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Though the story is not confirmed, it appears that in 1962 the Air Force base at Okinawa came mere seconds from launching its nuclear missiles during the Cuban missile crisis.
The most frightening part of the story is this:
According to Bordne’s account—which, recall, is based on hearing just one side of a phone call—the situation of one launch crew was particularly stark: All its targets were in Russia. Its launch officer, a lieutenant, did not acknowledge the authority of the senior field officer—i.e. Capt. Bassett—to override the now-repeated order of the major. The second launch officer at that site reported to Bassett that the lieutenant had ordered his crew to proceed with the launch of its missiles! Bassett immediately ordered the other launch officer, as Bordne remembers it, “to send two airmen over with weapons and shoot the [lieutenant] if he tries to launch without [either] verbal authorization from the ‘senior officer in the field’ or the upgrade to DEFCON 1 by Missile Operations Center.”
Read it all. Quite fascinating, and chilling. A hat tip to Shane Rollin, my web guy, for sending this to me.