Russian Colonel Who Averted Nuclear War Receives World Citizen Award

MOSCOW, Russia -- Retired Russian colonel Stanislav Petrov received a special World Citizen Award at a UN meeting in New York on Thursday. Petrov was honored as the “Man Who Averted Nuclear War”.

Retired Russian Colonel Stanislav Petrov

In a meeting held at the UN’s Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium on Jan. 19, the Association of World Citizens (AWC) presented the retired officer with his award.

The inscription on the award, which has a granite base with a solid glass hand holding the earth, read: “The single hand that holds the earth symbolizes your heroic deed on September 26, 1983 that earned you the title: The Man Who Averted Nuclear War.” The back of the award read: “May the hand now symbolize humanity united to save our world by eliminating nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.”

Back in 1983 Petrov made a decision that prevented a war that could have destroyed the planet. He was the duty officer at Russia’s main nuclear command center in September 1983 when the system indicated a nuclear missile attack was launched by the U.S. on Russia.

It was just after midnight, Sept. 26, and 120 staff were working the graveyard shift in Serpukhov-15, the secret USSR command bunker hidden in a forest 30 miles northeast of Moscow, WorldNetDaily reported.

In the commander’s chair was Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov, 44, looking down from his mezzanine desk to the gymnasium-sized main floor filled with military officers and technicians charged with monitoring any U.S. missiles and retaliating instantly.

Petrov was highly aware that Cold War tensions were acute, as USSR fighters had shot down a Korean airliner on Sept. 1. But he was completely shocked when the warning siren began to wail and two lights on his desk console began flashing MISSILE ATTACK and START. “Start” was the instruction to launch, irreversibly, all 5,000 or so Soviet missiles and obliterate America.

A new, unproven Soviet satellite system had picked up a flash in Montana near a Minuteman II silo. Then another — five, all told.

Petrov recalls his legs were “like cotton,” as they say in Russian. He stared at the huge electronic wall map of the United States in terror and disbelief. As his staff gawked upward at him from the floor, he had the thought, “Who would order an attack with only five missiles? That big an idiot has not been born yet, not even in the U.S.”

The Soviet procedure manual was inflexible, and it demanded he notify his superiors of the attack immediately. But relying on his intuition, Petrov disobeyed. For almost five minutes, he stalled, holding his hotline phone in one hand and his intercom in the other, barking orders to his personnel to get back to their desks.

Then he made the decision that saved the world. Summoning up his firmest voice, he called his Kremlin liaison and said it was a false alarm. But today he admits, “I wasn’t 100 percent sure. Not even close to 100 percent.”

Months later, it was determined that sunlight reflecting off clouds in Montana had caused a faulty satellite computer assembly to report a missile launch flash. But by that time, Petrov’s excellent military career had been sidetracked. He wasn’t fired, but he was transferred — and never got any medals or recognition. When his wife was found to have a brain tumor in 1993, he retired to take care of her. When she died, he borrowed money to give her a funeral.

Because of Stanislav Petrov’s actions that day in 1983, the Earth was spared what could have become the most devastating tragedy in the history of humanity. Stanislav Petrov has said he does not regard himself as a hero for what he did that day. But in terms of the incalculable number of lives saved, and the overall health of the planet Earth, he undeniably is one of the greatest heroes of all time.

There is yet something else unsettling about this incident. Stanislav Petrov was not originally scheduled to be on duty that night. Had he not been there, it is possible a different commanding officer would not have questioned the computer alarms, tragically leading the world into a nuclear holocaust. As it turned out, this incident ended fortunately for America and for the world. But unfortunately for Stanislav Petrov, it ruined his career and his health, and it deprived him of his peace of mind. This is one debt the world will never be able to repay.

Today, Petrov, 67, lives in Moscow on a monthly pension of less than $200.

Source: MosNews and Bright Star

Comments

Nicholas said…
Stanislav Petrov — World Hero

He averted a catastrophe that could have shaken the foundation of the Earth for many centuries to come — and the future of humanity forever . . .
Kane said…
Myself, Kane Gunter & my friend Danny Millan where on exercise Able Archer back in 83 as 18 year old Signalmen in the Royal Corps Signals. I was in 201 Signal Sqn (22 Armd Bde), Danny was a REMF in 206 Sig Sqn. At the time we nor anyone else where aware of all the tension the ex caused as it was a comms only ex and there where no troops on the ground. So we would like to maybe get in contact with Stanislav and provide him with a beer or 2.
kanegunter@googlemail.com