Friday, July 16, 2021



I was introduced to a neighbor's son not too long ago, who, within two minutes, told me he was an ex-Navy Seal. My Air Force veteran’s fib detector went off immediately. Of course we didn't call it a "fib detector" in the military, it had a more cynical name based on a great ingredient for growing mushrooms, but it hadn't gone off that loudly since 2012 when some barfly in Wildwood, Florida, told me he used to fly the airplane we were removing from in front of his American Legion post. The “airplane” he supposedly flew was in fact a Mace cruise missile, one that I worked on for eight years.

The aircrew members, fleet commanders, weapons mechanics, launch officers, submariners, anyone who sat at a control panel with millions of tons of explosives literally inches, or seconds, away from their control, were cloaked. They were cloaked by security procedures, and often by political situations as well. They sat in silence, often in boredom, minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, shift after shift, startled, often terrified, when the klaxon horns went off. 

They did it for almost thirty years while cities, military bases, naval ports and airbases were dialed in as targets for the nuclear missiles that sat sixty feet above them or behind them. Are we practicing destroying the earth or our we really doing it this time? Is this real or another exercise that will stop just short of an actual launch? Did the Soviets really invade West Germany or did China roll into South Korea? Is Japan under attack or are we just pretending once again? You know, for practice.

Our nuclear power, not only at home but in Europe and the Far East as well, was the only possible way for us to offset the numerical superiority the military forces Communist regimes had aligned against us. Don’t believe me? You are among the many Americans who suffer from amnesia or naivete. You probably believe Captain American will sweep down and save us from malignant adversaries set on destroying our country. No, it was the guy next door. He wore a cloak then, and most likely still does today. Most who wore the cloak knew they would kill millions of people if the war order came. People they would never see.

Do they still wear the cloak? Your neighbor who proudly boasts he was a Navy Seal or a Green Beret or a Ranger? Probably not. More likely your neighbor is wearing the invisibility cloak inside out so it shimmers with glory. Forty years ago all the wannabe heroes I met while I was in the service were “Green Berets,” even though the majority of the braggarts I met didn’t even know what an MOS was. No, I’m not going to tell you except in the Air Force it was called AFSC and in the Navy it's your rating. Today, thanks to media suffocation, most of the wannabes claim they are Navy Seals, even though you can tell by looking many of them couldn’t swim across their own bath tubs. Real Navy Seals cringe and the old timers just smile.

The people who won the cold war sit next to you in restaurants and shop with you at Walmart. But you don’t know who they are and probably never will. They still wear the cloak. They wear it the way it was meant to be worn, not inside out. They don’t tell you what their job was.

You cannot conceive what the cloak-wearer’s finger tips represented to mankind. The first time a live nuclear weapon was delivered to my unit’s first operational launch bay, the launch crew Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC), who had trained with the same launch crew in the United States at the Tactical Missile Training School in Orlando and practiced for over a year with his crew on site, broke down and cried. The operation was suspended as the maintenance and launch crews watched in stunned silence. Would the powers-that-be-pull the whole crew, or would they proceed replacing the only the overwhelmed crew chief? The operation was briefly interrupted, but soon finished by the book. It only took minutes before the entire crew adjusted and the insertion was completed.

There are the Cold Warriors you didn’t know were cloaked until they unexpectedly let it slip. It is understandable. They served every corner of the world the United States had military bases or Naval Fleets. Many units weren’t even acknowledged, such as the 498th Tactical Missile Group on Okinawa. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered the only Air Force nuclear missile unit in the Far East not be identified by name, only its initials.

I think that cloak today is nothing more than a revelation of our American society.

It is those who did, and those who want everybody to think they did.

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