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Offutt airman who spotted Soviet missiles in Cuba inducted into
Strategic Air Command Hall of Fame
May 22, 2017

Deep in the basement of the Strategic Air Command’s headquarters at
Offutt Air Force Base, Airman 1st Class Michael Davis studied the
black-and-white film squares through a magnifying lens on that October
day in 1962.

Hunched over the light table, he noticed some cigar-shaped objects. He
knew they were out of the ordinary; though only 24, he had been studying
aerial reconnaissance photos like these, from a U-2 flight over Cuba,
for three years.

“Major, take a look at this,” Davis told an officer. “I think you’d
better call the colonel.”

The Cuban “cigars” were actually Soviet medium-range ballistic missiles
on the backs of trucks. The SAC commander, Gen. Thomas Power,
looked over the photos. The next day, the president was briefed. For the
next two weeks, the United States and the Soviet Union stood toe-to-toe
in what came to be known as the Cuban missile crisis.

Davis couldn’t share his secret discovery, of course, but he was named
Offutt’s “Airman of the Month” and received a three-day pass, he told
The World-Herald in a 2002 interview.

On Saturday, Davis received additional recognition when he was named to
the SAC Hall of Fame, one of four members of its second class of
inductees. The ceremony was held on Saturday — Armed Forces Day — at the
Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum near Ashland.

The inductees were selected for their “significant impact in service to
SAC or to its mission,” according to a press release from the museum.
Nominees were selected by a committee of six community leaders who are
knowledgeable about the military and about SAC history.

» Gen. Russell E. Dougherty, a World War II veteran who was SAC’s eighth
commander, from 1974 to ’77, described by the SAC Museum as a
“transformational leader” who “positively impacted the quality of life
for those serving in SAC.” He died in 2007 at age 86 and is buried at
Arlington National Cemetery.

» Gen. Larry D. Welch, 82, who headed SAC in 1985 and 1986 before
stepping up to become Air Force chief of staff. He is credited by the
museum with raising SAC’s readiness through “tough, realistic training,
modernization, and improving efficiency.” In retirement, he continues to
serve on the Defense Policy Board and U.S. Strategic Command’s Strategic
Advisory Board.

» Ed Wells, longtime chief engineer at Boeing Co., who was involved in
the design of aircraft from the B-17 to the 747, and was responsible for
designing or improving many SAC aircraft platforms, including the B-29
Superfortress, B-47 Stratojet and B-52 Stratofortress. He died in 1986
at age 75.

The museum also inducted three supporters to its own Hall of Fame: Bruce
Rohde, Lee Seemann and Clarence Werner.

steve.liewer@owh.com, 402-444-1186

Source: Offutt airman who spotted Soviet missiles in Cuba inducted into
Strategic Air Command Hall of Fame | Military | omaha.com –
www.omaha.com/news/military/offutt-airman-who-spotted-soviet-missiles-in-cuba-inducted-into/article_4373afc9-7fa1-516f-ae6d-83da7cbd1af8.html

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