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Wayne Post
  • LOUIS J. MALUCCI: Honor all veterans — including Cold War vets

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  • On Memorial Day, I stood on Main Street in Fairport, as I do every year, saluting the flags as they pass carried by veterans, standing in civilian clothes, as now proscribed by military regulations for veterans. I will stand and salute also on July 4 and on Veterans Day, just as I do at Red Wing, Amerks and Rhinos games. Those we honor are veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and now the current Mideast adversaries.
    But there are others who have been forgotten: those who served in the so-called “Cold War.” But who remembers that war? Not many. Not many remember Nikita Khrushchev at the UN Security Council, banging his shoe on the table yelling, “We will bury you! Our missiles could hit a fly in the sky.” Even fewer remember, his shoe never actually hit the table. But who remembers?
    We have forgotten those orange circles with triangles in them, designating air raid shelters in case of a nuclear attack. They admonished citizens to stay inside for 14 days after a nuclear attack, until the gamma rays dissipate; and to not eat leafy vegetables, which could hold in radioactive elements, but rather eat smooth-skinned vegetables and fruits which can be washed. Eat canned food. But who remembers?
    In one aircraft alone, the B-47 in which I served, a number nearly half of the number who died in Pearl Harbor perished in fatal training accidents, and about one third the number of those in the World Trade Center. But who remembers? They perished in aircraft which were advancements in the state of aviation, the predecessors of nearly all commercial aviation now in the sky. These planes were fast and climbed high, but they were dangerous to those accustomed to slower, lower maneuvers. Manufacturers of these somewhat flawed planes continued to produce them in the urgency to develop a deterrent force to retaliate if the Soviets made the fatal mistake of initiating a nuclear attack. It was said by aviation experts that this accident rate would not have been acceptable today.
    We shudder at North Korea’s few possible short-range missiles, not even sure if they are nuclear. The Soviets had tens of thousands, all nuclear. And there were those who died in the Cold War while serving in Italy, in England, and North Africa in F-84s, F-111s, and later B-52s, which entered the force along with ICBM missiles. And these crewmen and support personnel who, while living in concrete, underground shelters, slept with .38 pistols under their armpits and in combat boots, and who missed holidays and family events to serve during this period, which began with the partitioning of East and West Berlin in 1948 and lasted until the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, and the abdication of Mikhail Gorbachev on Christmas Day, 1991.
    Isn’t it time to honor these veterans too?
    Page 2 of 2 - Louis J. Malucci of Perinton, a retired United States Air Force lieutenant colonel, is author of the book “B-47 Stratojet: Be a Nuclear Deterrent to the Nuclear Threat of the Cold War.”
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