The Navy has SEALS, the Army has Delta Force, and the Air Force has Air Commandos, but who do the clandestine branches of government (the CIA, the NSA, the DIA) call when they need some dirty work done? For twenty years they called Bob King, the leader of Tactical Reconnaissance Team W45B7, known in the covert world as SPOOKY 8.
In 1992, King got a call for an "easy breather" mission in Colombia, a low-threat, intelligence-gathering operation where no contact with unfriendlies was expected. The in-and-out would pay each of the eight members of his team $10,000 in cash. Little did King know that while his guns-for-hire were setting up ultra high-tech surveillance equipment for an agency based in Washington, D.C., they were being targeted by that very same agency to be murdered. After an ambush in the jungle and a harrowing firefight, King was left with a bullet wound through the leg, three men dead, and one hundred miles of dense jungle between him and a safe house.
SPOOKY 8 tells the incredible true story of how King negotiated a treacherous path from the rain forests of South America, through the back-stabbing and ruthless corridors of Washington, D.C., and lived to tell the truth about his fallen brothers-in-arms and what price renegade warriors pay for the thrill of the game.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.47(w) x 9.60(h) x 0.95(d)|
Read an Excerpt
1992, above the Colombian Jungle, South America
The lush green canopy of dense jungle stretches out below a sky beginning to boil with color as the sun gives birth to a new day. A heavy layer of gray fog blankets the surrounding mountaintops like a thick crown of wet concrete. Soon the sun will begin to bleed its heat into the valley below. The humidity will grow as suffocating as a hot, wet blanket wrapped around your head. Yet now it seems so peaceful beneath us, so serene, and beautiful.
The peace turns to thunder as the rotor blades of our UH-1 helicopter knifes through the mist at 120 miles per hour. The seven men and I sit in camouflaged BDUs (Battle Dress Uniforms), trying to ignore the deafening whine of the Huey's turbine engines. Lucky, the oldest team member and our language expert, sits next to me, his head resting on the butt of his HK (Heckler and Koch) MP5SD suppressed submachine gun. Mike, Dave, Santana, and T J sit across from me, trying to get as comfortable as possible on the helicopter's webbed seats. Except for T J, they carry Colt M-4 (CAR-16) rifles. T J, our sniper, caresses his Robar 300 Winchester Magnum sniper rifle. Razz, the craziest one of us all, sits on the other side of me with an M203 (M-16 with a 40mm grenade launcher attached to it). Opey, the youngest member of the team and team medic, sits next to Razz. Everyone except Lucky and I is in his thirties. At forty and the team leader, I'm the other senior member of the team. I hold my MP5SD as if it is a beautiful woman. Strapped between Lucky andme lie two heavily padded aluminum cases containing sophisticated electronic surveillance equipment that we are assigned to set up.
These are the men of a team known as Special Projects team W45B7S8 but to people in this line of work as Spooky 8. Spooky 8 is one of the few remaining TRTs (Tactical Reconnaissance Teams) made up of former military and other ex-government employees. Spooky teams have been tasked with the mission of securing intelligence to be used in the ongoing "drug war" between the United States and the many drug cartels of Central and South America. Spooky teams have been working in this part of the world for several years on a clandestine operation known as Dark Eagle.
Been there, done that, I thought as I looked out over the jungle below.
"Hey, Chance!" yelled Mike. "You think we'll ever get real jobs?"
"Real job? I doubt it. Tried it once, didn't like it. Don't you worry, Mikey. Someday I'm sure you'll figure out what you want to do when you grow up."
As I looked out over the jungle, I realized I'd been doing this kind of thing for more than twenty years. Before this, I had served in the army. I had also worked as a cop during my early years with Spooky 8. I honestly didn't know what else I could do.
The flight to our AO (Area of Operation) felt cold and foreboding. The door on the Huey had been locked open, leaving us naked to the wind as we made our way through the damp early morning air. Off in the distance I could see the lights of small, nameless villages. They glowed like dancing ghosts through the mist of another world.
As we got closer to our LZ (Landing Zone), the pilot came over the intercom and told us to get ready: "LZ in sight. You'll be on the ground in five minutes."
As I sat there in the door of the Huey, I couldn't help thinking of a little saying that I've tried to live by all of my adult life: "Never go where your mind hasn't gone before." In my work, I've tried to cover every conceivable "what if" scenario in my head, but this one wasn't coming together.
I keyed up my team radio to alert the men, removed my intercom headset, and unbuckled my lap belt. I could see we were traveling at treetop level now. As the Huey slowed to a hover inches above the jungle, the events leading up to this moment came crashing into my mind.
The notification of the mission had come as most do, by a voice over the phone. Though I had left the military in 1975, I had continued to be active in the "Special Operations" arena as a civilian adviser and a member of a TRT. Most of the time I was working for a suborganization of one of our many government's intelligence agencies.
As a contracted civilian, I thought I had it made. I could accept or decline any mission or assignment offered me. Most assignments were intelligence-gathering missions that sometimes got a little hairy. The hairy part, frankly, was why I kept doing them. I was hooked on the rush. The money wasn't all that great, but it wasn't bad, either. I had been single for the last several years, so I could come and go as I pleased. Nobody bitched or asked a lot of questions, and I liked it that way. I had also been doing civilian executive protection details and other contract work for people out of Washington, D.C., so friends never wondered when I was out of touch for a while.
When a mission was "laid on," the sequence of events leading up to the job followed a routine. After being given the basic details about the assignment, I notified the rest of my team and explained the mission. They then had the opportunity to accept or decline.
The members of Spooky 8 had worked together for several years. If any member didn't feel right about the mission and declined to go, the rest of the team would also decline. Once in a while a member had commitments he couldn't break and just couldn't go. In that case, we would either get a replacement or go with one fewer member. When it came to "gut feeling," we were like the Three, or I should say Eight, Musketeers. It had to be unanimous.
All of us had prior training and experience, either military, federal, or from some other unusual "past life," that served as a valuable asset to the team.
The other team members' past lives didn't matter to me. What mattered was we were a damn good team and we depended upon one another. Everyone was jump-qualified and scuba-trained and had years of weapons and hand-to-hand combat experience. We had even developed improvisation to an art form that even McGyver would have been proud of.
My strong point was leadership. I had learned to earn respect without demanding it by always counting on the team's contribution to make my decisions. It was seldom that I made the final decision without their input. I was also good with tactics and explosives, and I had picked up a knack with electronics. But the trait most valued by Spooky 8 was my luck. I had a way of successfully taking chances and making some wild plan work. I guess that's why everyone called me by my last name, Chance, not DavidI wasn't afraid to take a chance to accomplish the mission. My team had confidence that I would get them home, and I always did.
The next step of the mission was the choice of a location for preparation and rehearsal, usually decided by the authority that assigned the mission.
Sometimes we'd prepare in the United States, but often, especially if the mission was in Central or South America, we'd go to Panama, Honduras, Costa Rica, or Belize, where we could have a chance to become acclimated to the terrain, climate, culture, and food while we prepared.
Once the team was gathered at the briefing site, we were given the objective of the mission, or "mission statement." It was then up to the team to decide if the mission was within our means to accomplish. Once we determined the mission was within our abilities, the team would take the mission statement to the next phase, called isolation.
Once the team entered isolation, all contact with the outside world ended until the mission was completed. If someone was injured or dropped out, he would still be held in isolation until the mission was over.
The first order of business in isolation is the "in-processing." The in-processing phase usually takes only a few hours. This is when we make sure all wills, powers of attorney, and other concerns were correct and current. Physicals were brought up-to-date. All shots and dental needs were taken care of, and for any "meds" needed for the mission we went to the team medic.
Meds usually referred to any shots we needed for the country we would be operating in and sometimes "legal" speed, usually injected, for more "critical" missions. When these amphetamines were used, they allowed us to work at 150 percent for three or four days without sleep, but as with all drugs, they had a downside. At the end of the mission, your body shut down so hard, you might sleep for a couple of days.
We also used the isolation phase to prepare for a "worst-case" scenario. Worst-case for us meant somebody was severely wounded and about to be captured. Our standing agreement was that none of us would be taken prisoner. If one of us was wounded and couldn't be rescued, he was to die before he could be taken captive. We each carried a small injectable Syrette for just that purpose.
If one of us was captured and survived, the plan was to rescue him at any cost. This was kept strictly between the team members, however, as any rescue mission would be "unauthorized" through normal channels. I always figured if it ever came down to that, we would all just stay there and fight it out to the last man before we gave up and left someone. I don't think I would have the balls to "do" myself if the choice was left up to me.
After all of the paperwork had been taken care of, the team would then settle in for as long as it took to come up with a plan of action, or TACOP (Tactical Operation Order). Generally, we would have a large amount of intelligence supplied by several government agencies at our disposal. There aren't too many areas of the world where the United States hasn't been to "train" or "advise" and where we didn't have current intelligence. The United States has been in Central and South America "training and advising" for over forty years, so we already know a lot. With the satellite and spy plane overflight intelligence, combined with the hundreds of unattended solar-powered satellite transmitting sensing equipment, we're pretty well wired when it comes to our southern neighbors.
Once we had started our intelligence briefings, we would formulate our plan based on our mission statement, our assets, our liabilities, and our resources. Every man had a specific job to do to accomplish the mission. Once he knew his role, he learned to do the job of every other man.
Usually, any piece of information we needed could be obtained. We had briefings with doctors, lawyers, meteorologists, and the clergy. I even had, on a couple of occasions, people known as "remote viewers" consult with the team.
Remote viewers are psychic types who were used in secret government projects like Project Stargate, among others. They are supposedly able to use their mind to identify secret locations, find hidden people, even read classified documents held in other countries, and go back in time. The first time I ran across one of these remote viewers was while I was attending a briefing back in D.C. He told me he had been remote-viewing for the CIA for several years and teaching military officers the skill. At first I didn't believe he was able to do the things he said he could, so I gave him a location and asked him to go there in his mind. When he was able to describe the place in detail, I knew there was a lot more to this remote-viewing than I could ever explain.
When the briefing and planning stage ended, our plan, officially called a TACOP, was prepared for the next stage of the process, called the briefback. The briefback is where you sell your plan to the people who tasked you with the mission. A spokesman, usually Lucky or me, talked through the entire mission from rehearsal to extraction and answered the endless questions they would ask: "How many taxis are in the town?" "How long is the dirt airstrip you plan to use, and how do you know it will accommodate your aircraft?" "What will you do if a tractor or truck is parked in the middle of the airstrip?" "What is the third alternate radio frequency, and what type of burst transmission key will be used on your SATCOM?" "What is the location of your alternate mission staging site?" "At what point do you scrub the mission?"
The briefback usually lasted for several hours, until everyone was satisfied the mission would or wouldn't work.
If the TACOP passed, we got a "go." If it didn't, we went back and started the process all over again.
Once the TACOP had been approved and each man knew his and everybody else's job, all the equipment for the mission was acquired and checked. Anything that needed batteries received new ones. Communication equipment was checked and rechecked.
Normally we used secured burst transmission-capable radios. These radios used a special "frequency-hopping" chip in them that changed frequencies several times a second, making it almost impossible for someone to intercept and listen in. These radios could "burst-transmit" around thirty thousand bytes of information a second. We could talk from almost anywhere on earth to our control point in the United States as if we were right next door.
The radios could also communicate directly with the portable radios used by the team. These portable radios, usually Motorola Sabers, were also scrambled and configured with headsets. The headsets used bone induction earphones that left both ears uncovered. The "earpiece" would rest on the bone in front of the ear. The sound vibrated through the bone just as clearly as if the earpiece were on your ear.
Sometimes we would use a STU III, MX 3030 COMSAT mobile communications system. These are secure-voice portable satellite telephone systems that used "INMARSAT-M" technology for global telephone communications.
This type of communication was especially effective because it transmitted in the 1631.5 to 1660.5 MHz range and received in the 1530.0 to 1559.0 MHz range, so it is hard to intercept with conventional means.
Most of the highly sensitive equipment had a small built-in explosive charge for self-destruction purposes. If things got bad and we had to leave something behind, we just set it, and it blew itself up. This was handy because it could also be used as a booby trap. If someone was to find and use a piece of sensitive equipment, it was programmed to become a real expensive antipersonnel bomb. I made sure that if everything had gone to shit, we could drop every piece of nonessential gear we had and run like hell.
All weapons, night vision, remote-sensing equipment, and GPSs (Global Positioning Systems), everything, was checked, calibrated, and checked again. All equipment, including weapons, silencers, and uniforms, was "sanitized"no serial numbers, no lettering, and no tags. Everything was committed to memory, leaving no markings on maps. Grid coordinates and "way-points" were preset on our issued GPSs. For our own peace of mind, most of us brought some of our own equipment, like a GPS, small radio, or another handgun. We never overly displayed or acknowledged these, but we all knew we had them.
We tried to carry no information about anything in written form. All radio frequencies, codes, and passwords were memorized. Nothing was left to chance. There was to be no evidence left behind to indicate who we were, what government we worked for, or how many of us there had been.
Once the mission was a go, a launch window was established, equipment was checked again, and the rehearsals began. The complexity of the mission dictated the time spent on rehearsals. If the mission was similar to ones we had done before, we kept rehearsals to a minimum. Often missions were so routine that the entire process of planning, briefback, and launch took just a couple of days.
That's how things usually went. But the only normal part of this mission was the way it started, with the phone call.
Table of Contents
|1 Easy Breather||1|
|2 The Ray, Ban Man||11|
|3 Dragon Flower||25|
|5 Dead Neighbors||53|
|7 Ghosts in the Jungle||75|
|9 The Hag||97|
|10 Hope and Glory||113|
|13 D.C. Safe House||161|
|14 Daytime Nightmares||175|
|15 Unexpected Angel||191|
|16 Shark in SEAL's Clothing||201|
|18 The Final Message||225|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
After reading the summary on the back of the book and its flyleaf, I thought it would be an insightful look into clandestine operations. Unfortunately, the book is a sham. The author tries to convince the reader of his expertise by dropping names of various pieces of equipment. King only confirms his complete lack of knowledge of his subject matter through his countless errors. He tries to dodge responsibility by claiming that the big bad government is out to get him. He's got more to worry about from readers angered by wasting their money on this book. Even the most intellectually-challenged reader surely realizes the government doesn't spend countless hours and millions of dollars training full-time professionals in the military and in the clandestine branches of the security services to use a pick-up team of half-witted wannabe Rambo's with money problems. The very premise of the book is a direct rip-off of The Five Fingers by Gayle Rivers - even down to River's hinting that it was real. The biggest difference, however, is that the Gayle Rivers actually knew what he was talking about and pulled it off brilliantly. Even if the reader can manage to disregard King's inept errors and accept it as mindless escapist fiction, there's still no escaping the book's hopelessly contrived dialog. Mix a bad western and a few pages from Jane's Defense Weekly and ask someone with limited command of English to transcribe it. You'd still come up with a better book than this garbage. How a book that was so poorly researched and so poorly written could ever gain approval from even the most inept editor is the biggest mystery (and the only real secret) of the book. Save your money and buy the Five Fingers.
A somewhat entertaining read for those who don't realize that C-119 'Flying Boxcars' use Avgas, not JP4 (pg109), or can believe that, upon hearing this aircraft crash 10 minutes from the destination airfield, no one at that airfield felt the compulsion to go out and see who crashed and if there were any survivors (pg113) But what I found really interesting was that after surviving the crash of their C-119, wining and dining themselves all night long, miraculously the next morning they are able to obtain another airplane to carry on their mission as if there were dozens of spares lying around. Maybe I'm complaining a bit too much here, but given that this part of the book is 'integral' to the rest of the plot, it bares scrutiny. But the rest of the book reads like decent fiction written by someone who has been around the periphery of the SpecOps world, or has read a bundle of 'I Was There' articles in Soldier of Fortune. Except it kept bugging me when Mr. King (aka: Chance) would refer to his M4 carbine as a Car-16, instead of a Car-15. Has anyone out there in the SpecOPs world ever referred to this weapon as a Car-16? I've never heard it. But why did I pick up the book in the first place? Well, suffice it to say that during the time I was attending DLI in Monterey, I became acquainted with an individual who vaguely referred to a variety of SpecOps that he had participated in similar to what Spooky 8 claims to represent. Well, I don't believe 'Spooky 8' represents anything more than someone who probably met some of the same kinds of people I met, elaborated on what he was told, added the important antagonistic element of a 'drug-dealing US govt cartel' ala the Bo Gritz/Khun Sa theme. The most interesting ommission from Mr. King lies in his not even referencing any of the specific documentary examples and photographs that he provides in the appendices. There are a lot of loose strings in this book (other than those Spooky 8 survivors). I just wish I could run as well as 'Bob King' can when he's nursing a serious perforation in his thigh from a bullet wound. I'll stick to Marcinko's Rogue Warrior tales.....