This Labor Day weekend, spontaneity ruled the day. Without planning or intending to, I found myself on the Jersey Shore close to New York City on a peninsula called Sandy Hook. I write a lot about America and defending her. Admittedly, I look for the more non-traditional methods to fuel my novels. On this beautiful late summer day, I suddenly found myself looking at two Nike Missiles. Surface to air, interceptor missiles that fortunately only played an active role in the black and white science fiction movies of the 50’s, as the best defense we had, being vaporized by the flying saucer’s death ray. (See Earth vs. The Flying Saucers and the like)
As the day unfolded, I was surrounded in cold-war iconology. To say I was astonished is to minimize the impact this discovery had on me. I never knew that 17 miles away from Midtown Manhattan, was a nuclear missile base. Part of a defensive shield, a blanket of comfort for the Dashing Dan’s of the 60’s (See Madmen) who just wanted to win the American Rat Race and make a better life for their kids. I was one of those kids, ducking and covering under my school desk, trusting the old guys on TV in Washington D.C. to protect me from the ‘Sireen.’ The siren in my neighborhood was atop P.S. 76 and in that school we practiced air raid drills weekly. The nightmare we lived under was, if it started wailing, we would be bombed into ashes, leaving nothing but shadows on walls and sidewalks. (See Hiroshima) Everyone, flash immolated, except, for some reason, those of us that were hiding under our desks facing away from the glass windows.
The Nike’s are rotting away now, you can see huge chunks of metal eaten away in the launch rails. Some might take comfort in this; that this missile shield was now a relic, a remnant of a mentally tortured childhood and, to some, a comfort that those days are behind us.
Bullsh*t! The Nike’s and everything else in the DEW line, defense early warning system, didn’t go away because the threat went away. The new technology of extreme mass destruction, just made them obsolete, the nightmare is still in play.
Today, there are less warheads, not because we did something good, but because the new warheads are 1,000 times more accurate. So they need less weapons to do the exact same job. The numbers are smaller but the mega-tonnage yields are 10,000 times higher.
We have improved our technology to the point where there is no defense. No longer are missiles, like the Nike, needed to shoot down Russian or Chinese long-range strategic bombers because those bombers are obsolete. Multiple re-entry warhead tipped, Inter-continental Ballistic Missiles and similar sea launched rockets are more efficient. Satellite eyes and the men and women in our Silos and Nuclear Subs (Boomers) are the only calculus a would-be attacker has to roll the dice against.
In part of my third book, The God Particle, we go inside the nuclear submarine SSBN-739, the U.S.S. Nebraska, America’s current random chit in the highest stakes game of total nuclear destruction that we still play today – albeit without the air raid drills and nightmares, but even more deadly nonetheless.
Today the Dashing Dan’s clutching their Fedora hat’s have been transformed to telecommuters, the dutiful secretary is now the virtual assistant, the duck and cover drills have gone the way of dodge ball and the Nike’s are rusting in National Parks, but the Madmen still have their fingers on their button, so our nation must remain vigilant.