Government whistleblower reveals how an Air Force mechanic's mistake prevented World War III

Melissa MC
Photo byDepartment of Defense

Armageddon's Angel, written by Dr Alan E. Diehl, is a historical fiction treatise inspired by real events. It depicts how, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a heroic local school teacher could have prevented World War III by stealing her Russian lover's launch keys.

If this story is ever made into a movie, Ana de Armas would be the perfect protagonist because she has repeatedly demonstrated her dramatic credentials and action-figure abilities. She also would certainly excel in conveying the romantic aspects of this story, while her Cuban accent and beautiful Hispanic looks would be an asset and give her another well-deserved shot at an Oscar. We could easily imagine Ana De Armas in this moment of extreme tension, channelling a powerful combination of defiance, fury and strength.

Diehl's book also describes how a real Air Force mechanic's mistake had historic consequences. This GI had loaded a small package aboard a T-33 aircraft at Andrews Air Base near Washington, DC. The parcel was quickly shoved in a diminutive baggage pod mounted beneath the jet's fuselage. The purpose of this flight was to rush the top-secret invasion plans to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. There, senior officers intended to finalize the details of this complex operation that was projected to involve thousands of troops and hundreds of aircraft and ships.
T-33 with baggage podPhoto byPublic domain provided by Dr Alan E. Diehl

However, after the jet landed, it was discovered its baggage compartment door had come open in flight, and these critical documents were missing. Astonished officers immediately realized the proposed assault on Cuba would have to be delayed and re-planned. The hapless Air Force mechanic was obviously unaware of the importance of the package he had so hastily loaded aboard the jet.

The Pentagon's planned attack on Cuba had been recommended to eliminate the threat posed by Soviet strategic nuclear missiles recently deployed there. Had the documents not been lost, the American assault would have undoubtedly triggered World War III because Kennedy's adversary, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, had also secretly placed tactical nuclear weapons on the island. They were intended to repel just such an invasion.

The Pentagon, CIA, and the president's advisers were unaware these battlefield nukes had been issued to junior Soviet officers on the island. So the fortuitous loss of those classified plans gave President Kennedy time to reconsider the implications of an invasion, and he soon opted for a less dangerous naval blockade.

Dr Diehl's career included investigating human error events, which motivated him to reveal the implications of this embarrassingly simple baggage handling error by an Air Force mechanic. But to accurately tell this compelling story, he interviewed numerous individuals who were personally involved in the operation. They included a senior general assigned to the Central Intelligence Agency, a Los Alamos laboratory scientist whose devices detected the Soviet nukes, a National Security Agency analyst that monitored the Russian radio network on the island, and an Air Force associate who flew reconnaissance missions over Cuba. However, Diehl decided to disclose this sensitive information in a novel.

The book includes factual information on how the unauthorized shoot-down of an American U-2 spy plane by Soviet officers in Cuba quickly convinced Khrushchev that he had lost control of this situation. Exasperated, he soon agreed to remove all the strategic missiles from the island if Kennedy lifted the blockade and promised never to invade Cuba. History reveals that the Soviets soon decided to also remove all the ninety-six undiscovered tactical nuclear weapons on the island because of the hazards posed by another unintended action involving their own or Cuban troops. 

Incidentally, during an October 28, 2022, interview in the British Daily Express newspaper, Diehl suggested that Mr Putin would be well advised to stop "sabre-rattling" about the use of tactical nukes in Ukraine for similar reasons.

The Americans were totally unaware of the presence of such weapons in Cuba. But had this nation invaded, the use of nukes by the Soviets would have undoubtedly led to World War III. Given those consequences, a film based on this story, aptly titled ‘Armageddono’s Angel’, would make for a captivating docudrama. Ana De Armas’ critically-acclaimed performance in ‘Marilyn’ earned her an Academy Award nomination, and she would be perfect for telling this epic tail.

Today, the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis stands as a reminder of the critical actions of those who risked their lives to protect the planet. In Armageddon’s Angel, the courage of real individuals and fictitious characters is brought to life in an inspirational way during the most perilous time in human history. And it should be remembered how rational leaders on both sides of the confrontation prevailed in the face of daunting odds.

Source: Dr Alan Diehl

Dr Alan E. Diehl is an established figure in both the public and official eye who studied history at the USAF Academy. He later earned engineering and psychology degrees after experiencing a near-fatal plane crash. His credentials include several FAA pilot ratings and working as a designer for two aircraft manufacturers. He has also consulted with various educational, public interest, congressional, and legal organizations.

Having worked in highly regarded government operations for the National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Aviation Administration, the Pentagon, and State Department, his influence has reached much farther than many could ever imagine. On occasion, his forensic skills were even utilized to address White House requests for information. Such efforts were described in his book, Silent Knights: Blowing the Whistle on Military Accidents and Their Coverups, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

After becoming a prominent whistleblower, he has been featured in hundreds of interviews with media outlets worldwide on topics such as government coverups, mysterious disappearances, psychology, and aviation safety. He has appeared on FOX, CNN, BBC, CBS, NBC, and ABC networks as well as Sirius XM, Yahoo, Vice News, and other platforms. His views have also been featured in major publications, including the Associated Press, Reuters, Time, New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Military Times.

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