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Reagan's Vacation : When the President Takes Time Off Out Here, the Costs and the Logistics Are Enormous

September 08, 1987|BOB SIPCHEN | Times Staff Writer

In Los Angeles, on the other hand, City Council President John Ferraro said he will ask the City Council this week to pass a resolution requesting legislation to make the federal government reimburse the city for some of the money it spends protecting dignitaries--including the President.

Sunday morning, Point Mugu was bustling at 6:30, in preparation for the presidential helicopter's 8:30 arrival and the departure of Air Force One.

On hand were: at least a half dozen Defense Department security guards with blue berets; at least a dozen Secret Service agents wearing green-and-gold lapel pins and wires dangling from their ears; another half-dozen uniformed Secret Service agents; two white-capped, white-gloved Marine honor guards; and at least 10 Navy Police in camouflage uniforms with two bomb-sniffing dogs.

In addition, a dozen sailors in their dress whites, several Department of Defense personnel wearing cowboy-type hats; two airmen wearing red caps reading "63APS" (who said they drove up from Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino to service Air Force One "and now we're getting paid for standing around"); four highway patrol cars, each with one or two officers; and three General Telephone workers who installed the phone system that runs to Air Force One ("When he took office, it was quite a lot of work, but now it's just maintenance . . . ," said one. "The moment the plane stops, the phone lines are plugged in, as soon as they're pulled, he's rolling").

Copters Land

About 8:30, three Marine helicopters landed; the Reagans, their entourage and the pool reporters flying with them got out for a short goodby to a small throng of well-wishers.

A few minutes later, Air Force One roared into a perfect California sky, headed for Topeka, Kan., and the 100th birthday party of Republican statesman Alf Landon, before landing finally in Washington.

Back at Point Mugu, the men on top of the hangar loaded their rifles into cases and walked away. A small fleet of dark-blue Chryslers wheeled off, as did the panel truck containing a SWAT team, the yellow trucks with flashing lights, the Secret Service Silverado and Suburban, and the ambulance.

"My vacation starts tomorrow," said one of several men with walkie-talkies, ear phones and red and gold lapel pins. Politely refusing to disclose his agency or the nature of his assignment, he added: "I've got my bags packed and I'm ready to go. This was not a vacation for us."

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