|Joe Steele |
Relevant POD: July, 1932
|Novel or Story?:||Novel only|
|Type of Appearance:||Direct POV|
|Date of Birth:||c. 1898|
|Occupation:||Journalist, Author of Non-Fiction, Author of Fiction, soldier|
|Spouse:||Stella Morandini (divorced)|
|Relatives:||Charlie Sullivan (brother)|
|Political Party:||Democratic Party|
|Military Branch:||United States Army (World War I, World War II, Japanese War)|
|Professional Affiliations:||New York Post|
Michael "Mike" Sullivan (born c. 1898) was an American journalist. He was one of President Joe Steele's early critics, and suffered greatly for it, first being convicted of treason and being exiled to labor camp in Montana, and later fighting in the Pacific theater of World War II and the Japanese War. In addition to the physical danger and damage he suffered, he also lost his first wife to divorce. Ironically, his younger brother, Charlie, eventually became part of Steele's inner-circle, but could do nothing to help his brother.
Sullivan first became wary of Steele in June 1932. While working for the New York Post, Sullivan was sent to Albany to cover a press conference held by Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, Steele's primary rival for the Democratic presidential nomination. Consequently, he was able to cover the subsequent fire at the Executive Mansion that killed Roosevelt, his wife, and several members of the work staff.
As he'd covered the fire, Sullivan was also tasked with covering the Roosevelts' funeral. It was during the funeral that Sullivan first entertained the possibility that Steele (who was now the nominee) had somehow been responsible for the fire when an upset relative accused Steele. This idea became a firm conviction when Mike's brother Charlie shared with Mike (as well as Mike's girlfriend, Stella Morandini and Charlie's fiancé Esther Polgar) how he'd overheard Steele's aid, Vince Scriabin, relaying ambiguous orders on a long-distance phone call. While all agreed that Charlie hadn't heard Scriabin specifically order the fire, they also agreed that it was possible that Scriabin was nonetheless giving the go-ahead.
Investigating FDR's Death
While Mike Sullivan and the rest of the group let it go for the time being, after Steele won the election, Mike decided to pursue the matter further. He bribed a clerk at the Albany Fire Department to allow him to review the file on the fire after hours, where he discovered that the actual arson report was missing. The clerk assured him a report existed, but couldn't account for why it wasn't with the rest of the file. The clerk suggested the investigator, Lt. Jeremiah V. Kincaid, had a personal copy.
Sullivan attempted to contact Kincaid, but was informed by his secretary that he didn't talk to reporters. When Sullivan spoke to Kermit Witherspoon, the AFD's public information officer at Witherspoon's home, Witherspoon further stonewalled. Sullivan decided to write a story about the fire, anyway, despite the advice of Stella. However, his editor at the Post, Stan Feldman, refused to run it, as Sullivan could produce no evidence to support his claims, and over Sullivan's pleas. Sullivan was determined to prove Steel's culpability.
Sullivan was horrified by the arrest of the Supreme Court Four and Steele's subsequent suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus, much to the astonishment and horror of many. Steele argued that, while the country was not in a rebellion or at war with another country, it was at war with hunger, want, and poverty. Sullivan was completely unpersuaded, realizing that without Habeas Corpus, everyone was vulnerable to arrest.
Some weeks later, Sullivan received a copy of the arson report for the fire that killed the Roosevelts. The report came anonymously, although Sullivan suspected Kincaid himself had sent it. He brought the report to Stan Feldman, and shared with Feldman Charlie Sullivan's story about Vince Scriabin's long distance phone call. Feldman was nervous about running the story: the report implied that bottles of some flammable liquid may have played a part, but did not say conclusively that the fire had been an arson. However, Feldman agreed to Sullivan's plan to write about the report, and then write about the conflict between Roosevelt and Steele, and the fact that Roosevelt appeared to be on the verge of winning the nomination when he died. He promised he would make no accusations. Feldman agreed. The White House responded by having Vince Scriabin meet with Charlie Sullivan and warn Charlie to get Mike under control, even though the story made no accusations or libel.
Critic of Joe Steele
Mike Sullivan was horrified when the Supreme Court Four confessed their guilt and accused Louisiana Senator Huey Long and radio personality Charles Coughlin as part of their conspiracy. It took Stella to calm him down some. In a vulnerable moment, Mike proposed to Stella, and she accepted.
After Senator Huey Long was assassinated, Sullivan, already hated by the Steele Administration, was sent to Baton Rouge to cover the funeral. After witnessing the corrupt, overwrought spectacle of Long's funeral, he very briefly reconsidered his opposition to Steele, but realized he needed to keep fighting Steele, to make up for the incompetent opposition he saw in Louisiana.
Sullivan and Stella married a few weeks later. Charlie Sullivan was Mike's best man. Even at his reception, Mike Sullivan expressed anger at Joe Steele and frustration with the public's complacency. Charlie managed to calm him down, and Mike quietly enjoyed the remainder of his big day. However, Stella asked Charlie to try to keep Mike under control. When Charlie pointed out that Stella was now Mike's wife, Stella reminded Charlie that she was not a journalist, and that Charlie would have more influence on that basis.
In 1935, Steele introduced legislation that would allow the Federal government to draft prisoners out of local, state, and federal detention facilities and put them to work building infrastructure in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain regions. It cleared the House of Representatives quickly and quietly before anyone took notice. Mike Sullivan became aware of the bill after reading a column in the New York Times. Upon doing his own research, he concluded that the law would allow the Federal government to pull any person from any facility, without regard for why the were incarcerated for in the first place, and without any limit on how long they could be held. After consulting with Stan Feldman, Sullivan wrote a piece entitled "Land of the Free and Home of the Labor Camp".
In response, Vince Scriabin once again sat down with Charlie Sullivan. After showing Charlie a part of the legislation that seemed to prevent indefinite detentions, Scriabin convinced him to write an article supporting the legislation. Charlie agreed, and the bill passed the Senate and was signed into law by Steele the following week.
Despite the concerns of Mike Sullivan and people like him, Steele won re-election against Alf Landon in a landslide in 1936, only losing Maine and Vermont. After Captain Roland Laurence South attempted to shoot Steele in March, 1937, Steele created the Government Bureau of Investigation with J. Edgar Hoover as its head. The GBI was charged with investigating the U.S. Army. In a radio speech announcing the creation of the GBI under director J. Edgar Hoover, Steele also declared that there were wreckers in all levels of society, including in the press.
Arrest and Conviction
In the summer of 1937, J. Edgar Hoover announced the arrest of several officers in the Army and Navy, including generals and admirals for conspiring with "foreign powers" in Roland South's efforts to assassinate Steele. As with the Supreme Court Four, the arrested officers faced military tribunals and were executed. This purge gave Steele the opportunity to cultivate officers loyal to him. The arrests were by no means restricted to the military; civilians were also swept up as "wreckers" and taken before an administrative judge, who rubber stamped their sentence to a labor camp.
Mike Sullivan reached his breaking point. After seeing newsreel footage of arrests, Sullivan went home and began writing a piece entitled "Where is Our Freedom Going". Despite Stella's concerns, Mike took the piece to Stan Feldman. While Feldman warned Sullivan he could also be taken away for wrecking, Feldman agreed to take it to the Post's owner, J. David Stern. After an agonizing morning, Feldman told Sullivan that Stern had agreed to run the piece. Moreover, Stern was proud that Sullivan was willing to keep hitting Steele, and even gave Sullivan $10-per-week raise.
"Where is Our Freedom Going?" was the last straw for the Steele Administration. GBI agents collected Sullivan a little after midnight the day after the piece ran. Sullivan came quietly to prevent harm to Stella. He was blackjacked, processed, assigned the number NY24601, and found guilty by an administrative law judge. He was sentenced to a minimum five years and maximum ten years in a camp in Montana.
Mike was sent to a camp somewhere west of Livingston. He survived the train trip to Montana, and then the truck-ride to the camp. At the camp, he was processed, had his head shaved, issued a camp uniform, and assigned a barrack. He quickly became friendly with another prisoner, John Dennison, a carpenter from Wyoming, who showed Mike the ropes. With Dennison's help, Mike adjusted to being a "scalp", which included the understanding that the system was rigged against the prisoners in multiple ways. Prisoners were pitted against each other and "snitches" were rewarded for their information. While Sullivan lamented this, and Dennison largely agreed, Dennison also reminded Sullivan that such talk was likely to get him killed.
He was allowed to send one card a month to family members. He sent his first card to Stella,, but she never received it. His second card went to Charlie. With Dennison's advice, Sullivan survived through the harsh winter and into the following year, watching as other prisoners met tragic fates, such as freezing to death, or ill-fated attempts to escape. In September, 1939, not long after the outbreak of World War II, Mike received notice from a law firm in New York City that Stella had filed for divorce.
World War II
With the outbreak of war between the U.S. and Japan, Mike decided to try to enlist in the Army. Initially, wreckers weren't allowed in the Army, but as his minimum sentence of five years was set to be up in mid-1942, he resolved to try to enlist then. When the time came, the military was hesitant, as Sullivan was slated to actually serve his full ten years. However, the recruiter offered Mike the opportunity to join a punishment brigade for the duration of the war. Punishment brigades were sent into the most dangerous situations, and the recruiter admitted that the odds of Sullivan surviving were slim. After mulling it over, Mike agreed.
After enlisting in Livingston, Montana, Mike was transferred to Lubbock, Texas, where he received his training. He was still in training in 1943 when the military finally found a hot enough spot to send the punishment brigade: the Pacific. After being promoted to corporal, he and his brigade were sent to Guadalcanal, which had just fallen to the U.S..
Sullivan and his brigade finally saw action at Tarawa. He survived that battle (although more than 1,000 of the brigade didn't), and was sent to Espiritu Santo for a refit and new troops. Six months later, the brigade was sent to Saipan. He received two flesh wounds, and found himself hating American officers aside from those in his own brigade. His hatred for the Japanese soldiers lessened as he came to realize that he had much in common with them. Against the odds, Sullivan survived Angaur and Iwo Jima, and was on Okinawa when the war in Europe ended. Not long after, Okinawa fell, and Mike's brigade assigned to Operation: Olympic, the invasion of Kyushu, six months later, with a promotion to sergeant.
The invasion was probably the bloodiest yet. Japanese Prime Minister and General Tojo died leading Japanese forces trying to drive the Americans off but his death did not lead to a Japanese surrender. Instead, the Japanese, both military and civilian, fought as hard as they had on Kyushu. Indeed, Sullivan's company had been charged by schoolgirls armed with spears. While it disgusted them, the U.S. soldiers did not hesitate to shoot to kill.
Mike's company reached the highway connecting Kyoto to Tokyo where they encountered a formation of two Japanese tanks leading a black automobile flying a Japanese flag on a radio aerial and followed by two more tanks. Because of the poor cover, Mike didn't try to attack with bazooka teams but stayed under cover thinking the formation would quickly run into American armor. Instead, a flight of Hellcats swooped down, ripple fired rockets and machine guns destroying the auto and three tanks. The crew of the fourth tank immediately abandoned their vehicle and attempted to rescue a man from the car. Mike and his men quickly killed the crew and discovered the man being rescued was Emperor Hirohito who was dead from two .50 caliber machine gun bullets.
Mike immediately sent one of his men back to inform the high command and get reinforcement to hold onto the body. A lieutenant colonel came up with extra troops and personally confirmed it was Hirohito. His body was put on ice to help keep it fresh and returned to the Japanese under flag of truce. This polite gesture along with the emperor's death led to the Japanese surrender. After hundreds of thousands of American and Russian deaths and millions of Japanese dead, Coronet succeeded in leading to victory.
In late summer of 1946, Mike was summoned to Wakamatsu to receive the Bronze Star for correctly identifying Hirohito. This brief ceremony came at the tail end of a conference between Joe Steele and Soviet leader Leon Trotsky. Mike was briefly reunited with his brother, Charlie, who attended the conference as part of Steele's entourage. Steele met with the brothers, astonishing both by remembering Mike. When Steele was out of earshot, both brothers were darkly amused that the world was now effectively divided between Steele and Trotsky.
Now that he'd been awarded a Bronze Star, Mike was promoted to first sergeant and out of the punishment brigade. With little desire to return to the U.S. and be restricted to a few areas in the country, he decided to stay in the Army in on occupation duty in the Constitutional Monarchy of Japan, the part of Japan the U.S. had occupied. He made some efforts to acclimate to Japanese customs, and found some level of peace. His CO, Captain Calvin Armstrong leaned heavily on him for help, so Mike was able to attend a meeting between Armstrong and Major Dragunov of the Red Army, wherein Dragunov admitted that the Soviets were in the process of building a North Japanese army. The following year, Mike was charged with training the South Japanese Constitutional Guard. He ran into some difficulties; while most of the recruits had actually served in the Imperial Japanese Army, they appeared to be going through the motions. In fact, the Japanese vets, used to their own non-coms treating them violently, assumed the considerably less violent Americans were themselves going through the motions. Since the U.S. Army would not allow such tactics, Mike could find no solution, although he did bring it up with Armstrong.
The Japanese War
Mike was on leave on Shokaku, in June, 1948 when the North Japanese army crossed the Agano River (the boundary between the north and south) and launched the Japanese War. He and his companion, Corporal Dick Shirakawa were on their way back when a flight of F-80s suggested something amiss. After being trapped behind a column of tanks, Mike and Dick encountered an MP who updated them on the North Japanese surprise attack. The MP directed them to Tokyo. Shirakawa was ordered to stay there, while Mike was sent north. After a relatively easy ride in half-track, he saw a stream of civilians, as well as chunks of the Constitutional Guard, which didn't seem eager to fight heading south.
Mike participated in the battle of Utsunomiya, which halted the North Japanese advance. He was part of the bloody U.S. advance back into North Japan over the course of the following year. On August 5, 1949, Mike and his unit were hold up in Yamashita, but had received orders not to attack Sendai, where North Japanese forces were massing. On the night of August 6, 1949, Mike saw a flight of B-29s dropped an atomic bomb on Sendai, destroying it and the North Japanese forces concentrating there. Trotsky's response came on August 9, 1949, when a Soviet atom bomb destroyed the South Japanese city of Nagano. The Japanese War ended with the status quo antebellum restored, and Mike was returned to the DMZ. He became mindful of the possible radiation after the Army began sending a technical sergeant named Gary Cunningham along the DMZ. Cunningham assured him that, despite his relatively proximity to Sendai, if Mike hadn't been showing symptoms, he was probably okay.
Post-War and Return to Civilian Life
Mike remained in the Army for little while longer after the Japanese War. In early 1950, he met Yanai Midori (or Midori Yanai, in the Western style), a widow who taught English in Wakamatsu. They soon began dating. In 1952, Mike asked Midori to marry him, and she accepted. They were married, and, after Mike was discharged from the Army, the pair traveled to the U.S. in December, 1952. After passing through INS in San Francisco, Mike was admonished to stay in the interior of the country. Mike had already reached out to John Dennison, who arranged for Mike to have work in Wyoming. He met the couple when they arrived in Casper.
In addition to working with Dennison, Mike was able to publish some fiction under a pseudonym. He learned that Joe Steele had died on March 5, 1953 while on a lunch break with Dennison. To his surprise, nearly everyone in the diner was in tears; he'd been ready to cry out with joy until he saw that. Throughout the day, he heard people in Casper in mourning for Steele. He even had to comfort Midori a bit, who likened the atmosphere to what Japan went through upon the deaths of first Tojo then Hirohito. (Mike had never told her that he was the first person to ID Hirohito's corpse, and didn't now.) When she asked if John Nance Garner was strong enough to keep the presidency, and if someone might take it from him, Mike admitted he didn't know.
Mike followed the changes Garner made with interest, including the exile of Steele's closest aides to ambassadorships. However, that stopped mattering when Midori informed him that she was pregnant.
Mike watched with interest as President Garner faced the impeachment process. Mike derived one unexpected benefit when Garner, in a bid to halt the impeachment, issued an executive order eliminating the restricted zone for former wreckers. While J. Edgar Hoover criticized the order, and the leaders of the impeachment drive were unmoved, Mike and Midori now saw new opportunities for themselves. Later that year, Midori gave birth to a daughter, Brenda Sullivan. Not long after that, Mike's brother Charlie, who'd been fired by J. Edgar Hoover, the emergency Director of the United States, was arrested by the GBI.
- Joe Steele, pgs 12-15.
- Ibid., pg. 18-21.
- Ibid., pgs. 28-32.
- Ibid, pg. 31.
- Ibid., pgs. 36-37.
- Ibid., pg. 37.
- Ibid. pg. 38.
- Ibid., pgs. 56-58.
- Ibid., pg. 59-60.
- Ibid., pgs. 60-62.
- Ibid. pgs. 83-84.
- Ibid, pgs. 87-89.
- Ibid., pgs. 89-91.
- Ibid., pgs. 92-94.
- Ibid., pgs. 96-97.
- Ibid., pgs. 101-105.
- Ibid, pgs. 108-110.
- Ibid., pg. 113.
- Ibid., pgs. 114-116.
- Ibid., pgs. 118-122.
- Ibid., pgs. 127-128.
- Ibid., pgs. 128-129.
- Ibid., pgs. 129-134.
- Ibid., pg. 137.
- Ibid., pgs. 150-151.
- Ibid. pgs. 155-157.
- Ibid., pg. 159.
- Ibid., pgs. 158-161.
- Ibid. pgs 161-163.
- Ibid., pgs. 166-169.
- Ibid., pgs. 174-182.
- Ibid., pgs. 186-189.
- Ibid., pgs. 192-195.
- Ibid., pg. 190.
- Ibid., pg. 191.
- Ibid., pg. 190.
- Ibid., pgs. 199-202.
- Ibid., pgs. 219-220.
- Ibid. pgs. 253-256.
- Ibid. pgs. 263-265.
- Ibid., pgs. 272-274
- Ibid., pgs. 274-275.
- Ibid., pgs. 284-287.
- Ibid., pgs. 292-295.
- Ibid., pg. 302.
- Ibid., pg. 305.
- Ibid., pg. 307.
- Ibid, pgs. 320-322.
- Ibid. pgs. 321-322.
- Ibid. pgs. 323-325.
- Ibid., pg. 326.
- Ibid., pg. 328-329.
- Ibid., pgs. 330-333.
- Ibid., pgs. 337-339.
- Ibid., pgs. 345-347.
- Ibid., pgs. 349-354.
- Ibid, pgs. 355-358.
- Ibid., pgs. 361-365.
- Ibid., pgs. 366-369.
- Ibid., pg. 371.
- Ibid., pg. 373-375.
- Ibid., pg. 379-381.
- Ibid., pg. 385-387.
- Ibid., pgs. 396-397.
- Ibid, pgs. 400-403.
- Ibid., pgs. 410-413.
- Ibid. pgs. 418-421.
- Ibid., pg. 427.
- Ibid., pg. 438.
- Ibid., pg. 438.