Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A little Cold War nostalgia

I'm not nostalgic for the Cold War, but some darn good stories come out of it. Here's a pretty good one from the Rapid City Journal (article by Seth Tupper): 
Bob Hicks was spending a cold December night in his barracks 53 years ago at Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City when the phone rang. It was the chief of his missile maintenance team, who dispatched Hicks to an incident at an underground silo. 
“The warhead,” the team chief said, “is no longer on top of the missile.” 
Hicks eventually learned that a screwdriver used by another airman caused a short circuit that resulted in an explosion. The blast popped off the missile’s cone — the part containing the thermonuclear warhead — and sent it on a 75-foot fall to the bottom of the 80-foot-deep silo.
I particularly loved this bit about speaking up in meetings:
Hicks said there was a particularly high-ranking officer at the scene who’d been flown in by helicopter. After Hicks had rendered the missile safe, Hicks came back to the surface and heard the officer asking some other men how to retrieve the warhead. 
Hicks heard no response, so he piped up. Cargo nets were sometimes used to move heavy equipment in and out of the silo, he said. He suggested that a net could be lowered to the bottom of the silo, and the cone with its warhead could be rolled into the net. The net could then be hoisted up on a cable by a crane. 
The officer did not appreciate the boldness of Hicks, whose rank was airman second class. 
“He said, ‘Airman, when I want an opinion from you, I’ll ask you,’” Hicks recalled. 
Hicks retreated to his truck and awaited further orders. Later, Hicks said, he was recalled to the officer’s side and asked to explain the idea again.
"Postdoc, when I want an opinion from you, I'll tell you it." (Read the whole thing.)


  1. Officers who stand on protocol when no one is speaking deserve the organizational dysfunction they create.

    I just wish it would happen on other countries' air forces, not mine.

  2. In Soviet America, you're not nostalgic for the Cold War, the Cold War is nostalgic for you! Heh heh heh...

    Arghhhh.... I hate reading the news these days. At least that story about the Minuteman missiles was fun and old timey. Back from the good old days. Before I was born.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20