Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 20, 2004 / 8 Teves, 5765

Man who saved America now living quiet life in Russia

By Mark McDonald


Printer Friendly Version

Email this article

http://www.jewishworldreview.com | (KRT) The man who saved America - and probably the world - is living out his days on a measly pension in a dank apartment in a forlorn suburb of Moscow. He has a bad stomach, varicose veins and a mangy, spotted dog named Jack the Ripper.

Stanislav Petrov has a small life now. He takes Jack for walks, makes a medicinal tea from herbs he picks in a nearby park and harangues his 34-year-old son about getting off the computer and finding a girlfriend.

There was a time when Petrov, now 65 and a widower, was almost larger than life. He was a privileged member of the Soviet Union's military elite, a lieutenant colonel on the fast track to a generalship. He was educated, squared away and trustworthy, and that's why he was in the commander's chair on Sept. 26, 1983, the night the world nearly blew apart.

Tensions were high: Three weeks earlier, on Sept. 1, Soviet fighters had shot down a Korean airliner, killing all 269 people aboard.

Petrov was in charge of the secret bunker where a team of 120 technicians and military officers monitored the Soviet Union's early warning system. It was just after midnight when a new satellite array known as Oko, or The Eye, spotted five U.S. missiles heading toward Moscow. The Eye discerned they were Minuteman II nuclear missiles.

Petrov's computer was demanding that he follow the prescribed protocol and confirm an incoming attack to his superiors. A red light on the computer saying START! kept flashing at him. And there was this baleful message: MISSILE ATTACK!


Donate to JWR


Petrov had written the emergency protocol himself, and he knew he should immediately pick up the hotline at his desk to tell his military superiors that the Motherland was under attack.

He also knew the timeline was short. The senior political and military chiefs in the Kremlin would have only 12 minutes or so to wake up, get to their phones, digest Petrov's information and decide on a counterattack.

The son of a Soviet air force pilot from Vladivostok, Petrov had had a whiz-kid career as a military engineer trained in Kiev. He earned a "red diploma" denoting top honors in school, then joined the army and the Communist Party. Membership in the party was the only way to have a full-throttled career in those days, and he was promoted right along.

He was more techie nerd than communist zealot, more scientist than military man, and he eventually landed a job working on the Soviets' first system of early warning satellites. In the Soviet era, there were few positions more high-tech, more important or more secret.

As the alarms blared, 80 technicians and 40 military officers jumped up and looked toward Petrov's command post on a mezzanine overlooking the gymnasium-sized control room. He shouted into an intercom for them to take their seats and attend to their work.

"I was not sweating," Petrov said, "but I felt very weak in my legs. Like our Russian saying goes, I had legs of cotton. I was in a stupor, but then my feeling of duty took over."

Petrov gathered himself and looked at the data coming from The Eye. Why only five missiles? That didn't fit with either his training or his logic. He knew that if the United States were going to launch a first strike, it would unleash hell, with hundreds of missiles.

"Political relations with the United States couldn't have been any worse at the time," he said. "But to launch such an attack, one would have to be completely crazy."

So Petrov called his superiors and reported in a firm voice that it was a false alarm, no attack.

Personally, though, he wasn't sure.

"Not 100 percent sure," he said. "Not even close to 100 percent."

The next 15 minutes, waiting for the Minutemen to possibly hit, were unnerving.

"Yes, terrifying," he said. "Most unpleasant."

Soviet engineers eventually discovered that The Eye had sounded the alarm when it spotted what it thought was the engine flare from five U.S. missiles.

But what had the satellite really seen? Flashes of sunlight reflecting off some clouds over Minuteman silos in Montana.

A military panel investigated the incident, which was kept secret until 1993, and they found numerous other technical cataracts in The Eye. Computer assembly technicians in Moldova were blamed. Thereafter, all satellite assemblies were done in Ukraine.

No decorations or rewards have been given to the officers who averted the nuclear catastrophe.

Petrov, who'd gone through the crisis with an intercom to his staff in one hand and the telephone to his bosses in the other, was later reprimanded for not filling out his log book as events unfolded.

He was denied further promotion, but Petrov denies that he was persecuted by his military bosses and Soviet political commissars. He said he continued to work command shifts in the bunker.

Petrov left the military in 1984, moved to a technical division that worked on satellites, then retired in 1993 to care for his ailing wife. When she died of a brain tumor, he said, "I had to borrow the money to bury her properly."

To repay the loan, he worked as a security guard at a construction site.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspiring articles. Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.


Comment by clicking here.


© 2004, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.