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Commentary Search

July Chaplain's Reflections

  • Published
  • By Chaplain (Capt.) Kirby Whitley
  • 169th Fighter Wing

Have you ever thought you were made for a special moment in time or a particular event that occurred in your life which enabled you to be successful?  You worked hard to condition your mind, spirit, and physical abilities; along with keeping track of your training and skills.  After all of those items, do you still consider that you were made for such a time as this?  Let’s revisit September 26th, 1983. Many of you may not have been born but the reverse outcome of this event could have changed the future of all mankind!

This particular night in an unknown location south of Moscow, Stanislav Petrov, a lieutenant colonel in the military intelligence section of the Soviet Union's military, elected to switch shifts with a fellow soldier. This was not an evening in which Petrov had planned to work but found himself sitting in a chair staring at computer screens which tracked United States missile launches, which was common during the Cold War.

During his shift, Petrov received many alerts that the United States had launched multiple missiles in the direction of the USSR. The timeframe for a missile to find the mainland of the USSR was approximately twelve minutes. During the next ten minutes, Petrov nervously continued to evaluate the situation and eliminated the possibility that this was a real attack. Sure enough, ten minutes later; the alerts ceased. The alert system had mistakenly detected shadows reflected off of clouds from the sun rays.

An event which could have resulted in devastation ended up being a non-story for many years until Petrov retold his accounts from that evening after the fall of the Soviet Union.  If you find this story interesting and can tell me during drill weekend why Petrov did not launch a counterattack, I may have a surprise for you! Feel free to read the story at the link found at the end of this article for additional details.

I share this story as a history lesson but also one to inspire you to continue serving this great state and nation, improving yourself through training and building connections among your ranks. You may find yourself in a situation where your training and “gut instinct” may become mission essential or as in Petrov’s case, save the world.

Reflect on your own challenges and conflicts that arise. Each of us experience life’s lemons and as the saying goes “did you use them to make lemonade”? Stay strong, resilient and pull from your inner strengths, whether it be prayer, meditation, or other methods; we are stronger when we are healthy. Remember that you were made for such a time as this!

Our family Strong Bonds event to be held July 16th. This single day outing will be located at Goodale State Park in Camden, SC. This will be a great time of fellowship and learning more about trusting yourself and others.

If you desire more information or support on spiritual strength or religious provisions, please call the SCANG Chaplain Corps office at 803-647-8265