New Book

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New Book

Postby MajorG1000 on Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:41 pm

I just purchased a copy of "COMMAND AND CONTROL" (Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the illusion of safety) by, Eric Schlosser. I haven't read it, but it is a fairly hefty tome and purports to cover the story of our Strategic Deterrent Forces and specifically the Titan II Accident at Damascus Ark. For those of us who were on Crew (myself at Minot) in September of 1980, it is something that flashbacks are made of. Having read the first couple of pages and thumbed through other parts, it promises to be an exciting read. It is about us, at our best, and simultaniously, our worst while pulling alert. All of us can imagine being in place and having a similar situation thrust upon us, and how, based on the traing we all recieved would have done as the crew and crews did at Damascus.
I had one similar incident which happened to me while on alert. An MMT reported a smell of rotton eggs and a meter reading that read high for MMH. Time slows down and it is all "assholes and elbows" ensuring every checklist and every procedure is accomplished swiftly and correctly. After all evacuations were done, things shut down and a HazMat Team processed on site, it turned out to be nothing more than the decaying carcass of a rabbit at the bottom of the Launch Tube. I still wouldn't wish that scenario on anyone. My Deputy at the time was Lt. Kevin Burke.
At any rate, I wanted to point oiut that there is finally a book out about US!
I hope it is as good as I have made it out to be.

Groman.
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Re: New Book

Postby MajorG1000 on Sat Oct 26, 2013 8:28 pm

Follow-up: The book is extremely well written. I literally have to tear myself away from it. Although I am maybe only a 10th of the way through it, I highly recommend it. Even if you didn't serve any time in Titan, you will inherently know what is going on and will feel surrounded by the circumstance.
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Re: New Book

Postby sherwood on Sat Oct 26, 2013 10:10 pm

I had started a thread about this book in the Titan II section, since it specifically detailed an accident in a Titan II site in Arkansas (coincidentally, one that I had pulled a single alert at during my upgrade training for crew certification nearly 10 years earlier).

I am between a third and half way through the book at the moment, allocating a hour or two on days when I can to it. I'm probably going to read it through twice, just to be sure that I don't overlook anything.

When the story about the explosion broke back in 1980, I still remember what I thought when I first heard the news, before any details became available:

Somebody---Screwed.Up

When Schlosser writes about thing I know about, I evaluate it in terms of the procedures in place when I was crew (I left about 6 years before the Damascus accident occurred).

So far, minor points I noticed but figure had changed were things like the pre-departure briefing at 7 AM. Formerly at Little Rock it was 6 AM sharp when the doors were closed and locked, and woe be unto you if you were on the wrong side of those doors. He mentions an output temp for the missile air conditioner two degrees higher than max when I was on crew, but the missile guidance computer and IMU had been changed on Titans the year after I left, so the new gear might not have required so much cooling - I know it was smaller and weighed less.

Checking Schlosser on the things I know about provide me some indication of factuality on things I don't know about involving previous Broken Arrows. Getting subtle points correct usually indicates diligence and attention to factual detail.

RFHCO suits didn't have electrical tape patches, at least not that I ever saw. OTOH, they were only about 10 years old when I left, and if they weren't replaced after my time, I can see that patches may well have been necessary, and the unspoken message that attitude of indifference for the safety of the PTS troops could well have contributed to the attitude Schlosser writes about.

Right now, I'm still in the process of forming my opinion, as it's rather a complex proposition.
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Re: New Book

Postby TerrorOfTucson on Sat Oct 26, 2013 11:57 pm

What I heard (or read later) was that SAC ordered the crew not to turn on the exhaust fans. Then it was only a matter of time...
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Re: New Book

Postby MajorG1000 on Sun Oct 27, 2013 12:07 am

Sherwood, your opinion carries more weight than mine as you had experience in the Titan System. Of course I am taking the author at his word about the details...but they seem accurate to the story being told. The nearly 1/6th of the book's pages dedicated to notes and sources tells me he did his homework, although his interpretation may be off, as he was not a crewmember himself. Seeing the after action reports with the words of the participants written soon after the event is a great primary source. I look forward to hearing more from you, and other Titan Crews on their perceptions of the book. So far however, I am connecting with a lot of the stuff he says...especially the memories of the sound cooling air makes as it is forced through the racks of equipment, the hum and vibration of the Motor Generator and such.

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Re: New Book

Postby sherwood on Mon Oct 28, 2013 10:22 pm

I was on crew before the carpeting for noise reduction was installed. You could not hear the motor generator unless you were down on level 3 standing by it ;) over all the noise the rack fans made on level 2 and level 3. In fact, if I was on a sleep shift and we lost commercial power, I'd wake up from the silence and immediately head down to level 2 to make sure the diesel started up and power transfer went ok. Once that was accomplished, I'd be on the phone trying to find out what was up with commercial power (that was pretty much a summertime thing, from thunderstorms - didn't happen too frequently).

As I said in the Titan II thread, I've gotten through to the notes and bibliography section.

Before I start back at the beginning and read it a second time, I intend to look specifically for any references to closing the blast dampers alongside the Blast Doors out to the silo or the Control Center blast valve, and then look through the Dash-1 to see if it's referenced there in the checklist when a propellant leak is confirmed. My memory is that it was, but it's been nearly 40 years for me and there's a full revision to the Dash-1 that was done in 1975 which would have been applicable in 1980, but which I do not have. I can't really see any reason it would have changed in the revision, though.
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Re: New Book

Postby MajorG1000 on Fri Nov 08, 2013 5:51 am

I have finished the book "Command and Control" by Eric Schlosser. I have to admit, I am impressed. Every single Missileer who has ever pulled alert will gain some insight from reading this work. I also think that even if one doesn't buy the book, the "Epilogue" should be read by all of us "Cold Warriors" to put what today's Crews, Squadrons, Wings and the entirety of the Nuclear Command has been faced with and gone through since the fall of the Berlin Wall. It takes less than an hour to read that last chapter. I won't pontificate on whether his conclusions are right or wrong, but they are certainly worth taking the time to read, comprehend and ponder.
It has been ages since most of us pulled alert. When our time was up, most of us were happy to leave and move on to other things, whether in uniform, or out. Some came back for a "Second" tour, like Dave Ridenour when Civil Engineering just wasn't exciting enough and he had to return to "ops". Reading this book, and the work I did with John Mollison by commissioning his artwork of the Minuteman III has brought back a lot of memories that I have pushed way down deep inside myself. I remember with great clarity the smell and sound of the Boeing capsule; pumping the pins of the blast door, the "warble tone" and "SKYBIRD...This is SKYKING with a test of the Primary Alerting System backdoor circuitry.......AC-knowledge....Out" People and faces have come back. Most of my memories are good. Some, well, not so good. All of them make up a significant portion of a life I am proud to have been a part of.
Thank you, to each and every one of you.

Bob Groman
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Re: New Book

Postby MajorG1000 on Fri Nov 08, 2013 5:57 am

One more thing: I just bought off ebay a SIGNED copy of "Missile Duty's Pleasin'" by the Groobers. Whoda thunk.
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Re: New Book

Postby TerrorOfTucson on Fri Nov 08, 2013 7:48 pm

I got one in '75 when they played at Whiteman. Ran across one of the members at Vberg in the early 80's (I forget which).
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Re: New Book

Postby MajorG1000 on Fri Nov 08, 2013 8:31 pm

I lost my original copy to the Grand Forks Flood of 1997. It was in the basement with all my other vinyl records. My original one wasn't signed, however, so this one shpould be worth gazillions!
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Re: New Book

Postby rkfoos on Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:41 pm

Ahhhhh .... Living like moles down in the hole. Watch out for Gene.

And then there is "Little Boxes" - love that one.

You made me go and listen to them again. Flash backs to good times.
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Re: New Book

Postby SAC Killer on Sat Nov 09, 2013 9:54 pm

MajorG1000 wrote:I lost my original copy to the Grand Forks Flood of 1997. It was in the basement with all my other vinyl records. My original one wasn't signed, however, so this one shpould be worth gazillions!


I've heard you can buy the Groobers album on CD at the AAFM website. I have the vinyl version and had the distinct honor and privilege of seeing them perform live twice. They were great!
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Re: New Book

Postby TerrorOfTucson on Sat Nov 09, 2013 11:50 pm

I wish they'd done a second album. HEY! Any of you old FEWers know these guys? And have contact info? Could you tell them how much we miss them?
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Re: New Book

Postby jrr1148 on Wed Dec 04, 2013 1:23 pm

Read "Command and Control" and was much impressed. As a MMMod crewmember, I was unaware of the intricate and hazardous procedures which were inherent with the Titan II. The author's insight into previously classified command and control procedures regarding the nuclear strike force "opens a window" to those things which we were unable to discuss outside of closed areas. Recent disclosures of PAL (Permissive Access Links) procedures in the press may now illustrate to the general public the degree of professionalism exhibited and trust placed in junior offocers in the missile arena in the late 60's and early 70's.

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Re: New Book

Postby PASMAN II on Sat Jan 25, 2014 5:36 am

I just purchased "Command & Control" tonight. I am looking forward to sinking my teeth into this tome over the weekend! I'm a Minuteman III guy, so it will be interesting learning about the Titan and accident(s). I have also visited the Titan Museum in Green Valley, AZ. At least that will give me a small visual perspective on the system!
Last edited by PASMAN II on Sat Jan 25, 2014 7:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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