A huge amount of activity had already taken place in the hours before noon that Saturday.
And now, just before noon, the FBI, backed up by a large cadre of local police as well as numerous service personnel from both the Army and Navy, were forcefully entering the embassy.
Power to the embassy had been cut only moments before by the local utility company, following orders from the FBI. This was to assure that there was no power to operate transmitting radios or code machines so that notice of the attack could not immediately be sent from the embassy back to its home country.
While the police were mostly armed with handguns and an occasional shotgun, both the FBI and military personnel were toting a large number of automatic weapons. The presence of a huge amount of firepower was a good way to intimidate people.
As soon as they had entered the embassy, which was virtually unguarded anyway, FBI personnel fanned out throughout the building. Their aim was to secure as many code machines, code books, and other materials as possible, to make a case of espionage.
Silby and Cowden were among the first group to enter the building. Their designated task was to round up all the embassy staff and to keep them under guard until the raid was completed. The round-up would include the two individuals who had shown up on the photographs taken by Silby a couple of days before; individuals who had been recognized as being foreign agents, previously deported and now most likely to engage in further dirty work.
It was these two men, plus information coming from Washington, that had prompted the local FBI to commence the operation and it was pulled off with a high degree of precision despite having only been launched a few hours before. All the members of the raiding party had performed their assigned tasks flawlessly. Despite the flawless performance, Silby was still harboring doubts about whether all this was legal.
Everyone knew that the enemy, once it was not hearing from its embassy, would know that something was up and that they would immediately change their diplomatic codes. But having their coding machines would provide the U.S. with a valuable tool to continue to read their mail because the machines were an integral link with the manner in which the codes were made and sent.
The big reconnaissance aircraft was approaching four hundred miles from base and John and Ron were both busy handling the plane and constantly glancing from each side trying to maintain vigilance despite their deep-seated feelings that this was just another routine patrol.
Suddenly, Ron almost screamed into his throat mike, “Holy crap, look at that!,” was all he could get out before a chorus of “What’s” and “Where’s” echoed back through his headset.
“There, at one o’clock. On the surface!”
As most of the crew strained to see the area indicated, the intercom was again filled with exclamations of surprise. Below, partly obscured by scudding clouds, moved a large group of ships, pinpointed by the wakes being left behind on a lightly-tossed sea.
“Okay,” the pilot was speaking and trying to present a calm demeanor, “we’re going lower. Try to get a good count and type of ships down there. We aren’t supposed to have any ships operating in this area and this is what we’ve been looking for. As soon as we can get a count and their course, we’ll have to get a report back as quick as we can. I can already see carriers in that group. We’ll have to get out of here in a hurry before they can send up interception.
“Andy,” he was speaking over the plane’s intercom to the radioman, “get the radio cranked up and alert base that we’re going to be sending further information.”
“Yessir,” came a spirited and somewhat nervous response.
The plane began a slow turning descent to get clear of the clouds and to find a place where the entire array of ships below could be observed.
After the few minutes that seemed like an eternity, the pilot pulled the plane into a climb and headed for a dense cloud bank as he poured on the horsepower to head back to base. This was obviously no place for an unarmed plane, with the amount of firepower below and the looming prospect of interceptor aircraft being sent aloft.
As the plane winged its way home, the radioman was busy hammering out his message in Morse code, alerting headquarters that a fleet containing six aircraft carriers and a host of support ships along with a protective screen of other types had been sighted and was headed in almost the same direction as the plane was now.
Back at base, the sergeant busily writing down the message he was receiving was beginning to sweat, somewhat inhibiting his writing as beads of sweat dripped onto the paper in front of him. The duty officer, a lieutenant, was peering over his shoulder and reading the material as quickly as it was placed on the paper and he, too, began to perspire as he realized the import of what he was seeing.
It was nearly impossible for him to remain still, anxious to snatch the paper and rush off to deliver it to his superior. He knew this one would be going straight up to the General and to the Admiral.
“Jesus,” he muttered, trying to telepathically hurry up the sergeant frantically writing away in front of him.