The Man who Saved the World

Photo courtesy of BBC Broadcasting. Copyright 2012.

“A guy called Vasili Arkhipov saved the world.” –  Thomas Blanton in 2002 (then director of the National Security Archive)

Last month, October 27, 1962 marked the 50th anniversary of an event too important in world history for it to get lost amid the Halloween and other “trivial” holiday-related notifications. I therefore chose to wait until they were over to pay due honor to this truly great and heroic gentleman who is sadly almost unknown outside his mother country: Vasili Arkhipov.

At the nail-biting height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, second-in-command Vasili Arkhipov of the Soviet submarine B-59 adamantly refused to follow his commanding officers’ order to launch nuclear torpedoes against USA warships which had been dropping depth charges near his submarine in a attempt to force it to surface.

Soviet submarine B-59, forced to the surface by U.S. Naval forces in the Caribbean near Cuba. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia. Copyright 2012.

What the USA military intelligence agency failed to make those warships aware of was that Arkhipov’s Soviet submarine was armed with nuclear torpedoes that – had those torpedoes been launched – might well have resulted in a terminal superpower nuclear war!

The Soviet officers, having lost radio contact with Moscow, wrongly concluded that World War 3 had begun. At that point, two of the officers agreed to “blast the warships out of the water.” It was then that Arkhipov made his heroic decision to refuse to agree. Thankfully, according to Russian military law, the unanimous consent of three officers was required to activate that decision.

Thanks solely to the bravery and genuine humanitarian concerns of Vasili Arkhipov we are all here today to talk about this pivotal event in 20th Century history, and thanks to the BBC’s documentary ‘Vasili Arkhipov: the Man who Saved the World’ his full story is finally told for all the world to hear!

Gravesite of Vasili Arkhipov in Russia. Photo courtesy of Find a Grave. Copyright 2012.

Grave Marker of Vasili Arkhipov. Photo courtesy of Find a Grave. Copyright 2012.

Photo and info courtesy of Wikipedia: Native name Василий Александрович Архипов
Born 30 January 1926
Staraya Kupavna, Moscow Oblast, Soviet Union
Died 19 August 1998 (aged 72)
Zheleznodorozhny, Moscow Oblast
Allegiance Soviet Union
Service/branch Soviet Navy
Years of service 1945–1980s
Rank Vice admiral
World War II
Cuban Missile Crisis
Order of the Red Banner
Order of the Red Star

I will keep you abreast of news regarding it’s air date/time in the USA. When it is aired, all I ask is that wherever you are please join me in raising a glass of vodka in salute to Vasili Arkhipov: THE MAN WHO SAVED THE WORLD!



Shirley Pena

About Shirley Pena

A native of Southern California, Shirley Peña began her career as a music journalist almost twenty years ago, writing for her websites "Stars In My Eyes: the Girlhowdy Website" and "La Raza Rock!" and progressed to creating various fan sites on Yahoo, including the first for New Zealand singer/songwriter Tim Finn. From there, she became a free agent, arranging online interviews for Yahoo fan clubs with various music artists (Andy White, John Crawford, Debora Iyall, John Easdale, etc.). She also lent her support in creating and moderating a number of Yahoo fan clubs for various music artists from the 1990s-today. As a music journalist, Shirley Peña has contributed to a number of magazines (both hard copy and online), among them: Goldmine, American Songwriter, Classic Drummer Magazine and UK-based Keyboard Player (where she was a principal journalist). A self-confessed "fanatic" of 1960s "British Invasion" bands, Classic Rock and nostalgic "Old Hollywood ", she also keeps her finger on the pulse of current trends in music, with a keen eye for up and coming artists of special merit. Shirley Peña loves Los Angeles, and is thrilled to join the writing staff of The Los Angeles Beat!
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