Don Pendleton

Chicago Wipe-Out

Man's character is his fate.



Mack Bolan knew what he was walking into at Chicago. There were no illusions of his own invincibility, and certainly no misjudgement of enemy power in this stronghold of organized crime. This was the city that the mob owned, the self-professed crime capital of the Western World, the locale of the mob's deepest entrenchment anywhere. And Bolan's challenge was knowingly hurled into the teeth of that vast empire which was characterized by The Chicago Tribuneas:

A world in which wrong is right — in which all incentive for honor, justice, suppression of crime, and even fundamental discipline has disappeared from broad divisions of the police department, the courts, and the all- pervading political party machine that has a strangle-hold on Chicago proper.

What sort of man would single-handedly invade such a province of power with the intention of subduing it, of 'shaking their house down,' of breaking the chains which had held this city captive for decades? What motivates a man like Mack Bolan — how does an ordinary young man become transformed into a methodical death-machine pledged to wholesale slaughter and unending warfare?

The truth of this particular case seems that, simply, there was no 'transformation' — Bolan appears to be the same man in Chicago that he was in Pittsfield, scene of his original confrontation with the Mafia. The same skills which had carried him safely through two years of combat in Southeast Asia were moving him through this new jungle of violence and terror. The same scorn of death that had accompanied him into deep penetrations of enemy territory in Vietnam had walked with him into theenclaves of syndicated corruption and criminal power.

It should not be concluded that Bolan was a 'wild ass warrior' who recklessly stormed a superior enemy in suicidal attacks. He had a contempt for death, not for life. He did not fling his life into the hands of the gods and demand a safe passage; Bolan possessed a genius for warfare and had the combat instincts of a battle-hardened soldier. He also had a knack for equalizing the balance of power between himself and his enemies. This professional soldier was entirely human, and subject to all the dreams, desires and anxieties of any normal human being.

Perhaps the most revealing insight into the character of this warrior was provided by an ex-army buddy with whom he became re-involved during his French adventure. Wilson Brown told Bolan, at the height of the Riviera rampage, 'You know, I guess what I dig about you, man, is your guts... you've got a weird combination there, Sarge — tough guts and warm heart. Most cats don't know how to carry both.'

Tough guts and warm heart, and indeed Bolan knew how to carry both at the same time. On many occasions in Vietnam he had jeopardized his own life and mission to provide emergency assistance to stricken villagers. Though he had earned his tag, The Executioner, through his proficiency as a military sniper, he had also been quietly recognized among local medics as Sergeant Mercy, the guy who seldom returned from a penetration strike without one or several wounded or sick Vietnamese civilians in his care, usually children.

This facet of Mack Bolan had carried over to his war on the Mafia. Though he was one of the most wanted 'criminals' in America, he had never engaged police authority in a Shootout, and there is no record of harm befalling innocent bystanders as a result of an Executioner 'hit.' He planned his operations with great care to insure that only the deserving tasted his war. On various occasions, he broke off and retreated when it became obvious that such conditions could not be met; often these retreats were undertaken at great personal hazard.

In any composite picture of Bolan the man, a central and unshakeable fact emerges: this is a man responding to a high call to duty — and with this response costing him everything that had ever held meaning for his life. No kill-crazy goon, no mentally-disturbed victim of combat-fatigue, no arrogant superman glorying in his power over life and death — but an often wearied and frightened and lonely and continually harassed human being who was simply doing a job that needed doing. No zealot was Bolan — his greatest enemies were his own self-doubts, which were often immense, and a frequently overpowering revulsion for this life of gore and terror.

His war had not begun on such a high plane, of course. It started as an act of simple vengeance. Bolan had been fighting the war in Vietnam when his mother, his father, and his younger sister suffered violent deaths at home, indirect victims of a Mafia loansharking operation. The grieving soldier returned home to bury his beloved dead and to learn that 'the omnipotent outfit' was beyond the reach of the law. They were not, however, beyond the reach of this combat-tested 'executioner.' He remained in Pittsfield to take justice into his own hands in a cooly calculated campaign against the Frenchi Family, declaring, 'I am not their judge. I am their judgement. I am their executioner.'

The battle of Pittsfield (The Executioner: War Against the Mafia)left that Mafia arm a shambles and provided Bolan with deeper insights into the spreading menace of organized crime. In his personal journal, he had written: 'It looks like I have been fighting the wrong enemy. Why defend a front line eight thousand miles away when the realenemy is chewing up everything you love back home? I have talked to the police about this situation and they seem to be helpless to do anything. The problem, as I see it, is that the rules of warfare are all rigged against the cops... what is needed here is a bit of direct action, strategically planned, and to hell with the rules. Over in 'Nam we called it a 'war of attrition.' Seek out and destroy. Exterminate the enemy. I guess it's time a war was declared on the home front. The same kind of war we've been fighting at 'Nam. The very same kind.'

During the course of that 'very same kind' of initial engagement, Bolan rejected the protection of a sympathetic police official and vowed unending warfare against 'this greater enemy.' It is problematical whether or not Bolan's vow could have strongly influenced the course of his life from that point. The fact of the matter was that the syndicate had also declared Bolan dead. His name was entered upon a Mafia death certificate, or 'contract,' with a face value of $100,000. It was open season on Mack Bolan and the big hunt was on, with every ambitious hood and freelance gunman in the country anxious to collect the bounty. So even without a personal commitment to battle the Mafia kingdoms, Bolan would have been forced into a purely defensive mode of warfare, with lifelong flight or imprisonment as the alternatives.

While rationalizing his own position and formulating an offensive posture, Bolan allowed his jungle instincts to take over. He faded from the scene of original combat and resurfaced shortly thereafter in Los Angeles with his battle plans firmly in mind, and he recruited a squad of former combat buddies to carry this war to the new enemy. It was to follow this battle plan: 'We'll hit the Mafia so fast, so often, and from so many directions they'll think hell fell on them. We steal, we kill, we terrorize, and we take every Goddamn thing they have. Then we'll see how powerful and well organized they are.' (The Executioner: Death Squad.)

But Bolan's challenge was not only accepted by the enemy — it was taken up also by the Los Angles Police Department, and the Los Angeles battles became a personal tragedy which also revealed the full scope of this seemingly futile contest against insurmountable odds. Only partially victorious, Bolan again faded — resolving to never again involve others in his private war with the syndicate — and again he was alone, desperately seeking to evade police dragnets and with all the hounds of hell baying along his trail.

On the California desert he located another battlefield friend, now a cosmetic surgeon, who gave Bolan a new face and at least the prospect of a new orientation to life. Again Bolan opted in the direction of duty, and he used the new face as another combat tool, infiltrating the inner family of Julian George with a quiet ferocity that left this Southern California kingdom in reeling ruin. (The Executioner: Battle Mask.)

With the new face now as much a liability as the old one, the one-man army followed a trail from the dry sands of the southwest to the glittering beaches of Miami Beach to crash a nationwide Mafia summit conference attended by all the families of La Cosa Nostra. A new dimension was added to the Bolan

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