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Fifty years after Cuban Missile Crisis, local veterans look back at their involvement

By Jennifer Kendall, jkendall@ktxs.com
Published On: Oct 14 2012 08:54:17 PM CDT
Lawn Missile base
LAWN, Texas -

50 years ago, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, missiles at Lawn Atlas Missile Base were raised to DEFCON 2, meaning they were raised and ready to launch when orders came down the chain of command.

"That was our job, that's what we were trained for, that's what we were here for and we would do it," said Lucius Mortan, who served on the 578th Strategic Missile Squadron.

Now, 50 years later, veterans of the 578th Strategic Missile Squadron and the Atlas F Missile team met to tell their stories. They said they aren't sure those who lived in Abilene knew just how close they came to total annihilation.

"I don't think they really grasp it. You know, even back then I don't think they realized what was in their backyard. I mean each one of these things had an atomic bomb on it," said Mortan.

Sunday, Abilene Christian University students learned more about the role the missile base played in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

"This is not only under told Texas history. It's totally forgotten Texas history and that's why it is so important for us to be talking about this. Because it's so significant not just to Texas history, but to world history," said Larry Sanders, owner of Lawn Atlas Missile Base. "These were earth changing events and we need to be proud of the role that Abilene, the Big Country and Texas played in our survival."

A city councilman from Abilene gave veterans some recognition for their service when he proclaimed October 14, 2012 Atlas F Missile and Dyess Air Force Base 578th Strategic Missile Squadron Day.