September 26 - 1983 - The Soviet Nuclear False Alarm

While doing his regular job of monitoring missile warnings at Soviet Air Defense, Stanislav Petrov got a signal that one missile had been launched from the United States of America. At the time, the Cold War was ratcheting up, as U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov both used inflammatory rhetoric and further developed nuclear weaponry. The Soviet command structure was absolutely convinced that the United States would send a first strike nuclear attack. Under those circumstances, Stanislav Petrov got a warning that a missile had been launched. Those circumstances were also the reason why Petrov knew it was a false alarm. The United States would not have started a nuclear attack with one missile, but with an entire arsenal, because the Soviet response would certainly be an entire arsenal. Petrov would get no commendation, award, or medal, but he also would not be reprimanded, either. Petrov would be transferred and then leave the service within a year. The entire incident was completely unknown for 15 years, when Petrov's commander would mention it in his memoirs.

William Floyd