Russell E. Hershey,
INT: Could you tell me that? Could you sthat...?
EM: Well, without taking a tour of the and I don't know if our cameras allow us to see for example, the shock mounting in the site here, but everything in the site was shock mounted and designed to sustain an enemy nuclear attack and then to retaliate for that attack. The crews expected... and were well aware that a Russian missile of some significance was programmed against this site, as well as all the other sites around Tucson; the crews expected if there were to be an in-coming attack, they would be directed to retaliate for this. To finally become a missile combat crew commander, a very intense two-hour briefing which up-dated the Wing Commander on world affairs, as well as that commitment to carry through what would be of course, a very serious order from the President of the United States, but this commitment was verified in this briefing before an officer was allowed to become a missile combat crew commander.
INT: Did you know where your missile was targeted?
EM: No, the crews were not aware of the actual targets.... in my career, which was short, at one point we were briefed on specifically the military significance of the targets, so we were aware that our targets were military in nature but we were not specifically told where the targets were.
INT: Ray, were you convinced that you were targeted... this particular site was targeted by the Russians? What would have happened if it had all gone off?
RH: Um, when I first got on crew in the late '60s, the Soviets had developed their SS9, which was referred to as a silo-buster. the press claimed that it carried a twenty megaton nuclear weapon and a twenty megaton nuclear weapon, as I understand it, will dig a crater four hundred feet deep and a half a mile in diameter. I had no doubt that Titan being the biggest missile in the US arsenal, the site was probably targeted twice or three times over and at least once by an SS9. And when Ed says he had no misgivings about the idea of launching it, I can say the same thing and I can also say that if we had ever received a launch message over the PAS system, I would have had absolutely no doubt that my life was expectancy was measured in probably less than a half an hour and the only question was, would we be able to launch this missile before the in-coming hit us?... I forgot your original question.
INT: That was a very good reply to the question, that was an excellent reply to the question. Do you have any idea of what... as you said the Titan 2 was one of the largest warheads in the US arsenal, what would Titan 2... What I'm trying to do for the audience is to explain how big these things were. Do you have any idea of what the Titan 2 would do to a target?
RH: A Titan 2 would wipe out virtually any target in existence. It would wipe out a medium-size city completely, not a large city, but a medium-size city completely. As I said, the SS9 would dig a hole half a mile wide and four hundred feet deep. Titan 2 was not capable of that, I'm sure, but it was capable of an air burst and wiping out any medium-size city, yes, I was aware of what it was capable of.
INT: How did it happen that [unintelligible] and you'd survived the attack, what would you expect then?
RH: I never expected to survive attack, not an attack number one. Number two, if by some freak or miracle or whatever that all the warheads targeted for this site had malfunctioned and that this site had survived the attack, we had what they referred to as a reconstitution plan, which said the surviving members of the units were supposed to regroup in this particular area. Of course, being out to the site on crew duty, we didn't have a vehicle or means of transportation to get there and realistically, in a post-attack environment in Southern Arizona, there were eighteen target sites that were targeted, Forward Chuka would have been covered down in Sierra Vista, Davis Mountain in Tucson would have been targeted, the Morana Air Park would have been targeted, the environment topside would have been so poisonous and so radioactive that I doubt that anybody that survived a war on a missile crew, would have survived more than a day up topside before they died of radiation poisoning. As far as did I ever... wonder about what I might do if I survived a war, frankly, not very much at all, because I never considered it conceivable that I would survive a war.
EM: The crews did not discuss this from my experience and it's important to state that the Strategic Air Command patch actually says peace is our profession. The very strong hope and now perhaps the joyous reflection was that none of these weapons ever had to be used and hopefully the world condition will be such that we can progress forward.
INT: Good answer. Why do you think there were so many ICBMs... From what you were saying, an SS9 or a Titan 2 could do so much damage, what was the SAC political reason behind having so many missile sites?
RH: I'm not sure we would have answer to that,...
EM: I can give you an opinion, but...
EM: Well, people don't appreciate the philosophy or the mentality that was present during the Cold War. There was such a mutual paranoia between the United States and the Soviet Union and this mutual paranoia resulted in the Soviet Union ultimately destroying a Korean airliner, you know, but this sort of mutual paranoia fuelled by an arms race, where people have a vested interest in producing arms, created, you know, and encouraged the arms race and if you ask a general, a military general, there will never be enough money spent on defense and the military industrial complex will always be willing to back 'em up.
RH: One thing we see here on my console, is this Titan could be programmed against three separate, only one at a time, but three separate targets, so there was a back-up capability in the... I presume in the war plan if a very important missile that was targeted against a very important military target had been destroyed, this site might be directed to target Target 2 and therefore back-up the missile that had been destroyed. So there was some duplication designed into the system I suspect.
INT: Ed, can I ask you, first of all, what were your feelings towards the Soviets during the '60s? How did you regard them? Did you regard them as an enemy?
EM: We were briefed before every alert on the status of world affairs of course during this period of time, the Vietnam War was in progress and I think, as Ray mentioned, there was an unknown element. It was not a society that as Americans we really understood or felt comfortable with what their policies were. There was a great fear and I think that, once again, is exhibited in these sites were constructed in eighteen months, virtually on a twenty four hour basis, so this is evidenced in America's feeling that they were behind in the Cold War and that they had to quickly bring their defense systems up to an equality.
INT: Ray, can I ask you the same question? How did you regard the Soviets during your period of duty?
RH: I regarded the Soviet Union... it was a closed society in all of the communications and [inaudible] controlled. The minds basically of the people were controlled to the extent that the government could control them. And frankly, I regarded them as dangerous and unpredictable and as long as they remained a controlled society, they would remain that way.
INT: Did you think there was a real possibility that they would launch a first strike against the United States?
RH: I didn't think that they would do it as a rational act...
RH: I didn't think that the Soviets would initiate a first strike as a rational act, but I don't believe that their society had the control and the stability or their military had the control and stability that the US military does. I believe that things could have got out of hand and irrational acts could have happened over there, which could have mushroomed into a first strike. I just simply viewed the situation over there as paranoia and paranoia can get out of hand.
EM: Well, the red phone, if you remember, at some point was introduced, where the President of thUnited States could talk to his counterpart in Russia and, I mean, thisvery simple act was a giant step forward in trying to ease some of this tension that existed in the Cold War, as simple as that might have sounded.
INT: Did you ever think there was a possibility that the United States would launch a first strike or was that never considered?
RH: Um, it was not in any way considered in any of our training exercises...
INT: (Interrupts) Can I just ask you what wasn't?
EM: The actual answer is, as a crewmember, we wouldn't know. But there was never any mention in the entire period of time I was in of a first strike. There were issues as the Soviet military system became more sophisticated with their submarines, that the launch times perhaps had to be quicker, once again fearing the destruction that would be coming in on top of us, but never once can I remember ever the word the first strike being used in any communication or training that I received.
INT: Ray, can I ask you, just going back slightly on to the Soviet aim, what did you think the Soviet aims were? Did you regard them as an expansionist regime? Did you think that they did want to bring Communism to the rest of the world?
INT: (Interrupts) Just tell me...
RH: I saw the Soviet aims as world domination and they themselves made that statement many times, that they wanted to dominate the world. They were going to bury us and that was their intent and fortunately the leadership that had that intent is now history and as the most of the Cold War, but not all of all the Cold War is now history.