UNSUNG!  Songs of the Missileers

A Song Cyclotron

                                           1.     RIGHT NOW

                                           2.     IT’S A NO LONE-ZONE

                                           3.     [DEEDLE DEEDLE]

                                           4.     IN A HEARTBEAT

                                           5.     MISSILE MINDSET

                                           6.     DARK THOUGHTS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT

                                           7.     UNSUNG

                                           8.     STILL THERE [reprise]

 

Command Console Oscar-0

Right now. 

 

At this very moment, there are pairs of highly trained of U.S. Air Force Officers on hair trigger alert across a network of Minuteman III Launch Control Centers. Isolated deep underground, these young officers, many of them in their early twenties, have the responsibility, and the ability, to launch upwards of 450 ICBM’s within thirty minutes of receiving the nuclear codes.  Minuteman III nuclear missiles in their latent form are buried, invisible, silent. Their minders, the Missileers, fly under the radar, denied the attention and the glory assumed by their airborne colleagues. Trained, and determined, to perform the unthinkable, the Missileer acts as the human component in the cold war strategy known as MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction. Post Cold-War, as the world confronts the reality of nuclear weapons, the futility of deterrence, and the danger of hair-trigger nuclear alerts, the Missileers continue to perform their duty as it was defined over a half century ago.  Out of sight, the geography of nuclear war mirrors the darkest corners of our souls, we don’t want to go there. 

 

UNSUNG: Songs of the Missileers, is based on interviews, oral histories and writing from former Missileers.  (LOC HAER, Historic American Engineering Records) Grand Force Air Force Base Painted Murals  ND-13)

You are on a trolley car buried sixty feet underground in a remote part of the country. It is going nowhere. You decode a message validating a command from the President to flip a switch which will launch a series of nuclear missiles towards a target thousands of miles away. Not turning the key would be a dereliction of duty but save millions of lives, not to mention, the planet. There’s a safety catch; your partner, at a prescribed distance from you but in in the same trolley car, must turn another key simultaneously.  Your partner is turning the key.

4. IN A HEARTBEAT

Would you do it?

            Absolutely, without a doubt.

            No mental hesitation about that whatsoever

            In a heartbeat.

 

We were tested.

We were trained.
Programmed to not even hesitate

Part of the ethos, to do what you have to do

 

You didn’t play games out there.

You do what you have to do.

 

Would you do it?

            Yes. Without any hesitation.

            Yes. In a heartbeat.

 

Would you do it?

            Would have done it in a heartbeat, even today

            I would have launched, I have no doubt

 

If they told us to launch we would launch,

If the message comes, I’m not going to think, I’m going to act

 

Come hell or high water

You had to be ready to do it.

 

 We were          

 We are          

100% committed. 

 

You didn’t play games out there.

You do what you have to do.


Would you do it?

Absolutely, without a doubt.

 

In a heartbeat.

 

 

5. MISSILE MINDSET

 

I make a point of not remembering

 

That night I thought long and hard about what exactly my job was out there

We were trained,

Programmed to perform

We were the finger on the trigger

            The human component

 

I make a point of not remembering

 

I put in the key once

That was different

The longest eight or nine minutes of my life

 

Nobody knew what was happening next

Is there more?

Is this it?

Is it done?

 

I make a point of not remembering

 

You sit here in the middle of the night

And you look at the little red box

 

And then

It’s absolutely real

 

And what you’re doing is crystal clear

And it ought to scare you

 

I make a point of not remembering

 

Nobody knows what is happening next

Is there more?

Is this it?

Is it done?

 

We are trained, drilled

Programmed to perform

            We are human component

            We are the finger on the trigger

 

I make a point of not remembering

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