We were invited on a private tour of southern Arizona, so we grabbed our leashes and waited by the truck.
We had one special request on the way, to see the Titan Missile Museum in Green Valley, AZ.
|That's why I'm in the commander's chair.|
|Drunk again, Captain Janeway?|
There were 54 of these Titan missile silos in the US.
Chuck and I confirmed a legitimate launch code, and together we finished up the annihilation of our planet. Chuck was one of four crew members in one of these facilities. Each crew of four had a 24-hour shift. No one was allowed to be alone, except in crew's quarters.
Titans were intended to be a retaliatory weapon in a program of Mutually Assured Destruction. Each site was programmed for three target sites, which are still classified. No one in any of the crews knew which city they would be obliterating with a 9 megaton payload. Once the keys were turned, the trigger could not be unpulled. The propellants would mix and combustion would be underway. Within 58 seconds the missile would launch.
The target sites are still top-secret, because they may still be active target sites today.
These men (and women, after 1978) knew that if they were launching their intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a nearby strike was likely. They had 30 days worth of food and 15 days worth of recirculated air. At that time, the crew commander would have to decide whether they stayed and suffocated, or emerged into a nuclear world 45 vehicle-less miles across a mountain range from the nearest rally point.
If you're older than 30, all this stuff is permanently part of your psyche. A tour group of teenagers followed us, and I wished I could be in their heads.
When I was very young I kept my eye open for these buildings:
|This on the TV could ruin my day.|
All of the Titans are decommissioned and deactivated. The Minuteman III is still very much alive. It delivers a mere 170 kiloton blast (2% of the Titans' power), but it can ring the doorbell in three locations at once. There are 450 active Minutemen in three bases in the Midwest. It's harder to get a tour of these sites.
I recommend seeing this; it's worth your $10. I was sobered, but not for long. We went directly to Tubac for margaritas.