Pie in the Sky

By John Liang / January 28, 2011 at 5:53 PM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, visiting Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska to attend the change-of-command ceremony at U.S. Strategic Command, this morning shared an anecdote from his days as an airman:

Visiting this organization carries a special meaning for me, as I spent most of my time as an Air Force lieutenant, serving in the old Strategic Air Command. I well understand the pressure under which you work -- and the occasional pitfalls, some serious, some less so. For example, one day in 1967, we were told there was a problem with the war plans. SAC Headquarters in Omaha needed to change the launch sequencing for all the missiles immediately. So, we at Whiteman, ordered pizzas and worked all night to fix the strike execution control documents, using -- and, here, I’m really going to date myself -- large, unwieldy sheets of laminating paper. The next morning, we received a call from a major in one of the launch control capsules. Turns out that one of SAC’s new targets had become a carefully laminated piece of pepperoni.