Seaview was 12 miles offshore of her
destination. The decision by Nelson to undertake this emergency mission, in
response to the Captain’s pleading was granted on the condition that at least
this time, he help out. He’d even secured approval by the Air Force for the
Flying Sub to get involved up close and personal as well.
Crane was already boarding the Flying Sub giving Sharkey
a thumbs up, while uncharacteristically garbed in a plain red jumpsuit. While the crew was used to the
Captain taking on various covert operations, no one had ever seen Nelson in
Jeans, casual T-shirt, sunscreen, and sneakers.
There had been a host of volunteers when informed of this
assignment, but the old adage of rank having its privileges had won out.
All Seaview’s crew could do was wait. At least they had
adequate radio and visual coverage. And coverage it was.
There had been a mass migration to the rendezvous coordinates
her officers were headed to and the press vied with each other for the best
vantage points of this newsmaker event.
Holding their collective breaths, the crew of Seaview
watched and listened to one official and reporter after another while
the countdown clock ticked down. Suddenly jet fighters swooped down and over the
assemblage, with an acrobatic show of power and might. The Flying Sub followed
suit with her own roller coasting and twisting maneuvers until she too flew out of range.
The jets returned with a few more glide paths, while Seaview
had finally been informed of the Flying Sub’s landing in the Halifax River, and
that Nelson and Crane had already made
it to the main event via the special escort sent for them. As for the yellow
craft herself, she was being safely watched by the Coast Guard until her owner’s return.
“Hey! There they
are!” exclaimed Kowalski after what seemed like a year, as the men watched the various
scenes on their monitors.
A happily smiling and already grease splattered Crane had
just emerged from doing something under the hood of a red vehicle, and Nelson was
handing the driver, (a good friend of Lee’s, who’d found himself in dire straits
when some of his team had come down with digestive difficulties), a Gatorade. They’d retreated to the safety of
the infield when an official announced, “Gentlemen, start your engines!” The
Daytona 500 had begun.
It was a matter of debate aboard Seaview later just which
car/ team had really won the event. But as they saw the happily laughing and
smiling driver and his pit crew, especially their own dirty sweaty
Captain and Admiral, they knew there was no need for a Victory Lane. It was
already in their hearts.
*Feb. 17, 2008 Happy 50th Birthday Daytona