Friday, October 19, 2007

We were just seconds from Armageddon

A reader sent me an email with a link and the accompanying remark: "WOW. Good Lord; we were this close to the end. Astonishing."

The story is about a Russian man named Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov who saved the world in 1983. On September 1st of that year, as you may recall, the former Soviet Union shot down a Korean airliner, Korean Airlines Flight 007, that had drifted into Soviet airspace en route from the United States to Korea. In the days that followed, tensions between the two mega-powers -- the USSR and the United States -- hit an all-time high, and on 15 September 1983 the US administration banned Soviet aircrafts from operating in US airspace. With the political climate drifting dangerously toward the unthinkable, both US and Soviet governments were on high-alert. This is where Petrov comes in:
It was a cold night at the Serpukhov-15 bunker in Moscow on 26 September 1983 as Strategic Rocket Forces lieutenant colonel Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov resumed his duty, monitoring the skies of the Soviet Union, after taking a shift of someone else who couldn't go to work.

Just past midnight, Petrov received a computer report he'd dreaded all his military career to see, the computer captured a nuclear military missile being launched from the US, destination Moscow.
Here's the story: "24 years on - The man who saved millions of lives" (, October 19, 2007). Read the article. When you understand what happened, I think you'll agree that this man is an unsung hero. One wonders how many would have done what he did under the circumstances.

[Hat tip to 'Sun & Wine'.]

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