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Hannah Valdes

Mrs. Lucarelli
Honors History
15 January 2016
Interview Questions
1. How did you personally feel about the uprisings against the USSR and the demise of
the Soviet Union?
-It was an incredible thing to watch unfold, and it was amazing to be a part of such a historical
period of time.
-The routines and practices of the Soviet Union prior to the revolution was unimaginable, it was
a society completely different from ours. I felt immediate relief and happiness when the Soviet
Union met their demise. It was difficult to be in the military in such a tense, heightened period of
time.
2. What was life like in the military, as a result of the revolutions and the cold war?
-On my side of the fence, there were a lot of fellow airmen that I served with in other parts of
the air force, that were used to standing and flying alert, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week;
constantly. All of a sudden, they stood down so to speak, and what I mean, is that at any given
moment, we had B15 Bombers in flight, orbiting, ready to depart those orbits and head toward
target areas, with nuclear missiles. We had crews, including mine, sitting in alert bunkers, near
their airplanes, and a clock would go off periodically, just to practice, to pretend, that we were
under attack or launching an attack. Theyd go racing out to their airplanes I was at a base at
the very end of the Soviet Union, in 1991, when they broke up, the military scrambled all of the
alert forces for the last time, engines starting and planes heading for the runway. They then
sounded the stand-down and we were informed that the alerts were over, because the Soviet
Union had announced their dissolving.
3. What role did you play in the arms race and cold war?
-I was very involved with rotating nuclear arms back and forth from our different stations
Rotating ones that needed to be looked at for maintenance and implementing new ones. This was
all part of the overall strategic posture that the United States had, alongside with NATO, to
maintain a defensive standpoint against the Soviet Union. It was the very end part of the cold
war. In the military, you could feel the constant pressure on both nations, and a readiness and
ability to launch or counterlaunch a nuclear offensive. It comes at a large economic price, to
maintain such an arsenal and readiness. It is my impression, that it was my small piece in
observing how that contributed to the Soviet Unions collapse.
4. Were you ever in personal danger throughout your career during this time period?
-During my time, flying over Soviet airspace wasnt even considered Being that Cuba was
very tightly controlled by the Soviet Union, and was very economically tethered to the Soviet
Union, just simply landing at Guantanamo Bay, we had a very narrow ally of airspace to get to
the runaway as you approach the runaway, you have to make a very stiff turn to line up with
the runaway, and ensure that you are not touching Cuban airspace, they would light you up with

their air defense radar, so that you knew that they were locked in on you and could knock you
out of the sky at will They did this just to keep you on edge.
-I felt so much anxiety, because it was such a big change You had to rewire your mind, you
wondered what was coming next, and it was difficult to wrap your head around.
5. What did you bear witness to in relation to the revolution that occurred in the Soviet
Union?
-The people there at that time, when perestroika and glasnost programs that Gorbachev
initiated, started to kick in, people were able to demonstrate in the streets a bit peaceful
demonstrations, hold posters, actually say things out loud and publicly criticize things that they
didnt agree with, with the government which was completely unheard of, in the early part of
my military career.
6. What effect did you see that the Revolution and the fall of the Soviet Union had on
the citizens?
-They were able to more actively participate in the process of electing their government, and
they were able to voice their complaints. They could finally engage in commerce that would
benefit them directly.
-When the Soviet Union broke up, we were left with about fifteen new little countries that
emerged as a result of the breakup of the Soviet Union.
-The people were able to communicate more freely with less fear of being punished or
oppressed.
7. How was life different during this time period for you? Was the military
environment different or varied?
-Prior to these policies, we would pick windows of time when known satellites wouldnt be
passing overhead, to move the nuclear weapons from my plane to vehciles.. We were trying to
minimize their view of what we had, keep them guessing what we had, what our capabilities
were, what technology we had. Everything was a little chess game, even in broad daylight. They
would be photographing constantly from their satellites. It was a matter of giving away as little
information about the United States as possible.
8. What changed after the revolution and fall of the Soviet Union, on a personal scale
and for the citizens there?
-... The president announced that we no longer had to maintain that level of alertness anymore
that we had for decades and decades.
-Afterwards, we started removing quite a few nuclear weapons, more from the forweard points
back to be dismantled from our forward bases, I would deliver and rotate these nuclear
weapons from such bases such as western Europe, turkey, northwest United States I started
seeing more material coming back then going out. There was no need to maintain such a huge
arsenal anymore.
-On a personal scale, I did not have to carry out as many nuclear support missions.
9. Was the economic struggle in the Soviet Union visible to you in your military
career?

Occasionally when I traveled during my military career I would notice that the people in the
Soviet Union coveted very simple things. Things that we just take for granted. In addition to this,
it was obvious that they didnt have luxuries like a camera, watches, blue jeans, or comfortable
sneakers. I encountered these people very often.
10. What was society like following the fall of the Soviet Union?
-Seeing the Soviet Union collapse was remarkable.
- The Soviet Union was considered the biggest threat There was a fear that their form of
communism, and their lifestyle, would eventually absorb the western world, and us. Seeing the
Soviet Union fall apart was amazing.
-Following the collapse, there was much less tension within the members of the military.

Reflection
For my interview, I chose my father, who was in the air force from the years of 1983 to 1992. He
worked as a flight engineer and pilot of the C141b, nicknamed the Starlifter. He was in the
military for years, and he took part in many historical events, including the Gulf War and the
Cold War. A revolution that he witnessed was the infamous one in the Soviet Union, and the
demise of the USSR. He witnessed the fall of the Soviets government, the uprisings of citizens,
and the help from the United States to overthrow the government and their communist ways. In
my own opinion, this was a great revolution.
As my father described through the interview questions, being in the military during the Soviet
Unions erratic behavior caused the members to constantly be on alert and ready at a call. It was
a time of no rest, almost like sleeping with one eye open. Each person in the military played a
key role in the demise of the USSR. Although my father was not a bomber pilot, on the frontline
of the cold war, he was transporting and rotating nuclear weapons, aiding the fierce arms race
that was continuing. He was a necessary component who presented a strong defense and
appearance to the Soviet Union, through his work with the nuclear arms.
The uprisings of the citizens against the government in the Soviet Union helped to demolish the
government and bring justice to the people. The bravery of the people after so many years of
being oppressed and punished was remarkable. Even though the citizens were no stranger to
punishment, as they had grown up with it, they would not tolerate it any longer, and they took a
stand. The citizens in the Soviet Union had been forbidden to voice their actual opinions and take
a stand against things that they did not agree with, previous to the revolution in their country.
Something that we consider a basic right in our country was a punishable act in theirs. After
years of communist reign, the citizens were excited, thankful, but tentative to begin to have a say
in governmental matters, hold a political view, and even engage in commerce. It was a time of
new beginnings.
The uprisings, the revolution and the fight against the Soviet Union took a toll not only on that
region of the world, but also on the American citizens. People were constantly in fear, not able to
predict what would come next. The military was on edge all hours of the day, and sporadically
ran drills in the case of being attacked.