- October 5, 1960 – The moon gets mistaken for missiles – Naturally, early warning radar became pretty fast one of the most important tools in the nuclear age. American radar stations were built everywhere in the world to detect incoming Soviet missiles. On this date, there was a warning issued from a newly constructed early warning radar station in Thule, Greenland. Dozens of missiles were detected back then, and at one point were said to reach America in 20 minutes. There was an instant panic, which placed NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) on its highest alert level. Later on, they discovered that the Soviet Premier was visiting New York and the radar mistook the moon rising over Norway with a Soviet missile.
- November 24, 1961 – Just one switch causes a mechanical failure – A year later, the Strategic Air Command in Nebraska lost contact with the Thule radar station and NORAD in Colorado. They immediately eliminated the possibility of a system malfunction, and they believed there was an attack to come. Finally, a US bomber succeeded in contacting Thule, which confirmed there was no attack. Later, they discovered it was indeed a single malfunction switch that managed to shut down all communications.
- October 25, 1962 – A bear nearly turns the Cuban Missile Crisis hot – The Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest the world has ever come to global nuclear war. On the night of October 25, a guard at the Duluth Sector Direction Center in Minnesota spotted a figure that tried to climb the fence around the facility. The guard immediately shot at the figure and activated the sabotage alarm. This alarm triggered air raid alarms to go off in every other base in the area. In Wisconsin, for example, they knew for a fact that it’s not a test or a practice run, since the military was on DEFCON 3, because of the current tensions. They were stopped last minute, by a car that raced to the airfield to tell the pilots to stop, as the intruder turned out to be a bear.
- October 27, 1962 – A Soviet sub is close to launching a nuclear torpedo – On the morning of this day, a U-2F reconnaissance aircraft was shot down by the Soviets while it was flying over Cuba. Later, the B-59 Soviet submarine was spotted trying to break the blockade that the US Navy had established around Cuba. Then, the destroyer USS Beale dropped practice depth charges wanting to make the submarine surface, which made Valentin Savitsky, the captain of the B-59, believe that they were under attack. All three senior officers that were aboard on B-59 agreed to the launch before it took place. But luckily, the B-59’s second in command, Vasili Arkhipov, convinced the captain to the surface to wait for orders from Moscow.
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