Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Lessons Of N.O.R.A.D.

Tunnel Entrance

Tunnel Entrance

  I was a twenty-one year old Buck Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force when I arrived for duty at N.O.R.A.D. (North American Air Defense Command) headquarters in Cheyenne Mountain. My wife Debbie, myself, my two year old son Robbie and my brother Mark arrived in Colorado Springs in June 1971. Soon after arriving I was promoted to SSgt. I spent a miserable year at Tuslog Detachment 93 in Turkey. It was a remote Turkish A.F.B named Erhac in the mountains of eastern Turkey. My first two years in the Air Force were spent at Lackland A.F.B., San Antonio Texas, where I completed basic training, and Kingsley Field A.F.B., in Klamath Falls Oregon. Kingsley was part of Air Defense Command which was headquartered in Cheyenne Mountain. When I first arrived at Kingsley we had F-101 Voodoo interceptors. By the time I left we had changed over to F-106's. Our fighters intercepted any unidentified aircraft flying over the Pacific Northwest. Primarily Russian Bear Bombers flying into our airspace. They were detected by radar stations along the DEW Line or Distant Early Warning Line. This was a joint project built in the 1950's between the United States and Canada to detect a bomber or missile attack from the direction of the Eurasion land mass. When a suspicious aircraft was detected our fighters were scrambled.

  This was always an exciting experience for me. We had a flight line where most of our aircraft were parked. This was called our priority B area. In the Air Force everything was designated by a priority rating. Priority A was the highest.  Nuclear weapons and aircraft uploaded with conventional heat-seeking missiles on alert status were Priority A. Aircraft that were not uploaded but could be uploaded quickly were Priority B. Most military transport aircraft that had a mission were designated Priority C. We had an alert hanger with four spaces. The two inside spaces had fighters with conventional missiles that were on a two minute alert status. If we had fighters in the outside spaces they were uploaded with nukes. The klaxon would sound and suddenly it was like watching firemen responding to a call. The sleeping and living area for the pilots, and RO's, "radar officers" and enlisted men, who maintained and readied the aircraft, was in the middle of the hangar. The area around the planes was a hub of activity as the flight crews climbed into their aircraft and fired up the engines, while the ground crew readied the planes for take-off. In what seemed like moments the birds bolted out on to the high speed taxi-way squealing tires as they made the turn on to the runway. Before they completely made their turns the pilots fired the afterburners. It was a beautiful sight as the afterburners made a perfect multicolored cone of fire, while the ground and surrounding buildings shook as the planes flew off in a blaze of glory. This would always make the hair stand up on the back of my neck and I would swell with pride. 

  I was stationed at Kingsley for for about eighteen months. Early in 1970  I received orders for Tuslog Detachment 93 at Erhac Turkey.  For morale calls to my wife I would travel to Diyarbakir Turkey to call her.  Diyarbakir was part of our early warning system and at the end of my year in Turkey I received orders for N.O.R.A.D. I absolutely loved my job at N.O.R.A.D. Since I was promoted to SSgt I was responsible  for all of the security posts inside the mountain. We had a Flight Chief that I answered to but he was posted outside the mountain and we were behind two twenty ton blast doors. When I arrived at work for the start of our shift I exchanged my line badge for another badge that authorized access into the complex inside the mountain  Then I boarded a bus that took me through a tunnel into the mountain. We waited as the outside blast doors slowly opened. Then we walked into the area between the doors and waited for the outer door to close. The inner door was opened and we all walked into a large man made cave that housed eleven steel three story buildings mounted on springs. They were designed to absorb the shock of earthquakes, or a nuclear attack. There was also a water reservoir and a water purification station. Command Post was in the middle of the complex where there was a huge screen that displayed the entire North American continent.

If a Soviet attack occurred that information would be relayed to the White House and the order to retaliate would be sent out to SAC (Strategic Air Command). We also had a surgical suite, a chow hall, a BX (Base Exchange), a barber shop and billets. Because of my appearance I was chosen to be the security escort for CINC NORAD and Vice CINC NORAD. Gen. Seth McKee, a four star general was CINC (Commander in Chief). Vice CINC was a Canadian 3 star general. Whenever they were in the complex I had to stay ahead of them and anticipate their every move. I was able to see and hear a lot of VIP's and a lot of national defense briefings. Every branch of the service was working there along with both Canadian and American military personnel. To my dismay I learned that America had an overwhelming ability to destroy the Soviet Union but we were virtually defenseless against a Soviet Nuclear attack. This was our policy developed by the Kennedy Administration called MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction). It truly was mad and immoral that we could not protect American citizens. Liberals have always had this insane notion that if we can defend against a nuclear attack it could encourage the country who can protect their people into launching a nuclear 1st strike. In the late 1970's Reagan took a tour of NORAD and discovered the same thing that I learned a few years before. This is why he developed the idea for SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative). The left made fun of his idea and called it Star Wars. I am convinced that it can work and has worked but every Democratic Administration from Clinton to Obama has dismantled the program. The threat of SDI led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union took SDI very seriously because they knew they couldn't develop their own system without going bankrupt.

SSgt Greg Segroves checking a line badge

General Seth McKee

A Russian "Bear" Bomber

A Russian "Bear" being intercepted by an American F-15

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