Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas in Korea - A Cold Warrior's story

I have had various Cold War Veterans share their Christmas stories with me. Here is the first one which is a re-post from last year.

It still gets to me. I will share others over the next few days.

Christmas Eve, 1979, Republic of Korea.
   It was dark and cold on the flight line. I was all bundled up in my parka and layers of clothing. I was alone with nothing but the lights in each revetment to keep me company. I walked with my toolbox by the revetments all lined up on either side of a taxiway. The revetments were big half shells of cement and steel designed to protect the aircraft from attack. Each one contained an F-4E Phantom fighter. The fighters were painted in various shades of olive drab in a camouflage pattern. Save for the nose that was painted with the large black eyes, white teeth and blood red mouth of a shark.  On the back of the revetment was a fence separating the restricted aircraft areas and the rest of the base.
   Soon I found the revetment containing the fighter I needed to work on. I climbed up on the left wing and opened a panel on the fuselage.  It was Christmas Eve, and I was on the other side of the planet from my South Dakota home. It was cold and the wind whistled through the half shell buildings. I worked on the broken wires frequently blowing on my hands to keep them warm. The work was too delicate to do with gloves on. I didn’t feel sorry for myself though it would have been nice to have some company.  There were many places, warm places, I would have rather been.
   Is I worked I began to hear singing. Familiar music but the words I didn’t understand. I climbed off the aircraft and followed the singing to behind the revetment. I went through an opening and found myself standing next to the fence.  On the other side of the fence lined up facing me there were about ten Korean children and a couple of adults. The children were singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas in Korean. As I stood there they then sang Silent Nightand I joined in. After the songs one of the adults came up and said, “Merry Christmas Sergeant. We saw you out here by yourself so the children wanted to sing to you so we stopped the bus.”
   This was about as much as I could handle as the tears started rolling down my face.
   “All this just for me?” I asked quietly.
   “Yes Sergeant. The children know you are far from home to protect them so they wanted to give you their song.”
   I knelt down to the level of the children and said thank you, “Kom som ni da, kom som ni da” over and over and to each one individually.
   The children started talking back as they waved and headed back to the bus. They shouted things in Korean I didn’t understand. The man looked at me and said, “They are saying, thank you freedom soldier.” I thanked him once again as he left to join the children. The children and I waved to each other as they drove away. I walked back to the aircraft and climbed the wing and got back to work. “How wonderful, “I thought, “kind of makes it all worthwhile.  Thank you Lord for the gift … and … Happy Birthday.”
   It was cold and dark and quiet as I worked on the fighter. I didn’t notice, for I was lit up with warmth and happiness.

-  MSgt Glenn P. Kuehner, USAF (Ret)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Scooby-Doo and a Cold War Connection? - You Bet According to One Scooby Fan

When I saw the headline announcing a connection between the Cold War and Scooby-Doo cartoons, I just had to read it!

This is so off the wall, funny, and interesting at the same time. It takes a real stretch of the imagination but try to put yourself into the mindset that Scooby-Doo is a real dog and not a cartoon character. Then, evaluate the story from the viewpoint; could the USSR have accomplished this...

Here is an excerpt: "Scooby was bred as a super-intelligent test subject for the Soviets' space program".

Link over and read the whole article at - Scooby-Doo Fan Theory

Scooby-Doo Where Are You? theme song - 

Thank you to for the link to the full article and poster isurukill for the theme song video link.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Cold War Heroes Series Begins With The First Recorded CIA Casualty, Douglas Mackiernan

Most Cold Warriors have seen a photo of the CIA's Wall of Stars where there are 103 stars depicting the agents that have made the ultimate sacrifice. For those that have not, below is the official image from the CIA Flickr page.

Today's post is about the first man who paid that ultimate price thanks to an article from Lee Edwards at The Daily Signal publication.

Douglas Mackiernan was recruited into the CIA as it formed in 1947 and served in Urumqi in Western China. He observed and reported on the growth of the Soviet nuclear capability.

I'm not one to spoil a good story with my lead in statements so I'll just stop here and allow you to link over to the original article to read the balance of Mr. Mackiernan's exploits.

To access the original story link over here: Meet the Cold War Hero We Should Never Forget

I dug a little deeper to learn more about this man and found the official CIA recognition of his service. You can read their version at this link - Remembering CIA's Heroes: Douglas Mackiernan.

Thank you to Lee Edwards of the Heritage Foundation's, The Daily Signal, for bringing this story to us and for allowing this link to the original article.

Thank you to the website for the access link to their profile of Mr. Mackiernan.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

FAIL-SAFE ! One of the Cold War's Excellent Books, Movie, and TV Show

FAIL-SAFE was originally printed as a serial in The Saturday Evening Post, then as a book in 1962, in 1964 it became a movie starring Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau and a very young Larry Hagman, and uniquely, it became a live broadcast TV show in 2000.

First the Book
Original 1964 Book Cover
Written by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler, published in 1962 at the height of tensions between the USSR and USA. Which is acknowledged in the Preface section - "The people in this novel are our contemporaries and they deal with a problem that is already upon us. It is being discussed daily in Washington, Moscow, London, and elsewhere by heads of state, diplomatic and military experts. Men of good will and ill have been agonizing over the problem for years. They have found no solution". The balance of the Preface goes on to explain the reason they wrote the book and make a prediction that, thankfully, never came true - "The accident may not occur in the way we describe but the laws of probability assure us that ultimately it will occur. The logic of politics tells us that when it does, the only way out will be a choice of disasters".

What a great way to start a novel about the nuclear threat. To predict that what they write in the book as fiction, may well become fact in the future. Especially in 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis!

The predicted accident did not happen because we, the American Cold Warriors, faced down the Soviets and by our dedication, perseverance, and strength, we convinced them to not continue the Cold War.

The book is slightly different than the movie in that on the written pages within numerous chapters, time allows for a much deeper character development and exploration. One major difference I noticed is that the Matador reference in the movie, is not in the book at all. I liked the conflict depicted within General Black in the movie and looked for it in the book. The book is a quick read and I finished it in a week's worth of reading in bed before sleep. It is written well enough to allow your mind to visualize the scenes, though I did keep seeing the movie version of the depicted scene from memory when the written words replicated the movie scene. I did not watch the movie again before reading the book. The book's end is less climatic than the movie but it must have been very hard for the writers to come up with an ending that describes the nuclear destruction of New York. The movie does the ending really well as you will see when you watch it.

I give the book 5 Stars. The book is available for purchase at Amazon with prices ranging from $2.99 to $60.00 for a first edition. I found my first edition in a church thrift store for $2.00.

The Movie
Original 1964 Movie Poster

Original 1964 Movie Trailer

I love the movie. It really is a toss between this one, Dr. Strangelove, and the Bedford Incident as my favorite Cold War movie. 

Dr. Strangelove came out before FAIL-SAFE and I have read revues that the audience expected FAIL-SAFE to be a black comedy competing with Dr. Strangelove and were disappointed when they realized it was a fictional realistic drama. 

Drama it is. And a strong one given the temperament of the world at that time with the Cuban Missile Crisis still influencing the American psychic. The USSR and the USA were building their respective nuclear arsenals more and more every day during these times. The Cold war was raging and here is a movie depicting a technological accident that could start WWIII. Though it did not do well in the box office it has become a classic and one of TCM's Essentials movie to watch. The movie is based on a fictional novel so it does take license on military procedures, references, and depictions of aircraft, etc. You Air Force veterans that were in SAC at this time would be better suited to comment on if the military portions were realistic or not.

I give the movie 5 Stars. The movie is available for purchase in a DVD and as a download from Amazon Video. I rented it on Amazon for $2.99.

The TV Show
2000 Made For TV Live Acting Version

April 2000 Live TV Version Trailer

This version of FAIL-SAFE is a live broadcast on CBS in 2000 that follows the original movie to the "T". The dialog seems to be the same, the scenes seem to be the same, and I thought I was watching a Hollywood remake with current actors. Don't get me wrong, I liked it. The actors involved are the top stars of that time, their performances are excellent and I wholeheartedly recommend watching it. It is done in black and white and because it is a DVD of the original live broadcast airing you get the sense that you are watching it live. Even down to the flubbed line here and there. No redo in live TV! 

I give it 5 Stars. The DVD is available online for purchase. It is not available on Amazon Video. I got my copy at the dollar store bargain bin.

The TV live broadcast version is what started the whole idea to read the book, watch the original movie, and the TV version to do a blog post on the differences.

Read the book, watch the original movie, or watch the TV live broadcast version. Or do all three as I have! You will enjoy it no matter how you consume the story. 

In my opinion, it is a Proud Cold Warriors' must do item!

Burdick, Eugene & Wheeler, Harvey, FAIL-SAFE, McGraw-Hill, 1962, New York, Print
FAIL-SAFE, Columbia Pictures, released September 15, 1964, Movie
FAIL_SAFE, Warner Brothers, released April 16, 2000, staged and telecast on live TV

Thank you to for the digital images. Original 1962 book jacket design by Larry Lurin.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Cyber Monday Reduced Prices and Free Shipping On The New Cold War Veteran T-Shirt Choices

I have had feedback asking for a personal choice of t-shirt to be included with joining The Proud Cold Warrior Society.

Well, here you go. Ask and you shall receive.

I also decided to reduce prices when Spreadshirt, our t-shirt supplier, decided to provide free delivery on orders of two or more shirts.

Double your savings on Black Friday and the Cyber Weekend! The promo ends on December 1st.

Join the Society for the Proud Cold Warrior membership benefits and then order a second Cold War Veteran shirt with your military branch emblem to get free shipping!

I have set up our site to have the following choices of shirt image when you join the Society.

There is the original Proud Cold Warrior logo, Proud Cold Warrior Cold War Veteran version, The SAC "We Were The Wall" t-shirts, and the newest images with each of the military service emblem Cold War Veteran versions nicely placed on the breast pocket location.

The shirts are available as part of the Society sign up or as a separate purchase of the T-shirt alone.

Society membership is reduced to $25.99 from $29.99, and the t-shirt alone is reduced from $25.99 to $21.99 during the promotion.

Click on the image below and it will take you right to the ordering site for access to two pages of choices.

Remember, when joining The Proud Cold Warrior Society, you will receive lifetime membership, a t-shirt, and a suitable for framing 11x17 full color certificate.

Come back and check often as we add new images constantly.

Please email me if you have an idea for a new image. We will take your idea and develop a t-shirt for you.

Join us at The Proud Cold Warrior Society today!

The Proud Cold Warrior

Important note: email me when you join the Society please. Spreadshirt cannot share your contact information because of credit card usage laws and we will have no way to get your certificate to you without you contacting us directly.

Second note: The Spreadshirt legal team rejected our U S Marines version of the Cold War Veteran t-shirt image because of copyright infringement. Who knew the Marines copyrighted their emblem! I have appealed the decision. If I loose the appeal, we will come up with a different one for the Marines. The other 4 branches are represented with t-shirt options.

Original Proud Cold Warrior Logo

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to my readers in the USA.

I wish you all a joy filled day with family and friends.

The Proud Cold Warrior

Norman Rockwell's art on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post Thanksgiving 1945

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Military "Toon" Art

I discovered Steve Barba's art this week. He posted samples of his art on an automotive art Facebook page I belong to and I thought it needed to be shared with you all here.

Steve is a fellow veteran who did his time in the Air Force keeping the "Heavies" (his words) aloft as a mechanic.

I have never seen "Tooned" military aircraft art before. If you know of an artist that does military art of any kind, please refer them to me and I'll share it here as well.

Here you go:

To help show the contrast of just how different Steve's military aircraft art is, here are a few samples of a celebrated traditional military aircraft artist, Roy Grinnell:

Thank you to Steve Barba and the Roy Grinnell Aviation Art Fan Page on Facebook for access to the images you see here today.

To see more please link over to their respective web pages - for Steve's art sales and to see more of Roy Grinnell's art.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Third World War - The Proud Cold Warrior's First Book Review

I came across the book, The Third World War August 1985, in a church thrift store. Being a Cold War veteran who read a lot, I was familiar that the book existed, so I purchased it as background information to help me produce this blog. I was, and still am to a degree, lacking in knowledge of what the military men and women stationed in Europe during the Cold War endured. If you served in Europe during the Cold War and would like to be a guest poster and tell your story or anecdotes, email me at

If you do not know this book and the follow up novel and comic books, please read on.

As I was reading The Third World War August 1985, book reviews to assist me in developing a review for this blog, I learned that the book spawned another novel, Team Yankee, and a comic book series that eventually became a graphic novel.

An idea came to me - read the whole series and then blog on it!

The quest started at Amazon of course. Team Yankee the novel, and Team Yankee the graphic novel were easy to find and purchase. A good start, now for the comic books.

I found one issue, #6 of the comic book series, in a bargain bin at the comic book store at the mall. For the others, I visited every comic book store in the area. No luck. Most never heard of Team Yankee. Ok, back to online! Why am I wasting gas? But, the nerd in me urged me to keep going to comic book stores. I ended up buying other comic books also.

I found the other 5 comic book issues in quick succession, ordered them, and they arrived. Now to reading them all.


Fascinating stuff! As a Navy veteran who's Cold War time was aboard combat vessels that never went to Europe or Asia, I have no personal direct experience with confronting the Soviets face-to-face, so to say. I was an east coast sailor. We always turned right or left after leaving port. The North Atlantic or Caribbean. But, those days are stories for future post.

Except for one, a funny story while in the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

The Soviet Navy never did come near the ships I served on where I could see individuals up close. I am quite sure the ships were observed through a Soviet sub's periscope and from above with their patrol aircraft. My only up close personal experience with Soviet sailors was from a few hundred yards away on the Delaware river in Pennsylvania. Yes, I did say Pennsylvania. There were Soviets that visited Philadelphia to receive grain shipments during the 1970s. As their cargo ship passed by the USS Farragut in dry-dock, the Soviet sailors would be topside trying to get as many photographs as possible. On our side, we would hold up centerfolds from men's magazines. The Soviets would be using binoculars and long lenses on their cameras to see the naked women on the pages. We would be hooting and hollering and they were hooting and hollering back. I realized then, they were sailors like us, our enemy to be sure, but horny sailors just like us.

OK, I got sidetracked, back to the review.

I really enjoyed reading the whole series. The Third World War August 1985 was a very interesting, educational exercise, it is fiction, but fiction based on existing doctrine and war plans of the time. The Team Yankee novel was exciting, and the comic book series based on the novel is done very well. The graphic novel is a repeat of the comic book series in a single volume, if you don't want to hunt down the individual comic books like I did, buy the graphic novel. It is still available online.

The Third World War August 1985 reads like a major blockbuster movie script; plenty of action, plenty of background information, all from the 50 thousand foot level of a commander looking at the entire theater of war. Sort of a Longest Day for the Cold War.

The Team Yankee novel takes that environment established in The Third World War August 1985 and brings it down to ground level. The ground level of a tank platoon commander and his team fighting the Soviets during the short but bloody war between East and West. Now we are in Tom Clancy territory writing wise, with strong character development and a down to earth story line that is not closely presented in the first book, but related in that you are now seeing the same war from the individual troopers eyes. To some readers it may be formulaic with the characters in that there is an experienced company commander, eager lieutenant, rookie tanker that makes mistakes, the Viet Nam vet Sargent that advises the commander, and bumbling officers that cost lives. Well, it may be formulaic but it is reality. We had all those in the military. Especially in the 70s and 80s. That part is real.  It is a very good read.

Is the series accurate in its description of what it was like to be a soldier in Germany in the 80s? I don't know for sure, I'll rely on my readers to let me know. I was floating around the world on a Destroyer in those years and would not know what it was like on the ground in Germany.

The comic book/graphic novel series holds true to the story line in the Team Yankee novel providing visual interpretations of the written words on the pages. The graphics are done in the 1980s format and was published in full color and detail. Fans of reading war comic books will not be disappointed. As I stated earlier above, if you do not collect comic books, I recommend that you order the graphic novel for it has every page of the individual issues included.

I obtained my comic book copies from They are excellent for collectors with a huge inventory and the ability to request copies that are not in stock. They will inform you when they receive it and you can purchase it online. Easy.

The Team Yankee novel and graphic novel came from

Click on the highlighted links to access the websites.

Of course, the novels may be in your local library but I do not think the comic books will be.

Thank you to the authors, publishers, and artist for allowing me to post the images on their books on this page. I enjoyed your work.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Lone Soviet Space Shuttle Launch

As a young boy watching the American space program compete with the USSR on who will make it to the moon first, I became a lifelong fan of NASA. I, like so many others my age, wanted to be an astronaut but it never came to be. As an adult I obtained the opportunity to re-live that feeling when I picked up NASA as a customer and actually got to touch a wing of the shuttle in the assembly building back in the early 1990s. It was a thrill! I was in my 40s in age but was as excited as that young NASA fan so many years before.

In the early days of the Cold War the USSR was winning the Space Race with many "First"; Sputnick, a dog launched into space, and then man, and woman, orbits. The USA caught up, passed, and then surpassed anything the USSR could do and reached the Moon first. The USSR never did reach the Moon with humans but they did catch up to us with the Space Shuttle program.

I wondered about how much their shuttle looked like ours and was thinking they stole the design but in reality the American Space Shuttle program was an "Open" development effort with the information and engineering provided to anyone who wished to build a shuttle. That fact probably saved billions of Rubles and countless years of work.

Here is the story of the only flight of the Soviet Space Shuttle on November 15, 1988.

Buran Soviet Space Shuttle 

Here is an excerpt from the article on

In the early morning hours of November 15, 1988, the desert land beneath Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome began to rumble. Moments later, a huge column of red flame ignited the darkness as the gleaming black-and-white Buran reusable spacecraft, the Soviet version of the American space shuttle, thundered into the heavens.

The launch of Buran (Russian for "snowstorm") from the same patch of central Asia from which Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin rocketed into space marked a new milestone in the Soviet space program. The first test flight of the Soviet space shuttle came in . . .

To read the rest of the story please link over to the full article at this link.

Here is a video of the launch:

Thank you to the website for the link and photograph usage. Thank you to and the Russian poster that provided the video (I cannot replicate the name in English).

Friday, November 6, 2015

A Future Adversary Was Born On This Date In 1917 - The Bolsheviks Revolt In Russia

In my readings over the years, some scholars and historians write that this event and President Wilson's reaction to it, is the real start of the Cold War. I contend that the underpinnings of the Cold War were certainly formed in these early years by President Wilson's and Prime Minister Churchill's reaction of sending troops into Russia but the Cold War certainly did not start in 1917.

I am part of the faction that follows the thought that distrust between east and west allies during World War 2 and the subsequent bad faith negotiations after the war started the Cold War. Stalin never forgot the long wait for the second front in France when negotiating with the allies as they divided up Europe. He started the distrust of the west and insecurity doctrine concerning their borders that stayed with the Soviets the entire time the USSR existed. Lenin was more of a take the world over Marxist and Stalin was a paranoid individual that felt the USSR needed space between the west and their borders. The export of Marxism was not as important to Stalin as it was to Lenin. Subsequent Soviet leaders until Gorbachev kept that security doctrine alive.

Also, this may have been the start of the Russian Revolution but it was not the start of the USSR, that entity was formed in 1922, five years later. The Bolsheviks fought a bloody civil war (1920-1922) to ultimately solidify their power over the people. The Red and White armies clashed during these years with the west assisting the White army. The USA and Britain invaded parts of Russia, supposedly to secure the arms that were given to the Russians to fight World War 1, but Lenin believed that they were there to assist the White army. For more information on that campaign Google the Polar Bear Expedition or Northern Russia Expedition.

The article leaves out if just how nasty a killer Lenin was. I read a biography of Lenin and I was amazed at just how evil this guy acted. He killed tens of thousands at the drop of a hat if he thought they opposed what he was trying to attain with his revolution. One footnote I read in the biography explained how he ordered the bombardment of a military base because they had the audacity to protest parts of his program for taking over the country. The book stated he killed an estimated 40,000 sailors during that engagement because they dared to oppose him!

His lack of sanctity for human life is only surpassed by his successive Communist leader Stalin in the USSR and Mao in China. To this day, I do not know which of those two were worse when it came to killing their own citizens. I lean towards Stalin because he killed them outright with executive orders and death warrants. Mao killed millions with his poorly managed 5-year programs of reorganizing the country. Famine caused starvation which caused the death of millions of citizens. Mao killed his people through execution also but not in the magnitude history shows Stalin to have done.

98 years ago this week, the world took one of those historical turns it has done throughout recorded history. With the news reports coming out of that part of the world recently, are we heading back to that entity, or some form of it, again with Putin's actions? That will be interesting to watch and report on.

Hmmmmm, is a Cold War 2 blog in my future?

To read the whole article, jump over to it with this LINK.

Here is a quick 4 minute video explaining the timeline of the Russian Revolution that put Lenin in power:

Thank you to for allowing me to link to their article. Thank you to and the poster OSUEcampus for allowing me to use the video.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

New Cold War Veteran T-Shirt Available Now!

Here is the latest in t-shirts from The Proud Cold Warrior.

Follow this link to our sales page and order yours today!

Thanks for supporting The Proud Cold Warrior blog with your purchase.

John Kairis
The Proud Cold Warrior

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Followup to the Bridge of Spies" Movie - Swarthmore professor snared in "Bridge of Spies"

The twist in the "Bridge of Spies" movie for me was the inclusion of a American grad student in the negotiations. His release was facilitated at the infamous Checkpoint Charlie. I always hope to learn new things about the Cold War every time I open a web link from my Google Alert feed. None of the articles and reviews I read on the movie mentioned Professor Pryor at all. I purposely did not research the historical side of the story so I wouldn't spoil the movie when I watched it for the first time. I didn't want to know the real story until after I saw the movie for entertainment value.

The article I link to today for you is the true side of his part of the event, as told by him, to the reporter. As usual, the real version and the Hollywood version differ some. I think they call it artistic license?

Follow this link to read the complete article: Swarthmore prof was snared in "Bridge of Spies" case

Professor Pryor 2015
Thank you to the website for allowing me to link to the article and to Laurence Kesterson for the re-posting of the photograph.

If you would like additional information about Checkpoint Charlie, here are two videos. One is a 28 minute general version about the site and the other is about a specific incident where American and Soviet tanks stood muzzle to muzzle once. Both are from the early 1960s. Good stuff.

Checkpoint Charlie - 28 minutes - U S Army Documentary

4 minute segment of a CNN show on a Checkpoint Charlie standoff in 1961

Thank you to and posters Bright Enlightenment and Jaglavak Soldier for allowing me to link to their post. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Major Rudolf Anderson Jr. - The Cuban Missile Crisis' Unsung Hero

I present today's post in the continuing effort to point out the false belief that the Cold War was fought without firing a shot. It is not true.

One of those Cold War casualties happened 53 years ago today.

Major Rudolf Anderson Jr. was a U-2 pilot who lost his life as a result of direct SAM missile fire from the Soviets stationed on Cuba. During Anderson's photographic overflight mission in the sky above Cuba on October 27, 1962; Soviet Lieutenant General Stephan Grechko gave the order to fire two SA-2 SAMs that brought down Anderson's aircraft.

Major Rudolf Anderson Jr.

This trigger action, and the naval blockade confrontations, caused both world leaders, Kennedy and Khrushchev, to pause and think about where the escalation in hostilities was leading, and as we now know, negotiate a settlement.

There is always a cause and effect to every action in life and this action motivated the start of negotiations that ended the Cuban Missile Crisis peacefully.

Please link over an read the full article at It has many additional facts surrounding this event in Cold War history.

Did you know that not all the nukes left the island right away?

To learn more; link over to the complete article and other interesting facts here.

Thank you to the website for access to the article and photograph.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Soviet "War Scare" Report Declassified and Released

The long discussed "Able Archer 83" exercise war scare report from 1990 has been declassified and released to the public with the headline that the event was "REAL". I was not there but for those of you that were, I am quite sure you knew it was REAL!

I did a quick look at President Reagan's published diary pages for the early November time line of the exercise and of course no specific "Able Archer 83" entry. His November 2 entry was about Grenada and the Martin Luther King Jr. day bill signing. He traveled extensively in those 10 days. The only hints that something happened are in the November 4 entry - " . . . We flew back to Wash. - a few meetings & then to Camp David . . ." and then the November 5 & 6 entry - " . . . I think Security had some worries about a plot to rocket the M-1." (1).

The events of the "Able Archer 83" exercise are probably not foreign to some of this blog's audience. As I said above, I was not involved but if you were and want to share your story of how you were involved in "Able Archer 83" now that you can speak of it, I will be glad to post it on The Proud Cold Warrior blog for the world to read. Write a short article of 300-500 words and email it to

I'd love it if any of my overseas readers would provide the view from the European or Soviet viewpoint. My analytic software shows that I have 255 readers in Russia and hundreds more throughout Europe. I'd have to load the translation module but I will do so if you do not know English.

An article on the release can be read here: The National Security Archives website

They also have a section dedicated to "Able Archer 83" here: Able Archer 83 Sourcebook

I'll have to get a copy of the report and do an extensive post on the contents.

Thank you to The National Security Archive blog for allowing me to link to their site.

(1) Reagan, Ronald, The Reagan Diaries, as edited by Douglas Brinkley,(2009), 193-194, HarperCollins, New York, ISBN 978-0-06-155833-7

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Bridge of Spies movie revue

I, as many other Cold War era veterans, waited in anticipation for the Bridge of Spies movie to be released. Must be over a year or more ago that it was announced that two Hollywood icons of the modern age of movie making were doing the film, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Both of these men know how to draw in the viewer, entertain you while you are there, and then leave you thinking about what you had just seen for a lingering time thereafter.

How did they do this time you may ask?

From the viewpoint of the amateur Cold War historian that I am, it was worth the wait.

Yes, prior to seeing the movie, I researched the true story, read other's articles that were released when the movie was announced, and then waited for IMDB to release a trailer. The date came, movie tickets purchased (I took a non-veteran companion, my wife), and read a self-limited amount of the post release reviews from professional reviewers. I mainly read the other reviews to see how it is done for this is my first ever movie review.

After seeing the movie, I read some of the national press reviews, which I will comment on below.

OK, lets get started. Yes, I will see it again. The next time will be from the non-reviewer viewpoint. Did I enjoy it? Yes I did enjoy the whole movie. The story flowed well, there were no slow periods, there was enough diversity of scenes, and sub-plots to keep you informed of the true events and interested in what was going to happen next. In the humble opinion as a first time reviewer, Spielberg and Hanks did a good job of keeping me interested in what was going to happen next. Anticipation of where the movie is taking you is a key to being immersed in the story. Even though I knew the real story, I still gained a sense that there was something for me to see or learn in the next few minutes.

When I decided to review the movie for this blog I was at odds as to how to do it, what to say, etc so I read other movie reviews to see how it is done. Most were bad in that they either waxed philosophically about the subject or did a scene by scene description of the movie. Some were evidently trying to show how intelligent they were. You won't have that problem here with me!

I did not want to spoil the movie by doing a scene by scene description, I didn't want to try and sound like I'm this great movie aficionado, or share how intelligent I think I am; so what to do?

I decided to just take notes on certain points that grabbed me as a Cold War veteran and share them.

Here they are:

It was a war, a war of information, not of arms - true - the build up of arms was part of it but in the late 50s and early 60s, it was a war of information gathering. What was the other guy up to?

We have rules, there is a rule book, the Constitution - this scene is a not so subtle reminder that our legal system does have a rule book. It has been forgotten now and then in our Country's history.

There is a great scene that is gaining popularity with the other reviewers and it did strike me enough to recognize it. I see the "Standing Man" reference from the viewpoint that we veterans have that quality. I won't spoil the scene here by describing it or commenting on it any further.

The CGI in the U-2 shoot down is very well done.

Berlin is bleak - there are a few references as to the differences between the East and West sectors showing that East Berlin was still quite devastated 15 years after the war's end. If there is a reader who was there in that time period, please comment if this was true or not.

The differences in how the prisoners were treated in jail - East v. West, was shown though Spielberg chose to not show the Soviet spy, Abel's, treatment when he was in government custody prior to the trial. The viewer sees the arrest but does not get to see his interrogations. You do see Powers being interrogated several times.

A poignant scene for me is the shooting at the wall the Tom Hanks character, Donovan, witnesses. It later revisits his mind at the end of the movie and makes an unspoken statement of a major difference in American society to that of the Communist society of the era.

There is a twist during the Berlin negotiations that I just now decided to not share specifics here. I don't like "spoiler alerts" that other reviewers do so I won't do it here. Just watch for it.

As for other reviews and online comments - Spielberg took great pains to show small parts of life in America during those years. There is a scene that shows America of the early 60s through a commuter train window. This struck me during reading other revues and the comments of people who read them. The derogatory remarks about how wonderful everything looked, everyone was smartly dressed, etc made me think that these commenters do not know our country's societal history. The 50s and 60s were a prosperous time for America. The environment a successful lawyer lived in was that way. He would have had a nice home, would have shopped at Saks Fifth Avenue, his children and wife would have been dressed that way. The streets would have been clean, and well maintained homes and cars, would have been reality. Not everywhere was that way of course, especially in the inner cities, but in a successful lawyer's world, it would have been. I apologize, that was my soapbox moment for today!

Earlier I mention that Spielberg movies always leave you thinking about something, well, here is mine. There are two actually, one personal and one societal.

The Soviet spy, Abel, is a cool, calm, collected kind of character. He never seems to get rattled and answers, multiple times, with a question to the question - Don't you worry? Abel answers, Would it help? I need to instill that philosophy to my life.

The societal thought comes to me when I visualize two scenes from the movie. Spielberg has the Donovan character witness a Berlin Wall shooting that cancels the flight to freedom over the Berlin Wall for a group of young people trying to escape. The last scene is that of a group of young Americans jumping a fence in a backyard. My mind instantly saw the previous Berlin scene and realized where Spielberg was going with it - it was a statement of our two immensely different worlds at that time - the value of life given for the attempt at freedom. The Berlin youths wanted freedom badly enough to die for it. The American youths enjoy it as a God given right.

The Patrick Henry historical quote comes to mind - "If life is so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!".

Go see the movie, you will be glad you did.

Here is a glimpse:

Thank you to and DreamWorks Pictures/Fox 2000 Pictures for access to the trailer.

Monday, October 12, 2015

My Boy is Coming Home Today - a Cold Warrior's Poem

I woke up this morning as the sun was peaking through the curtains from a sound, level 4 REM sleep, dreaming of days gone by. It was the early 1970s, towards the end of the Vietnam War era, a part of my life that seems to creep back into to mind way too often now. Especially when I learn of a fellow veteran of those years passing on, as I learned twice in the past week. One from natural causes and one from suicide.

As an aspiring writer, I've trained myself to immediately write down my dreams for future story fodder. As I did so, the following poem emerged. It follows the dream sequence. Please excuse the structure for it is the first poem I have ever written.


My boy is coming home today
          Smartly dressed children at play
          Proud woman pressing his shirt
My boy is coming home today
          Military man's photo on a mantel
          The doorbell rings, it is time
My boy is coming home today
          Apprehension swells for all
          A row of black cars at the ready
My boy is coming home today
          Silent procession through the streets
          A strong hand holds hers
My boy is coming home today
          Red, white, and blue
          Folded flag, volley fire, taps
My boy is coming home today
          He always stood up for others
          And gave his life for them

My boy came home today

Please feel free to share this poem with others through social media, email, etc. Share it with your friends, relatives, and veterans where it may mean something to that person.

The copyright statement below is for anyone who would use this for commercial purposes. For that person, please connect with me at, and we can discuss royalty compensation.

Copyright © 2014-2015 by John Kairis & Kairis Family Enterprises (KFE) All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

More '80s Cold War Music - Land of Confusion - Genesis

On my day off recently, while working on our classic '80s Jag, I heard an old Genesis song on the radio.

My mind instantly visualized the music video that was shown on MTV over and over and over again. Yes, there was a time that MTV actually showed only music videos 24 hours per day!

It is unforgettable for a Cold Warrior like me because of the content, it depicts Ronald Reagan and a host of Cold War leaders and celebrities, as puppets. It is a dream sequence, very surrealistic, and an anti-war message that ends with a nuclear explosion.

I viewed the video several times, catching quick parodies to various notorious characters of the day, world leaders who were influential in the Cold War, and celebrities supporting peace in a "We Are The World" style scene of another music video that was extremely popular on MTV at the time.

After that, I read many, not all, the comments posted. The comments ranged from an aged peacenik who doesn't acknowledge that it was Ronnie Reagan that ended the Cold War, to a follower fan with a photo showing a person way too young to have been an adult during the Cold War, and various others that agree or disagree with him.

You can tell in the poster's words that he longs for the protest days of his youth much like we Cold Warriors long for the days of our youth defending his right to protest the very successful conclusion we attained, the fall of the Soviet Empire. Of course, no where in his writings is any mention that the USSR was the bad guy in those years. In one post, he even blames the current problems on Reagan. I don't know how he makes that connection but he did.

Hey Randy R - no one, and I mean no one, dislikes war more than those that will fight it, the warrior. But without us, there would be no peace.

John K
The Proud Cold Warrior

You can view the comments here.

Here is the link to the actual song lyrics.

Thank you to Genesis for the music, and MrPhil46 youtube poster for access to the video, and for the lyrics link.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

One Sailor's Cold Warrior Story

We have a guest post today!

Mike Kerr and I served on the same ship, the U.S.S. Harold J. Ellison, we served at different times but we steamed some of the same oceans, walked the same passageways, ate in the same mess decks, and listened to the same gun mounts roar during the Cold War. Even though I do not know him personally, I consider him a brother. A brother in arms.

Mike wrote the following for a Facebook page we belong to for our old ship the Happy Jack, which is the Ellison's nickname.

"50 years ago this week our ship, the U.S.S. Harold J. Ellison, DD864 left Key West, Fl. While we were notified that we were going to be part of a squadron of destroyers that was the FIRST, from the East Coast to go to VIETNAM. My initial reaction was probably OMG! We left Norfolk, Virginia in September, 1965 with the U.S.S. Bache, DD740. We joined DESRON 24 from Newport, Rhode Island off the coast of Virginia and began our around the world adventure. As it turned out it was probably one of the most exciting events in my life. As an 18 & 19 year old kid, I didn't really take into consideration what might happen over there. We did our time in the war zone, supporting the fleet ops and in close, "in country" river & harbor patrol and gun fire support of the ground troops. But we also circumnavigated the globe (Order of Magellan), went through both the Panama & Suez Canals (Ditch Diggers), went across the International Date Line (Golden Dragon) And going from Polywogs to Shellbacks when crossing the Equator. It was quite an experience and I'm glad I was able to do it."

Thank you Mike for sharing.

The things I have in common with Mike's story are: DESRON 24 out of Newport Rhode Island (my old squadron 72-75), Rounding the Horn and navigating the Straits of Magellan (1972) which Mike would have done following Magellan's path, Panama Canal Transit (1972), Norfolk Naval Station D & S piers, Virginia Capes, Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and I served on the Happy Jack from 1979 to 1982.

I also have the Crossing the Equator Shellback and Order of the Ditch Panama Canal certificates.

Here are images of the Happy Jack and the certificates that Mike references in his post.

My certificates are in storage or I'd post photos of the originals.

Thank you to Tiffany Publishing for the use of the sample certificate images.

If you would like to share your Cold War story, please email me at

Thursday, August 27, 2015

We Were The Wall Strategic Air Command T-shirt Now Available !

That's Right!

Thanks to Kevin O'Quinn for supplying the design he and some Veteran buddies made a while ago. Their effort back then to produce the image for other SAC veterans never panned out and the design was never made available.

I agreed to take the image, convert it to a current software format,  and make it available for purchase. I also agreed to make the price as low as possible and only cover the cost of production and the royalty cost for our artist to cover his work reproducing the image in the current software.

We only use American made T-shirt blanks and a USA based printer, the cost is more than the cheap China produced crap, but it is worth it. They have great quality and we are helping USA based businesses employ Americans.

I have set up three versions of the T-shirt; one with a 3 3/4 inch round image located on the breast pocket on front only, one with a 9 inch round image centered on the back only, and one that has both front and back. A wide variety of shirt colors are available.

I also have the image in the Spreadshirt Marketplace so you can add the image to other items they produce like mugs, glasses, cell phone covers, etc. I am also trying to locate a patch production company to be able to provide embroidered patches of this and our other designs.

Here is the link to my online shop at where I have our Proud Cold Warrior T-shirts produced. They will print and ship within 3-5 business days and will make quantities as low as one. No waiting like most of the other online sites that require a larger quantity before production.

Order between August 27 - September 1, 2015 and receive a 15% discount by using coupon code FAVSHIRT at checkout!

And oh yea, while you are there join us, The Proud Cold Warrior Society!
Lifetime membership, a T-shirt, and a suitable for framing Proud Cold Warrior certificate are included in the fee.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Another Nike Missile Base Being Razed by Progress

HM-95 entrance guard shack now covered in graffitti

Another Nike Missile site that is being razed to make way for a new government facility.

HM-95 was just demolished to clear the land next to a Miami-Dade County immigration detention center. Speculation is that the detention center facility is to be expanded.

Here is an excerpt from the Miami Herald article:

A relic of the Cold War, an old Nike missile radar and tracking site in western Miami-Dade County, has been demolished.

Bulldozers, cranes and dump trucks recently knocked down and carted away some of the remaining structures that once made up the Integrated Fire Control (IFC) ste along Krome Avenue just south of Tamiami Trail.

Built in response to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when U.S. spy planes discovered Soviet nuclear missiles on the island, the site was one of several designed to protect Miami against Soviet or Cuban attack. It was formally known as HM-95, Battery D.

Stock photograph of what the base looked like in 1968
How it looks in 2015

Please link over to read the rest of the story here. Scroll through the article's photo stream to see photos of the base now and when it was operational in the 1960s.

More photographs taken before the buildings were demolished are available here.

Thank you to the Miami Herald newspaper website for allowing me to link to this article.
Thank you to the website Abandoned Florida for the additional photographs.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cold War Shoot Down Revisited

Every time I read somewhere that the Cold War was not a shooting war, I cringe.

It is the first indication that the writer of the article did not serve during the Cold War or they did not do their research. Those of us that served know of these types of incidents I present to you today.

Today's post is one of the drastic incidents where an actual shoot down took place but there were many other lethal and non-lethal ones also. And not just in the early reconnaissance flights either.

There were shootings at guard post around the world where we stood eye to eye with the communist, at sea, like in my Navy world, with "brush" up alongside near collisions with surface ships, numerous submarine collisions actually happened as well, or with Air Force or Navy jets scrambling to deter a Bear as they push the overflight boundaries.

This story stands out in that, it is an incident where the Soviet Union accepted responsibility and paid restitution for the loss of the aircraft. There was no warning shots, no attempt to deter the Neptune away from the border by getting close to it, no radio communications, the Soviet fighters appeared and unleashed at volley of cannon fire directly at the patrol plane.

Navy Neptune P2V

In my research I found an incident where the Soviets shot down a Navy PB4Y-2 Privateer in April 1950, then we shot down a Soviet A-20 patrol plane in September 1950, a year before the Neptune shoot down in November 1951. Things were definitely getting heated in the sky when the Soviet Air Defense Forces and our aircraft shared the same airspace.

Soviet Union A-20 which was probably provided during the WW2 lend Lease program

Serving during the Cold War was not all training and boredom. It was dangerous duty when near the Soviets, no matter which branch of the service you were a member of.

Read the whole story here. It is very well done with a full account of what happened during and after the shoot down.

On a personal note, my father, AO3 John E. Kairis, served on Navy PB4Y-2 aircraft during WW2 as a gunner.

Thank you to the Alaska Dispatch News for allowing me to link to their article. Images obtained through Google Image search in the public domain.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Vietnam Veteran Finally Gets Medal

In keeping with the personal stories vein of this blog's roots, I'd like to present a story that may be of interest to many readers. Especially those of my age who have a brotherhood with those that served during the time when the Cold War turned quite hot, Viet Nam.

Melvin Fields served in Viet Nam in 1968 as a helicopter gunner with 25 missions under his belt when a mortar round landed near his tent. The resultant wounds almost ended his life.

47 years later, with the help of a US Senator, Melvin finally received the Purple Heart medal due him for those wounds. His very supportive wife, Verdia, engaged Senator Tom Cotton, R-Ark, who went to work and not only finalized the purple Heart award but discovered Melvin was due an Air Medal and the Cold War Certificate, which he presented at the same time.

The article goes on to explain the rough times Melvin endured after the war and the subsequent healing, physical and mental, over the years.

It is a story many Viet Nam Vets can relate to.

Please link over to read the full article here.

Senator Cotton presents the long overdue Purple Heart medal to Marvin Fields
Thank you to the Arkansas Online website of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper for allowing us to link to the article.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

MIG-21 Being Restored in Maine Parking Lot

Some men collect stamps, others collect all kinds of things, A Maine shopkeeper has a Polish MIG-21 in his parking lot!

Frank Sizouco and his son, Zachary with their MIG-21

A Cold War MIG fighter jet has been saved from the scrap yard by the owner of a military supply store - who is recreating it piece-by-piece outside his Maine shop.

Frank Spizouco had discovered the aircraft - which was due to be destroyed - during a warehouse picking trip to California.

The military enthusiast decided to save the historic fighter jet from the scrap yard and . . .

Use this link to read the rest of the story - Maine MIG-21

The video embedded in the news article is of a dual screen recording of a MIG-29 take off and flight. The split screen is from a pilot facing camera and a helmet mounted one so you see both views at the same time. Pretty Cool.

Here is a link to an actual MIG-21 flying video that I found on YouTube. MIG-21 flight. The comments section states that this is a Chinese MIG.

Thank you to the website for allowing me to post a link to their article, to YouTube and poster Koga Keke for the use of the MIG-21 video.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

54 Years Ago Today in Cold War History - The Berlin Wall

In response to the flight of tens of thousands of German citizens to the West, East Germany decided to close their borders and started construction of the Berlin Wall 54 years ago today. It was the start to physically construct the figurative Iron Curtain that Winston Churchill spoke of in his 1946 speech.

Most of the border crossings across the divide between east and west had been closed and Berlin became a place that an East German citizen could cross successfully. It was closed eventually also, first with barbed wire, then a block wall with guards, open zones, a shoot to kill order, and then a very tall concrete wall . It stayed in place for a little over 38 years, finally being opened on November 9, 1989. As they say, the rest is history.

Here is the best website I found that explains it all -

Freedom cannot be contained by a wall, it came down eventually!

Here is a compilation of photographs from that era -

At first it was just barbed wire

Then a block wall hastily erected
and open areas with mines

Shoot to kill orders came next

A taller wall was constructed

A fortified border to keep citizens in against their will but they still kept leaving

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

More Cold War Music - Recalling Tunes of the Atomic Age

Keeping with the same theme of the previous two post on Cold War music, this article showed up today and I just had to link over and see what was there.

I was very surprised at the variety of music genre that used the atomic bomb in a song. Blues, Ballad, Folk, Christian, and Rock & Roll are all represented.

I bounced around YouTube looking at others and there are even more than what was referenced by the article's author, Mr. Herrera.

Here is an excerpt from his article:

"It was early one morning, when all the good work was done; and that big bird was loaded, with that awful atomic bomb" - Atomic Bomb Blues Homer Harris (with Muddy Waters) 1946. You can listen to the song by clicking on the title.

Link over to Herrera's article here.

The comment at the end of the article motivated me to research the song Mr. Hinton references because, not being a serious fan of Simon & Garfunkel's music,I did not remember it.

The Sun is Burning words ring true to any of us Cold Warriors who stood their watch all those years so the nuclear annihilation of the world, sung about in the song, did not occur.

Songs of peace and anti-war lyrics influenced many I am sure, but it was the Cold Warrior that eventually ended the MADness (pun intended for the acronym MAD - Mutual Assured Destruction).

Take 3-minutes and give the song a listen.

The lyrics can be read here. An interesting fact is that Simon & Garfunkel did not write the song, Ian Campbell did. Ian Campbell was a successful singer/songwriter in the UK. He died in 2012 and the song The Sun is Burning is mentioned as an achievement in his obituary (link here).

You can access the previous Cold War music posts, Jazz and Metal, by clicking on the highlighted title.

Thank you to Dan Herrera and the Albuquerque Journal's Venue section for the link to their article; to Mark Justice Hinton for the reference to Simon & Garfunkel's song The Sun is Burning; YouTube and the posters sznurowado and bluesfan12 for the music links, MetroLyrics for the link to the written lyrics; and The Guardian for the obituary link.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

German Metal Legends The Scorpions Helped Tear Down Cold War Walls

Back when I got the original idea to start this blog, I chose the Scorpion's "Wind of Change" as the official song for The Proud Cold Warrior Society. Today I received this article in my Google Alert feed and was reminded of that long forgotten decision.

I assume that those of you Cold War Vets who were stationed in Europe back in the 70s and 80s knew of this band so please share any encounters with their music. Or, maybe you attended one of their concerts? Please share if you did by posting a comment below.

I had to refresh my memory on the song so here goes: Scorpions Wind of Change Live

Access and then sing along with the lyrics here.

You can find the whole article here.

Thank you to Fox News for the link to the article, YouTube and Pukrysa poster for the video, and Google Play for the lyrics.


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.