Despite being tuned in to the news, I must have dozed off and missed the announcement. Thankfully, the phone ringing woke me up. It was my friend Brianne on the other side of the line. She belted out “Belle! US Navy SL will be having a press conference at 1:30pm to reassure parents that everything is being done to bring their children home.”
I immediately sat up! Apparently, this announcement was made at 12:30pm this afternoon, and didn’t leave much time to guarantee full attendance, or so I thought, nevertheless I was determined to be there.
In a flash, I hung up, got dressed and jumped in the car heading there swiftly with my picketing sign.
On arrival there was a huge crowd of parents! Some I had seen from yesterday’s NGI Airways Press Conference, and many others I’d never seen before. Being on the Navy base, certainly brought a sense of seriousness that I liked. It was a bit reassuring in a way. At least it was before the conference began.
I spotted Brianne in the crowd and after a hug hello, I heard the sound system come alive with little squeaks from the microphone that had just been switched on.
I found myself huffing and scuffling my feet impatiently; crossing then uncrossing my arms waiting for this man to tell us just what in the hell was going on. It was nerve racking not being able to read the news from his poker face.
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I am Lieutenant Commander Matt Mapp of the US Navy SL USS Nimitz and executive officer of HSC-22 Sea Knights search and rescue.
Firstly, I want to start of by conveying my deepest sympathy and condolences on the tragic event that has occurred.
Secondly, I want to assure each of you that we are putting our best effort and more into finding you’re children. I have dispatch multiple drones to scan the ocean along the planes flight path searching for any clues as to where their plane went down.
I interjected rapidly. I couldn’t bare any more of this politically correct-appease the crowd type speeches. We needed answers. “WHY has the radius only been 50 miles wide in your search then. That cant be your best”, I yelled before taking a deep calming breathe. A father in the crowd echoed “let us go get em if u know where they are”.
The Lieutenant did his best to respond whilst attempting to get back on track with the report he was conveying.
Rest assured that we WILL find your children. As of 0700 this morning we have expanded our search area out to 200 nautical miles.
My friend, Brianne whose daughter is lost with the flight, interjected with “they need to be more like 500 miles.. search the world.” I was in agreement and conveyed that by holding up 3 fingers and shouting “FINALLY! That took you all long enough! Why did you wait so long? Do you know that it’s been 72 hours. How do you expect 3 and 4 year olds to survive THREE days? THREE whole dayssssss!”
That father who spoke up earlier, belted out again “I’ve got my gear I’m ready take me along”. It was obvious by the way he spoke that he too was a military man. The crowd was roaring and yelling inaudibly by now. Everyone was talking and shouting. Brianne was pitching in with “same I’m ready to go buy a plane and search myself”; another belted sarcastically “any word from Poseidon?”; another tacked on with “You get the plane I’ll go in myself with my crew”; another dad shouted “I am ready at any point”, with many echoing their support. I pumped my fist and added “Yeah….tell us how….let us go find our kids ourselves….!”
A big brawny and very angry dad who showed up late came up throwing his fist and yelling “WTH IS THE NAVY DOIN BOUT FINDING OUR KIDS”!
It was a highly emotional exchange amongst themselves, so much so that I barely made out the Lieutenant’s retort to me “Yes ma’am I am well aware of the time frame. We have only just started and were only just informed of the need for assistance yesterday.”
My gasp was so loud it echoed through the chaotic chatter and gave way to a bit of silence just before I screamed “The NGI Airways just notified the Navy? JUST?” I was in shock and turned to everyone repeating the traumatic news. “Can you all believe it? They didn’t even make it a priority…they are jut asking for help now! THIS IS AN OUTRAGEEEEEEEE!”. I pointed at him directly, while screaming a threat “NGI Airways will pay dearly for this….how can they just have waited till now. My nieces and nephew! IF ANYTHING HAPPENS TO THEM, I SWEAR IT. YOU WILL FACE ME IN COURT!”
The place erupted. The Lieutenant stood there, wiping his forehead and gulping as we all barked at him.
“I need my child and all the children home asap. Who knows what is out there and what could be hurting them.” said Brianne.
“Were is my baby sister at?” said a young man
“My poor babies must be scared and hungry … if anything happens to them …. We are not going to wait for you to find them .. my husband has a plane we will do out own searching.” said a concerned mother, who stood beside me. “Ma’am I promise you we find them if you only let us do our jobs. We won’t be able to work any faster looking for your children if you go out searching as well”, he replied desperately trying to calm the crowd.
The Lieutenant continued in an attempt to console us yet again, “As I said sir. We have unmanned drones and other aircraft working around the clock searching a 200 nautical mile radius as well as navy personnel monitoring radars and radios frequencies. I understand your frustration and anger. I would be the same way if my little girl was lost.”
He was silenced by another bark from a dad saying, “Just give me a plane ill go out my self! If you did your job they would be found by now …whats taking so long?” I agreed! What WAS taking so long? We were getting no where…so I began throwing questions at him a mile a minute.
“How many men do you have looking?”
“How many fleets?”
“Are you searching by air or ship??”
“How long did the 200 mile radius search come into play?”
“How many hours?”
“Any news yet?”
“The beacon….how much longer before it stops sending signals for you to pick up a the crash site?”
He proudly pointed ahead, behind us. We turned around to look at a grand ship that was docked as he stated “Every last available crew member aboard the USS Nimitz is helping. We are searching by air land and sea.”
I gasped. We’d been standing there this whole time with the search ship docked right there and NOT out there looking for our kids. I screamed “You mean this ship? The one parked right there? The one that isn’t THERE RIGHT NOW SEARCHING.” As I ranted, a petty officer walked up to whisper in his ear. We paused. It was news!
The Lieutenant cleared his throat to announce:
I have just learned that we have found debris about 150 miles from a small island. We haven’t confirmed if the debris is from the plane or not but we will have more answers for you soon.
With that he began packing his papers in a rush, while we threw questions and statements still “When is soon?!”, “get me out there then my crew I’ll search” and so on.
He managed a “We hope to have more answers this time tomorrow if not sooner”, but that wasn’t good enough for us. “Are you BLOODY kidding me?”, “TOMORROW? HOW BOUT NOW?”, “OMG how will i tell my husband when he gets home that our 3 girls are still missing.”, “Tomorrow’s too far away”, “THE CHILDREN COULD BE DYING!!!!”, “dying or worse.. being eaten…this very second”, “Go looking now !!”, “I am not going to wait for your stupid drones we will look on our own.”
There was so much noise. As everyone yelled, my mind filled with pictures of my young nephew and nieces, knowing there was no way they could survive 3 days in an ocean….shark infested and all….without short of a miracle. Here they were, wasting time and my family was hanging in the balance. Suddenly, I broke down and burst into tears. The lady behind me tried to console me, but I took no notice. This isn’t happening!
In the ruckus, the Lieutenant picked up his cover and sunglasses, then issued a final word before turning to walk into the hanger, “Once again my deepest apologies and condolences to your family. As of right now I am personally taking a helicopter out to search the area in ten minutes. Thank you all for coming out and have a safe trip home” After that, he shut the hanger shutters behind him to keep us out.
The upheaval that ensued was enormous. I threw a used tissue at him, screaming “DO BETTER! DO something.” Others joined me in banging on the shutters “You need to find them NOW! Get in the water! Look!”; “Get me out there now!”; “AMERICA Hoooo! RAH”; “Home? Hell, I ain’t leavin'”; “If they die I swear you will hear from meee!”; “This is bull shit!”.
As we were protesting, the shutters scrolled back up. The Lieutenant had changed into his flight gear, and began rolling out his chopper while calling out to the crowd, “Ladies and gentlemen if you could please clear the helicopter pad.” We obliged! We needed him to get out there and help the search!
One protester remained, grief struck and collapsed sobbing on the helipad. The Lieutenant addressed him, “Sir, please the clear the pad, thank you”. Someone went to help him up and took him off to the side.
We are still looking up in the sky and hoping that today will be the end of our tortured wait. That today, the children will be found.
((PS: Please this is all IC RP that supports the survivor camp RP adventure currently being organized by Richmond Elementary School and NGI Adoption Agency. Thankfully, this is not a RL tragedy and I pray no such thing ever happens. Amen))