John Bordne, a resident of Blakeslee, Penn., had to keep a personal history to himself for more than five decades. Only recently has the US Air Force given him permission to tell the tale, which, if borne out as true, would constitute a terrifying addition to the lengthy and already frightening list of mistakes and malfunctions that have nearly plunged the world into nuclear war in 1962.
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reported that Bordne was serving at one of four secret missile launch sites on the US-occupied Japanese island of Okinawa.
US Air Force Captain William Bassett rejected to fulfill the order of launching nuclear strike on USSR. Opening an envelope that contained targeting information, Bassett saw that one of the targets was not located in the USSR. The other officer called him and said that two of the targets he received in the envelope were not located in the USSR.
The second launch officer at that site reported to Bassett that the lieutenant had ordered his crew to proceed with the launch of its missiles! Bassett immediately ordered the other launch officer, as Bordne remembers it, “to send two airmen over with weapons and shoot the [lieutenant] if he tries to launch without [either] verbal authorization from the ‘senior officer in the field’ or the upgrade to DEFCON 1 by Missile Operations Center.”
Though the content of W.Bassett’s conversation with the command station was unknown, as a result, the officers serving in private markets were ordered not to launch nuclear missiles.
Bassett died in May 2011. Bordne has taken to the Internet in an attempt to locate other launch crew members who may be able to help to fill in his recollections. The National Security Archives, a watchdog group based at George Washington University's Gelman Library, has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Air Force, seeking records relating to the Okinawa incident, but such requests often do not result in a release of records for years, if ever.