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Inside a Front-Line Nuclear Missile Command at the Height of the Cold War:
Avoiding Armageddon
John Eberhardt

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: From 1967 to 1970 John Eberhardt commanded a US nuclear missile unit that worked within the German Luftwaffe, located in North Germany. The unit was under NATO command, not the US Army, in Germany. As a chemistry major, Mr. Eberhardt had six years of German language instruction. This allowed for a smooth working relationship with fellow German officers. He was responsible for nuclear warheads and the detonators that activated their nuclear capability. He and his junior officers had top-secret clearances (both US and NATO). He commanded 35 nuclear weapons specialists and the highest caliber soldiers. The stress was hard on everyone. They trained daily to flawlessly complete their critical but dreaded mission. The missiles are long gone and the information is declassified, so he can speak freely about the command process to launch (i.e. the President to them). Mr. Eberhardt will discuss the limitations on control, looking back at the blind luck in getting through this period during the Cold War. He will make a comparison to today's operations, discussing both the scale-back and improvements in our nuclear arsenal today. The audience will learn that the gap is huge between the potential for accidental detonation then as opposed to now.

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: John Eberhardt is an alumnus of the Virginia Military Institute. After graduating as an artillery lieutenant, he was ordered to Northern Germany while most of his fellow graduates were being deployed to Vietnam. With clearance from the FBI, he was designated by the army to command 35 men, all of whom were trained in working with nuclear weapons. During this two-year assignment, Eberhardt and his unit worked closely with the German military in a very stressful and isolated environment.  The significance of remaining calm and focused on a 24/7 basis while overseeing nuclear weaponry, capable of unleashing such destructive power, is an interesting and fascinating story. 

SPL4194
Time: 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Date: Thursday, April 19, 2018
Location: Barry and Florence Friedberg Auditorium, Boca Raton Campus
Fees: Member - $30 per event
$75 for any combination of three events, members only
$150 for any combination of eight events, members only

No Refunds Will be Given for One-Time Events Purchased Within a Discounted Bundle
Non-member - $35
Cash will no longer be accepted as payment for lectures.

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