Currently viewing the tag: "President Franklin D. Roosevelt"

A serial fiction story for your enjoyment

written by James Rada, Jr.

4: Preparing

Brian Johnson had discovered where President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s top secret getaway in the Maryland mountains was hidden. It was one piece of the puzzle he needed to find before he could kill the president in the name of the Fuhrer.

He jogged back to his cabin in the OSS training camp to change before his training as an OSS agent began in another hidden camp in the mountains. When he arrived, he saw a pair of soldiers standing guard outside.

He stopped running and walked in circles to catch his breath. It gave him time to think.

Why were they there? They had never had guards outside the cabin before. Had someone gotten suspicious about him?

Brian approached the cabin entrance, but one of the guards held up a hand.

“You’ll have to wait out here for now,” the burly man said. Although the guards wore uniforms, no branch of service was identified, which meant they were OSS agents.

“Why? I need to get changed before my first class,” Brian said.

“The colonel is inside and ordered that no one can enter.”

The colonel? Colonel Smith was in charge of the camp. Brian kept the panic he felt under control. He had created a problem by acting outside of the norm with the run. It was a risk he had needed to take to get information. Now he needed to act within the norm and act as if nothing was wrong.

“I’ll get a shower then. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get back inside then to get fresh clothes.”

The guard said nothing as Brian turned away and walked to the shower house. The small building had four shower stalls inside. Two of the stalls had other recruits from his cabin taking showers.

As Brian stripped out of his sweaty clothes, he said, “Did you see the guards outside of our cabin? They wouldn’t let me inside.”

“They sent us out, too,” a recruit called Jack said. No one in the camp used their real names as a security precaution. Brian’s fake name was Adam.

“Are they looking for something?”

“Who knows? They said it was an inspection, and we needed to leave.”


“What isn’t in this place?”

Brian stepped into the water stream. It was cold and quickly cooled his hot skin.

Jack was right. Most likely, it was just an odd way they did things in this camp, but Brian was a spy inside a camp that trained spies. He had to be very careful, or he would be captured. Even if they suspected him of something, they wouldn’t find evidence of it in his things or in the cabin. The only personal things he had here were what he had been wearing when he arrived from Miami University in the truck.

He finished showering and redressed except for his sweaty shirt. He walked back to the cabin and saw the guards were gone. When he went inside, everything looked normal. Jack was making his bunk.

“See? They’re gone. No problem,” he said.

“They had you leave without making your bunk?” Brian asked.

“Yea, but I’m not going to risk that now.”

Brian nodded, but said nothing. If the colonel had been inspecting the cabin, an unmade bunk would have warranted some sort of demerit, but apparently not. That made it doubtful that the colonel’s visit had been an inspection.

Brian looked around. What had changed then? Had anything? Why had the colonel been here?

Brian wondered if the room had been bugged. Were spies spying on the spies to see if any of them disobeyed orders while in the cabin?

This was a world of suspicion and deception Brian found himself in.

Their morning instruction that day was in the art of safecracking from someone named Capt. Peters. Peters was a small man with thinning hair and a scar across his neck. He grinned every time someone called him captain, which made Brian doubted that he was actually military. He knew his work, though. He showed the recruits the insides of combination locks so they could understand how they worked. Then he showed his group different ways of opening those locks, from feeling for the tumblers to fall into place while turning the lock dial to drilling through the tumblers to blowing up the safe door without destroying the contents.

Brian was so fascinated by what he was learning, he forgot about planning for his own mission for a while.

During lunch in the mess hall, Brian wondered whether he could break into the colonel’s office. It would have maps and information that would make Brian’s planning easier. However, the cabin had two rooms; one was the colonel’s office, and the other was his aide’s. Besides being their offices, they also slept in the rooms. Although Brian believed he could break into the office, it would be too dangerous to try to enter. Too many people were around during the day who might see him and the colonel and his aide were there during the night.

The afternoon training session was on the “trainazium.” Brian had seen nothing like it before, except for perhaps in a circus. He reported to a clearing with other recruits and saw six telephone-pole-size logs were set into the ground and connected by smaller poles 18 feet above the ground. They were criss-crossed with ropes, nets and cables going every direction.

“This monstrosity is an obstacle course,” Lieutenant Price told them. “Your work in the OSS will challenge you physically, not only in strength, but in dexterity. This course will help you learn to deal with those challenges.”

The recruits then spent the next few hours swinging, running, and climbing along the poles and ropes as if they were monkeys making their way through the jungle. Brian was so exhausted at the end, he could barely open his hand so that it was flat.

After dinner, when Brian was supposed to be going to the latrine, he wandered off toward where he knew the fence to Shangri-La was. He stayed in the shadows as he approached the fence. He spotted Marines on the other side and was satisfied that was where the president would be when he visited.

He also realized he knew how he could get a weapon, and as far as getting through the fence, he didn’t need to get through it. The OSS had been teaching him to think of solutions to problems that were unusual. Yesterday, he had learned to create a knife from a newspaper. Now he could put that newspaper knife to use. As for the fence, he would go under it.

Once he did that, though, it would set things in motion, and he would be committed to his mission. He would have to move fast to make things happen in his favor. He would try to survive, but that was not his mission. He had to focus on killing President Roosevelt, even if it was the last thing he did.

Joan Bittner Fry

Since 1942, when it was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as “Shangri-la,” this isolated camp in the hills of Western Maryland has served as an official Presidential retreat and has often been the site of conferences and decisions of national and international significance. Prior to its existence, diplomats vacationed at Pen Mar or met at Camp Ritchie.  In April 1935, President Herbert Hoover, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., and leaders of the Maryland Republican Party enjoyed the opening of the fishing season at Camp Ritchie.

In 1954, the Federal government created Catoctin Mountain Park, which surrounds Camp David and is primarily a wilderness and public recreational area. The remainder of the area was transferred to the State of Maryland, which now operates it as Cunningham Falls State Park.

Every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933-1945, (wife Eleanor) has made use of the retreat. Then named Shangri-la, Roosevelt hosted Sir Winston Churchill in May of 1943. It is said that during this visit, the President and Prime Minister took some time to tour the general area.  According to Churchill, they fished in Hunting Creek. Some remember their visiting Fred Tresselt’s goldfish ponds, and that Churchill, who kept a similar pond in England, talked at great length with Mr. Tresselt. The Secret Service swore Tresselt to secrecy about the meeting. On their return to Shangri-la, while the President waited in the car, Churchill surprised Camp Cozy proprietor, Wilbur Freeze, by stopping there for a beer and to play the jukebox, which Mr. Freeze had to explain how it worked.

President Harry S. Truman, 1945-1953, (wife Bess) rarely used the retreat.

President Dwight David Eisenhower, 1953-1961, (wife Mamie) was a frequent visitor to the retreat and held the first cabinet meeting there. He renamed the retreat Camp David after his grandson and also renamed the main lodge from “The Bear’s Den” to “Aspen.” He played golf at the Monterey Country Club’s golf course. The Eisenhowers repaired, repainted, and refurnished most of the cabins, and added a large flagstone terrace and outdoor cooking facility at the main lodge. A golf green and several tees were also installed. Their most famous guest was Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union. The Eisenhowers owned a farm 20 miles to the north in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and found the retreat to be convenient while a residence was being erected on the farm.

President John F. Kennedy, 1961-1963, (wife Jackie) and his family often enjoyed horseback riding and other recreational activities. Kennedy often allowed white House staff and cabinet members to use the retreat when he was not there.

President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-1969, (wife Lady Bird) often met with important advisors there and hosted Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt.

President Richard M. Nixon, 1969-1974, (wife Pat) was a frequent visitor and did much to add to and modernize the facilities. It was his favorite retreat from Washington for relaxing and for meeting with foreign dignitaries.

President Gerald R. Ford, 1974-1977, (wife Betty) often rode his snowmobile around Camp David and hosted Indonesian President Suharto.

President James E. Carter, Jr. (Jimmy), 1977-1981, (wife Rosalynn) brokered the Camp David accords here in September 1978 between Egyptian President Anwar al-Sudat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

President Ronald W. Reagan, 1981-1989, (wife Nancy) visited the retreat more than any other president to date (see excerpt from Nancy Reagan’s book, My Turn). 

President George H.W. Bush, 1989-1993, (wife Barbara) visited often.  In 1992, their daughter, Dorothy Bush Koch, was the first person to be married at Camp David.

President William J. Clinton, 1993-2001, (wife Hillary) used Camp David more as his tenure in office progressed, and hosted British Prime Minister Tony Blair on several occasions, in addition to several celebrities.

President George W. Bush, 2001-2009, (wife Laura) reportedly visited Camp David 149 times. He hosted dignitaries there, including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2007.

President Barack H. Obama, 2009, (wife Michelle) visited the retreat several times.

President Trump, 2016-present, (wife Melania) has used Camp David as one of several alternatives for visiting or hosting meetings of importance. He has employed the secluded space in Catoctin Mountain Park to host members of Congress and his Cabinet.