February 21 – continued

Posted on: February 24, 2013

On Jan. 24, 1955, the United States government signed a 99-year lease with Marquette County. Almost immediately, construction of military support facilities began and K.I. Sawyer AFB was a reality and became an important part of Marquette County infrastructure. K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base was decommissioned in 1995 as a military facility, but had operated for nearly forty years, and as a major employer in the county; It’s closure meant the loss of hundreds of jobs, both at the base and the filter down jobs.  It was re-purchased by the county and the new county airport, Sawyer International, took over and now occupies a portion of the base and has… or did have.. scheduled airline flights and some general aviation activity.  During this crisis, most domestic flights were curtailed, and limited military flights were resumed.  The joke around the county for years, was we had commuter planes landing on airstrips that could land the Shuttle; overkill to say the least.  To have a direct communique from there was curious, almost disturbing and alarming…. And yet, hopeful.  The message that was faxed over was already two days old, having had to wait until someone was at the office to turn the power on.  The message was also maddeningly brief:  just to contact them about a package that had arrived.

I called Don White immediately.  No answer.  I called Dispatch and asked where I could find him, only to be told he’d gone home for the day.  I was happy for Don that he went home, finally, but it also meant that I would have to wait a day to find out what K.I. wanted with me and what this package was.


When I arrived home, there were three four wheelers sitting in the driveway; mostly cleaned off, and obviously in running condition since they’d been moved.  The camouflage painted one I tagged for myself; a deep hunter green one and a deep blue one; all of them with the bells and whistles that would delight those that could afford such toys.  At the time, I didn’t know that Bobby had already been given one, and these three were ours; even John got his own set of wheels for his part in our town’s violent history.

The snow on the shoulders of the road had been greatly disturbed, but the rest of the machines were gone, thankfully.  I’m still not sure how I’m going to feel riding a machine that had been used to wreck such havoc on our quiet community.  There was still no word on what had happened during the rampage to the south of here; what damage and death the Wheelers had left behind may be never fully known.

John came out when he saw me pull in, I think so it wouldn’t be a surprise to walk into an empty house.    For the brief time I’d been gone, they’d been busy moving Jason and Jacob across the road.  The house was indeed quiet and empty.

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