Monday, January 25, 2010

The Pulsing Heart of SAC, Slim Pickens & Me


Last Friday, I found a link on The Kansas City Star's website regarding this story.

Air Force film was a Cold War attack on ‘Dr. Strangelove’

By STEVE EVERLY
The Kansas City Star

A recently discovered Air Force documentary took a more sober approach in deriding the notion of an unauthorized nuclear strike.


“Well boys, I reckon this is it: nuclear combat, toe to toe with the Russkies.”
Maj. T.J. “King” Kong

More than 45 years ago, actor Slim Pickens delivered those words in “Dr. Strangelove,” a seminal Cold War black comedy.

In the film, a rogue Air Force general, Jack Ripper, convinced that fluoridated water is a communist plot, orders a nuclear attack on the Soviets, triggering Armageddon.


It’s a tad late, but the United States Air Force has more to say on the matter.

SAC Command Post,” an 18-minute film made in 1963 belittling the possibility of such an unauthorized U.S. nuclear strike, has been unearthed at the National Archives in College Park, Md.

The SAC film also countered “Fail Safe,” a 1962 novel that would be made into a movie in 1964. It was about an attack order accidentally sent to a SAC bomber, which carried out a nuclear strike.


A couple of years ago I blogged about living in Mulvane, KS in 1962 when my dad worked at the Boeing Overhaul Base in Wichita. The vast majority of the planes being overhauled were SAC B-52s.

I've always loved that SAC Crest! You have the blue sky and clouds in the background, and an ARMORED FIST in the foreground holding both the lightning bolts of war and the olive branches of peace.

The message to the enemy was "I can destroy you, or I can protect you. What's your pleasure motherfucker?"

It was generally understood at the time that SAC had B-52's loaded with live, armed nukes in the air, 24/7. That particular weapon was always loaded, aimed and cocked at all times, just waiting for the president to pull the trigger.

During periods of heightened alert, like during the Cuban Missile Crisis, you even had crews of fighter pilots, in their fully armed jets, on the runway, engines idling, just waiting for the wave of an arm to hit the afterburners and go to war.

It was an exciting time to be 7 years old. Nothing concentrates the mind of a child like knowing you and everyone you know and love could be dead in 20 minutes. Maybe that's why I tend to live in the moment and kinda suck at planning things. I'm a child of the Cold War.

But what I think you will find most interesting about watching this Air Force movie is the level of the technology. SO primitive!

This was the absolute state of the art, bleeding edge of technology in 1962. This is what we relied on to protect us from nuclear destruction. Rotary dial telephones. Analog circuitry. Switchboards. Teletype machines. Mechanical switches. Sealed paper envelopes.

It's a miracle that it all actually worked.

"Besides obscurity, the SAC film had another problem: Its assertion that “the expenditure of nuclear weapons against an enemy” could be ordered only by the president wasn’t exactly true."

"Fred Kaplan, in his book “The Wizards of Armageddon,” tells about Daniel Ellsberg and a midlevel government official taking an afternoon off in 1964 to see “Dr. Strangelove.”
Ellsberg, the man who would later leak the Pentagon Papers, had been a RAND analyst and a consultant at the Defense Department. As he left the theater, Ellsberg turned to his colleague and said, “That was a documentary!"

The human race has never come closer to complete annihilation and extinction as it did between 1960 and 1965.

So I guess you'll have to forgive me if I'm not all that anxious to give up all my freedom and privacy so Jack Bauer can protect me from some lunatic fucktard in a suicide vest.



Terrorists? That all you got?



Try again.



Oh, and just as a little sweet desert, here I am sitting next to Slim Pickens (Maj. T.J. "King" Kong) at the bus stop at LAX.



You can find the story behind that picture here.

Enjoy! Goodnight!

1 comment:

fallout_shelter_six said...

HEY HIP SUBURBAN WHITE GUY ENJOYED YOUR BLOG AND WOULD LOVE TO USE YOUR SLIM PICKENS PIC RIDING THE BOMB ON MY BLOG
"FALLOUT_SHELTER_NYC"A BLOG ABOUT COLD WAR MILITARY ON AND AROUND THE NYC AND SUBURBS OF ITS NOT A GREAT BLOG BUT I AM TRYING TO COLLECT AS MUCH INFO ON COLD WAR ACTIVITIES AND LOVE SAC HISTORY, THE WHOLE SAC MISSION AND THE AMOUNT OF THOUGHT TO SURVIVING TO FIGHT A NUCLEAR ATTACK IS WILD,I FOUND YOUR BLOG INTERESTING AND ENJOYED IT.
FS6-liam gibson