Congratulations 🎉 if you are reading this article, you are alive. “I’m not sure about me, though.”. Get ready to witness a man saving the world. This is not about a Marvel movie, but a true incident from the cold war.
Talking about superheroes without me?
“Traditionally not cool”
Here is some background for readers interested in politics: Our story dates back to 1962, from the times of the cold war. Cuba asked Soviet Union for support against the US. Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev agreed to place missiles on the Cuba islands against America. When American spy planes discovered the Soviet missiles in Cuba, President Kennedy ordered blockage of Cuba by the US navy.
American forces spotted an enemy Soviet submarine hiding in the Caribbean waters. This submarine was on a super-secret spy mission. The submarine carried nuclear weapons, enough to start a nuclear war between the two superpowers on the earth. Since the American ships did not know that the submarine carried nukes, they dropped nominal symbolic fires against the submarine. Submarine captain, Valentin Savitsky mistook the fires for a war.
We’re gonna blast them now! We will die, but we will not become the shame of the fleetCaptain Valentin Savitsky
Imagine sitting inside a hot oven, with a nuclear button in your hands. Will you press the button if you see your enemy attacking you? That was the situation when Savitsky, inside a 50 Celsius submarine mistook symbolic fires by America for war. Here comes our superhero – Vasili Arkhipov, who was a Soviet Navy officer present in the “oven” ship. He voted against the use of nukes. The interesting thing is, he was the only person who voted against it.
Sitting inside a “not-so-cool” ship in the cold war, Arkhipov saved humanity by keeping himself cool. If there was a nuclear war, the mass detonation of nuclear weapons would have caused widespread destruction and radioactive fallout. The collapse of civilization was not far in that scenario. Our superhero was 34 year, soft-spoken man, who voted Savitsky out of the idea of using nukes.
We often hear that “not all heroes wear capes”. Forty years after the incident of earth dodging a nuke, in 2002 the leaders of the US and Russia met in a reunion. This was the time when the US and the world came to know that the submarine carried nukes. Unlike what we see in Marvel, Arkhipov didn’t save the world by fighting. Instead, he saved the world by keeping his sanity and deciding to not pick his weapons.
If you were born after 1962, your birth is a miracle. Thinking about how close we were to destroy our earth ….. always gives me the chills.
Thank you, Mr. Arkhipov
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