The Search
By George Miller

The Admiral slammed his fist on his desk, "Lee, you just donít understand... I need this."

"Yes, Admiral, I do understand," answered Lee.

"Well, what are you doing about it?" We need to take care of this now!"

"Admiral, if youíll let me explain... Iíve ordered Sharkey to assemble as many volunteers as he can. Last time I talked with him, he had twenty men, including him. They are preparing the rafts now."

"But, how soon, Lee?"

"Chip advised me that we will be in position to disembark within the next twenty minutes. Then the men will leave on four rafts to shore and begin the search."

The Admiral, still a little anxious, "Do you think twenty men will be enough? Can they handle the details of the search?"

"Theyíre good men, Sir, you know that better than anyone. They can handle the task at hand."

"Youíre right Lee... Itís just so important to me."

Believe me, Sir. I do understand." Lee added, "Admiral, Iíd better get down to check on Sharkeyís progress. Weíll want to have the men leave as soon as possible..."

"Thanks, Lee," Nelson said, trying to calm down. He knew the men understood the urgency. After all, this wasnít the first time, but it never gets any easier.

Lee turned to leave the Admiralís cabin, "Trust the men, Sir. They will find it. Theyíve done it before... this will be no different..."

"Right," Nelson said as Lee closed the door.

******

Crane was in the missile room with Sharkey, Kowalski and Patterson. The sixteen other sailors were awaiting the command to leave the Seaview.

"OK, Men," Lee explained, Weíll be getting the word from the control room in a few minutes that we can get the rafts on deck and get to shore. Now, youíre all aware of the urgency of this search. You know what youíre looking for, right?" The men all nodded affirmative. They had done this before. "As before, Weíll break into four teams. Sharkey, Kowalski and Patterson will each lead four men and this time Iíll be leading the fourth team."

Sharkey asked, "You, Sir? Youíre coming along?"

"Yes, Sharkey, I am."

"But, Sir, begging your pardon.... The men and I can handle this. We have before."

"I know that, Sharkey. But I donít think I want to be aboard the Seaview with the Admiral until this thing is found."

"Uh... yes, Sir. I understand," Sharkey said as Kowalski and Patterson nodded their heads in agreement.

The intercom sounded Chipís call, "Captain, this is Morton in the control room. Weíve reached the coordinates."

Lee grabbed the mic from the wall, "Thanks, Mr. Morton, hold position here two hours as discussed."

"Yes, Captain," Morton said, "If I may, Sir, Iíd like to come with you on the search parties."

"Sorry, not this time. Iíll be going myself."

Chip knew why Lee had decided to go along. He just wished heíd put in his request sooner. Oh well, he thought, maybe next time and maybe the Admiral would stay busy in his cabin till Lee and the men got back...

*****

The four rafts left the Seaview to head towards shore. It was early evening and they felt safe that they would not be seen in the sunís fading light. As the rafts cleared the Seaview, Lee looked back to see the Seaview slowly dive under the surface... awaiting their return.

Looking towards the shore, the men could see lights coming from all the beachfront properties. They were making way to a cover of trees about a half-mile south of the lights. The men were still wearing their seamen uniforms, but this should not be a problem for them. There were other naval ships at docks just north of the city and they could easily blend with other sailors on shore leave. They all wished, though, that it was a shore leave for them also... maybe... if all goes well with the search.

They made shore and were hiding the inflatable rafts under some trees and brush. They had allowed two hours for the search, but all hoped to finish within the hour.

"OK, Men..." Lee said. "This is it. You all have your two way radios set to the right frequency?"

The three other team leaders took a final radio check and replied affirmative.

"... And you each have the necessary tools and everything else you need?"

"Yes, Sir," said Patterson and Kowalski in unison. "Weíve done this before, remember?"

Nodding, Lee said, "I know... sorry... just had to check. OK, teams letís break up and get this thing started. You all know what weíre looking for... so make it good and the first person to find it, call out and let the others know. Maybe we can wrap this up quickly."

*****

With that, the men went their separate ways... all determined to be the one who found the item. They each headed towards the lights of the beachfront towns. The search had officially begun.

A little over forty-five minutes into the search, Leeís radio clicked on and the message was loud and clear, "Iíve found it!" Kowalski said. "I repeat... to all search parties, Iíve found it!"

Lee keyed his radio, "Great news, Kowalski. Well done! All search parties report to the beach landing site."

Lee received responses from all three other teams and the men in his team, forgetting themselves, all were giving high fiveís to each other... and in the excitement, also the Captain.

"Uh," the sailor said, "Iím sorry, Sir..."

"Thatís all right, son," Lee said. "I feel the same way." He added, also giving his own high fiveís to the team members. He was glad this search was over. "Letís get back to the beach."

*****

The search parties all arrived at the landing site and were anxious to get the raftís in the water and get back to the Seaview.

"Crane to Seaview... Crane to Seaview... come in Seaview," Lee called on his radio.

"Seaview here..." Morton answered. Did you find it?"

"Yes, we did! Advise the Admiral."

Chip said, "Donít have to, Sir."

"Heís there with you now, Mr. Morton?"

Nelsonís voice was next over the radio. "Yes, Lee, right here. Great news. Make your best speed back to Seaview.

Weíll be waiting. Out."

Lee keyed off his radio, "Well, men... you heard the Admiral... letís move out!"

*****

Once they were back aboard the Seaview, the four search team leaders rushed off the Admiralís cabin. Kowalski, having found the item was leading the way.

He stepped aside as Crane knocked twice on the Admiralís door.

"Come in..." Nelson ordered.

The men all entered the cabin and saw the look on the Admiralís face. He was visibly anxious to see the results of the search.

"Well?" the Admiral asked, "Come on... who has it? Who found it?"

Lee pushed Kowalski, lightly on his back to go to the Admiral.

"I did, Sir," Kowalski said. "I have it right here."

Ski reached for the small wrapped package and handed it to the Admiral. Nelson took the item and placed it on his desk as he turned to his wall safe. Spinning the dial with lightening speed, he opened the safe in just seconds. He reached in and removed a box with a small lock on the side. He placed the box on his desk, next to the package Kowalski had handed him moments ago. He unlocked the box and removed itís contents then placed the empty box aside.

The men were all watching Nelsonís face with anticipation, as he slowly opened Kowalskiís package. They saw the anxious expression turn into a wide grin as Nelson held the object in his hand... and slowly... carefully... ever so carefully... place the item in the proper space.

Having completed the procedure, Nelson looked up at the men in his cabin. "I want to thank each and everyone of you for a successful finding. This means a lot to me, as you all know. Good Job, Kowalski!"

"Thank you, Sir."

Nelson looked down at his desk again, admiring the finding. He felt things were complete now... as far as they go...

As the men were turning to leave the Admiralís cabin, Nelson was heard saying, "Yes, Sir... this is a fine quality piece. I now have the Maryland State Quarter... my setís complete..."

Nelson stopped admiring his newfound piece and called to the men, already heading out of his cabin. "Well done, Men! But... remember... Itís only ten weeks till the South Carolina Quarter is released... so get some rest..."

"Yes.... Sir...." they all said, slowly closing the door and looking at each other in the corridor...

"Ten weeks..." Lee said, "Well... letís get some rest...

*****


 

 

 

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