
The CAG is being difficult as Harm questions him about the mission he flew with Lieutenant Arutti. Harm follows CAG to the “locker” room and sees Mr. DePalma getting suited up for his flight. The CAG asks DePalma if he’s ready and threatens to eject him over the Adriatic if he touches anything other than his personal joystick. Once Lieutenant Mace escorts DePalma topside, Harm confronts the CAG on his choice of weapons during his engagement of the enemy. The CAG says the enemy wasn’t worth the money needed to build a Phoenix missile.
Harm mentions the risk of a dogfight and the CAG says he didn’t think it was a risk.
“Were you testing her guts or yours?” Harm asks.
“Because of your old man, I didn’t hear that; But if you’d care to repeat it…” says the CAG before walking out. Harm isn’t sure if that was the best way to handle things.
Harm is being paged to ‘crypto’ where he finds Kate waiting for him with proof. She introduces Harm to Lieutenant Zane Lubin, a friend of hers from the Academy. As Lieutenant Lubin attaches a visitors tag to Harm’s flight suit, Lubin comments that he would never have made it through without her. Harm glances at Kate with a “who is this guy” look. She explains that she helped him with calculus.
“I sure hope I don’t get my six keelhauled for this,” Lubin comments as he leads them to a large machine. Kate thanks Zane. With a sweet look and a gentle caress of her chin he tells her he’ll collect later.
“Collect what?” Harm asks looking after Lubin a bit jealously. Kate ignores his question and hands him some earphones and tells him to listen. Kate and Zane were able to restore Lieutenant Arutti’s erased mission tape.
“He was busting her butt, Harm,” she says.
“She was questioning his decisions, Kate.” Harm defends the CAG.
“Maybe her questions were valid, like the ones I ask you,” she suggests.
“That’s okay in an investigation, not in combat. She was hesitant—shaky—scared--,” he says right in Kate’s face and then turns to leave ‘crypto.’ Lieutenant Lubin is grinning broadly as he watches Kate follow quickly after Harm.
“So she was scared,” Kate tries again. “It was her first time in combat. Why shouldn’t she be scared?” She tries to keep up with Harm who seems to double-timing it up the ladders. “Hello? Are you receiving me,” she calls loudly after him.
“She probably wanted this since she was a kid; put her entire life into becoming a Naval aviator; then on her first mission finds she doesn’t have the right stuff,” Harm has finally stopped as someone else is descending the ladder.
“According to the CAG,” says Kate.
“Who better to know?” he replies and takes off again.
“So a few harsh words and she commits suicide?” Kate wants to know.
“People have done it for less,” Harm says as he turns down a corridor.
“You mean women, don’t you?” she corrects.
“C’mon, Kate, I’m not a chauvinist.” he tries to placate her.
“Yes you are. You just don’t know it,” she replies and Harm laughs. “Harm, if you write this up as a suicide, I’ll submit a dissenting position.”
“You can’t,” he says. “We’re not a board of inquiry, we’re a two man team and the senior member writes the findings.”
“Okay, Kate, so I’m a little chauvinistic.” He finally stops walking. “I thought you found that charming.” He flashes her a sexy grin.
“Not in an investigation,” Kate replies.
Harm takes her arm and gently tugs her into an empty space. “I’m like a hung jury,” he admits. “I need something to swing me one way or the other.”
“Okay,” she says placing her hands on his chest. “Zane believes that message to CinCMed was sent from one of the aircraft. I checked the logs and guess who was flying when CinCPac received it?”
“Mace and Painter,” he replies.
“That doesn’t prove she was murdered. Lieutenant Painter was in love with her. He wouldn’t want her death to look like suicide any more than Lieutenant Puller who could also have sent that message from a Stu-3,” Harm pokes holes in her theory.
She shakes her head and makes a negative sound. “Zane doesn’t think it could have originated from a Stu-3.”
“When did Zane join our investigation?” Harm asks.
“I’m looking for answers,” she says.
“Well, what else did Zane—who’s going to collect later—tell you?” he requests.
Kate takes a breath and rolls her eyes. “He said he knew a secure area in the fantail…where he and I could do it,” she whispers and then drops her amused look and walks away. Harm sighs and lightly bangs his forehead against his fist.
The CAG asks Mr. DePalma how he’s during their flight. DePalma says he’s doing fine other than it being a little hot in his cockpit. The CAG then informs him that AWACS reports no bogeys to engage so he offers to re-enact the mission. DePalma readily agrees.
“Combat spread, cover my six,” CAG declares to his wingman, Lieutenant Mace.
“Roger that,” Mace answers with a big grin and moves his aircraft to a different position.
As the CAG offers a verbal play by play, he completes several high G rolls, twists, and turns, causing Mr. DePalma to lose the contents of his stomach.
“One hundred percent oxygen usually works,” the CAG suggests. Mace and his RIO look on in amusement.
The fisherman’s son is watching the planes as his dad hollers at him to help pull in the catch, which turns out to be Lieutenant Arutti’s body.
July 17, 0724
US Naval Hospital
Harm has gone to Naples to speak with the doctor who performed the autopsy on Lieutenant Arutti’s body. The doctor tells Harm that he found nothing to indicate anything other than accidental death. All her wounds were normal for a high fall.
Harm looks at the body, visibly shaken. He asks about her personal effects. The doctor says only one boot was missing and verbally catalogs the rest of her stuff for Harm: no rings, bracelets, or wallets—just dog tags, panties, her flight suit, and a leather flight jacket. Harm glances over at the jacket that has some sort of dog and the word LOBO imprinted on the back. He looks back down at the body. “Is there anything else you can tell me, Commander?” Harm asks the doctor.
“Just that she suffered a slow agonizing death,” the doctor replies. Harm takes one last look at Lieutenant Arutti and leaves.
Lieutenant Painter is out on the island somewhere, getting some air and contemplating the situation when Kate finds him. She asks why Lieutenant Mace hates harm. Painter says that Mace thinks Harm “screwed the pooch” on a night trap.
“Did he screw the pooch?” she asks.
“Board of Inquiry didn’t think so,” Painter says. Evidently he had an eye infection, which impaired his night vision. The board ruled that the RIO panicked and prematurely punched them out over the ramp. However, since the RIO was killed, no one will ever really know. “But then Mace has prejudice, the RIO was his brother,” Painter reveals and moves down the walkway a little. Kate follows. “You’re a lawyer, right, Lieutenant? If I tell you something will it stay between us?”
“I’m not your lawyer, I’m the Navy’s. If you have something to tell me about Lieutenant Arutti’s death, it won’t be privileged, but I’ll do what I can to keep it confidential.”
“Angela wrote a letter of resignation after her last mission. She felt she didn’t have the guts for combat,” Painter tells Kate.
“She resigned her commission?” she asks.
“No, Ma’am. I talked her out of it. Hell, we all get scared up there at times. It’s just that guys—they hide it. That’s why I know she didn’t commit suicide. Angela wasn’t going to quit. She was going back to her quarters to erase that letter from her computer.”
“Back from where?” Kate wants to know.
“From the COD. At night it’s tied down aft of #3 elevator. We used to go there to be alone,” Painter explains.
“You were her lover?” Kate asks, somewhat shocked.
“No, Ma’am. I was her husband,” he reveals.
Lieutenant Puller walks up to Ripper on a weight bench, pressing the barbell into his chest down near his throat. “Next time you wave me off for no reason, it’ll be your last,” she threatens him before lifting the weight back onto the rack.
Kate and Harm witness the exchange and ask Cassie what was going on. She explains that Ripper has been giving her unnecessary wave-offs. Harm tells her she’s a tough lady and suggests she’d do anything to prove that women belong on a carrier—even throw someone overboard in order to have a dead hero instead of a live quitter. She hotly denies murdering her roommate saying that if she “were bent that way” there are a few guys who would have gone overboard long ago. As she’s speaking she’s looking directly at Ripper. Harm tells her that she’ll still need to testify for the Board of Inquiry in Naples. Cassie says there’s the possibility of a mission soth4e Board of Inquiry will have to wait.
“I can’t delay an inquiry based on scuttlebutt,” Harm says.
“Dammit, you were a pilot. You know what flying the real thing means to me,” she exclaims.
“I’m sorry,” he says. He does know.
“Mace was right about you,” Cassie says before walking away.
“One of these days, somebody’s going to throw her overboard,” offers Ripper walking over to Harm and Kate. “So I heard they recovered Angela’s body.”
“Fisherman found it yesterday,” confirms Harm.
“Damn shame. She was a good kid,” says Ripper.
“She wasn’t a kid,” Kate corrects.
“You know, I saw Lieutenant Puller top side near the #3 elevator the night that Angela went overboard,” Rippers tells them. “She was kind of hiding in the shadows.”
“Hiding is the shadows or just getting a little air?” Kate asks a bit defensively.
“It looked like she was hiding to me,” he says.
“You aren’t just saying this to get her in trouble, are you?” Kate wonders.
“Damn right, I am. That doesn’t change her being there,” Ripper answers bluntly.
“And why would Lieutenant Puller want to kill Angela?” Harm questions.
“I don’t know,” he says as he steps in between them, looking first at Harm and then at Kate. “Lover’s quarrel?”
“What a bastard,” Kate hisses.
“Doesn’t mean he’s lying,” Harm replies. Of course, Kate knows the truth.
Harm and Kate have gone to Captain Ross with their suspicions.
“You suspect Lieutenant Arutti was murdered but you don’t have any proof?” questions the skipper, clearly ticked off.
“Yes, Sir,” replies Harm calmly.
“If I ran the Seahawk the way you two run this investigation, I’d be skippering a submarine at Disneyland,” he says as he paces around the bridge. “Well, what do you two JAG lawyers propose to do next?”
“Convene a Board of Inquiry to question certain officers under oath who may be able to shed light on Lieutenant Arutti’s disappearance,” Harm tells him.
“Which officers?” Captain Ross demands.
“Lieutenant Puller, Painter, Carter, and the CAG,” Harm tells him.
“You think one of them threw her overboard?” questions the skipper.
“I don’t know, Sir. I do believe they’ll be able to shed light on her disappearance,” he reiterates.
“Well, your Board of Inquiry is going to have to wait, Lieutenant,” the skipper tells Harm.
“Scuttlebutt true, Sir?”
“It usually is,” the captain replies as the CAG enters the bridge. “Gather around, gentleman.”
“It’s on?” asks the CAG.
“It’s on,” confirms the captain. “I just received orders from CinCMedNaples. We’re to launch an alpha strike at 1800.” He looks over at Harm, “That’ll be all, Mr. Rabb.”
“Aye, aye, Sir,” Harm replies as he comes to attention. He returns Lieutenant Mace’s nasty look as he turns to leave.
The captain continues sharing the orders. “Our targets will be the twenty-eight SAM sites around Sarajevo and their command/control center. CAG, I’ll need an ATARS run before you launch. I want to know what’s down there.”
“Yes, Sir, I’ll take it myself,” replies CAG.
“Very good, Sir,” says the skipper.
“What’s an alpha strike?” Kate whispers to Harm as they move away from the mission briefing.
“Everything that flies,” Harm tells her.
Harm watches longingly as the skipper continues issuing orders. “Tomcats launch first. Establish a CAP and fly escort. Intruders go in low and smother them with snake eyes. Hornets go high: nail anything that lights up. This is the real thing, gentleman, so good hunting.”
Harm exchanges a look with the CAG.
Back in the dining room, Chuck DePalma is telling Kate and Harm about his flight with the CAG.
“Was your cockpit hot?” asks Harm.
“Yeah, yeah, it was,” replies DePalma.
“He turned the heat up,” reveals Harm. “ A little heat, couple of negative Gs and Captain Midnight would have puked in that back seat.”
“Why is he so damned abusive?” Kate asks.
“It’s just his way of telling me that I don’t belong up there,” says DePalma.
“He doesn’t think anyone belongs up there except his chosen few,” she says spitefully.
“He’s right,” states Harm.
“He’s not right,” disagrees Kate. “What gives him the right to decide who belongs up there and who doesn’t?”
“Twenty-five years and a thousand traps,” explains Harm.
DePalma understands and is just as happy that the good Ensign Roberts has arranged for a photo shoot in one of the aircraft after the strike—on the deck, of course…”with Berrini’s camera angles, I’ll come off looking like Tom Cruise.” Everyone chuckles.
Just then the CAG comes into the dining room for a cup of coffee before his ATARS run, “Mr. DePalma, you ready for your second ride? I’ve got and ATARS mission in ten minutes.”
“I’m going to tell you the truth, CAG. I don’t think I could ride an elevator without puking,” he admits and the CAG grins.
Harm stares at the CAG intently for a moment before speaking up. “I’ll take it.”
The CAG turns to look at Harm and chugs his coffee. “Saddle up,” he says.
Harm is acting as CAG’s RIO and is immensely enjoying the feel of being back in the cockpit. The CAG is watching Harm in the rear view mirror. Harm is watching the joystick move around. “Don’t even think about it, mister,” CAG warns. “You ready, Lobo?”
“Ready, CAG,” she replies.
This gets Harm’s attention and he looks across the deck to the other Tomcat ready in the other catapult. Lieutenant Cassie Puller and LOBO have been stenciled under the cockpit canopy. Her plane is launched and then Harm and CAG are thrown off the deck as well. Harm is mesmerized for a moment by the wild blue for a moment until he notices Cassie’s plane again. “CAG are we on TACH 2?” he asks.
“Why?” he wants to know.
“I have to radio Lieutenant Pike.”
“We’re not on the beltway, mister. We’re on a mission. We don’t transmit until we’re over the target.” The CAG denies Harm’s request.
“You know, your dad and I were on a photo recon when he went down,” the CAG tells Harm.
“I know. I read the mission debriefs,” Harm says.
“How the hell did you get that?”
“Freedom of Information Act,” Harm replies.
The bridge crew watches the planes’ progress on the radar screen.
Kate is out on Vulture’s row, looking out to sea.
“One minute to target,” reports the CAG. “Go tactical.”
“Roger that,” replies Lieutenant Puller.
“Activating ATARS. Here we go,” says the CAG. “You with me back there, Lieutenant?”
“To hell and back, Sir,” replies Harm.
The two Tomcats begin their run through a long valley. A soldier attempts to shoot them down, but he’s too slow.
At the end of the run, the CAG instructs Lieutenant Puller to contact the Seahawk and notify them of what they found.
“Is that what it was like over Hanoi?” Harm asks.
“When we go back through, they’ll be ready for us. That’ll be like Hanoi,” says the CAG.
The CAG turns around for another pass as Cassie informs the Seahawk of CAG’s instructions. Harm and the CAG are flying quickly through the canyon once more as gunfire sprays at them from every direction. The CAG is able to avoid the flak easily. However, the soldier who missed them on their first run is ready and waiting for them and is able to hit them this time.
“You got her, you got her, Hammer,” the CAG calls out as he passes out and lets go of the stick.
“Steady…steady…holding steady,” Harm recites as alarm indicator lights warn of fire in the right engine. Harm kills the engine and tries a couple of maneuvers to try and put out the fire.
Lobo is waiting for Harm at the end of the valley and makes contact with him. Harm tells her they’ve been hit, that the plane is riding like a jackhammer, and that he’s got slow down. He says he’ll be up there in a minute.
“I can see the CAG,” she exclaims. “He’s not moving.”
“How do I transmit ATARS?” Harm asks.
You can’t from the back seat,” she says.
The CAG comes to long enough to flip the switch that activates the ATARS.
Lobo informs Harm that the CAG is alive—he must have activated the ATARS.
“I can’t see anything from back here,” he replies. “He’s not moving.”
Back on the Seahawk, the other pilots grab the just received recon photos and prepare to launch.
“Fifteen miles, Harm. You better get ready,” Cassie reports.
“You better run the checklist with me. It’s been a long time since I trapped.”
“You can’t trap,” Cassie exclaims.
“I’m not punching out,” he replies.
“You’ve got to.”
“Once was enough,” he says.
“Negative on the trap,” radios the air boss. “Once all the birds are launched we’ll have you eject near the ship.”
“The CAG is unconscious. He’d never survive an ejection,” Harm explains.
“How long since you made a trap? Any trap?” questions the air boss.
“Five years and it was a ramp strike. I’m due a good one,” Harm discloses.
The skipper is listening to the chatter.
“Well, the CAG will have to take his chances in the water,” decides the air boss.
Harm comes back and says that he can’t hear, creating fake static noises and claiming that his radio is breaking up.
The air boss is told that the skipper is on the horn for him, “Hang on, Harm.” The skipper tells the air boss to allow Harm to trap.
“Bring it home, Harm,” the air boss tells him.
“Coming home,” Harm replies.
“I figure the only chance you’ve got is to follow me in,” Cassie says to Harm. “I’ll set you into the slot.”
“No offense, Lobo, but you’ve got the worst trap record on the ship,” Harm says.
“It’s better than yours,” she quips.
All the other planes have begun launching.
Ensign Roberts tracks Kate down to inform her that Lieutenant Lubin wants her on the double and they race to ‘crypto.’
Lieutenant Lubin hands her a phone and tells her she’s got a call on the discreet channel.
“Harm!” she exclaims. He tells her that Cassie is Lobo—she says Angela was Lobo.
“No, Angela was wearing Cassie’s jacket when she went over the side. In the rain and the dark she was mistaken for Cassie,” deduces Harm.
“Ripper—” Kate concludes immediately.
“Has to be,” Harm agrees. Kate he’s gotta know we’re going to put this together and the last thing I need is a wave off.”
“You’re flying?” she asks incredulously.
“You really know how to build a guy’s confidence,” he comments.
“I’ll handle this,” she assures him.
“I’m counting on that,” he replies and breaks radio contact.
Kate turns to Ensign Roberts and asks if he’s got a pistol.
“A pistol? What do you need a pistol for?” he asks.
“Never mind—just stick to my six,” she instructs and takes off.
Harm verbally runs through the checklist. Cassie reminds him of the tailhook.
“He hasn’t made a trap in five years,” says an assistant LSO to Ripper.
“With luck, he’ll take her down with him,” Ripper replies.
Just then Kate walks up to them and begins shouting at him over the wind, “Lieutenant Carter, you are relieved of duty and confined to quarters pending the convening of a Board of Inquiry into Lieutenant Arutti’s death.”
“By whose orders,” he hollers back belligerently.
“Mine! Under Article 118 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” she replies as Ensign Roberts and the MPs walk up.
“Get this bitch off my platform before I throw her off,” he threatens Kate.
“Sergeant!” calls Ensign Roberts and the MPs grab Lieutenant Carter.
Kate steps up onto the platform and gets right in Ripper’s face. “And it’s Lieutenant Pike—not bitch, a**h****,” she says.
Cassie helps Harm guide his plane in as far as she can while Harm struggles to see the carrier deck and the meatball. She wishes him good luck as she breaks off.
As the plane pitches back and forth, the LSO instructs Harm to help him line up properly for the trap. He finally slams unceremoniously onto the deck, managing to catch a wire and get safely yanked to a stop.
Kate and Ensign Roberts cheer and yell and Kate spontaneously kisses the ensign on the cheek, much to his surprise and delight.
The bridge has also been watching anxiously and cheer and clap once Harm has safely landed.
“Haven’t you ever seen a night trap?” Captain Ross asks sternly and they scurry back to their positions. Despite his tone, he is clearly pleased as well.
Down on the deck, the medics have removed the CAG from the front cockpit. The chief climbs up to tell Harm that the CAG is breathing.
“That makes one of us,” replies Harm.
“Wherever he is, your old man would be proud of you, Sir,” offers the chief.
Harm just smiles—he’s still out of breath from all the excitement.
Harm goes to visit the CAG in sickbay.
“Permission to enter, Sir?” Harm requests.
“Granted,” says CAG.
“How are you feeling, Sir?” Harm stands at ease beside the bed.
“How would you feel with a cracked head?” he replies gruffly.
“Skipper said you wanted to see me,” Harm says. The CAG just studies Harm, remembering his old buddy. “Look, before this gets embarrassing for both of us…uh…you don’t have to thank me.”
“Thank you for what? You’re a Naval aviator. I damn well expected you to get us back,” CAG says.
“Yes, Sir,” Harm apologizes for assuming.
“I wanted to…” he looks intently at Harm again, “…tell you something about your dad’s last mission.”
Harm swallows nervously in expectation.
“When Hammer went down I called the Sandies and flew CAP until I was bingo fuel. He was okay when I left but he was gone when the Sandies got there five minutes later,” CAG reveals.
“You were bingo fuel, Sir. You had to leave,” Harm understands.
“He was my friend,” admits the CAG, hurting.
“I know, Sir.” Harm is choked up now.
“I caught tailwind on the way back. I…I got to the “Ti” with 800 pounds of fuel in my tanks. I could have stayed over another three…four minutes. It might have made a difference,” the CAG says.
“A lot of things could have made the difference, Sir,” Harm says, on the verge of tears. “He might have been luckier, or he might have never been there at all. You have nothing to apologize for.”
“I didn’t say I was apologizing. I made a judgment call; I’ve had to live with that,” he replies. “Your eyes are not a judgment call, son. You have nothing to second guess.”
“Thank you, Sir,” says Harm.
“Now get the hell out of here; go sue someone,” the CAG says.
Harm comes to attention. “Aye, aye, Sir,” he offers before exiting.
Back at JAG HQ, Admiral Brovo is watching a news feature reported by Chuck DePalma…
“The most unlikely hero of last night’s highly successful Naval air strike was Lieutenant Harmon Rabb Junior, who saved Captain Thomas Boone’s life when he safely landed this damaged Tomcat onto the deck of the Seahawk. What is so unusual is that Lieutenant Rabb isn’t even an active pilot in the Navy. He’s a member of the Judge Advocate General Corps---He’s a lawyer!”
Admiral Brovo bursts out laughing, “Did you ever think you’d see the day when a lawyer was a hero in America, Teddy?”
“No, Sir. I think you should take a look at this, Admiral. It’s from Lieutenant Rabb,” Lieutenant Lindsey hands the admiral a sheet of paper.
“She was murdered,” he reads.
“Yes, Sir,” Teddy agrees.
“That’s too bad,” Brovo says, standing up and shoving papers in his briefcase. “Well, you can’t have everything.”
“Excuse me, Sir, but aren’t you concerned about a Senate hearing? I mean you said it could discredit our JAG investigation and ruin Lieutenant Rabb’s career,” asks Teddy.
“They wouldn’t dare go after him now. He’s a hero,” Brovo grabs his briefcase. “No, if anybody goes from JAG it’ll be me,” he says as he heads toward the door. He stops to look at Teddy for a second, “Or you Teddy.” He chuckles as he leaves.
“It’s been a pleasure serving with you Sir…Ma’am,” Ensign Roberts says as he escorts Harm and Kate to the COD.
“Thank you, Ensign,” replies Harm.
“Oh, you’re quite welcome,” he says.
“Oh, god, here we go,” says Harm noticing Lieutenant Mace waiting outside the COD.
“You’re out of uniform, Harm,” Mace says.
“I’ve got a Board of Inquiry in Naples in an hour,” Harm replies.
“That’s not what I mean,” says Mace as he attaches a pair of gold wings to Harm’s chest.
“Thanks, Mace,” Harm says softly.
Mace leans toward Kate. “You sure you won’t be needing me in Naples?”
Kate smiles at him for a moment before Harm grabs her and steers her toward the COD, “Let’s go, Kate.”
Once on board the C-2 Greyhound, they are greeted by Cassie, “This is humiliating, Harm, launching from the back seat.”
“Well, look at it this way, Cassie; you’ll land without a wave off,” he teases.
Harm gives Painter a consoling pat on the arm as he makes his way to his seat.
Once Harm and Kate take their seats, he leans over to help her with her buckles.
“You know what they say about gold wings and a white uniform,” she comments softly.
Harm looks down at his new wings then back at Kate as a smile spreads across his face.
Just then the aircraft is hurled off the deck at 160 miles per hour and they are both thrown back against their seats.
CAG: Commander of the Air Group
RIO: Radar Intercept Officer ~ the back seater in a Tomcat, in charge of monitor the radar and keeping track of the bad guys
CinCMed: Commander in Chief of the Mediterranean fleet
CinCPac: Commander in Chief of the Pacific fleet
COD: Carrier Onboard Delivery ~ usually a C-2 Greyhound, delivers mail and guests back and forth from a carrier
SAM: Surface to Air Missiles
ATARS: Advanced Tactical Air Reconnaissance System
LSO: Landing Signal Officer ~ the guy on the deck who talks to the pilot during a landing
MP: Military Police