View Full Version : AAM Salute to Cold War Veterans - Saturday 10/3/09

09-28-2009, 10:39 PM
From the American Airpower Museum:

Calling all Cold War Veterans: Congressman Israel, History Channel and Stop & Shop Supermarkets team up to honor those who served during those dangerous decades

For forty years they kept the Cold War from becoming hot: Americans in missile silos and Berlin checkpoints, remote B-52 bomber bases and storm tossed Navy picket ships, all part of the Cold War conflict that was always a trigger away from global nuclear destruction. They never received a parade for their courage or professionalism, or even a public word of thanks. Until now.

On Saturday, October 3rd, at 11:00 a.m. at the American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport, 1230 New Highway, Farmingdale, Cold War veterans from throughout the region are invited to stand with U.S. Congressman Steve Israel, History™ Channel’s Chief Historian Dr. Libby O’Connell and Stop & Shop Supermarkets as they pay public tribute to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who served during the Cold War during those desperate decades.

October was selected because it was during that month that the most dangerous chapter in the history of the Cold War occurred, the Cuban missile crisis, as America and the Soviet Union came perilously close to a thermonuclear exchange. On October 2, 1962, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were given specific instructions by then Defense Secretary Robert McNamara outlining how and why the United States would invade Cuba, including Russia’s installation of offensive missiles directed against America. It would begin a month long crisis that nearly brought the world to war.

Congressman Israel stated, “Each American generation has faced dangerous threats to our nation’s future. Some events, such as Pearl Harbor or the fall of Berlin, were immediately recognized as defining moments. The four decades of the Cold War did not produce such an event. There were no victory day parades. There was no opportunity to say thank you to those who stood vigil on behalf of freedom. And, by and large, Long Islanders do not understand the role they played in being part of the last line of defense during those forty years of ideological conflict between Democracy and Communism. Our effort addresses the need to pay tribute to our Cold War veterans and our need to better understand our history.”

Dr. O’Connell said few New Yorkers remember that they were on the front line throughout the Cold War. “Soviet submarines sat off shore, within easy missile range during the Cuban missile crisis. Nuclear tipped Nikes at Rocky Point were poised to detonate in the air to bring down Russian Bear bombers. Interceptor fighters sat in Westhampton and New Jersey, always minutes away from `scramble.’ In short, we were an armed camp, and very few of us knew it then or recall it now.”

Congressman Israel commended History™ and Stop & Shop for their sponsorship of the tribute effort and, to sustain awareness of the significance of this era, he will seek to propose that October be declared Cold War Veterans Tribute Month.

“For forty years there was not one day that our armed forces could afford to be anything but vigilant, given that our nation’s very existence was at risk. We know now that there were times during those four decades when our opponents actually contemplated nuclear war, but it was only the threat from a strong, well prepared and determined democracy that kept those atomic warheads in the silos. Today’s effort is an acknowledgment that we never said `thank you’ to those who kept the peace and thereby saved civilization from a nuclear winter,” he noted.

Robert Hempson, an executive with Stop & Shop, concluded, “We as a nation have an obligation to pay tribute to those who have defended our nation, now and in the past. Because of the duration of the Cold War and the fact that it took many forms in many parts of the world, we have a tendency to overlook the sacrifice and the courage required to win that conflict. This is just one opportunity to do so and we are grateful to partner with History™ and Congressman Israel.”

Those Cold War veterans wishing to attend as guests of Stop & Shop Supermarkets, Congressman Israel and History™ should RSVP to [email protected] Members of their families are invited to join them. The museum’s web site is http://www.americanairpowermuseum.com

I hope to see a good turnout of visitors for this event. As a former KC-135 pilot, this program means a lot to me - I sat plenty of EWO alert, waiting for the klaxon to go off, not knowing if it was an exercise or the real thing. Thanks to the dedicated service of my fellow tanker and bomber crews, the guys in the missile silos, on the submarines and ships, and all those standing a post in some remote location, the world was kept safe for four decades. I hope to see you there!