September 9, 2004
We are publishing this letter as an appeal to you to come
forward and share your experiences of nuclear-related duties
with our website, and with the Internet community at large.
We realize that you may be understandably reluctant to share
this information with others, considering that much of it was,
and some still is, highly classified. However, we would like
to ease your minds about these concerns. Please take a few moments
to consider the following:
1. Much of the information concerning nuclear weapons either
has never been classified, or has now been declassified. There
is an exhaustive listing of what may and may not be discussed
in "open source" material, and we are certain that
you would be surprised at what it is safe to discuss.
2. Much of the information about nuclear weapons can be discussed
in an unclassified manner by making generalizations; e. g., "a
yield of less 20 kilotons" instead of the actual yield of
a weapon; "range of less than 100 miles," etc. What
would be interesting to our readership would be important but
not sensitive information such as: how hard were the weapons
to handle? What precautions did you have to take when handling
them (nuclear safety, security, and general safety considerations
such as caution in lifting, etc.)?
3. The last tactical nuclear weapons were withdrawn from the
Army inventory in 1991. Many of you had experiences with nuclear
weapon systems that were withdrawn long before this time. These
weapons don't exist any longer, and much about them can be safely
4. We are NOT soliciting ANY classified information. If you are
knowledgeable about the internal design or workings of these
systems, it would be best if you kept this information to yourselves.
What we ARE looking for are your EXPERIENCES: what it felt like
to work with such powerful weapons; what your training regimens
were like; what it felt like to undergo inspections such as the
Nuclear Surety Inspection, the Technical Proficiency Inspection,
etc.; what responses you had to periods of heightened tension
during the Cold War, and the like. These types of information
are valuable pieces of history, and we don't want to lose them
to the ravages of time!
5. For the more thoughtful among you, we would welcome those
thoughts that may have consumed some of your quiet times in the
barracks or out in the field late at night: how would you have
felt if you had had to employ one of these weapons in war? Did
you think we should or should not have used them? Do you feel
differently about them now than you did when you were working
with them? Private thoughts such as these would add an invaluable
human dimension to the body of knowledge we have on this important
period of American history.
6. On the other hand, we are also interested in any humorous
anecdotes you might have concerning nuclear duties. We are all
aware, although the general public may not be, that humor can
be found even in the most deadly serious of endeavors. Did you
ever get chewed out by a lieutenant trying to get into a restricted
area, only to have someone of higher rank chew HIM out for nosing
around something he didn't have a need to know? Did you ever
get so confused trying to guide a helicopter in that the pilot
did something unexpected? Did you ever suffer a bad slip of the
tongue during an important inspection? These are things we'd
like to know about, too!
We hope that you, the former custodians of U.S. nuclear weaponry
in Europe, will come forward with this valuable information,
and assist us in preserving this important, but largely unknown
part of the Division's history. If you have any questions or
concerns about what you can and cannot share, please do not hesitate
to contact one of us, and we will give you guidance. If you request
it, we will treat you an anonymous contributor to the website.
We hope to hear from you soon.
To contact us
Nuclear Section Editor