The Protector
© 2011 - William C. Highsmith

The man was in awe as he stood on the dock in Homer Alaska. There in Kachemak Bay was a most imposing sight causing great excitement to the locals. It was the USS Decatur - a guided missile destroyer commanded by Commander Shanti Sethi. The ship was on its return trip to home-base in San Diego, California and had pulled into port here in his home state. Behind it, the scene was enhanced by his beloved and majestic mountains.

Troy was born and raised in Alaska and knew the land better than most. He was aware of the fact it could be unforgiving and harsh at times. However, the big man loved the state with all his heart. At one time or another, during his life, he had traveled across most of the land from Prudhoe Bay in the far North to the Kenai Peninsula in the South. Now, he made his living guiding parties as they hunted, fished, or simply went on photography expeditions. Of course, these explorations were often into dangerous territories. Just as the USS Decatur was a protector of our nation, Troy acted as a protector of his clients. It was a life he loved.

On this beautiful spring day, Troy was in Homer to join his favorite pilot for a trip to Anchorage where they were to meet with a group of tourists for a photography expedition to Redoubt Bay. They hoped to see the bears romp in the water and perhaps fish. Afterwards, the pilot would return them to Anchorage where he and his charges would board the Alaska Railroad to ride to Denali National Park. Along the way, they would enjoy the magnificent view of the Alaska Range mountains. Upon arrival at the visitor center, they would then drive to a lodge in Kantishna. From this point, they could take hikes in search of Dall sheep, grizzly bears, moose, and caribou and photograph the stunning scenery. After six days, they would board the train again and return to Anchorage.

The flight from the Homer area to Anchorage was uneventful. Landing at the airport, the pilot and Troy discussed the short upcoming flight to Redoubt Bay and also the day and time when she should meet him to return to Homer to pick up his car to drive to his cabin near Anchor Point.

Catching a cab into town, he went to meet his party at the hotel. The group consisted of a middle aged couple and two sons in their late teens. Experience indicated one of them was going to be trouble.

Let the fun begin.

By William C. Highsmith - June 15, 2011