YOU ALMOST DIED IN 1983....this man saved your life!

by Terry 18 Replies latest jw friends

  • Terry

    The man who saved the world

    Posted: December 20, 2005

    By Jim Rutz

    © 2005

    You almost died in 1983.

    Do you remember what you were doing on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 25, of that year? Not likely. But you came within a whisker of dying that day. Amazingly, the news about this didn't come out until 1998. And only since 2004 has the press actually begun to pick up on the story.

    It was just after midnight, Sept. 26, and 120 staff were working the graveyard shift in Serpukhov-15, the secret USSR command bunker hidden in a forest 30 miles northeast of Moscow.

    In the commander's chair was Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov, 44, looking down from his mezzanine desk to the gymnasium-sized main floor filled with military officers and technicians charged with monitoring any U.S. missiles and retaliating instantly.

    Petrov was highly aware that Cold War tensions were acute, as USSR fighters had shot down a Korean airliner on Sept. 1. But he was completely shocked when the warning siren began to wail and two lights on his desk console began flashing MISSILE ATTACK and START. "Start" was the instruction to launch, irreversibly, all 5,000 or so Soviet missiles and obliterate America.

    If you remember the 1959 movie "On the Beach," starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner ? enormously popular in the USSR ? you know that ambient, post-holocaust radiation was expected to wipe out all mankind. But this was no movie, it was the real thing, and Petrov's protocols gave him zero minutes to notify his superiors and President Yuri Andropov, who then would have just 12 minutes to get out of bed, think fast, and order a counterattack.

    A new, unproven Soviet satellite system had picked up a flash in Montana near a Minuteman II silo. Then another ? five, all told.

    Petrov recalls his legs were "like cotton," as they say in Russian. He stared at the huge electronic wall map of the United States in terror and disbelief. As his staff gawked upward at him from the floor, he had the thought, "Who would order an attack with only five missiles? That big an idiot has not been born yet, not even in the U.S."

    The Soviet procedure manual was inflexible, and it demanded he notify his superiors of the attack immediately. But relying on his intuition, Petrov disobeyed. For almost five minutes, he stalled, holding his hotline phone in one hand and his intercom in the other, barking orders to his personnel to get back to their desks. (Reprimanded later for not taking notes during the crisis, he replied, "I don't have a third hand.")

    Then he made the decision that saved the world. Summoning up his firmest voice, he called his Kremlin liaison and said it was a false alarm. But today he admits, "I wasn't 100 percent sure. Not even close to 100 percent."

    So the world slept on.

    Months later, it was determined that sunlight reflecting off clouds in Montana had caused a faulty satellite computer assembly to report a missile launch flash. But by that time, Petrov's excellent military career had been sidetracked. He wasn't fired, but he was transferred ? and never got any medals or recognition. When his wife was found to have a brain tumor in 1993, he retired to take care of her. When she died, he borrowed money to give her a funeral.

    Today, Petrov is 67 and lives in a typical dreary, dank flat south of Moscow. His monthly pension is under $200, and his health is not good.

  • blondie
  • OpenFireGlass

    Crazy... kinda makes me wonder why they made the made-for-tv movie, "The Day After"... can't remember what year that was , but seems like I was only 7-8...

  • hubert

    Thanks, Terry for the article, and thanks, Blondie for the pictures. Terry's pics didn't come up.

    I wonder how many times we were "almost" obliterated because of nuclear weapons.

    I remember the "Cuban Missile Crisis", when we didn't know the cubans were manning the missile systems, and not the soviets. Another close call.


  • sass_my_frass

    If that's a true story, I have no idea what to say.

  • Clam

    Incredible story. I'd never heard that before.

  • greendawn

    That was diabolical how through a stupid error the world could have been wiped out and how Petrof is now a forgotten impoverished man. Fortunately no nuclear weapons were used since the second world war for all the enormous stock piles, a massive use would have ended the entire world no one excluded.

  • unclebruce
    Do you remember what you were doing on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 25, of that year?

    Yes, I was at home in adelaide playing with my daughters amy 25 months and renee 4 months (as with every other sunday arvo that year)

    It's funny how in the west the cold war was barely noticed by the general population while the military boys gave it everything they had.


  • Mary

    Holy Christ!! This guys saves the world and he's living on $200.00 a month??!!!

    He should get a Metal of Honor, have a country named after him and be given a pension of $10,000 a month with full medical benefits!!!

    Unbelievable that he would be overlooked liked that............

  • DanTheMan

    Wow, I never had heard of this, thanks for sharing.

Share this