Today’s story is an in-depth account from a former member of the US Air Force who served on one of the nuclear missile launch teams during the Cold War. Speaking to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the airman retells a previously unheard of story in which his team received official nuclear launch codes by accident during the especially tense period known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. Ultimately, his team narrowly avoided launching 32 nuclear warheads due to the courageous skepticism of one officer.
It’s a thrilling account. And as tensions between Russia and the US continue to rise, it’s a good time remember just how much was luck was involved in avoiding a nuclear exchange throughout the Cold War.
With that, here’s the link to the article. Be sure to check out the notes at the end as well, which briefly summarize a few of the other incidents where nuclear missiles were nearly launched accidentally. (Yes, this has happened several times.)