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Somebody Should Have Died (1975, 545th Ordnance Company, Nuclear Site, West Germany)
(1975, 545th Ordnance Company, Nuclear Site, West Germany)
The structure was built to withstand a nuclear explosion. The site was surrounded by tall trees, walkways leading to bunkers that contained half a dozen nuclear bombs (see inset for details). The trees and foliage were high enough that only a small plane a hundred feet or so above the site could see it, and the German government prohibited any flights over the site. A young sergeant of twenty-seven, well-built, auburn hair, blue-green eyes, had just taken over another sergeant’s shift; He was what was called ENREST. Every sergeant at the site, who had a top secret clearance, was placed on the ENREST roster, as was every officer with a top secret clearance, it was twenty-four hour duty, once a month, and neither the sergeant nor the officer was to leave the bunker area. The doors were locked and bolted at night, the front door, one to the bunker, the other to the ENREST room within the bunker, where orders came from.
As Sergeant Chick Evens listened, he could hear the night wind blowing over the bunker. At the same time he heard a five-ton truck bringing a new shift of military police, who were guarding the place, twenty-seven. He licked his lips, to moisten them, it was a very hot night, he took off his shirt, wearing only his undershirt, the fat captain, sitting on his iron bed on one side of the room snoring, while he sat on his iron . Cot, on the other side of the room. The room was twelve feet by twelve feet. The young captain’s name is Horace Worm. The sergeant looked at his files and his college transcripts, since he was an NCO, in charge of Nuclear Security Program Investigations, and often wondered how a captain could be a captain, 90% of his semesters graded “D”. I mean he had more “D” grades than anything he knows, not an A, or B, a few C’s. He went to college himself and got a bachelor’s degree, and got a D, and it was a mistake.
Evens saw the fat captain, there was no one else to see, breathing heavily, sweating, and the wind just swirled over the structure, as his sweat soaked the mattress. Then he got up and paced the floor, he never liked ENREST. He told the captain that one of them had to stay, watch the phones, watch the incoming data, read the printouts if there were warnings. It was a two-man control process, but one had to get up at a time during the night, but he also knew that this captain never liked to pull duty, he kept the sergeants up all night while he slept it away, but Evens said this crap. No way, he was going to do his duty, just like him.
He tried to wake up the captain at 2:00 a.m., for him to take over the night shift, as it was time, but the captain did not wake up. Matter of fact, the captain said, “Leave me alone, that’s the order sergeant!” And so the sergeant lay face down on the bed, his chin on the pillow, his arms, outstretched.
“That’s stupid,” he said aloud hoping the captain would hear “You can’t expect me to take your shift and read the data correctly,” the messages came from what was always supposed to be European Central Command. And it had to be translated, it was in code, and one person had to open a white seal, after reading and decoding the message, another person would check it and they would follow the procedure. If it was a red seal, it was for a warning, high priority, and then it would go to a second seal if needed. A white seal was less complicated. But often a white seal leads to a red seal and means war; And the Cold War was definitely with the Russians. Their basis was, if it went to the red seal, the nuclear belly (nuclear cylinder) – so I told them – among the bombs sunk underground.
(Interlude: The makeup of the nuclear bomb and its destructive power are difficult to convey in a simple paragraph, and I’ve seen the inside of them, but let me put it in the most basic, if not, oversimplified way: There are two of the nuclear bombs I’m talking about. The parts, some have three parts, the secondary part of the nuclear bomb – stored at about a half dozen sites, this part I saw, was of a cylinder type design. The bombs were 9 to 50-megaton-plus, some were Titan II (ICBM), the Titan fleet. Retired in 1988; the fireball of one of those Titan missiles was three miles in diameter, its destructive power likely to destroy all structures within a ten-mile range, or three-hundred square miles. One kiloton is equal to 1000-tons of TNT, kilotons are thousands. Measured in tons; Hiroshima saw a 15-kiloton bomb; named ‘Little Boy’ and Nagasaki witnessed a 20-kiloton atomic bomb named ‘Fat Boy’ – where, megatons are confirmed by millions of tons of TNT. The secondary part of the bomb is below Part; primary is at the top. I don’t need to say much for this story.)
When the young sergeant awoke, it was still dark outside; He hears an incoming message on the machine, which prints it out for him to read and decode. He got up, walked over to the desk where the machine was churning out paper, and a message was being printed, and he went to wake up the captain, saying to him, “You’ll have to decode the message with me. Or at least read it after I’ve decoded it.”
“No, you decode it”, he said, “I’m tired.”
He began to decode the message, and fell asleep without reading it clearly. As was the captain’s work; One is looking over the other’s shoulder.
It was 6:15 in the morning, and the phone rang. The sergeant passed it to Horace and said, “Major, would like to speak to you about something.”
He stood by the phone, half nervous, the phone heavy in his right hand, “Yes sir,” said the captain, “what is it?”
Captain Worm, drawn back like a double bolt of lightning, caught the decoded message, “Didn’t you decode it last night,” he shouted to the sergeant.
“Of course I did,” said the sergeant, decoding the part exactly where you had just picked up the message.
“Hello,” said the captain, to the major, “the sergeant said he decoded the message.”
“Well didn’t you read?” The major shouted so loudly that the sergeant heard him.
“Yay! No, I guess not, why?” said the captain.
“Because,” said the major, “we’re the only nuclear site; no, in fact, we’re the only site in all of Europe that isn’t on alert, and the colonel wants to know why our gates are wide open, as if it were a normal day. I want to see you in an hour and Read that damn coded message and get back with me in five minutes.”
“So Sergeant,” Captain Worm said to Evens, and began to read the decoded message, “Looks like you decoded it correctly, why didn’t you wake me up and make a warning call?”
“I woke you up, and you ordered me to leave you alone, after I told you, you need to review the decoded message, as it should be, and you insisted, and I was tired and fell asleep.”
“It was foolish not to act on the message!”
“Aye! Be careful, Captain. I have done my duty, and you have pulled no duty, it can be called duty.”
“So what’s going on?” the captain stopped Sergeant Evens as he exited the major’s office. asked the sergeant.
“I’m sorry to inform you, I think they may have some charges against you perhaps a court martial; a lot to cover.” Now the sergeant knew how he crossed his “D’s” in college, he was an associate.
“Well,” said the sergeant, “if I go down, so do you! Obviously they don’t know my part of the story; I’ll have to make a report sooner or later and tell them. Did they know it was? Who are you to order me directly?” Did you let me sleep?” (And the sergeant knew, a direct order from a commissioned officer, should not conflict with established law, and it did.)
“I’m not sure,” he said.
“What’s to be sure, you either told them or you didn’t, and I guess you didn’t.”
“I better get back there, and settle this before it gets out of control.” It was funny the sergeant thought, he didn’t blink an eye, and was testing the waters to see if he would take the blame.
“That’s very good, if you do, I’ll stand here a while.”
Everything is fine when the captain returns.
“We’re all soldiers,” said the captain, “today must be forgotten, and don’t tell anyone about this sergeant, okay? If you let this leak come out, we’ll all die. We’ve been on an attack, alert, with the Red Brigade. , some anti-German groups tried to storm one of our nuclear sites, and because of that an alert was called, and we went rogue. If they had come here to our site, God only knows what would have happened.
“Yes,” said the sergeant (looking at the now closed and secure gate), standing to his right. “I’ve never heard of it.”
“Heard what?” said the captain. Again, the sergeant thought about all those ‘Ds’ that Captain Arjit had acquired.
“No one will ever hear it, so what!” said the sergeant, then he thought: ‘…someone might have died because of our negligence-‘ and he just wanted to get out of there.
Note: The 545th Ordnance Company was activated in 1942. In 1950, it was activated in Japan and in 1959 it was activated in West Germany, by Muenster-Dieburg; Inactivated in June, 1992; Area returned to Germany in 1994. No: 715 1-24-2011)
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