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Cold War Warrior

About The Cold War Warrior

“I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strangely, I am ungrateful to these teachers.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

This Blog is about the learning. It is also about the men and women from all the cold wars who worked so hard for something they believed in and played so hard they forgot the pain. They were the Cold War Warriors. They lived at missile sites, on nuclear subs, sat on little and not so little islands that were either too hot or too cold but always isolated. They were the doers and the watchers. Oh, by the way, they still are.

Recent Posts

For Want of a Wrench

By |December 18th, 2018|Cold War Legacy, The Cold War (1947-1991), The Nuclear Age|0 Comments

The U.S. federal government is lathered up and hell-bent on spending money to

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel

safeguard the nuclear weapons stockpile. I hope so. The nuclear weapons stockpile is a politically benign way to discuss the U.S.’ pile of nuclear weapons. Of necessity it includes the people and infrastructure needed to maintain and deliver them. Secretary of Defense Hagel employs the phrase ‘nuclear deterrence system’ to describe the same stuff; nukes and what it takes to deploy them. I am happy the listen to the lip service being given to safeguarding the nukes by SecDef and the President, but I will believe it when I see it. So far, so good, but all that’s visible to date is Missileers falling on their swords and lip service to problems well-known to military management and policy makers since at least the 1980s. Everyone living in the U.S. as well as all of its neighbors should be worried about political follow-through, because one little rogue nuke can ruin your day.

It was the middle of September in 1980 when famers and residents of Damascus,

Faulkner County Arkansas and the site of Titan II Launch Complex 374-7

Faulkner County Arkansas and the site of Titan II Launch Complex 374-7

Arkansas woke up to every Americans’ worst nightmare and most never knew it was happening until the injured began to roll in. It wasn’t the first or last incident, but it is a documented incident that went before the President, SecDef, and Congress. They knew. A simple dropped socket wrench on a routine service call at the Titan II Launch Complex 374-7 just north of Damascus triggered a series of events that should frighten the collective daylights out of U.S. citizens:

“…On September 18, 1980, at about 6:30 p.m., an airman conducting maintenance on the Titan II missile dropped a wrench socket, which fell about eighty feet before hitting and piercing the skin on the rocket’s first-stage fuel tank, causing it to leak. The commander of the 308th Strategic Missile Wing quickly formed a potential-hazard team, and by 9:00 p.m., the Air Force personnel manning the site were evacuated. About one hour later, Air Force security police began evacuating nearby civilian residents as efforts continued to determine the status of the missile and the fuel leak.

Senior Airman David Livingston and Sergeant Jeff K. Kennedy entered the launch

Image of the Damascus explosion

Image of the Damascus explosion

complex early on the morning of September 19 to get readings of airborne fuel concentrations, which they found to be at their maximum. At about 3:00 a.m., the two men returned to the surface to await further instructions. Just as they sat down on the concrete edge of the access portal, the missile exploded, blowing the 740-ton launch duct closure door 200 feet into the air and some 600 feet northeast of the launch complex. The W-53 nuclear warhead landed about 100 feet from the launch complex’s entry gate; its safety features operated correctly and prevented any loss of radioactive material. Kennedy, his leg broken, was blown 150 feet from the silo. Livingston lay amid the rubble of the launch duct for some time before security personnel located and evacuated him. Livingston died of his injuries that day. Twenty-one people were injured by the explosion or during rescue efforts….”[1] (more…)

deja-vu-somalia

By |December 18th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Dedicated to the memory of Brett Fredericks. Thank you for your service.

On October 3rd and 4th, 1993, two years after the Cold War was declared ‘over’, the U.S.somalia military was in Somalia and they were still fighting. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush deployed 28,000 U.S. troops to Somalia to protect food and medical supply lines to the millions of starving people who suffered at the whims of a gaggle of warlords. The newly-elected Clinton considered the mission important, so the military, including the Delta Force, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D), were in Somalia executing the orders of the Commander-in-Chief.

This was the setup for Black Hawk Down the First Battle of Mogadishu, which was part of Gothic Serpent, an operation to capture Mohamed Farrah Aidid, perhaps the vilest of the Somali warlords and self-appointed president of Somalia. Of the eighteen Americans who died on October 3rd and 4th, 1993, five were Delta Force. Seeing an American soldier’s body dragged through the street enraged an American public. Instead of turning the furies of hell loose to smash the evil, the U.S. withdrew its troops in March 1994. But, why was the U.S. really there in the first place? Did George H.W. Bush, President and former CIA Director, really care about suffering Africans?

Running from the problem didn’t solve it. Twenty-two years later the warlords still battle it out in Mogadishu. In December retired Delta Force member, Brett Fredricks, was murdered there by Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab rebels. The questions are what is the current political situation, what or who is Al-Shabaab, and why did former Delta Force member Brett Fredericks die on Somali soil? (more…)

flying-high-smooth-landing

By |December 18th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Author: Frank Maio

Returning to Italy after nearly a month in Turkey was great. The only work to be done at this

The Italian Marxist-Leninist terrorist group Brigate Rosse or Red Brigades officially disbanded in the 1980s

The Italian Marxist-Leninist terrorist group Brigate Rosse or Red Brigades officially disbanded in the 1980s

point was picking up the pieces.  At the end of the day, it was off to the old “watering holes” and good food. One had to be careful, of course.  The Red Brigade was very much in evidence at that time and there was a very active Communist Party.

The Italian Communist Party in the mountain region used to meet in a Bar and Restaurant called Moretti’s in Udine, an ancient town in northeastern Italy.  I recall being on town patrol one night and getting a call that a drunk airman had wandered into the bar was causing mayhem where one such meeting was taking place and. Jack, an Apache Indian, had been in the Air Force for a few years when he got to our base but he had NO stripes, so when payday came he would get into a few crap games win a good bit of money and hit the town.  By

Moretti's Beer House & Restaurant Udine Italy

Moretti’s Beer House & Restaurant Udine Italy

the time we got to Moretti’s in our Jeep, the restaurant’s front window had been broken out and locals were lying all over the place, Jack coming out the door with the Hammer and sickle in his hands.

Northern Italy was as close as you would get in that area to Communism, and Boris was our enemy at that time; Hungary a few hundred miles to the Northwest and Yugoslavia about 65 miles to the Northwest and the locals, so it was interesting at times.

You never could tell what might happen in Udine.  For example, a movie company showed up inFOX_D2227288D Udine.  It seemed that Rock Hudson, Jennifer Jones, Vittorio De Sica, Kurt Kaszner came to make “A Farewell to Arms”,   Hemingway’s epic.  A friend of mine, Roger Dabbert and I went up to the set one day to see what was going on.  While walking around the movie trailers out came Rock Hudson and we introduced ourselves.  He was surprised that there were Americans locally.  We explained how we got there and he invited us into his trailer for a box lunch.  During the conversation he asked if we had a BX and of course we did, he was dying for some good old American Peanut Butter.  We delivered same and got front row seating during most of the filming when we could be there.

Libya Beckons

633rdPatchNew orders arrived and we were off for the 633rd AC&W at Wheelus Field, Libya. Back in 1954 the United States and Libya had signed an agreement that the U.S. could use Wheelus and its gunnery range.  During the Cold War, there were thousands of Americans there and the U.S. Ambassador to Libya once called Wheelus “a Little America…on the sparkling shores of the Mediterranean,” although temperatures at the base frequently reached 110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (43 to 50 degrees Celsius).

Our plane landed and we were quickly ushered into the base theater. Once again, I found myself in a clime totally unsuited for man nor beast.  Although dressed in khakis the heat inside the un-air conditioned theater was unbearable.  After a few short welcoming remarks from a few officers, a Sergeant takes the stage and in a booming voice begins telling us how horrible conditions were and the rules regarding them.  Rules such as, never go to town (Tripoli) alone, never go the “Old Section”, ever.  If you do go to town always travel in large numbers and if by chance you get drunk and break a local law, do not expect the State Department to assist you in getting out.  In most cases you would be accorded the same punishment that was for all.  If you steal, the hand that stole would be cut off, peeking into windows would have your eye or eyes poked out. Sitting in this HOT theater hearing all of this “it really is not a bad place, but…”, kind of made you wonder why anyone in this world would build the largest military supply base

Luxury Barracks-at last a perk.

Luxury Barracks-at last a perk.

there.  To finish off the education portion of the ‘Welcome to’…, a Sargent got up and said, “now gentlemen, here is a friendly reminder, if for some reason you decide to go AWOL, we can watch you for days if you go South, West and East from the Control Tower and if you go North, well we can watch you till your arms get tired of swimming”.  With that we were escorted to our barracks.  They were my first encounter with two man rooms and a very nice ones at that.  Those with dependents might find a nice apartment in town, but they had to have a live in servant, this afforded security, as the locals did not bother their own.

(more…)

flying-high-cruising-altitude

By |December 18th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Author: Frank Maio

When last I wrote, we had just arrived in Turkey and off-loaded the C-124.  It was hot,

Nighttime at Incirlik, Turkey

Nighttime at Incirlik, Turkey

very hot, and, after we completed putting up the OPS hut, we stripped down to bathing suits and brogans, to work inside. The next phase of our lives was about to begin.

The First Night

That night, after our arrival and having unloaded the equipment, we found ourselves near the Turkish Military Fuel Supply, which was just down the road.  Having been given the

Camp at Incirlik, Turkey

Camp at Incirlik, Turkey

first watch over the equipment; that would be one guard as we were inside the perimeter of the base.  It was terribly hot that night, I knew it was night because my watch said it was, but in all reality it was almost as bright as normal daylight.  A jeep went up and down the road putting me in a ready mode, but it never stopped.  At about 10 pm the jeep came back and stopped.  This bullish Turkish Army type jumped out and introduced himself by telling me that we were sharing the area and that he had a guard at the fuel depot.  I noticed a baseball bat in the back of the jeep and I asked what it was used for, he said that if he found a guard asleep on his post or not doing what they were told, he beat them with it.  Now I am thinking that I do not want him driving by finding me asleep.

He left after that and I referred myself to checking my carbine for some reason.  Pulled the clip out and test fired it, nothing.  So looking around and seeing no one, I started field

Welcome to Turkey

Welcome to Turkey

stripping the weapon, going as fast as I could, for I knew that it would be my neck if I were found out.  Luckily, no one came and I got it back together, when I heard this voice, “Hey, Joe, Hey Joe, OK, OK”, coming up the road was the guard from the dump, flicking his fingers in a lighting a match mode.  I figured he could not smoke on his post, so I told him OK, he put a cigarette in his mouth and came towards me.  I reached for my lighter in my pants pocket at the same time setting the Carbine down on the box that I had used to field strip it on.  Had the bolt action pulled back and locked, or so I thought, the second the weapon hit the box the bolt action came out and snapped shut making this awful noise as it fell into position.  Looking up, the poor guy must have thought I was going to shoot him and he was gone in seconds.  Walked out a ways and found his cigarette there on the ground.  Did not broadcast that right away.  I laughed, but it really was not that funny.  The shift being over, I went back to the Quonset to sleep, but it was so hot, no way.

U2 Before It Was an Irish Rock Band

Out bright and early the next morning, putting down flooring and cable in the floor for the Operations shack; the task was accomplished on the first day.  Next day it was working

inside this oven setting up the radar gear and plotting boards.  We were being pushed

Moscow Moscow broadcasts from Radio Moscow

Moscow Moscow broadcasts from Radio Moscow

because we were told that a squadron of F-84’s were to arrive very soon and they needed our setup operating on arrival.  Every hour we had to fall out for water breaks and salt tablets. The maintenance guys were busy in the hot sun putting up the antennas and radio hookups, we had accomplished our duties and were free to wait on the incoming aircraft.  Though as we sat around listening to ‘Moscow Molly’[1] that night we found our “top secret” move was already known in Russia.  Like Tokyo Rose, ‘Moscow Molly’ is pure propaganda as she welcomes us by unit number, personnel number and “we know that the U2 will be arriving soon” and she finished off by telling the base support staff that the third run way light on the left of a particular number was not working.  So much for a surprise, but we grunts really did not know anything about impacts, our job was to just do it.  (more…)