Jon didn’t have to figure out a plan to bring the Tsukuda group out. They were attacked less than a mile from their destination by two teams of assailants in black automobiles. Jon noticed the first vehicle with a gunman leaning out the passenger window holding a Type 100 submachine gun. Before it turned in front of their Ohta, Jon grabbed the Thompson submachine gun that Yumiko gave him after he got in the vehicle, and thrust it out his window.
Yumiko swerved to the right, which hindered the gunman’s field of fire from the left-side passenger seat, and put Jon in a perfect firing position. Jon fired four bursts into the rear of the vehicle before the assailant could get off his first shot, rupturing the gas tank. The rear of the vehicle erupted in flames, exploded, and careened into the side of a partially collapsed brick building. As they passed the vehicle, Jon noticed that the driver and passenger were engulfed in flames.
The second vehicle turned directly behind Jon’s car and began firing on George, Kathleen and Takara. Jon told Camille to duck and fired through the back window of their sedan. The first burst killed the driver of the vehicle. Jon watched as the vehicle veered to the left and crashed into a one-story building. While George ducked to escape the machine gunfire, Kathleen grabbed Takara Thompson and was leaning out of the rear window of her sedan. Takara slowed their car as they passed the disabled vehicle, and Kathleen unloaded a full clip from her Thompson into it. Kathleen glanced back as the second vehicle caught fire and exploded.
By the time they reached their destination, the Marines were on high alert. The automatic weapon fire and explosions had awakened the two sleeping platoons, and now all 45 Marines were in defensive firing positions when the caravan pulled into the drive.
When George’s vehicle stopped, he let out a sigh. “That was close. Are you okay, Katie?”
“Yes, but I think Takara’s been hit,” Kathleen replied.
As Takara turned the ignition off she slumped over the wheel. She had barely made it to the drive before passing out. George reached for her and noticed blood from a shoulder wound had splattered the driver side window and half of her right ear was missing.
“Go get a corpsman, I’ll get her out of the car,” George said.
When their car stopped, Jon flew out of the vehicle and ran back to George’s car. He had seen Takara slump when her car stopped. He helped George get her into the house and onto a tatami mat, placed a large pillow under her legs, and since she was still unconscious, turned her head to the side so she wouldn’t swallow her tongue and suffocate.
They watched closely as the Navy corpsman cut the blouse from Takara, and used it to clean most of the blood away from the wound. He removed several iodine swabs from his medical kit and cleaned off the remaining blood. Once the blood flow was stopped, he sprinkled two packets of antibacterial sulfonamide on the wound and applied a sterile Carlisle dressing. After securing the dressing with adhesive tape, the corpsman injected Takara with a morphine ampoule syringe in the muscle of her bicep. He also gave her a shot of penicillin to fight off any infection.
After watching the corpsman stabilize Takara, Jon and George walked outside to talk to the Marine captain in charge.
“Captain, I want all your men guarding the house, and another three platoons here in two hours; so get on your walkie-talkie and make it happen. You can use Brigadier General James Sage as the authorizing officer, if you need to,” Jon ordered.
“No need to, sir. I called for reinforcement as soon as I heard the automatic fire. We were told to expect trouble, and that you would have the authority yourself. I assume you’re Colonel Preston?” the captain asked.
“I’ve also asked for a doctor and ambulance. They should be here in twenty minutes.”
Jon nodded to the Marine captain. This guy is on the ball, Jon thought. Must have gotten a lot of combat time. He’s used to making decisions.
“How many campaigns, Captain?” George asked.
“Guadalcanal, Saipan, and Okinawa, sir. I understand you all have seen your share of Japs, too.”
“Fifty-five missions behind Japanese lines.”
“I’ve been fully briefed on you and Colonel Linka, sir. We’ll take good care of you and your team.”
“I’m sure you will, Captain. I’m Jon and this is George. We don’t use rank in our business, just first names.”
“If you like, you can call me Steve.”
The ambulance arrived within twenty minutes with a Navy physician who reviewed the triage that the corpsman had performed on Takara. After praising the corpsman’s efforts, the physician began administering plasma to replace Takara’s lost blood, to keep her from going into hypovolemic shock, which happens when the blood volume drops, and not enough oxygen is delivered to the body’s cells.
The next morning, General Uchito Tsukuda was angry at himself after receiving word that the American intelligence team had been attacked by one of Asami’s team of assassins. I should have given her specific instructions to leave the Americans alone, Tsukuda thought. Now they know we are after them and will be even more prepared.
Tsukuda stood looking out the second-story window of the East Tower of Tsuchiura Castle, four kilometers northwest of the Tsuchiura Naval Air Base. Standing next to him was Masaharu Sato and Asami Nakada. Because of Asami’s failure, and the arrival of the Allied intelligence officers at the air base early that morning, Uchito was exasperated. He turned and looked directly at Asami.
“Our efforts to eliminate the American team in the Philippines was disastrous. A mistake I will not make again,” Tsukuda stated.
“We should not have used Flores,” Asami said. “You should have sent me instead.”
“If you were well enough, I might have considered it; but now they are in Japan. I will personally deal with them next time. Is that understood?”
“Uncle, please let me handle this,” Asami pleaded. “These are the agents responsible for the deaths of Akemi, Akiko, and Akira. Their lives should be mine to take. I can handle them.”
Tsukuda had trouble controlling his anger. When he composed himself, he admonished her, “Like you handled the attack last night? That was reckless and foolish. The Americans will be twice as prepared to meet our next attack. If you cannot control your emotions and leave you sisters’ deaths out of this, I will replace you. Is that what you want?”
The former commander of the JIA Intelligence Directorate was too fond of his niece to tell her she was incapable of taking on the Americans. “You are too valuable, Asami. This American agent, Preston, is clever, well trained, and extremely dangerous. We must focus on removing the gold from the hidden chambers and securing our future. Once we have the gold, we will deal with the American agents. Is that clear?” Uchito Tsukuda asked.
“Yes, uncle. Very clear.”