Monday, November 15, 2010

The Cold War – A Proud Cold Warrior’s Perspective

The entire world’s future was at stake for over 40 years. Two superpowers stood eye to eye daring each other to blink. Even though my part in the gamesmanship was very small, I firmly believe that my efforts and the efforts of millions of men and women like me, on both sides of the conflict, saved the world from nuclear annihilation. Vast amounts of resources, national treasures and individual effort were put into this conflict that dominated the world for so many years. A succession of United States Presidents and Soviet Chairmen played with our lives, sometimes they performed very well and sometimes they did not. There were instances where the Cold War teetered on the brink of getting hot and the respective leaders did very well cooling things down. At other times a leader faltered and his country ventured into a shooting war which cost them dearly. It happened to both sides.
But the Cold War wasn’t considered a real war, right? The United States of America (USA) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) never engaged in battle.  That is to say, not the traditional type of battle we think of when we hear the word war. From 1945 to 1991, the USA and the USSR engaged in a different type of battle; a battle of wills, wits, determination and the expenditure of financial resources that eventually caused one country to call an end to the madness. Proxy wars were fought but the two main parties never fully engaged. The USA and the USSR participated in various conflicts during the Cold War where they fought through other countries, hence the term proxy wars. There were many proxy engagements with the most known conflicts being the Korean, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Angolan wars. The Korean War became the first major trial of the United Nations Organization’s ability to pull together and stop aggression. The Vietnam War became President Lyndon Johnson’s nightmare and caused him to not seek re-election. The Afghanistan War in the 1980s became the USSR’s version of the Vietnam War with the USA supporting the Mujahedeen fighters against the Soviets just like the Soviets backed the North Vietnamese against the USA a decade earlier. Angola in 1975 is a good example of a proxy war because multiple nations from both sides interjected themselves into a civil war through resident factions.
Thus you may ask why I call myself a proud cold warrior. I am very proud of the time I served our country as a U. S. Navy Petty Officer protecting our nation from this threat. Most citizens never knew what was happening but threats did occur. Initially, being in the Navy was just a job for me. Subsequently, I realized that I was doing something worthwhile and recognized that my part in the Cold War was important. One worthwhile activity was important and thrilling at the same time. It was when we “picked up” a contact and recognized it as a Soviet submarine. We then played a game of hide and seek; it could be a deadly game if circumstances were such that we engaged the target too strongly, or if the submarine commander were inexperienced and overreacted. Accidents did happen – both USA and USSR submarines were lost at sea, some through collisions with surface ships and some collided with each other. (For a wonderful Hollywood version of what I am writing about, view the movie, The Bedford Incident. It is fiction but a great example of a Cold War storyline).
Inevitably, the Cold War ended as all wars end. Numerous factors caused the end to come at that time but in my opinion, the main reason for the end of the Cold War was the unending expense. Both countries’ economies could not sustain the military expenditure one-upmanship any longer. I think Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev recognized that fact and in their own ways put the idea of peace into motion. My thoughts are that President Reagan wanted to win (peace through strength doctrine) and Chairman Gorbachev wanted to give his citizens a better life than the ones they had endured for over 70 years (Perestroika). It took a while, but the end started as the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 and was finally over in 1991 when the USSR dissolved.  Here is an excerpt that addresses the end of the Cold War from the book The Cold War, A New History by John Lewis Gaddis – “And so the Cold War ended, much more abruptly than it began. As Gorbachev had told Bush at Malta, it was “ordinary people” who made that happen….” (First page of Epilogue). This quote really resonated with me for I consider myself just an ordinary guy who did his job during those years. The USA won and I am proud that I was able to participate in winning the Cold War. Therefore, I am a proud cold warrior.

Works Cited
Gaddis, John Lewis, The Cold War, A New History, New York: The Penguin Press, 2005, Print
Sontag, Sherry and Drew, Christopher, with Annette Lawrence Drew,
Blind Man’s Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage,
New York, Harper Collins, 1998, Print
Submarine Collisions, <>, posting
by SkiBum5 based on Blind Man’s Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine
The Bedford Incident, <>, DVD on Sony Pictures
Home Entertainment
Weir, Gary E. and Boyne, Walter J., Rising Tide: The Untold Story of the Russian Submarines that
Fought the Cold War, New York, Basic Books, 2003, Print

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

CIA's 60th Anniversary article

This article was shared by another site -
Photo is by TD Barnes
If you love aviation news, go to this site! They have article after article for your reading pleasure.
Re-posted by permission. Thank you Roger and Mike.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
It was like old home week for a group of Roadrunners at the Central Intelligence Agency today as they visited with CIA families and employees at the agency's annual family day event where thousands attended. Day three of the Oxcart Legacy tour allowed the pioneers of the "Project Oxcart' the opportunity to bond with former colleagues of the agency and their families amidst the stunning A-12 that's on display at headquarters in Virginia. Mission and personnel details of project were declassified in 2007 where a number of the project personnel attended the ceremony to commemorate the declassification and celebrate the 60th anniversary of the CIA.
CIA Article #128 (Serial #60-06931) was the first operationally outfitted A-12 to reach Mach 3 at Groom Lake, Nevada. Today Article 128 is proudly displayed at CIA Hqs. in Langley aloft on three stainless steel pylons in an operational flight attitude at 80,000 feet, nose up 8 degrees and in a 9 degree roll. 

Director of the CIA, Leon Panetta addressed the large crowd today gathered in front the A-12 and spoke about the heroism of these early aerospace pioneers.

He personally thanked A-12 personnel that attended the event including Lockheed Industrial Manager for the project, Bob Murphy; project pilot Ken Collins, Dr. Gene Poteat, who was responsible for pioneering stealth technologies; TD Barnes, hypersonic support specialist Dennis Nordquist with Pratt and Whitney who designed the one of a kind J-58 engines; Roger Anderson USAF operations for the 1129th Special Activities Squadron,as well as SR-71 pilots, Col Richard Graham USAF (Ret) and Col. Buzz Carpenter USAF (Ret)
The event today was especially meaningful because it gave remembrance to two A-12 pilots Walt Ray and Jack Weeks who gave their lives in the line of duty while piloting the Mach 3 aircraft," said TD Barnes, Roadrunner Internationale President and Director of the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame. Two stars are engraved in the wall in front the aircraft memorializing their heroism.

'We are so proud and grateful to be here today to educate and inform people about the program under the beautifully displayed Article 128," said Barnes. "The plane symbolizes the accomplishments of the Agency and the 'Secret Heroes of the Cold War'.

Barnes also said today he was reassured that in light of the worldwide challenges we face today, the morale of the Agency under the leadership of Director seems higher than ever.

Barnes and the others were especially happy to talk with young children interested in this sleek, black aircraft that protected our country during hostile times. "We were impressed to see the interest of the children within the CIA families," he said.

Roadrunner Mike Schmitz worked with project pilot Frank Murray and the agency to make a photographic tribute to the A-12 secret heroes. The photograph was for sale at the family day event. "I was very honored to share the day with the individuals that have such pride in their accomplishments," he said.

Special Note: I am truly overwhelmed and honored to have participated in this wonderful event today. It gives me great satisfaction to witness the pride the agency takes in the family tradition and it is a great privilege to see our Cold War Warriors honored.
Submitted by Connie Pardew
   Photos by TD Barnes

Monday, September 20, 2010

On Vets Day, thank a Cold Warrior

Veteran's Day is here once again, lets remember those that served in the longest war ever for this country, the Cold War. This was originally published in 2008 but it still has strong meaning today. Millions of dedicated military and civilian Cold Warriors on both sides maintained a status quo that eventually freed us all from the threat of nuclear annihilation. Sadly, there is strong Sabre rattling from our old adversary, Russia and we may be heading into an era of renewed Cold War. A Cold War 2.0 to use modern vernacular. The below words rang true for me and I invite you to read them and then email me with your Proud Cold Warrior story. I’d be glad to post it here.
The Proud Cold Warrior

On Vets Day, thank a Cold Warrior

On Veterans Day, wreaths honor the dead and speeches honor the living. Gravestones and memorials recall World War II, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam. Members of veterans' groups proudly wear caps that display the names of the wars or battles they survived. Veterans of Desert Storm and the current fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq are welcomed and cheered.

It is fitting that all these men and women be recognized for their contributions in defense of their country. They are not, however, the only ones who should be honored.

A curious aspect of the annual ritual of honoring war veterans is that seldom, if ever, do we remember the veterans of the longest war, one that ended in victory for the United States. From 1945 until 1991, the Cold War dominated American military and foreign policy. To oppose the expansionist policy of the Soviet Union and to counter its arsenal of nuclear weapons, the United States needed thousands of men and women in hundreds of places and ships around to world to act as firm obstacles to the spread of Soviet influence and control.

Millions of service members answered the call to duty during that period. They were draftees and volunteers, lifers and those who served one term and returned to civilian life. They were in every branch of the armed forces.

Theirs were not the intense heroics associated with the Battle of Midway, the Normandy landings, the Chosin Reservoir, Khe San or the invasions of Iraq. Rather, they were in places like the Distant Early Warning line in Canada, eyes fixed on radar screens, watching, waiting and hoping that the Soviet Union's bombers would not dare cross the North Pole and start World War III.

They were in tanks overlooking Germany's Fulda Gap, watching, waiting and hoping that the Warsaw Pact's heavy armor would not attempt to overwhelm them and pour into Western Europe.
They were in nuclear bomb-loaded aircraft, watching, waiting and hoping not to use the terrible weapons entrusted to them.

They were in ships, submarines, and aircraft, watching, waiting, and hoping that Admiral Gorshkov's navy would not challenge them into starting a war that could destroy the world.
They were the support forces providing food, laundry, fuel and all the other services necessary to keep the forces ready.

There was no glamour. There were no pictures on the cover of Life magazine.

There was numbing monotony, deep loneliness and homesickness. There were heat and cold, bland food, seasickness and fatigue. Training exercises were repeated until they thought fatigue would make them collapse, and then they did it again. And again.

But they were ready. They were confident. That was why they succeeded -- with victory, not the ambiguity, or worse, that ended other wars.

Because of these soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen in the Cold War, the Soviet Union realized the futility of further military adventures. They knew that they could not succeed against people so trained and motivated.

Because of those veterans, the Soviets gave up. They just quit, and the Soviet Union ceased to exist, as poet T.S. Eliot wrote: "Not with a bang but a whimper".

Without these veterans' dedication, the "bang" might have been the end of the world. The veterans of the Cold War prevented that from happening. They did not liberate Paris or Baghdad; they liberated the world from fear of nuclear war.

The memorial to them is not on a gravestone or an obelisk in a public square. It is not a name on a veterans' cap.

The memorial is a world in which the threat of nuclear annihilation has been eliminated.
Earl Higgins is a retired commander in the U.S. Navy with 26 combined years of active and reserve service from 1963-89.
First Published: Monday, November 10, 2008 by the Annette Sisco blog,, The Times-Picayune newspaper’s online presence, New Orleans, LA. Provided here with permission from the author Earl Higgins.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

How I served. My Cold Warrior story

I was an east coast sailor except for a tour along the western coast of South America on one cruise. It was Unitas 13 and we were providing training for the navies of the countries down there. Most of my 10 years were spent cruising up and down the eastern seaboard playing war games, providing plane guard duty for carrier ops, and chasing submarines. I enjoyed the time but changed careers when I decided to become a family man. I spent 7 out of the 10 years at sea and that is not a good arrangement for raising children. During my time there was no secret stuff, no exciting standoffs with the enemy, just an occasional contact with a suspected Soviet submarine, a very close flyover by a Bear patrol plane now and then, and of course, getting in the way of the so called innocent trawler hanging around outside of the harbor. About the closest I ever came to Russian sailors was in the Naval Yard in Philadelphia in the mid-1970s. For some crazy reason we were selling grain to the Russians and they would send ships into the Philly port. The grain ships would pass right by the drydock and several Russians would be out there with cameras and binoculars. We would hold up Playboy and Hustler magazines and the Russian sailors would go crazy! It would go from 2 or 3 people to so many we couldn't count how many were on deck. It was funny to see their reaction to magazines that we took for granted. I served on three ships - U.S.S. Farragut DLG-6 (72-75), U.S.S. Guam LPH-11 (75-76), Navy Recruiting Command Los Angeles (76-79), and U.S.S. Harold J. Ellison DD-864 (79-82).  Please connect with me if we served together. I'd like to get re-aquainted. John Kairis, MM1

Getting started

Please use the comments section to leave your Cold Warrior story. I am very interested in hearing how others served.


Where did you serve? Military or Civilian? Stateside or Overseas. Fulda Gap? Berlin? NATO? CIA? State Department? The Dew Line? On a Missile Battery? Down in a Silo? At Sea? Under the Sea? In the Air? According to the VA over 26 million Vets are still alive. I'd bet that most served in the 1945-1991 time frame and I'd like to share your story on this blog. As long as it isn't still classified, email me with your story and I will post it here.