While Donald Trump is threatening to bring down "fire and fury" on North Korea, the man who prevented a nuclear war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union thirty years ago has quietly passed away.
Petrov was on duty in the Soviet Union some thirty years ago when an early detection system mistakenly warned of an incoming nuclear missile from the U.S. Keeping a cool head, Petrov dismissed the warnings and didn't report them to his superiors. The protocol would have been for the Soviet military to return nuclear fire.
The siren howled, but I just sat there for a few seconds, staring at the big, back-lit, red screen with the word 'launch' on it. A minute later the siren went off again. The second missile was launched. Then the third, and the fourth, and the fifth. Computers changed their alerts from 'launch' to 'missile strike.'
There was no rule about how long we were allowed to think before we reported a strike. But we knew that every second of procrastination took away valuable time; that the Soviet Union's military and political leadership needed to be informed without delay. All I had to do was to reach for the phone; to raise the direct line to our top commanders — but I couldn't move. I felt like I was sitting on a hot frying pan.
Instead of following protocol and sending the warning to his superiors, Petrov checked for a system malfunction. And then he waited.
Twenty-three minutes later I realised that nothing had happened. If there had been a real strike, then I would already know about it. It was such a relief.
He kept quiet about the incident for ten years, and his story wasn't revealed until after the Soviet Union's collapse.
That was my job. But they were lucky it was me on shift that night.
Sooooo grateful this man was on our planet! Restores my faith in humanity! ❤️💕❤️— Tiffany Weis (@BohoCoach) September 19, 2017
Lovely, thoughtful man. I sure hope we have Stanslavs on both sides these days.— Michelle & Grandaddy (@EmmettMiche11em) September 18, 2017
It was my 10th birthday, 26 Sept. 1983, so I will always remember that as the best birthday present I didn’t know I had gotten.— Michael Zwirn (@zwirnm) September 18, 2017
May he rest in peace. Not many people can have a chance to save the world. He deserves a statue.— Pamela Burridge (@BurridgePamela) September 19, 2017
People around the world should have an International Day of Celebration for Stanislav Petrov. His decision saved millions, billions of lives— word (@66bike) September 19, 2017
A statue in both country's capital would be suffice.— Christopher Forney (@Spankyx813) September 19, 2017
Stopped me in my tracks this news unreal to think of the alternatives my life everything I know now might not have existed 🙏🏻 RIP Stanislav— Tony Bartley (@T_onthedoor) September 19, 2017