A timely blast (heh heh) from the past!

Friday, August 11, 2017

A timely blast (heh heh) from the past!

Federal Civil Defense Administration

I didn't even think of this in October 1962 when half the country was sure that JFK's brinksmanship with Nikita Khrushchev had plunged the world into nuclear Arma­ged­don over the subject of... surprise!... missiles where we didn't want them.

Unusual, considering I grew up in the '40s when the United States developed and tested the world's first nuclear weapon (then called an atomic bomb) and then proceeded to drop a pair of them on Japanese cities on the otherside of the world.

Japan, already fighting a series of losing battles in a war they had started 44 months earlier, quickly sued for peace and agreed to an unconditional surrender less than ten days after the second mushroom cloud appeared over the Land of the Rising Sun.

(I remember that evening, the setting sunlight struggling around the blackout shades darkening my bedroom as the bells of the Beach Methodist Church pealed joyously throughout the evening.)

It wasn't long before the country, if not the world, was swept up in an abiding fear of atomic bombs, and by the early '50s "Popular Mechanics" was publishing plans for what came to be known as "bomb shelters."

(We didn't go that far, but by the time our father had deployed to Korea... remember that name!... we had case goods of Mary Kitchen Roast Beef Hash and Campbell's condensed soups... heavy on Black Bean and Bean with Bacon... in our basement.)

Anyone paying attention to this week's news, can under­stand why I felt this might again be pertinent!

(Pretty terrifying stuff to a pre-teenager!)

On a historical note, the Federal Civil Defense Administra­tion, created by President Truman in 1948, went through a series of mergers and consolidations, from the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization under President Eisenhower in 1958 to the Office of Civil Defense in 1961 and the Office of Emergency Planning less then two months later (both under JFK), then being renamed the Office of Emer­gency Preparedness under LBJ in 1968 and finally abolish­ed by Nixon on July 1, 1973.

Just remember, "Duck and Cover" is still a sound strategy, and an even better one if you've prepared a place in which to do it.


1. WR Moore said...

Remember the Sky Watch program where volunteers kept an eye out for enemy bombers that might have slipped under the radar? Don't recall when that ceased. Also don't recall when I suddenly realized all the CD Air Raid Shelter signs disappeared in Pittsburgh.

Also recall the duck & cover drills in school.

Even with all that the clueless were still among us. One Sunday evening in the student union, a Coast Guard brat buddy and I were sitting with several others. Someone at the local emergency center flipped the fire siren switch the wrong way and it made a frightening sound. The bombers/missiles have crossed the border signal. My buddy and I blanched white, the others asked what was wrong with us! We started figuring flight times and commented about it. They clueless had no notion what we were talking about. Fairly quickly, they corrected the issue.

Don't recall anything about "Sky Watch," but when I was 10-11 years old, I did two shifts a week in the cupola of the local high school (now the Junior High), Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00 to 6:00 pm, as an Aircraft Spotter. We'd spot an airplane and immediately grab the (dial-less) telephone and say, "Aircraft Flash 1680," and be quickly connected to some facility in New Haven where we would provide them with the core facts: number and type of aircraft, location, approximate altitude, heading and such.

My dad was over in Korea doing his part while being awarded the Navy Cross, and I was doing my part on the homefront.

It was light-lifting for me... from 1949 through 1953 I knew every airship flying, including engines and armaments.
– Dean

2. Barbara Ramsay said...

I remember a drill where we would have to tuck ourselves in under our desks at school. Also there was a home I believe on each block that was a gathering place should one be needed.

"Duck and cover!" was the standard school drill in the early '50s.

3. Jim Cordo said...

I enjoyed the read. I remember the Cuba/JFK showdown. I was young, born in '51. first time those 'under your desk' and 'duck and cover' drills kinda meant something. If we act militarily in North Korea now in response to 'overt threats' I dont think nukes would be used at all. We don't need to and I don't think the North Korean's can deliver one yet. It's one thing to have a small nuke that you detonate with a controlled explosion on a test site and quite another to get one to go off in a missile on target. Also have to figure out re-entry if its a ICBM. I don't believe they could launch anything nuclear right now. I don't think they could get a nuke near a launch pad without us detecting it from space and maybe other assets annd striking. I don't even think they could catapult one into the South without putting the fat kid at risk even if you could set it up. If we wait we face an entirely different situation where nukes, by them, would be much more a possibility than today.

I tend to agree with your thinking, except that the North Koreans have been using mobile rocket launchers which we've been (so far) unsuccessful in detecting until they've actually launched a missile.

4. Jim Cordo said...

You think we can use a small controlled EMP on them? Are we capable? It would save lives.

I've had dark fantasies for several decades about EMPs, mostly in deploying them against Internet and telephone spammers! But that's, ironically, a technology in which the North Koreans are reasonably advanced.

5. Champ19 said...

Navy Cross. For An Army officer. Helluva citation. Hope everybody reads it.

He was privately told that if it had been American personnel instead of ROKs, he'd've gotten the Congressional Medal of Honor.

But yeah, that was my pop!

6. WR Moore said...

About EMPs: years ago when we first got ahold of a MiG-25 we laughed at the tube type radio/radar systems. Only later did we realize that they were more resistent to EMP than our transistorized stuff.

Given the way a lot of DPRNK work is accomplished, I expect they're a lot better protected/prepared for an EMP than we are. Also, you don't have to worry much about either accuracy or re-entry if you launch an EMP.

It's not just the night that's dark and full of terrors!
– Dean

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