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Check Six – 1962: How One Black Bear Almost Set Off World War III During the Cold War

May 2, 2021

From the website

To err is human, to forgive is not Strategic Air Command policy. (U.S. Air Force photograph)

For as destructive as the world’s combined nuclear arsenals could be, it sure seems like both the United States and Soviet Union were pretty cavalier about using them. The U.S. alone had 32 different nuclear weapons incidents, which includes straight-up losing six of them, none of which was ever found.

The Soviets, of course, had a far-from-perfect nuclear record. The USSR may have lost upward of a hundred weapons. It also would have launched a nuclear attack against the U.S. if it weren’t for one officer who recognized a malfunction in the early warning system.

As highly as we like to think of our military leadership, the launch code for World War III was “00000000” for 15 years. We shouldn’t be surprised that a bear was nearly able to start that war by itself.

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Webmaster Comments: Heard this story several times over the years; first time to see it in print.

From → History

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