Sunday, August 8, 2010

My wife's unique experience inside NORAD underground facility in 1978!!

by Norio Hayakawa
August 8, 2010

I have not told this to too many people yet, but my wife (before I met her in 1986 and married her) had a unique experience of being inside the NORAD underground command center in late 1978.

NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) was located under Cheyenne Mountain and was built around 1966.
Although it was operated by the U.S. Air Force, the complex itself was largely built by the U.S. Navy.
NORAD was a joint U.S./Canadian operation.

My wife's brother was in the U.S. military back then and was stationed near Colorado Springs.
(Today one of his sons is proudly serving in the U.S. Army. This will be his seventh year in the Army. He had been stationed in Iraq three separate tours already).

Through my brother-in-law's special connections to a special officer (whose wife was Japanese), my wife and her mother had a unique opportunity to be guided by the military escorts to have a "tour" of inside the facility.

What was so amazing at that time was that both my wife and her mother were simply visiting from Japan. (My wife became a U.S. citizen only in 2000. I became a U.S. citizen in 1976).
My mother-in-law couldn't even speak a word of English and she hadn't the slightest idea what was going on, except that a military officer had offered her and her daughter a special "tour" of an "interesting" place.
Her brother missed the "tour" that day somehow. He had other things that came up that day at the base.
He himself had never been inside NORAD and to this day, he regrets very much that he missed that "tour".

There were only about 8 persons (all of them families of the military) and that was the only military escorted "tour" of that day.
In those days, there were only one or two military escorted private "tours" per month.
They were strictly for the military personnel and their families.

Anyway, she said that they rode on what she described to me as a small open train (just like you see in some mining complexes). The train was short. She recalls that there were only two or three, each of which could accommodate only about 8 or 10 persons the most.
They went through a tunnel which was not too large.
The tunnel was somewhat narrow.

Then they passed through huge, thick doors (much thicker than today's bank vault doors).
And then they passed through another huge set of doors.
She described the doors to me as being gigantic in size.

Then they were guided inside.
There was an elevator inside. She thinks there were a couple of more elevators in the complex.
She told me that they told them that there were several "buildings" with several "floors" in the complex.
The rooms, huge ones and small ones were all supported by thick springs underneath, the military escorts told them.
Also, she described the location inside as quite cavernous, with huge rocks as walls.

Mind you, this was back in 1978 during the Cold War years.
They were shown several places, such as the cafeteria, the barber shop, etc.
She described the environment as being almost like a miniature community.
The military guides then showed them the main computer room.
(I guess it was the command center).
The officer explained to them about the menacing threat of Russia and why it was important to construct such a huge underground complex and command center.
Anyway, I just wanted to share this with you.

My wife at that time had been one of the last persons to be even interested in things like "underground facilities".

My wife and her mother hadn't the slightest idea at that time how unique that experience was!
It was only after many years that my wife realized that she had an experience not too many people have ever had!
She told me that years later, after seeing some James Bond movies as well as some science fiction movies depicting underground facilities that she realized that she had actually been in one, in the real world!

Today, in retrospect, my wife tells me that as amazing as it was to her at that time (seeing what she saw), it is quite possible and most likely, she says, that she and her mother were shown only a small section of the entire complex!

Today, the old NORAD undergound facility exists but the main complex and its operations have now moved to Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, not too far from there.

From what I hear today, there are only a few military personnel that actually work there in the old section.
I guess times have changed.

In the olden days they used to believe that huge, deep, hardened underground complex was the thing, but in today's world, many things have become obsolete.

The most modern and effective facilities now do not have to be humongous.
Things have been scaled down in recent times and yet have become more sophisticated and more effective.

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