10 AM August 28, 2017 at Ahonu and Aingeal’s home
The Atlantean Irish by Bob Quinn
Page by Gail – 129. Line by Charles – 12. The prompt will be –
It will be a long hard slog
Timer set for 47 minutes starting now. Done 11:02
It was 10:05 AM, between classes in Nuclear Weapons School there at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas. Our class of recent USAF pilots had all graduated from one of the half-dozen flight schools at other Air Force bases and had been given B-47 bombers as our combat assignment. We were in training to become America’s most powerful defense ever created, that of providing a twenty-four-hour cap of fully armed H-bombers flying randomly around the North Pole.
In between graduating from flight school and this bomber assignment, I had spent a month at Stead Air Force Base survival school near Reno, Nevada, learning how to survive a winter in such places as Siberia and Northern Canada. The idea of that training was that since I would be spending my next four years flying around Canada with some H-bombs I should learn how to survive on the ground. It was possible that something might happen and I might need to get out of my plane and walk around in that frosty wilderness for a while. There were plans to pick us up but that might take a while. So it would be helpful for me to spend a month learning the basics of how to survive. The classroom information was interesting, and the three days spent in a simulated Chinese Prisoner of War jail was an interesting challenge. It was a long hard slog spending most of a week running around in the High Sierras during the last week of January 1960 with only two days’ supply of WW II K-rations for food. I lost several pounds from hunger, but I had a good time with many stories to tell from that assignment. However, a much bigger problem soon fell on my twenty-three-year-old shoulders.
I found myself now confronted with an actual H-bomb lying there on a special wagon in a room full of other bombs. Some were a little smaller, some were very big and the new one I was looking at was then called a Mark-28. It was called a wooden bomb because it was supposed to be as safe as a log, with all sorts of safety devices that prevented an accidental detonation. All the same, it was designed to be super-reliable when it was detonated and it would kill almost everyone for eight miles in every direction.
Yikes! That’s sixteen miles across. I started thinking. And thinking that I would be carrying several of these things around and at someone else’s command, I would go kill perhaps several million people, almost all of whom were just living their daily lives. That wasn’t defending my country, that was far worse than the most extreme murders by the Nazis. If totally successful in deploying those bombs I would personally kill as many people as Genghis Khan. I was being asked to become the greatest murderer of all history when told to do so.
No. I don’t want to do that. No. I don’t want to have anything to do with that. Yes, I would rather spend 10 years in jail than be responsible in any way for participating in that mass murder and with the retaliations bringing about the destruction of civilization.
My Captain to whom I gave my first letter of resignation said it will be a long hard slog getting out of the responsibility, and indeed it was.
But two years later my buddies were all fueled up and loaded up with H-bombs, sitting in their B-47s, engines running, just waiting for the GO from President Kennedy. It was a crisis in Cuba and the Russians were sending in missiles that would soon be too close to Washington DC for comfort. It turns out Kennedy and General Lemay had drawn an invisible line in the Atlantic Ocean, and if that Russian ship carrying those missiles had crossed that line the launch had already been agreed upon.
I sometimes wonder if my singular refusal to go fly with those H-bombs reached the ears and minds of those decision-making people. It was a long hard slog and I still am in that mud.
If you want to have a sleepless night see your locality on a radius of destruction map.