Some time back, I posted about the “man who saved the world.” During the Cuban Missile Crisis, at the end of a weather report, missile crews in Okinawa received orders to launch against the USSR and other targets. Captain Basset, commanding one crew, thought it strange the DEFCON readiness rating was not 1, indicating war. Another crew thought it strange and sought verification. A third crew said they intended to launch, which prompted the captain to order the nearby second crew to send airmen with weapons to shoot the lieutenant if he proceeded. The captain then sought verification from his commanding officer, a major who ordered the crews to stand down. The major was later demoted and removed from his duties.
Read the full story here.
ESQUIRE now has a similar story of another man who saved the world, this time on the Russian side. In 1983, when tensions between the US and USSR were at a new all-time high, Stanislav Petrov, a lieutenant-colonel manning the early warning system, detected a limited US missile launch. It looked suspicious to him, and the system was glitchy. However, it was his duty to report the “launch” to the Kremlin, who almost certainly would have ordered a counter strike. He stood down.
Men like these are the unsung heroes of the Cold War. As in we should be naming our kids Basset and Stanislav and holding annual holidays in their honor. Without them, we might all be dead. As in the entire planet.