“Oh, my God!,” Bordne recalled his colleagues as saying as they turned white with shock and surprise when they received a launch order before dawn on Oct. 28. The order was issued from Kadena to all four Mace B sites in Okinawa including Bolo Point, he said.
According to him, the three-level confirmation process was taken step-by-step in accordance with a manual by comparing codes in the launch order and codes given to his crew team in advance. All of the codes matched.
“So, we read the targets out loud. Out of the four missiles, we had only one headed toward Russia. The other three were not going to Russia. That, right away, gave us a start to wonder. Because the launch directive said you launch all the missiles,” Bordne said. His crew team was in charge of four out of eight missiles deployed at the site.
“And we figured, ‘Why hit these other countries?’ They’ve got nothing to do with this. That doesn’t make any sense,” Bordne said. “So, our captain, the launch officer, said to us ‘We’ve got to think this through in a logical, rational manner’.”
When the launch order was issued, the five-level “DEFCON” scale, or defense condition, remained at level 2, one step from starting a war. Theoretically, a launch order should not be issued unless DEFCON is raised to 1, which means initiating a military counterattack against enemy forces.
The order under DEFCON 2 made the crew team, especially the launch officer, so dubious about its authenticity that the officer ordered suspension of the ongoing launch procedures which Bordne was engaged in.
Finally, the launch officer figured out that the order had been mistakenly issued, Bordne said, but added he has no idea why such an order was issued. Even though Bordne did not specify which country had been targeted besides Russia under the order, it is believed to be China considering the Mace B missile range of 2,200-2,300 kilometers.
It is not clear what caused such a wrong launch order to be issued, but a U.S. U-2 spy plane was shot down over Cuba just a few hours before the order was conveyed to the Mace B sites in Okinawa.