My sleepy suburban neighborhood is awakened Saturday mornings when the trash comes around 6, the gardeners and lawn mowers begin at 8 o’clock. On January 13, I was caught somewhere between savoring my last few mornings before the return of school and hungover from the polarized ebb and flow of social interactions that comes with the holidays. I didn’t notice the mowers were silent. I awoke to my phone buzzing and messaging North Korea had launched a ballistic missile headed to Hawaii, THIS IS NOT A DRILL!
I acted. I checked facebook, posted “is this real?” Then I sent an email off to my husband, he is currently deployed over seas. I said the only things that mattered, “I love you, I hope you’re not dead already, I hope I am not dead already.” If Hawaii were to be shot at I can only ascertain that my husband’s ship has already been involved with the fight in some way and news has not come yet. I also texted my zombie apocalypse team.
Our team consist of select individuals chosen because they are useful in one way or another or have things that would be useful, and not too annoying. Not that I would turn away a desperate person because they are annoying, but I am not going to go looking for them. I should state at this time, I was doing all of this from the loo. I would like to continue to overshare a little and draw on my previous experience working in Ballistic Missile Defense.
In my previous life I played a rocket scientist for the US Navy, and I while I am certainly no expert, I knew that by the time we found out, it was already too late to do anything. I would dare say on a good day the path of communication from one sensor location to another for verification of the validity of the data being received would be more time consuming than it would take for the missile to hit us. Each station would have to check twice, at least, just to rule out human errors. Before the message could go out they would have had to wake up some very important people and explain what is going on. I have had to wake up mid-level important people and tell them something important, if it was really important I would make them repeat it back to me. I am not at liberty to say how long a missile will take to reach Hawaii; there are estimates but until a missile does, one can only do the calculations.
I would like to take the liberty to point out that Hawaii is a very small target to aim for when you have to take in account all the known and unknown varriables associated with what is called the firecontrol solution. Just like with shooting guns it is much easier to hit the broad side of the barn than through the eye of a needle. I don’t believe North Korea possesses the accuracy required to hit Hawaii. Listen very carefully when they put out information from the media; they are careful to say words like range and capability, and not words like accuracy. Have you ever wondered why it makes news that Navy ships shoot down satellites in outer space? It is a show of accuracy, its the last great pissing contest left over from the Cold War. I can say that I believe that from the moment I received the message that I was on time from God’s graces and that my husband was probably already dead. The alternative was that some guy accidentally hit the button, after all we did just practice the drill for the first time only last month.
Which brings me back to my last few moments, how long do I have left? Well all I can do is continue on my normal morning routine. I thought about it too, I needed to do some hasty communications and, if it was real and I survived, this could be the last time for a long time before I would have the opportunity to go. Sure going out like that isn’t glamorous but no one would know; I would be just one more of the thousands of casualties. Shame lost out to practicality, I wasn’t going to let someone’s blunder ruin my Saturday morning. After all isn’t the safest place the bathroom?
Two days passed and while absolutely nothing else in the news was going on, the Hawaii’s missile crisis was the top trending news story. My family back on the mainland called me, they wanted to hear my story. At first I was confused and could only remember who I texted. Apparently a lot of people had a very dramatic life moment, I spent mine on the can. My family was disappointed in my story and we discussed some lessons learned from the whole experience. I now have a better plan of what to do if it happens again, or in any emergency.
Hawaii’s missile crisis moment brought into perspective many areas that are in need of improvement. The guy who pushed the button was fired along with several resignations and punitive measures implemented. Hawaii learned lessons in emergency response. The rest of the world eternalized the possible real world nuclear war with North Korea. I would like to share one hope I have, that is for the Hawaiian Missile Crisis to be remembered, in history, as the climax of our current conflicts with North Korea.