Dealing with nuclear armageddon

Your recent coverage of the possibility of nuclear conflict in Korea, along with bogus incoming missile alerts terrifying the Hawaiian islands, all take me back to another international crisis in October, 1962 (“Hawaii didn’t need approval to retract missile alert, FEMA says,” Jan. 17).

As a 20-year-old Baltimore native and U.S. Army draftee stationed in a tactical missile outfit in Germany during the Cuban Missile Crisis, I helped load a 20-kiloton warhead (the nuclear "gob" was about as big as a grapefruit but much heavier) targeted at Soviet troops in East Germany. As we spent the night anxiously awaiting any order to push our buttons and fire, it never would have occurred to us that it was all a stupid mistake and we were responding to an erroneous threat, and we certainly weren't troubled by continuous public conjecture on the commander-in-chief's mental stability.

So we would have done our duty. Next morning, things cooled off and we went back to a less advanced state of alert. I wonder how well "the system" would work today?

Stan Heuisler, Baltimore

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