The fact that you can read this is because of a man who said “no” due to an accident. In doing so, he literally saved the world. And his reward? To be insulted.
On 15 October 1962, President Kennedy went ballistic at the discovery that the Soviets were trying to balance out NATO by building a nuclear missile site in Cuba. The Cuban Missile Crisis began the next day, ending 13 days later to a collective sigh of relief. Everyone believed that nuclear annihilation had been averted through diplomatic means.
But it’s actually Deputy Commander Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov we have to thank.
It all started on 4 July 1961. Arkhipov was aboard a new Hotel-class ballistic missile submarine K-19, when its radiant cooling system developed a leak. To prevent a nuclear catastrophe, the captain ordered the crew to contain the reactor.
Eight sailors died within days from radiation sickness, causing a near mutiny, but Arkhipov backed his captain and the disaster was contained.