Friday, January 20, 2006

Unsung hero finally hears music

If the details of this story are accurate, the world indeed does owe Stanislav Petrov at the very least a round of applause.

Russian Colonel Who Averted Nuclear War Receives World Citizen Award
Retired Russian colonel Stanislav Petrov received a special World Citizen Award at a UN meeting in New York on Thursday. Petrov was honored as the “Man Who Averted Nuclear War”. In a meeting held at the UN’s Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium on Jan. 19, the Association of World Citizens (AWC) presented the retired officer with his award.
Petrov was in charge of the Soviet Union's missile defenses on the night of September 26, 1983:
He was the duty officer at Russia’s main nuclear command center in September 1983 when the system indicated a nuclear missile attack was launched by the U.S. on Russia. It was just after midnight, Sept. 26, and 120 staff were working the graveyard shift in Serpukhov-15, the secret USSR command bunker hidden in a forest 30 miles northeast of Moscow, WorldNetDaily reported. ... Petrov was highly aware that Cold War tensions were acute, as USSR fighters had shot down a Korean airliner on Sept. 1. But he was completely shocked when the warning siren began to wail and two lights on his desk console began flashing MISSILE ATTACK and START. “Start” was the instruction to launch, irreversibly, all 5,000 or so Soviet missiles and obliterate America. A new, unproven Soviet satellite system had picked up a flash in Montana near a Minuteman II silo. Then another — five, all told. Petrov recalls his legs were “like cotton,” as they say in Russian. He stared at the huge electronic wall map of the United States in terror and disbelief. As his staff gawked upward at him from the floor, he had the thought, “Who would order an attack with only five missiles? That big an idiot has not been born yet, not even in the U.S.”
So Petrov held his powder for five minutes, then called the Kremlin and told his bosses that it was a false alarm. It was.
Months later, it was determined that sunlight reflecting off clouds in Montana had caused a faulty satellite computer assembly to report a missile launch flash.
For his effort, Petrov was side-tracked in his career, given no recognition, and in 1993 when his wife contracted cancer he retired to take care of her.
Today, Petrov, 67, lives in Moscow on a monthly pension of less than $200.
Seems like the least the "world community" could do is pony up a few extra dollars for the guy. Sure sounds like he deserves it.


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