A month after Kinch's funeral and burial, Hogan had Baker contact London and ask for General Butler, explaining it was time he spoke with him, not only regarding the error made by London when they cleared Captain Milner, but that their error cost one of his men his life. Also, Hogan felt London should do the letter to the Captain's family as there was no conceivable way he could without letting the Germans, especially the Gestapo, suspect he knew more than he told them. In addition, he wanted the journal sent by a courier and not through regular channels, and that the names and records of two men who paid the ultimate price for the murders of two Colonels had to be cleared. And the escaped flier they needed to get out of Germany would double as a courier and get the journal to London as well.
Finally, Baker had General Butler on the line. He went and fetched Colonel Hogan.
Hogan adjusted the headset on his head and held the microphone close. "General, Papa Bear here. We have to talk."
"I agree, Papa Bear," Butler agreed. "Your man Sergeant Baker told me about Sergeant Kinchloe. You have my condolences, old boy."
"Thank you, General. But, I'm afraid that won't be enough this time."
"What do you mean, Colonel?" asked Butler, puzzled.
"Several things, sir. First, I feel London dropped the ball when it came to Captain Milner. We found a journal he'd been keeping in which he revealed he had killed three officers and let two innocent men be executed for two of those crimes. The names and records of those two men will have to be cleared. Second, Captain Milner received a medal for saving Lieutenant Barnes. He doesn't deserve that medal, sir as he's the one who killed the lieutenant to begin with. Then, he zeroed in on me as his next victim. But one of my men was suspicious of him as was I. And I'll always blame myself for not following my gut instinct this time. But he tried to kill me with a hand grenade, but in trying to do so, he ended up shooting my second-in-command, Sergeant Kinchloe, instead. We managed to convince the Gestapo that Captain Milner was actually Gestapo Captain Johann Berger and had plastic surgery to alter his appearance. We buried Captain Milner's body in the woods. I'll include the location of the body so it can be retrieved at the proper time. It was necessary to do this for the purposes of our cover story. I'm including the Captain's dog tags with his journal by courier with the person we're sending out of Germany in a day or two. Lastly, someone will have to write the letter to the Captain's family. It would look suspicious to the Krauts and the Gestapo if I did it."
"It'll be taken care of Colonel. Is there anything else you need? How are you doing at this time?"
Hogan let out a deep breath. "One of the things I'd like to have I can't, General. And unfortunately neither you or anybody else can give it to me. As to what I need, it's fairly obvious. I need London to admit they dropped the ball on this one, sir. I need London to do a better job of checking into the backgrounds of the people we inquire about so this doesn't happen again. Or am I gonna have to lose every member of my team and possibly my own life before this is done." He knew he was speaking more harshly than he should to a superior officer, but right now Hogan didn't care. He was angry. Angry that this could have been avoided from the beginning if London had done it's job. Of course Hogan didn't minimize the fact that he didn't follow his gut feeling, but London had to shoulder the major portion of this tragedy.
"Hogan, I know you're angry and you're still grieving. But…" Butler began.
"Yes, I'm still grieving. And yes I'm still angry. But as angry as I am, General, I want London to do it's job when checking out the backgrounds of these people when we ask about them. We should be able to find out from you folks what we need to know. I can't and won't risk my men or my operation because London can't do it's job right."
There was a long pause on the other end. "Hogan, we do the best we can with these background checks when you ask about somebody. But we will, at times, miss things. Things slip through the cracks so to speak. Nobody's to blame. And for you to tell us we are not doing our jobs is uncalled for. However, I am willing to overlook your outburst given your emotional state currently. But I will promise you this, Hogan. I will do my best to see that when you request information on someone that a more thorough check is done other than just the basic information. That is the best I can do. Get that journal to us as soon as possible, Colonel. Goldilocks out."
"Papa Bear out." Hogan removed the headset and tossed it onto the table, and shoved the microphone away. He sadly shook his head and smirked.
A more thorough background check indeed. Who were they kidding? It was true that while he did trust General Butler, Hogan sensed nothing would be any different next time; and if it was, it would only be for a short while. And if that happened, he and his men could soon find themselves dealing with another Captain Milner and another case of fragging. And if that was the case, the Colonel suspected there was a good chance he might not survive the next time. No, Hogan held out no hope that there would be any long-term change in how background checks by London would be done despite General Butler.
The more I'd like things to change, Hogan thought, the more they'll probably stay the same.