Land of Flatwater: Protect and Survive Middle America

Beat me to the punch...

Damn, there goes my idea of doing a TL featuring Omaha in a nuclear war during the 80s. Ah, who am I kidding...I'd never get around to it, and if I did I'd never finish it. :)

Chipperback, are you actually in OMA at this time?

One little correction: the line from Threads is "treacle tart." :p

Anyway...if you're too young to know, and want an idea of what the public mindset was like in that time period, check out the video linked below - it's a CBS documentary that was filmed in Omaha back in '81. They interview some locals and military personnel to get their thoughts on living right in the bullseye. They even do a simulation of a 15MT device hitting Offutt. Some interesting discussion as well about the casualties and effects, and some familiar footage if you've seen "The Day After."

In reality, there would've probably been at least a dozen devices; a couple ground-pounders for the base itself, several airbursts to try and catch the then-active Looking Glass jets and Nightwatch planes, and a couple on high-frequency comms sites in the surrounding area (Elkhorn and Scribner FYI Chipperback). Needless to say it would've been a nightmare.
Jason...GREAT FIND! I have been looking for that CBS News special for years. :) Thanks for pulling my coat to that, man! :)

I got to meet Mr. Rather when he was in Omaha filming this. That was a scary simulation to watch. It was the top story on Action News 6 that night.

Everybody if you get a chance, hit that link. Very interesting discussion.
Credit Where Credit Is Due.

Protect and Survive. Macragge1's epic of the 1984 War that might have been in the UK.

Gen's Patton's look at the '84 War in the US.

Noi non ci saremo Mario Rossi's look at the '84 War in Italy.

If you haven't read these yet, you betta ask somebody and check these out. Poignant, shocking, even some moments to smile through darkness....For me, they brought back memories of what it was like to grow up in the times that were, while delving into what could have been. Thankfully, we never got to see that...

Translation: "Duuude, these are ****ing mindbendingly AWESOME!" (With fully prostrating kow-tow for Macragge's work.)

I skimmed a bit of this and it smells GOOD.

I subscribed.
Land Of Flatwater: Thinking The Unthinkable, and Acting On It

Lincoln, Nebraska November 9, 1983

The Governor's day began at Lincoln Municipal Airport at 730 am. A business jet just landed, carrying the Mayor of Scottsbluff.

"Governor, great to see you."
"Ted, glad you could make it."
"You have some coffee?
"In the car waiting nice and hot."
"Governor, why exactly did you bring me all the way East, are other folks coming."
"Oh yes," Governor answered. "The Mayors of North Platte, Grand Island, Hastings, Columbus, Norfolk, Kearney, Fremont, Lincoln, Bellevue and Omaha.
"Whoa...all the Mayors?"
"Yep." The Governor got in the drivers seat.

"Since when are you driving around yourself?"
"Since I'm trying to keep this out of the Journal-Star and the World Herald."

The Governor left a very strict set of instructions. Each Mayor and their emergency person was to drive their personal car. They were to dress casual, and that they would park in a public parking garage in downtown Lincoln a distance away from the capital. A state official van will pick up the Mayors and drive them to the Governor's mansion. Very secretive steps built to not attract attention.

By 10am, each of the Mayors and special assistants where in a state van..When the got inside. The Governor was there.

"Fellas, I have a place to show you," The Governor said. "Lets make one thing crystal clear gentlemen. WHAT YOU DO HERE. WHAT YOU LEARN HERE. IT WILL STAY HERE, WHEN YOU LEAVE HERE. No one can know about what was discussed. Not wives. Not children. Not other staff, and certainly not the press."

The Driver of the van, also the Commander of the Nebraska Army National Guard, put the van in drive and headed southwest out of the city along U.S. Highway 6 towards state Highway 33. The travelled for about an hour before they reach a small guard dirt road. A few minutes later They reached an access gate. A guard at the gate looked in and recognized the Commander. He snapped him a salute, the Commander return and drove into the compound.

The van came to a stop. "We're here," The Governor said tersely.

The Mayor and aides all got out of the van. They saw a building that looked like a small warehouse. When they got inside. The saw and empty room except for a door. The Commander punched a keypad and opened the door.
It led down a dark stairway toward a much heavier door. The Commander put in a second code, and the door opened. There was another stairway, which extended even deeper down to the next door.

The next door was the last leading downward to a what looked like any business often in Downtown Omaha or Lincoln. The men and women in attendance all walked to a huge conference room at the far end of the hall. There were no accoutrements here. Everything was purpose-built. It was all here for a reason.

When everybody took a seat, the Governor went up to the front of the room.

"Where you are," The Governor began, "Is the emergency state capital of Nebraska.
"Three points for the record."
"1. There are no Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, Liberals or anything else in this room. We are all Americans. We are all Nebraskans. The only considerations that matter in this meeting are what is best for the survival of our nation, our state and our people. "
"2. If your city or town has not began to effect emergency procedures, start doing it now. Start preparing your local shelters now. Start prepping Civil Defense now. If you need assistance we can get it to you, but you need to get started now."
3. "Your city and town executives are forming the vital emergency authority for this state should the worst come to the worst. The duty is simple maintain order and control, and put the survival of the people within your area first."

"We are having meetings like this with legislators, medical, scientific and agricultural personnel in the coming days. You are first because you will make up the framework of the management of the state in form of being regional magistrates and governor. You will form a civilian links of the control vested here...Commander?"
"The surviving elements of the Army and Air National Guard will be available to assist and defend the state and help maintain order along side surviving law enforcement," the Commander said.

"The next priority you will have is making sure you each have a working place to function. I'm talking communications, workspace, living arrangements, everything. If you haven't taken inventory of it. Do it now."

"Any questions so far?"

"Hell yes," the Mayor of Columbus said. "Why are we even doing all this? Aren't the Russians pulling back from Berlin."
"Cmon' Vern," the Mayor of North Platte said. "That won't mean that wont try again. Even they don't, who to say they won't try something else."
"Well I for one don't like all these dictates coming from Lincoln," the Mayor of Kearney said. "It seems that you want to run a dictator if the bombs fall!"

"That's kind of silly, don't you think Phil?" The Governor answered calmly. "How am I going to run a dictatorship, when you all are my eyes and ears?""

"And what the hell is this about 'refugees', "The Mayor of Columbus asked.

"Its means exactly what it says, Vern" The Mayor of Omaha said. "We may have thousands fleeing the disaster. We're going to have hundreds-of-thousands of homeless people in this state should this happen. We'll need an open door and an open hand."

"You Omaha folks just need to burn up with Omaha!"

"Does that apply to me too?" The Mayor of Norfolk asked.

"Like anybody's going to hit damn Norfolk!"

"Norfolk is between two main targets. You have the SAC bases in South Dakota. You got missiles in South Dakota and there's Offutt to the south. We're in a fallout zone! If it really goes bad.. I'll evacuate Norfolk and not look back."

"You can evacuate your ass anywhere you want, but don't go nowhere near my town,"

"Oh Lord," Walt said distressingly. "What is exactly going on there Columbus???"
"Simple, my town isn't going to be a part of this. If you aren't from Columbus, keep moving on if those bombs hit. You might have looters coming into town. You might have criminals coming into town. I don't want certain types coming in. I have to residents of my town to think about."

The Nebraska ANG Commander eyed the Columbus chief executive hard. "This man's attitude may be a problem," He thought. He noticed the Governor's expression. It was blank on the surface. "Typical warrior" he thought. "

The Governor spoke slowly, "Mister Mayor," the Governor said. "Your fear is speaking right now. I can't use that fear. We need common sense right now."

"I don't agree with my friend from Columbus on everything," The mayor of Hastings said, "But he has a point. What about prisons, jails? There's a good amount of people i'd rather not deal with, and what could happen gives them a breeding ground."

The Governor paused. This is where the Commander comes into play.

"The National Guard will be there to buttress local law enforcement and surviving state law enforcement," The Commander said. "Once things get to that critical level, our remain units will mobilize. It would be no different than we would in a tornado or a flood. The difference is, we'll be there before. But this is why as the Governor has said you all have been contacted. You will be part of the chain in a larger sense."

"We are going to devolve a good deal of functions to the county and town levels." The Governor said. "I prefer to use the Mayors because you are closer to the communities, and being the mayors of the larger communities you can get the smaller towns better lined up someone up the chain at the county level."

"Governor," Hastings continues. "What about York? I don't think the Soviets are targetting York."

"The women's prison," The Governor thought. "A fair point. Memo to self. Make sure he makes the law enforcement meeting."

Walt broke in, "You know I just hope if they end up doing this, please have the war AFTER the Orange Bowl."

"The Orange Bowl," the Mayor of Grand Island, "YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT GODDAMN FOOTBALL RIGHT NOW?"

"I have four tickets to the game," Walt said sheepishly.

Grand Island's mayor laughed. "I do too. I'm taking my wife to Miami for her birthday."

The tension broke some. It was a needed diversion, but the reality of the moment didn't take a powder for long.

Scottsbluff's mayor snapped the room back into the issue. "Mr. Mayor, Norfolk raised an important issue. To be honest. I'm not sure why I'm here."

"Mainly because between you, Kearney and North Platte, you will be immediate continuity in Western Nebraska."
"But Governor, who says Scottsbluff, Sidney or Imperial will even be around after those bombs hit. Remember, We have silos here in Nebraska. And never mind the SAC base at Cheyenne. You know the Russians are going to hit that base and those missile silos."

"In short Ted," Kearney's Mayor said. "Your going to have people fleeing the Panhandle and Cheyenne."

"You looking at somebody who would."

"That's another issue, North Platte said. "Roads. If an attack warning comes I-80 will be a mess. Major state roads will be a mess."

"Again that is where you come in. You'll have local police, state troopers and the Guard at the ready to help," Governor said.

"Well Governor," The Mayor of Fremont snapped. "Seems to me, you get the sit in a bunker having a cold one, while we get dirty, tired, radioactive and shot at!"

"That's a damn crock of shit," The Governor said. "I'm coordinating 100% of this. I have to make the decisions to get all this in motion. Nobody's going to be living in luxury should all this happen. What I am doing is allocating the resources the best way I know how. And the best course for us for more decisions handed down to the people closest to the situation. Now again, the resource you will need will be there. I'm not leaving anybody hanging out to dry."

"Excuse me Governor," the Commander said. "Look people, this situation should it happen, will not be easy. But lets get this clear, I work for you. Not the other way around. Guard troops will be at your command not the other way around."

"What about when this shit happens, I mean IF it happens," The Mayor of Columbus realized what he said...He was nearly in tears.

The Governor looked at the mayor, and even he had to pause. "Damn," he thought. "and this is only the first meeting. I have more of these to conduct."

The whole strategy session lasted more than 8 hours. There was some more fussing, fighting, a little laughter...and some more plans made. Not everybody was on board with everything, but they were at least on board enough to know what the plans for them would be. Plans all hoped would never be needed.

The left the bunker and headed back to Lincoln as quietly as they came. No Journal-Star. No World Herald. No 10-11. No Newswatch 7.

The uneasy quiet extended to the car rides home along Nebraska's highways and Interstates. All these people, among the most powerful in the state, were stunned at what they heard and decided. How does one think of unthinkable?

"Something on your mind, Walt?" The Mayor said as they cruised on I-80 East, just outside of Waverly.
"I'm thinking about a man at my meeting at Lil Vikes," Walt said. "I coached his kid. He said his kid is of the mindset that it doesn't matter what we do. Omaha won't be around for it to matter.

"Well, his kid probably watches too much TV," Omaha's mayor said.

"Actually, his kid is a member of Nebraskans For Peace," Walt said. "He was at the prayer vigil. One of the best I ever coached."
"Another one of Carolina's peace people," the Mayor groaned.

"I wouldn't dismiss that woman like that. She's has a serious point."
"C'mon Walt where is all this coming from."

"Mister Mayor its coming from the idea I've always believed...Eventually you can only bullshit people for so long, and you can't bullshit kids. I learned that coaching kids. Kids buy into you if your real, and we are living in a serious fantasyland right now."

"Walt, do you think anybody wants to think about this?"
"I don't think anybody really is thinking about this? Not in Washington. Not in Moscow. Not even here. Carolina may be the only person who really thinking about what this means."

"You know my little girl, Mike?"
"Yes,...Jill isn't it..."
"Yeah," Walt continued with a smile. "You know, she made head cheerleader this year? Cutest little thing you could see. And she a little crush on a kid on her team. You know that little boy I was just telling you about?"

"The little kid that was on your team?"
"Yes, that little kid. She doesn't know that I know about her crush. And I'm pretty sure he's has a little crush on her, too. I saw her hanging around him at this team banquet last saturday. Me and her mom saw it. I caught them kissing, Mike. It was cute and fun, the way growing up should be."

"Now Walt, that's a parent in you talking."

"Well I think it wouldn't be a bad idea if the people in the Kremlin and the White House started listening to the parent in themselves a little bit."

To be continued.
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"Well I think it wouldn't be a bad idea if the people in the Kremlin and the White House started listening to the parent in themselves a little bit."

I just checked. It all happens a year too early to include Sting's "Russians" here on the soundtrack. Too bad.
A note on the nuclear aspect: the first salvo's to reach the United States would be Soviet SLBM's, followed by the ICBM's, then air and sea-launched cruise missiles, and finally the manned bombers dropping gravity-bombs. In all, its going too last 2-3 days. As you might have noticed in Protect and Survive, Cheyenne's a goner... the Soviets are going too dump a regiment (36-48) of 20 megaton warheads on it.

Any defense against the cruise missiles and bombers can be expected to be minimal... if it exists at all. By the time those start penetrating our EW lines, the SLBM'S and ICBM's would have already obliterated our air defense network...
A note on the nuclear aspect: the first salvo's to reach the United States would be Soviet SLBM's, followed by the ICBM's, then air and sea-launched cruise missiles, and finally the manned bombers dropping gravity-bombs. In all, its going too last 2-3 days. As you might have noticed in Protect and Survive, Cheyenne's a goner... the Soviets are going too dump a regiment (36-48) of 20 megaton warheads on it.

Any defense against the cruise missiles and bombers can be expected to be minimal... if it exists at all. By the time those start penetrating our EW lines, the SLBM'S and ICBM's would have already obliterated our air defense network...

They possibly could start with SLBMs, as appeared to be the case in the 1990 movie, 'By Dawn's Early Light', but then again, maybe not. And what about the cruise missiles, btw? I thought those would largely be restricted to the European theater, tbh......(with the exception of a few being mounted on Tu-95s and other long-range bombers)
They possibly could start with SLBMs, as appeared to be the case in the 1990 movie, 'By Dawn's Early Light', but then again, maybe not. And what about the cruise missiles, btw? I thought those would largely be restricted to the European theater, tbh......(with the exception of a few being mounted on Tu-95s and other long-range bombers)

Both the Soviets and United States thoroughly equipped their bomber forces with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. The Soviets also fielded a number of dedicated cruise missile submarines, although most of those were geared more towards anti-ship work then land-attack, while the US Los Angeles-class had Tomahawk's (both Land-Attack and Anti-Ship versions) as a secondary weapons.
According to Protect and Survive, the Soviets used most of their bombing fleets on European targets. And frankly having airbases to launch these mass bomber assaults "2-3 days" after an ICBM attack sounds impossible at best. Because of this I don't think the war will take more than 6 hours. Having your pilots bomb an area you just bombed with nuclear ICBMs and Sub-launched missiles sounds like a waste of men, fuel and bombs. After the first ICBM hits order will be lost for some time. And in that time, I don't think either our or the Soviets Strategic Air Corps will be able to launch long range attacks, too much EM interference, no bases etc.
Land of Flatwater: Tidings Of Comfort And Joy

Happy Thanksgiving Thursday November 24, 1983

Way down the street there's a lad in his place
He opens the door he's got that look on his face
And he asks you where you've been
You tell him who you've seen
And you talk about anything

In a mess hall in Germany. Tony is enjoying his turkey with his mates. The first real R&R he's had since Halloween really. The mess hall is much fuller now. The accents come from America, Britain, Holland, Germany, France. Ahead them are forward positions manned by troops and tanks. The exercises in the last three weeks have the crews razor sharp, but also nervous.

The Commander is at his cabin on a lake outside of Lincoln. Just he, his family and relatives. He's just a husband/dad/brother/cousin today. He just wants to go fishing. He just wants to not think about the unthinkable.

The Mayor of Omaha's oldest daughter is back from college. When she wants to talk about whats going on in Europe, he shushes her. He wants to forget.

So does Coach Walt. In fact he told everybody in Emergency Ops to forget about it for the weekend.

Chip and his dad are out for a morning run while Grandma and her girls prepare dinner. Many relatives and guest come by later. As father and son run, a snow flurry begins to fall, but they press on.

Somebody bless the table....Dad nods to his son. "Son, you do it.."

"Lord, we thank you for the bounty of thy goodness for the nourishment of our bodies, and we give thanks for those who are here. We also ask you Lord that you send your peace down upon us, so that we are all back here next year...amen."

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Friday November 25, 1983
The Governor of Nebraska is in town for tomorrow football game between the old foes Nebraska and Oklahoma, and along way he had a little meeting Oklahoma's governor and old friend from his time in Vietnam, who is running Oklahoma's National Guard.

"Bob, I don't know what Kansas' plans are and they aren't talking," the Okie Guard Commander said. "I'm not counting on getting full air force assets from Tinker, partly because Tinker may not be there by the time we really need it. I can tell you that the 137th will be ready. if we could get a spare refueling tanker to help, we'd be more than happy to help your Huskers out, so long as y'all don't win tomorrow"
The Governor of Oklahoma asked, "Do you really think ANGs can make a difference?"
"They will be indispensible thats why if I sense were going hot, I'm fully prepared to defy any federal order and get those planes and pilot somewhere safe were we can defend ourselves.," The Nebraska Governor said. "Our main ANG squadron is a fighter group. F-4 Phantoms. If the Soviets send bombers into our airspace. They have to go down. Just like your Sooners will tomorrow."

Owen Field/University of Oklahoma Saturday November 26, 1983
Nebraska-Oklahoma is the only rivalry anybody in mid-America about at this moment. It's been a back and fourth game between Barry Switzer's wishbone and Tom Osborne's I-Option.
Its been back and forth, but a big run by Nebraska's Heisman-hopeful I-back has the Huskers up 28-21. If Nebraska can hang on, they'll win the Big 8 Conference and earn a trip to the Orange Bowl Miami and a chance to complete an undefeated season with a National Championship.

Chip is sitting by his TV with her dad and mom nervous.
Jill is sitting by her TV wth her dad and mom nervous

On the sideline Coach Osborne is what he always is. He's calm.

The Oklahoma quarterback strolls up to the line. It is 4th down and goal at the Nebraska 6. Is there any Sooner magic left? Nebraska's defense is lined up expecting something neither team does much. Oklahoma must score, and they've tried to pass twice and failed."

"Bradley under center for Oklahoma...fades back....looking for the endzone to Rhymes...INCOMPLETE! INCOMPLETE!!!!! Neil Harris!!!!! Neil Harris BATS IT AWAY!!!!!!!! Get the stone crab ready!!!!!! Nebraska is unbeaten and heading to Miami!!!!!

Chip is happy!
Jill is happy!

Chip gets on the phone...."Hello...."
"Hi Jill..its Chip"
"WE WON!!!!! WE WON!!!! GO BIG RED!!!"

"Oh we'll get that National Championship!!!!
"Guess what Chip, DAD GOT TICKETS TO THE ORANGE BOWL!!!!!!!!"

"Jill you lucky duck!!!!"

Christmas Morning Sunday December 25, 1983
Chip grandfather was at the house at 7:30am sharp, carrying a big box."

"Merry Christmas lad," his grandfather boomed. "I got you something i think you'll really like this year."
Chip noticed the familiar bitten apple logo on the side of the box.

He opened the box...At last, he had his own Apple IIe
"Thanks Grandfather!!!!! I love this!!!!"

"Oh lad," he said. "We have one more gift. We've been keeping it a secret from you."
"Don't spend the entire day playing your video games. You have some packing to do. We all do."
His grandfather handed him an envelope. Chip opened it. Inside was the sleeve for a plane ticket.
Chip eyes widened when he saw what was inside. It was a plane ticket to Miami...

and a ticket to the Orange Bowl. Chip would get to see his team play for the championship.

"We're going to see Nebraska play Miami," Chip smiled. "All of us?"
"That's right son," Dad said. "We're all going your grandfather, me, your mom Ira and his mom, grandma and you,"

Chip was overjoyed. Best. Christmas. Ever.

And he smiled even wider. Someone else was going to be there, too.

To be continued...
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I just realized something...Topeka isn't on the list of cities hit in Protect and Survive (not that it means anything, it could have been left off the list), which means that it still has a chance of being around post-war.

That'll be...interesting (especially since there isn't a snowball's chance in hell Omaha will survive (or the older son for that matter, since he's in West Germany, IMO), IMO).
I just realized something...Topeka isn't on the list of cities hit in Protect and Survive (not that it means anything, it could have been left off the list), which means that it still has a chance of being around post-war.

That'll be...interesting (especially since there isn't a snowball's chance in hell Omaha will survive (or the older son for that matter, since he's in West Germany, IMO), IMO).

What about Boulder, Colo.? :D
"the older son for that matter, since he's in West Germany, IMO), IMO

Point of clarification - Tony (a.k.a "All World") isn't Chip's brother. Chip is an only child. He's the neighbor's only son and has been like a big brother to Chip since he was born. :)

And I wouldn't underestimate him, even in a Germany gone to hell...however...It's gonna be hell on earth. January and February 1984 will be hell on earth for everybody..

Its going to be tough to write that part :(
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Point of clarification - Tony (a.k.a "All World") isn't Chip's brother. Chip is an only child. He's the neighbor's only son and has been like a big brother to Chip since he was born. :)

And I wouldn't underestimate him, even in a Germany gone to hell...however...It's gonna be hell on earth, as well January and February 1984 will be for everybody..

Its going to be tough to write that part :(

Been watching this story for a little far, Chipperback, you've done a spectacular job. :D I can't quite say I've been able to achieve the same for my Threads fan TL, though. :(
TU-95 was and is a long range bomber designed for strikes at targets far away.Its unlikely they used it for strikes in Europe,they had enough short and medium range weapons from other launch platforms that using a Tu-95 is not probable.So their targets would have been in North America.As for an exchange lasting 2 days taking into account that not all subs would have fired at the same time,some maybe cut off from High command would have stopped to make sure a war was really on.By the time they would get confirmation something like 36 hours might pass.Also some ICBMs would survive here and there but in the overall chaos not fire immediately.Take into account nuclear combat on the high seas which would last for days even weeks.Once the war went nuclear any ships found by the other would be fair game.With their countries gone seamen of both sides would have no reason to stop fighting.Add to this Israelusing tactical nukes to stop any arab strike following the implementation of the Samson Option,even with an israeli first strike there would still be quite a few surviving arab soldiers to fight on.With the IDF wiped out by the soviets the only way to stop them would be by using any remaining nukes they still posses.So nuclear combat would continue on a reduced scale for weeks afterwards.
Land Of Flatwater: Miami Beach

Eppley Airfield Monday December 26, 1983

"Good morning Omaha.. This morning at the top of the news, student clashes in major cities in East Germany continue. the Official Soviet News Agency TASS quoted remarks from a statement from Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov blaming the United States and West Germany for 'Formenting Anti-Socialist sentiment and undue inteferrence in the affairs of a sovereign socialist nation. The United States and their reckless President Reagan again show that they continue to violate the elementary norms of international decency.'

"Closer to home thousands of Nebraska Cornhusker football fans begin to make their way to sunny Miami, Florida for next Monday's Orange Bowl battle with the University of Miami Hurricanes. A win by Nebraska will earn the team their first National Championship since 1971.

Eppley Airfield was teamming with activity. Omaha's airport was packed with travelers. Many of them going to the same place -- Miami.

It doesn't matter where you live in Nebraska. Regardless of your occupation, your race, your religion, city-or-country, farm-or-ranch, conservative-or-liberal, Nebraska football is a unifier. Scarlet and cream are the two colors that all pretty much agree on. Cornhusker football is one thing in this proud, provincial, landlocked state that we hold dear and hang onto tightly.

In the A concourse. Chip holds onto it tightly. Wearing a the #12 Nebraska jersey he got for Christmas (the jersey of number of his favorite player/starting quarterback/coolest guy on earth) he is giddy to go to this game.

His dad and mom talk as they wait for the flight. Its the first real vacation they've taken in a few years, and they smile and laugh like they did when they were kids. Chip's Dad and Mom were grade school sweethearts. They've been friends forever. In many ways this trip would be the honeymoon they never got.

The airport was filled with families and friends. Some coming into the town for the holidays, most heading to the game. The Mayor of Grand Island and his wife sat a couple of gates down. Both went to the University of Nebraska and haven't missed many Husker games going back to the days before Bob Devaney was head coach.

The flight for Miami boarded at 1030am...and it was full. So full that the whole family was sort of separated on different parts of a cramped Boeing 727.

Down the concourse Chip's older cousin Ira saw one of his best friends from school...His family was going to the game, too "Hey Damon," Ira said . "Ira James!!!! You checking this game out, too?"

"Dude, we gotta get in the same seats for this flight." Ira said. "Yo Chip is it cool if I tried to sit with my boy up here." "Go ahead," Chip replied.

Ira and his mom went up the gate counter to see if he could make the switch. They did.

"Chip, I could sit with you, if you want," his dad said.."Naw Dad, it'll be cool." And it would be. Chip had his walkman and his tapes.

Tongue-tied, I'm short of breath, don't even try
Oooh, try a little harder
Something's wrong, you're not naive, you must be strong
Oooh, baby try
Hey girl, move a little closer
You're too shy, shy
Hush, hush, eye to eye
Too, shy, shy
Hush, hush, eye to eye
Too, shy, shy
Hush, hush, eye to eye
Too, shy, shy
Hush, hush

On the plane just about everybody got on. Chip didn't notice. He was reading the morning World Herald. The AP wire story on the riots in East Germany was on the front page, and Chip was reading it, looking for every detail.

He scanning the sports page, and the story on the Miami's freshman quarterback, when he saw a group of page stopping to get in the seats behind him..

"Here's your seat, honey...we'll be right behind...And Jeff and Randy are up front.." "Okay Dad,...I'm in 7th grade...sheesh.."

Chip's ears picked up that voice. "Could it? No way. No way....We're on the same flight?" Chip started to giggle. He buried his head in the sports page trying not to notice what he thought he was noticing.

He glanced quickly and saw the pink headphone cords and the tiny star earrings..

"Maybe....Maybe....Try to be cool....Try to be cool...."

"Chip? Chip?" His dad said. "He must have those headphones on..." Dad glances back...and Chip looks up..and shushes him.."Dad...I'm alright" he whispers...

"What is with your son?" Chip's Dad asked. "Kay Ed," Chip's mom answered. "That your son when he's being weird. He's my son when he's being normal. Don't you remember the rules?"

"He's acting like he saw some girl he likes or something. Well that's Chip for you," Dad said.

Jill looked over the next seat. She saw a flash of a red jersey. "At least the person in the next seat is a Husker fan," she thought. She was just about to turn on her walkman...when she heard..Chip's mom. "Chip, I have an extra pack of gum of you want it for the flight."

Chip took the pack, "Thanks mom," he said."

Jill heard the voice..."No way. No way.." She was giggling with her special soft girlish giggle.

Chip tingled with excitement. He hoped to catch up with Jill in Miami...But on the same flight?

She tried to peak around the newspaper, just as he slowly lowered it.

Their eyes met. Their smiles said it all. No words needed. "Wanna stick of gum?"

"Thanks, Chip"

The best Christmas ever was continuing.

"Welcome to United Airlines flight 1217 service to Miami...and a special welcome to a lot of Nebraska football fans. On behalf of our Omaha-based flight crew. Welcome Aboard and Go Big Red!"

The entire cabin cheered and clapped. As the jet taxied toward the runway.



"I'm afraid to fly....would you hold my hand?"

Chip's heart beat faster as he put his hand in hers. He was smiling. He snuck a kiss, too when the people in the next seat weren't looking. That made Jill's heart beat faster.

The 727 made a turn and headed onto the cold snowy runway. It was a grey wintry day in Omaha, but there was 80 degrees temperatures and sunshine ahead in Miami.

Some of that sunshine was onboard Flight 1217. It was shining brightly in the giddy, happy, puppy-love smiles of the occupants of seats 12A and 12B

Three Hours Later -- Miami International Airport
From cold, snowy Omaha to sunny South Florida. Flight 1217 made its descent into Miami. It was filled a lot of red-clad dreamers from the heartland. All supporting their team.

"Did you notice that we didn't hear from Jill once during that whole flight, " Walt's wife Jennifer asked.
"You know we didn't?" Walt said. He peered over the seat. "And I think I know why," he said slyly. Jennifer looked over the seat, at the same time Chip's Mom did. "Uh, Chip...we're here."

"Hello, Jill welcome to Miami Beach," Jennifer said.

Jill and Chip smiled. "I think we are surrounded by parents," Jill giggled.

Everybody deplaned, and there were introductions all around.
"Chip Dad's right? Edward?"
"That's me...Walt, right?"

"Please to meet you, I'm Jennifer...Jill's Mom.." "I'm Gail...Chip's Mom"

And the kicker? They are staying at the same hotel. The caught the hotel shuttle on in some perfect Chamber of Commerce weather.

Within an hour, everybody was on the beach, along with a lot of Nebraska snowbirds.

Running the beach -- Sunrise Tuesday December 27, 1983

A dad and a son on the beach running along the shore. You didn't think a little R&R would stop the routine did you? No way. Track season starts in three months.

Plus, this was the bonding time between Chip and his father. Has been even when Chip was in a stroller. This was a time to hash out whatever was in each other's heads. And this morning, there was something on Dad's mind.

"Son?" Dad asked. "I wanna know something."

Chip was deep in his run...and deep in thoughts of a certain red-haired girl

"Son, is that little girl you were sitting by on the plane, the little girl you have big crush on?"

His dad smirked as his son cupped his hand to his ear like President Reagan getting off Marine One.

His dad laughed, "Don't play that Reagan stuff with me, boy. Answer the question. You really like her don't you?"

Chip launched into his imitation of the President. It's pretty good mimic. "Well, dad, uh" Chip began. "I will neither confirm or deny said crush, but I will say that such a question is better fielded by Cap Weinberger or George question."

His dad rolled his eyes, "Son, you are crazy. But, I love you son and I'm very happy and pleased to be your dad. To see my son growing up. To see him have a crush. Enjoy it, and protect it. You never know where your heart can take you."

"Oh dad, isn't it all like that."

"Oh?" Dad said. "Don't dismiss it, son. I was your age when it first hit me that I loved your mother."

Chip was wide-eyed when he heard that. "Really?"

"Yes, really," Dad continued. "Your mom was the prettiest girl on the block. She was smart, fun. And she was nice to a country bumpkin like me. Her and I were best friends since my folks moved us to Omaha when i was 6. Before you know it, your mom and I were married, studying at UNL, and you were on the way."

Chip ran and smiled two steps behind dad as he heard him talk. He probably told this story when he was changing his diapers a long time ago or when Chip was really young and really didn't understand what his old man was talking about. On this morning, the lad could grasp what his daddy was saying.

Look around for a wife to start a family, my boy
Settle down, settle down my boy settle down
Listen to our father and he'll tell you the same as me
Settle down, settle down my boy settle down

It was a father-son day. They went out and had stone crab legs for lunch. They snuck into where Nebraska was practiced and watch a good hour before one of the coaches shoo them out. They managed to stick around and get autographs after. Chip got one and a picture with his hero. Nebraska's star quarterback.

They finally got back to their beach hotel where they ran into Chip's Mom and her big sister Lynn, back from doing some serious South Beach shopping. "And what did you two crazy men do all day?" Mom asked.
"It was some serious man-to-man conversation with my son," Dad beamed proudly.

"Little Chip you like Miami?" His auntie Lynn asked.
"I'll like it better when we win this game," Chip roared. Chip was excited and happy. He had spent a day with his dad, and that was always good.

Everyone was gather in the Hotel's spacious restaurant for dinner..and two tables down were Jill and her family. Chip and Jill made faces at each other from two tables apart. Absence made both hearts grow fonder in this case. Even as Chip was enjoying a guys day out, Jill was on his mind.

Chip happened to look up at the TV above them. Through the dull roar of noise in the restaurant, he could make out was being said on CNN.

"East German leader Erick Honecker welcomes a second influx of Soviet troops in East Germany to maintain order in the face of student riots in Leipzig, Karl Marx Stadt, Potsdam and East Berlin. A statement from Honecker released by the East German foreign ministry said the move was necessary to 'Stave off the agitation of the German Democratic Republic by Neo-Nazi elements in the Federal Republic of Germany."

"The action was sharply protested in NATO capitals. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher stridently terms the measure 'A cover for aggression on par with Adolf Hitler. This behaviour enforces the moral imperative of the West to stand tall in the face of such blatant aggression.' West German leader Helmut Kohl advised that 'It would be more beneficial for all sides concerned to listen to what these young voices are saying as opposed to covering their ears and blocking out the desire for constructive change for the German people and constructive change for the greater European Community.

"Lad whats going on that tv," Chip's grandfather asked.
"The Russians are reacting to the riots in East Germany, with more troops."

Ira's buddies looked at him. "Thats your cousin you were telling us about."
"Yeah," Ira said. "That's my cousin Chip. He keeps up with all this stuff."

"In this hemisphere. Cuban leader Fidel Castro, in an address to the Cuban people lashed out at the Reagan Administration: 'The Western Hemisphere has a large number of responsible leaders, but they all stand in the oppressive shadow of the Yankee Cowboy in Washington. Reckless Ronald Reagan. He is a dangerous gentleman who holds the Americas in contempt."

Georgia Congressman Newton Gingrich responded on CNN earlier today: "I would be more than happy to compare the human rights record of President Reagan with that of the Castro regime. I would bet my salary that Castro finishes third in that two-man race."

"Don't pay it any mind my boy," Chip grandfather said. "A lot of people blustering and shouting and screaming over nothing. If they are smart they'd all keep their mouths shut."

Chip's grandfather always got irritated at saber-rattling. He is where Chip's thoughts on peace come from. His grandfather abhors violence. He saw too much of it in the hills of Korea, marching with Dr. King in Alabama, and in the riots in Omaha before his grandson was born. His philosophy, being a former boxer, was 'if all these leaders really want to fight so bad, get some boxing gloves, get in a ring and work it out."

Chip was thankfully distracted at that point by looking more and more and the cute redhead just down the way. You can almost read the conversation in their eyes. 'At some point we need to shake our parents and meet up'

to be continued...
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Land OF Flatwater: Miami Beach (con't)

Sunrise Thursday December 29, 1983

Chip got up ahead of his dad and mom. Took his room key and headed out to the back deck and the pathway to the beach.

Jill was already there with a pail and plastic shovels.

"Glad you got up early," Jill said cheerfully. "We're gonna make a sand castle."

"A sand castle?" Chip asked. "I've never done that before. Isn't this sand too wet?"

"See you don't know everything," she giggled. "It's perfect."

Slowly but surely, they built a little masterpiece. Each sand brick came from their combined imaginations. Enjoying each other's company. As the time pasted the talked about a lot of stuff. School, what they liked, and of course the game. A lot of about the game.

"My dad says that this team could have beaten the last time we were #1," Jill said. "I'm a little nervous those. We have to play on the other team's home field. And their quarterback is really good. It's just his first year."
"They are tough and fast," Chip said. "and their head coach has been bragging a lot this week about how we aren't fast enough to keep up. But we've got the Heisman Trophy winner, the best receiver in the country...and we've got the coolest dude ever...We have Turner Gill at quarterback. We can't lose."

"You have his jersey!" Jill squealed. "You really like him."
"Yes I do," Chip said proudly. "I want to be a quarterback like him."
"Wanna to hear something wild, Jill?"

"My dad played on the last Nebraska team to win the championship."

"No he didn't,"
"Yeah he did! He was a backup...for Johnny Rodgers."

"Okay, that's why I hadn't heard of him," Jill said. Jill probably knew about as much or maybe more about Nebraska football than Chip did. If there's one thing parent pass down to kids in Nebraska, its the lore of the state's obsession -- college football.

They were done just before lunch. A warm bright sun beating down on them. Jill's french vanilla getting a soft tan in the morning light. An already cute girl, was flirting on the border of cute and hot, or at least as hot at a 12-year old could get. You think Chip noticed? Sure he did.

She noticed him, too. Outside of the padded armor of a football uniform, he was skinny but showing some muscle tone. He has a soft invite face and cute dimples. His deep brown skin enhanced by the sunlight and nullifying the deadening midwestern winter.

Remembering what his dad said, Chip's imagination ran wild. He saw himself as a high school student...watching Jill play volleyball. He saw himself in a letter jacket and her at his side. He saw her and him in college together...Her walking down an aisle at some future time...escorted by her dad...and an older taller Chip waiting for her with a smile and tears..

"CHIP GET IN HERE NOW!" His mom screamed. The daydream was harshly over and he saw a lot of people on the beach hustling back to the hotel.
Walt came out to both of them "Jill, Chip go back to the hotel now. They are shutting down the beach.."
"Uh, dad notice the sand castle,"
"Its nice Jill," Walt said tersely. "Get inside now."
Both went inside wondering what they done wrong.

When they got inside, Chip's dad ran up. "Boy I was worried about you. " Dad seemed cross and worried.
"Dad we were right out front."
Walt hugged his daughter, as did her older brother Jeff. "We're not mad honey, just frightened."
Chip was shaken. "What's going on,"
"There was an emergency, they were closing the beach." His mom said. "I was very worried. You can't just run off by yourself."
"But I left a note on the night table," Chip whined.
Chip and Jill's parents were being parents and they were rattled with good reason.

12/29/1983 1205 :FLASH AP-URGENT

The battle over South Florida, what happened? Click on the AP wire story to read it in Protect and Survive Miami: End of Watch.
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Land Of Flatwater: Shall We Play A Game?

7:00pm Eastern Standard Time Thursday December 29, 1983
Chip was in the hotel room scared and upset, watching the CBS Evening News

"The Administration is looking at their options in dealing with this morning's dogfight off the Florida coast." Dan Rather broadcasted. "In the meantime, Pentagon sources suggest that South Florida will be added to a growing list of places around the world where American military power will be multiplied."

"Yuri Andropov, what are you thinking?" Chip thought. "What were those pilots thinking?"

Chip's dad came in, "Son, lets go, we're going to dinner. Are you okay?"
"No I'm not dad," Chip said. "I didn't mean to scare you and mom..I just wanted to."
"I know, son," His dad said softly. "We love you. We were afraid. We didn't the see the note. I'm sorry, son."
"I'm not mad because of that," Chip pointed to the TV screen. "I'm mad because of this. Now they might cancel the game!"

"Son," Dad said. "You're letting your imagination runaway with you. They won't cancel the game. There may be a few more jets guarding the Goodyear Blimp. But they won't the cancel the game and I don't think the Cubans will try something like that again. Remember, son, two of their pilots are treading water right now."

Friday December 30, 1983 -- Orange Bowl Press Conference
"I'm joined here this morning by the head of the Orange Bowl Committee, Howard Schellenberger, head coach of the University of Miami and Tom Osborne head coach at the University of Nebraska. "

"The Orange Bowl Committee chair wasted no time. "There's been a lot of rumors flying since yesterday's incident. Let me be perfectly clear. The Orange Bowl Game will be played January 2, 1984. We've been in consultation with the White House, the Pentagon and city officials. Security at the Orange Bowl will be strengthened including armed aerial support, as will be at all the Bowl Games on January 2nd."
"Howard, Tom how about your thoughts can you concentrate on football given all this," A reporter asked.
"I'm looking forward to play some football," Coach Schellenberger boomed. "We've earned a chance at a championship we what to prove ourselves against a great Nebraska team. From what I hear one of the pilots who engaged the Cubans is a Miami native and a Hurricanes fan. We owe it to him and all those serving to keep us free to exercise that freedom."

"I agree," Tom Osborne said calmly. "My team will continue to prepare. We talked about what happened. But we realize that unless there's a danger to where it was a risk to play, the best thing for us to do is business as usual."
The Nebraska coach continued. "The one thing we have to remember is that freedom isn't free. There is a price attached. I have some former players who are serving the nation now around the world. I was in the National Guard for six years. There is a price we pay to be free and yesterday some people willing to pay that price got the job done. I sincerely pray that all sides see reason, and that more servicemen and women won't have to face paying that price."

New Years Eve December 31, 1983 -- Somewhere in southern West Germany

It seemed darker than usual. Maybe it was the southern German forest obscuring the moon. Maybe it was just the unsure feeling of the last few days. Either way, it wasn't the best way to spend New Years Eve.

Tony was at his place at the controls of the M1. The Commander, Gunner and Radio were hunkered in. It was the first New Years Eve where Tony wasn't at some nightspot. This was the first time in his three years in the Army where he didn't draw the long straw. But nobody stationed in Germany did.

The Radioman and Tony had become fast friends since Tony landed in Germany, "Hey Tony, what would you be doing right now if you were back in where, you from? Oklahoma?
"Omaha, Nebraska," Tony corrected. "Probably at some night spot. Hanging out, macking to the ladies, you know."
The Radioman, a big city kid from Los Angeles, was puzzled. "You mean they have nightspots in Omaha? You see, you can learn something new every day. First learning from Tony that they have black people in Omaha, and now they have actually clubs in Omaha."

The Gunner, an Oklahoman, laughed "Well we have to do something when we aren't working the farm right Tony?"

The Commander joined in, a hill-country accent coming from his voice. "That makes three farm boys in this tank," He said. "I'm from Coalsville, West Virginia"

"I guess I'll have to teach you boys some big city style," The Radioman said. "You might be learning some from me," Tony replied

Six hours later -- Miami, Florida.
The Nebraska Alumni Association threw a big New Years Part/Pep Rally to get the fans fired up. At the parents were letting the kids stay up until 12:01 :)

Chip's Mom and Dad were dancing the night away...and so was Chip and Jill...It seemed everybody was coupling up...Even Ira and his posse, who were pretty much being ladies men on the beach all week anyway.

"Ladies and Gentlemen," The MC of the night said. "Here's to a happy, healthy, peaceful prosperous 1984...and a win over Miami on Monday Night."

"CHEERS!" Rang throughout the party from all the fans.."

11:59:53...:54.....:55.......:56.......:57........:58..........:59........12:00:00 HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Couples kissed and hugged....Mayor of Grand Island and his wife...married 35 years.....Chip's Mom and Dad......Jill's Mom and Dad........and in a semi-dark corner overlooking a starry Atlantic, a pair of 12-year-old Husker fanatics smooched. They were oblivious to everything. Like they were the only two people in the world. In the opening minutes of 1984, they were.

"Happy New Year, Jill."
"You too, Chip.

to be continued
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