Ghost Ship – 39

Written by: Donald Bellisario; Watch Now: – Sorry, not available on Amazon

[A very pivotal JAG episode in that Harm finds critical information which eventually leads to him finding closure about his father. Not only with an artifact but with “networking” into the KGB. Written by the series creator, Donald Bellasario]

Alameda county was trying to raise the money to refurbish and keep up the mothballed carrier, USS Hornet, for use as a museum. Two fortune seekers, Sibby Le Negro and Andy Kochifis, were cut torching into the “void” between the inner and outer hulls for possible artifacts when they found the skeleton of Lt Brian Tate, who had served with Harm’s (H) father. Tate was clutching a “Skoshi Tiger” patch worn by Vietnamese F-5 pilots and wearing an unmarked “go to hell” watch. The JAG, Chegwidden (C), sent Harm and Mac (M) to investigate and Bud (B) reluctantly stayed behind for research. Harm remembered his childhood visit to the Hornet with his father when he got to set in a cockpit.

Harriet (Ht) went to the military archives with Bud for research and met an “old flame,” Millie Shaker. Flummoxed, Bud said he was looking for the “USS Horney” records. A man introducing himself as “Mark Falcon” of the Alameda Police department said he was “on his own time” and joined H and M in the investigation. Falcon claimed that he had been an army MP in Saigon for a year and that the salvagers were looking for “something else” cause they didn’t need to torch into the void in order to calculate a bid. Harm’s dad had flown “167 missions over the north, half of them off the Hornet.” Harm had his mother send his father’s audio tapes from her home in La Jolla then used them to “take a walk with my dad.” [Then they used eerie music and odd camera angles to make it look as though he was being watched.]

The autopsy showed the skeleton was a 25-30 year-old Caucasian, had died from blunt force trauma to back of head, and had the patch clutched in his fist. When Falcon seem incredulous about keeping old records, H quipped “this is the navy, we have Popeye’s enlistment papers somewhere.” They found the skeleton’s name and that he had gone “missing” on Apr 30, 1975 – the day Saigon fell. Mac told H that B had “been without sleep for 34 hours and 24 minutes,” so H asked how she did it. She quipped back “my mother was Swiss.” Hearing his fathers voice in his head, Harm day-dreamed about carrier takeoff’s then into the hanger bay and finally “down to the O2 level where Tom Boone and I billet.” Harm fell, hitting his head, and when he awoke saw a shadow looking down at him before M, Falcon and Le Negro found him. Le Negro tried arrogantly tried to convince H that he had broken through a chain barrier. Falcon and M went to question Andy and when he stonewalled, Falcon grabbed him by the gonads to force his explanation that they had been looking for the gold that was rumored to be in the void since the fall of Saigon.

Bud notified H that a Skoshi Tiger, Col Nguyen, had also been aboard the Hornet on that day but had been lost on a flight to Guam with a SOG officer (cover name for the CIA in Vietnam). Then after Bud’s call, Webb brought B a pizza – and information that he had found that the KGB was also on the track of Harm and Mac’s investigation. Harm continued his “walk with his dad” alone and was visited by a man (who he thought was his dad) who led him into a berthing compartment before he passed out. Harm was found the next morning by M and Falcon who called an ambulance.

While Falcon was away M revealed information from Bs second call, namely: Nguyen’s plane had been sabotaged after he had boarded the Hornet with a list of names which he wanted to trade for the good life in Paris – American MIAs which the Russians were holding in Russia at the end of the war. Nguyen had approached two CIA agents. One had been on Nguyen’s flight the other “went missing” after the war and was thought to have been a double agent. Harm conjectured that Nguyen had killed Tate, and hid his body in the void, because Tate had seen where he had hidden his book.

The berth that Harm had been “led to” wasn’t his dad’s so Harm believed it to have been Tate himself (the vision) who had led him there. Harm looked behind a grill in the wall (where his dad had said that he and Boone had hid their bourbon) and found the book – with his dad’s name in it! They were just leaving when they were trapped by a fire (possibly set by LeNegro). Harm, still woozy from his hit on the head, saw the personage of Tate again who led them down and around the passageways to an exit.

Harm was hospitalized for two days and asked B to tell W thanks. Webb replied that “his dad paid that debt long ago.” Bud told Ht that he “just wanted one girl in port– her” and she asked “does that mean we’re going steady?” When H and M appeared at the Alameda police office to retrieve the book from the evidence room, they found: 1) a boy delivering a pizza (same actor who later played Bud’s brother “Mikey”); and, 2) that Falcon was a black officer who had never seen them before. “Falcon” was then shown on a Russian flight with Hs book. Harm’s voiceover said “I’ll find him if it takes the rest of my life.”

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