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“The Final Tour of Duty is a suspenseful story of murder, the Cold War, the U.S. Navy, and is a story the CIA prefer never published.”
In 1970, with nineteen years of service, and after his second tour of duty in Viet Nam, Lieutenant Commander Alex Wolfe is assigned his final duty station, Naval Facility Cape Hatteras with its secret mission of using passive sonar systems to track the movement of Soviet submarines. He is told that nothing exciting ever happens at a Navfac. But within a few days of his arrival, a murdered sailor’s body is discovered in the nearby woods, and then a Soviet nuclear submarine is lost at sea under suspicious circumstances. Alex must investigate both, and yet finds enough time to become enamored with a popular local widow who has a secret of her own.




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Chapter 1

At 1920 hours, Friday, April 17, 1970, Captain Eugene Morrison gave the order and the USS Comanche gently disappeared beneath the surface of the dark waters of the mouth of the Thames River. For thirty minutes, the Skipjack class nuclear-powered attack submarine traveled at ten knots at a depth of sixty feet as it glided through Block Island Sound toward the Atlantic. There it gradually descended to its cruise depth of six-hundred feet and reduced its speed to three knots, making detection by passive sonar virtually impossible. Morrison and his crew had distinguished themselves three consecutive times in ASW (Anti-Submarine War) games. The Comanche had been designated an enemy boat each of those times, and had simulated sinking four destroyers, two frigates, three submarines, and one carrier—and each time had escaped without taking any simulated hits from the several ships, planes, and other subs of the Second Fleet assigned to simulate her sinking.

The celebrations in the officer’s club in New London, the good-natured kidding Morrison gave to the officers of the vessels he sank, and the taunting of the officers of the ships who never located the Comanche had been enjoyable. But this evening, Eugene Morrison was regretting he’d had so much success in the ASW games, because that success had convinced his superiors that he should be given his current assignment. This mission was no game. There would be no simulations. His orders, known only to himself and his executive officer, came directly from the Commander of the Atlantic Fleet, who’d received his orders directly from the Secretary of Defense, who’d received approval from the President. Captain Morrison wouldn’t tell his crew of their mission until the last possible moment. And he wondered whether he’d have the courage to carry out that mission.

At 1:00 AM, Tim McWilliams had never felt so relaxed in his twenty-three years of being alive. His mind gently wandered as he mentally envisioned his mother and father smiling their approval as he waved his high school diploma over his head for everyone to see.

Tim didn’t remember the pain—the excruciating burning sensations he’d felt only hours before. He had no thought of the three men who’d taken turns hitting him. They hit his kidneys, his stomach, his face, and one punch had broken his nose, and the taste of blood, still in his mouth, was no longer a conscious sensation. He didn’t think about the vulgar insults the three hurled at him as they beat him.

He saw Max, the golden lab puppy in the cardboard box next to the Christmas tree. Then the football was spiraling toward him, and he made the catch that won the game against Concordia. As he trotted off the field, other players slapped him on the back, and he looked into the stands where everyone was standing, clapping and cheering for him. Even his father.

Calm, and sleepy, Tim McWilliams had forgotten the panic that seized him as he was being tied to the tree in the Buxton woods. He raised his head and the branches above him reminded him of the first time he and his father had gone deer hunting. It was dark that morning, and it was dark now.

Looking down, he saw the blood on the ground, and knew it was his. There was so much, and had formed a pool next to his feet. But he felt no fear now. He looked at his naked body, and the sight of the gash where his genitals used to be caused him no concern. The bleeding had finally stopped.

He closed his eyes and saw a star. Or was it Venus? It was coming at him, becoming brighter and brighter. Tim McWilliams sighed, dropped his head, and then he stopped breathing.


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