ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. (KOTA TV) – The faint echoes of the Cold War seem to be getting louder as North Korea pursues nuclear weapons capable of striking the U.S.; China flexes its military muscle in the South China Sea; and Russian bombers probe Alaskan air space.
In a KOTA Territory News Extra: Echoes of the Cold War, we took a look at the impact the old cold war had on America’s airmen; airmen like Bob Liebman.
It has been a few years since Liebman climbed into a bomber. He loved the planes and crews he flew with but wasn’t always fond of the Cold War missions.
“I’m not nostalgic for the tension and the stakes of it,” Liebman admitted.
The faceoff between America and the Soviet Union from 1946 to 1991 was no Hollywood movie scenario.
“Now wait a minute, this is World War Three,” Liebman exclaimed. “You really do kind of lay awake, thinking about it. ‘Holy smokes, what am I doing here?’ And you’ve just got a glimpse of a bigger picture that you kind of knew was there but now you’re in it. You’re a part of it.”
For the men and women of Ellsworth Air Force Base, the Cold War was as real as any shooting match.
“And it’s intimidating. I mean, you’re holding World War III in your hands. It’s not something somebody told you about … it’s not hypothetical,” Liebman said.
Still, Liebman – an electronic warfare officer in B-52s and then B-1 bombers – was more shocked that the Cold War ended then the fact he could have played a part in ending the world as we know it.
“When they stood down the alert force it was a huge change and we really didn’t know what to make of it,” he said.
The order from then President George H.W. Bush to stand down a big part of America’s…