"Doing the E.T. Tango" - Introducing US Army Master Sergeant Donald Sutherland

Another character from the book is Don Sutherland, a Master Sergeant in the US Army. He is assistant head of security for Fort Custer which makes him of interest to Bill and Ellen's team. Ellen starts dating the sergeant in order to try and find out more about base security. In the meantime, the sergeant is doing his job and providing information to Steve Jenkins about an odd team working near the base. Here is the initial introduction to Don Sutherland from the book. Remember, tomorrow the eBook will be available so that you can find out more about Ellen, Bill, Charlie and Tim and their meetings with Steve Jenkins and Don Sutherland in the novel Doing the E.T. Tango: Dancing with the Universe.

From Doing the E.T. Tango: Master Sergeant Don Sutherland was stationed at Fort Custer, just ten miles north of Franc Valley. He had trained for this job all his life and he was proud of his Army service. A lifer through and through, he had been active duty for twenty-seven years. The government would put him out to pasture in less than three. This was an event he did not relish in the slightest. On this warm July morning he was reading over the security reports and logs for the last week, looking for any unusual activity on the base. Even though things looked routine he didn’t take anything for granted as he checked over the reports.

His mind drifted slightly, thinking, at least he had been assigned a plum duty billet before retirement became reality. He was an assistant head of security on this, the most top secret military installation in the country. That was quite a feather in his cap, even if its importance could only be appreciated by a handful of people at the Pentagon. He reported to Captain Fred Weir who was in charge of the company that was stationed at Fort Custer. The captain had charged him with maintaining patrols and physical security on the base. Over the last two years, Sutherland had made his mark by adding drones for patrolling, and seismic meters for detecting unusual activity for breaking into the compound. But he also knew he was nearing his technical limit and that he couldn’t move up the chain of command any further due to his lack of experience in cyber-security.

He wondered how to best use this influence after retirement, but hadn’t yet come up with a concrete method. After all, his life was preplanned by the military from the moment of his enlistment at age eighteen. Taking back the helm of his life’s course would not be an easy task – and he was not looking forward to it. Now sitting in his office at zero-eight-hundred in the morning, he began to wonder where the hell Joe had gone. He leaned his tall, solid frame forward and squinted at the small print on his computer screen. He sighed and reached for his reading glasses, blushing at the thought that all he needed was a pocket protector to complete his “nerd” look.

At least the geek persona was offset by his Army uniform, and thankfully he did not need glasses for any other purpose. He absent-mindedly ran his hand over the smooth top of his hairless head. As a child, he had learned how to defend himself at a young age, after his father taught him how to stand up for himself. He was often bullied, because he blushed easily, at the slightest embarrassment. His father, serving in the Marines, took him out back one afternoon and showed him how to fight. He remembered after the session, sore from some of the punches, sitting with his father on the back porch. His father was looking out and told him “Son, I had the same problem when I was your age, I’d turn bright red at the drop of a dime and sometimes without a reason. I got picked on and beat up until I finally figured out how to use my fists to keep the bullies away. Ended up in the Marines, still blushing bright red but the other Marines learned I knew how to fight. You’re not going to have it any easier, especially since you’re taller and skinnier than the other kids. Shit, er, shoot, might as well put a target on your back that says ‘Punch me’. Just remember, stand up for yourself, be proud of who you are and let those bullies know they picked on the wrong person.”

He had learned to stand up for himself and he needed it when he started losing his hair in his twenties. Bad enough to go bald on his head but to lose hair all over his body? The docs had looked him over and said he had alopecia universalis, a fancy name for losing every single hair on your body. The doctors had hemmed and hawed and said maybe he would grow his hair back, someday, but there was no treatment. Almost thirty years later and here he was, not a hair anywhere on his body. At least he had learned to shrug off the looks and not worry about not fitting in. There were times when he wished things had been different but he had found respect and a career in the military that had carried him this far.