Russell E. Hershey,
INT: How important do you think this whole system, the theory of assured destruction was in keeping the peace?
TD: I believe it was very instrumental to... The assured destruction of the other side knowing that there was no way that they could destroy us and not be destroyed themselves, they could not take our territory without losing themselves, was a big reason why they did not try to come over here and take our territory, not in that way anyway.
INT: Do you think that from what you knew of it, MacNamara's change of policy from massive retaliation to assured... you know all the policies that went through the '60s, did they influence you at all or was it still, this was your job, you just did it, no matter who was in charge?
TD: Well, the change from massive assured... the MAD to some... whatever they wanted to call these things, assured destruction, it was just the change in names. It was still the same thing, we were still telling them that, look, if you launch at us, there's no way you can get away from being annihilated yourself. They'd change the names off and on and different things, but in reality, it didn't change anything except the name.
INT: Last couple of questions then. Did you ever think that you would launch a missile in anger?
TD: That I don't think that a missile from our country could be launched in anger?, I guess we have to cut here, I don't know what I can say about that, 'cos I was in the wrong place at the wrong time in the Nixon era.
INT: No, it's more a question of...
TD: (Interrupts) As a crew, do you mean?
INT: Yeah, as a crew
TD: Oh, OK. The combat crews themselves really would not ever think about launching a missile for any reason other than getting that message and we were under a program that was called PRP, Personal Reliability Program, about every six months, we had to go and see a psychiatrist who would check us out to make sure we weren't one of these people, although, you know, the odds of two people on one crew going batty at the same time are very remote, but it was one of the things that made it so stressful, because you were always watching your brother, to make sure that maybe something that's happening in his family isn't grating on him and, you know, making him not think right. We watched each other very closely and made sure that they got help when they needed help. And therefore, I feel that there was never a chance of that happening, not if we came close to doing our job.
INT: Last question. The Association of Missiliers, their slogan is 'Victors in the Cold War', do you believe that that's the case?
TD: Well, I haven't heard this 'Victors in the Cold War' thing before, but I believe that is true. A lot of the Cold War was fought with airplanes in Vietnam. Those airplanes could not be there if it wasn't for these missiles. This particular missile system had been on alert for a long time and the only reason it was is because the other side was worried about it. If the other side didn't worry about what this missile was doing here, it could have shut 'em down before they ever started putting them on alert. They were very much afraid of this missile and that's why we kept it on alert so long.
INT: Almost the last question. We've been talking with Ed and Ray about the number of people involved, how many people to a missile, could you explain that to me?
TD: OK, yes, I guess one of the demises of this system is there's only one missile connected to a control center and with all the maintenance required, by the time you get donating all the people, it takes about fifty people per missile to keep it on alert and that became very costly and that led to the demise of the system for a Madman system.
INT: How many men were there on the Titan force?
TD: Total? I have no idea how many people round the force total. I'm not a numbers man in that way.
INT: Did you regard this as the front line of the Cold War and how difficult was it to deal with that on a day to day basis?
TD: OK. This was the front line of the Cold War, as far as weapons was concerned, because it was there, twenty four hours a day. We were out here for at least twenty-four hours day and sometimes went to thirty hours on alert, every third day for quite a while. It got to be sort of irritating a little bit, because we didn't get a chance to do anything with anyone else. There was full alert, go home and crash, get up the next day and train, go home, eat supper, go to bed, get up the next morning, go to pre-departure briefing and come out and be back on alert. So our whole life was run by this system at the time. They started getting younger people in, it was the time of the flower children and it was very easy to go and be against everything and that's the way I felt about them and even those I had in my crew, I was... well fine I agree with you, but what are you for? The only thing they were for was doing away with the establishment. They had no way of replacing that to make our country run, therefore I couldn't go along with their system or their theories. I don't know if that answers your question?
INT: Were there any great, memorable worst moments in your service career?
TD: Well, I think the worst - if I think - was before I was in missiles. I was in the barracks when the Cuban Crisis happened. We all got together and watched our President on the TV declare a quarantine and I was a [inaudible] crew at the time, I was a barracks chief and I looked at these sixty kids and said, you know, that sounds like a declaration of war to me. After that, since I was coming into SAC, we had SAC badges, line badges, and people that had them, I guess, were supposed to be more stable mentally or for some reason they tried to put rifles in our hand to walk around the base, because all the Air Police and everybody else were down in Florida, in case they had to invade Cuba. The Cuban Crisis was a scary time in our history, I'm glad it worked out the way it did. I don't think I want to go through it again.
INT: Tom, thank you very much indeed, excellent.
END OF INTERVIEW