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Somebody Should Have Died (1975, 545th Ordnance Company, Nuclear Site, West Germany)
(1975, 545th Ordnance Company, Nuclear Site, West Germany)
The structure was built to withstand a nuclear explosion. Around the site are tall trees, sidewalks leading to bunkers with half a dozen nuclear bombs in them (see the interlude for details). The trees and foliage are high enough that only a small plane a hundred feet or more above the site can see them, and the German Government has forbidden any flights to top of the site. The young sergeant of twenty-seven, well-built, red-haired, with blue-green eyes, had just taken over the shift of another sergeant; he is in what is called ENREST (Nuclear Surety, watchdogs). Each site sergeant, with Top Secret clearance, is placed on the ENREST roster, as is every officer with Top Secret Clearance, this is a twenty-four-hour duty, once a month, and neither the sergeant nor the officer leave the bunker area. At night the doors were locked and locked, front doors, one to the bunker, the other to the ENREST room inside the bunker, where the orders entered.
As Sergeant Chick Evens listened he heard the night wind over the bunker. At the same time he heard a five-ton truck that brought a new shift of the Military Police, which was guarding the area, twenty-four-seven. He licked his lips, to read it, it was a very hot night, he took off his shirt, wearing only his undershirt, the fat captain, lying snoring on his iron bed on one side of the room , as he sat on his iron. bed, on the other side of the room. The room is twelve feet by twelve feet. The young captain was named Horace Worme. The sergeant saw his file, and his college transcripts, because he was the NCO, in charge of the Nuclear Surety Program Investigations, and always wondered how a captain could be a captain, with 90% of his grades in “D” semester. I mean he had more “D” grades than anything he knew, not an A, or a B, a few C’s. He went to college himself and got a Bachelors Degree, and got a a D, and that’s a finding of fault.
Evens looked at the fat Captain, no one else was watching, he was breathing heavily, sweating, and the wind kept swirling around the structure, while his sweat soaked the mattress. Then he stood up and walked around the floor, he really didn’t like ENREST. He told the Captain that one of them should stay awake, watch the phones, the incoming data, read the printouts in case of an alert. It is a two-man control process, but only one has to be awake every hour during the night hours, but he also knows that this captain does not like to pull, he leaves the sergeants to stay awake in the all night while he slept on it, but Evens said no to this crap, he would do his duty, like him.
He tried to wake up the captain at 2:00 in the morning, so that he could take over the night shift, his time was up, but the captain did not wake up. In fact, the Captain said, “Leave me alone, that’s a command sergeant!” And so the Sergeant lay back on the bed, his chin on the pillow, his arms, outstretched.
“This is nonsense,” he said out loud hoping the Captain would hear “you can’t expect me to take your shift too, and read the data correctly,” the messages came from what was considered The European Central Command in all the time. And it must be translated, it is in code, and one person must open the white seal, after reading the message, and decode, another person checks it, and they follow the procedure. If it’s a red seal, then it’s for an alert, high priority, and then it goes to a second seal if necessary. The white seal is less complicated. But often the white seal leads to the red seal, and that means war; and the Cold War was of course with the Russians. Their premise is, if it goes to the red seal, the nuclear bellies (nuclear cylinders)-so I call them-of the bombs must sink underground.
(Interlude: It’s hard to convey the construction of a nuclear bomb and its destructive capacity in a simple paragraph, and I can see the point of it, but let me state it in the most basic, if not, oversimplified way that method: there are two parts of the nuclear bomb that I mentioned, others have three parts, the second part of the nuclear bomb-about half a dozen of them are stored on the site, this is the part that I saw, in a cylinder type design. The bombs are 9 to 50-megatons-plus, some are Titan II (ICBM), the Titan fleet was retired in 1988; the fireball of one of the Titan missiles, three miles in diameter, the its destructive force would probably destroy everything. structures ten miles away, or three hundred square miles. One kiloton equals 1000-tons of TNT, kilotons are measured in thousands of tons; Hiroshima witnessed a 15-kiloton bomb; called ‘Little Boy,’ and Nagasaki witnessed a 20-kiloton nuclear bomb called ‘Fat Boy’-at that place; whereas, megatons are secured by millions of tons of TNT. The second part of the bomb is the bottom part; the main one is above. I don’t need to tell this story anymore.)
When the young sergeant awoke, it was still dark outside; he heard an incoming message on the machine, printed for him to read and decode. He stood up, walked to the table where the machine was spewing paper, and a message was printed, arriving, he went to wake up the Captain, telling him, “You have to decode the message, with me. Or at least read it after I decode it.”
“No, you decoded it”, he said, “I’m tired.”
He began to decode the message, and fell asleep again, without reading it clearly. Like the Captain’s job; one looking over the other’s shoulder.
It was 6:15 in the morning, and the phone rang. The sergeant passed it on to Horace, saying “The Major, wishes to speak with you for some reason.”
He stood by the phone, half stunned, the phone was heavy in his right hand, “Yes sir,” said the Captain, “what is it?”
Captain Worme, retreating like a double lightning bolt, took the decoded message, “Didn’t you decode it last night,” he shouted, to the sergeant.
“Of course I did,” said the Sergeant, the decoded part is in the place where the message you just took.
“Hello,” said the Captain, to the Major, “The Sergeant said he decoded the message.”
“Well you didn’t read it?” the Major shouted so loudly, the Sergeant heard him.
“Yaaay! No, I don’t think so, why?” said the Captain.
“Because,” said the Major, “we are the only nuclear place; nay, indeed, we are the only place in all Europe that is not on the alert, and the Colonel wants to know why our gates are so wide open, seems like a normal day. I want to see you in an hour and read that damn coded message and get back to me in five minutes.”
“Good sergeant,” Captain Worme said to Evens, and began to read the decoded message, “it looks like you decoded it correctly, why didn’t you wake me up and call an alert?”
“I woke you up, and you gave me an order to leave you alone, after I told you, you must review the decoded message, as it should be, and you are pressing, and I am tired, and fell. sleep.”
“Stupid not to act on the message!”
“Ayee! Be careful captain. I did my duty, and you never pulled any duty, that can be called duty.”
After the Captain left the Major’s office, he stopped Sergeant Evens, “Then what happened?” asked the sergeant.
“I’m sorry to inform you, I think it will be some charges against you maybe a court-martial; too many things to cover up.” Now the sergeant knows how to get past his “D’s” in college, he’s a conniver.
“Well,” said the sergeant, “if I go down, you too! Apparently they don’t know my side of the story; I must make a report sooner or later and let them know. you who gave me Direct Order, to let you sleep?” (And the sergeant knew, a Direct Order, from a commissioned officer, should not be contrary to established law, and it was.)
“I’m not sure,” he said.
“What’s certain is, you either told them or you didn’t, and I don’t think you did.”
“I’d better get back there, and sort it out before it gets out of hand.” The Sergeant’s mind was funny, he didn’t blink, and he was definitely testing the waters to see if he was to blame.
“Very well, if you do, I’ll just stand here.”
When the Captain returned, everything was settled.
“We’re all soldiers,” said the Captain, “the thing to do is just forget what happened today, and don’t tell anyone about this sergeant, okay? We have an attack, alert, the Red Brigade, some anti-German group tried to attack one of our nuclear sites, and an alert was called because of that, and we failed. If they had come to our site, God only knows what would have happened . The gates were wide open, and they could have taken the captives.”
“Yes,” said the Sergeant (looking at the gates now closed and secure), standing on his right side. “I’ve never heard of it.”
“Heard what?” said the Captain. The sergeant thought again about all the ‘D’s’ the captain had earned.
“Nobody can hear it, that’s it!” Said the Sergeant, then he thought: ‘…someone might have died because of our negligence-‘ and he just wanted to get away from there.
Note: The 545th Ordnance Company was activated in 1942. In 1950, it was activated in Japan, and in 1959 it was active in West Germany, by Muenster-Dieburg; inactivated in June, 1992; area given back to Germany, in 1994. No: 715 1-24-2011)
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