Petrov Stanislav, “the man who single-handedly saved the world from nuclear war” in 1983, passed away at the age of 77.
Petrov served as a Lieutenant Colonel of the Soviet Air Force Defense Forces responsible for detecting nuclear attacks from the U.S. On September 26, 1983, three weeks after the Soviet military shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007, Petrov was duty officer at the command center for Russia’s Oko nuclear early-warning system when a launch detection system reported the launch of up to six missiles from the United States.
Petrov determined that it was a false alarm, reasoning that the U.S. would never make a first strike with so few missiles, that the launch detection system was new and not wholly reliable, and that ground radar failed to pick up corroborative evidence.
Later, it was determined that the false alarm was created by a rare alignment of sunlight on high-altitude clouds above North Dakota. In 2013, Petrov admitted that he was not certain at the time that the alarm was erroneous.
“All that happened didn’t matter to me; it was my job,” he said on receiving the World Citizens Award for his deed in 2013. “…My late wife for ten years knew nothing about it. ‘So what did you do?’ she asked me. ‘Nothing. I did nothing.'”