Tuesday, December 09, 2008
iReport Memories of 2008: The last Cold War incident

Here on iReport.com, we see a lot of breaking news. But from time to time, we also see fascinating -- and relevant -- historical submissions. We asked you for your parents' and grandparents' stories of the Great Depression, for example, to see what lessons they would hold for surviving today's tough economy. You sent in many touching and insightful stories and photos, like this one from Sheila Elrod, and we turned them into this piece on CNN.com. But some of the coolest historical iReports this year came in response to the Georgia-Russia conflict in August. The conflict brought up Cold War memories for many iReporters, especially veterans. I was blown away by an amazing video sent in by Mark Watts. He served as a gunner's mate on the USS Yorktown during the Cold War, and he was onboard in 1988 when a Soviet ship rammed the Yorktown, apparently trying to throw it off-course. Some historians have called this the last major incident of the Cold War. One of the ship's photographers, Darin Walter, captured the entire frightening scene on video -- and 20 years later, Watts sent the video into iReport and was able to share it with the world. We featured Walter's and Watts' photos and video in this CNN.com story about the Georgia-Russia conflict and Cold War memories. So yes, iReport is about current events, but it's also about history. Your memories from the past have great insight and bring a crucial perspective to CNN's reporting. After all, journalism is really the same as history -- it's just a bit faster. What iReports stood out to you this year? We're sharing the ones we remember most, and we'd love for you to give your favorites a shoutout.

December 12, 2008
Click to view MahdisBro's profile

Media acts as the growing ears, eyes and voice to a global Peoples that now goes so very much more above "letters from the front lines". CNN itself born under a baptism of fire during the first gulf war correct and we have had eyes on globally ever since. Thanks. From the Vietnam war to this global Vietnam to the Georgia-Russian conflict examples of history repeating itself with little lessons learns unfortunately.

December 30, 2008
Click to view Ldopa's profile

I am a veteran of the Cold War...an often all-too forgotten era in our history.


I served as aircrew on board carrier-based helicopters. Our primary job was hunting submarines...Soviet submarines especially. Our secondary job was search and rescue.


I served from 1987 to 1995. I remember the Yorktown incident. What many of you do not know is that this was by far not the only incident of its type at that time, nor was it the last major incident. It was probably the last major incident "reported."


There were also submarine-to-submarine collisions, one of which was believed to have resulted in loss of life on the Soviet side. Although this was (supposedly) an accident, there were some incidents I am aware of that could be considered deliberate acts of aggression. For example, there were fairly frequent incursions by Soviet aircraft into NATO airspace. There were also a few incidents (one of which I was involved in) of Soviet submarines approaching far too close to our battle group, and evading upon discovery. One tailed an aircraft carrier so closely it nearly collided with it. This might not sound so serious, until you realize that such behavior automatically classified such submarines as "hostile"...which means it risked being destroyed, and starting a war. Fortunately, all of these dangerous scenarios I am aware of played out to peaceful conclusions: the collisions were deemed as "accidents;" Soviet aircraft turned away upon being intercepted; and the Soviet subs, once caught, would surface and move out of the area. However, all of these incidents were militarily "near misses," meaning they could have all resulted in war. I want to also point out that the Soviets were not the only ones playing these dangerous games. The US Navy was doing the same, especially the submarine fleet; they were just better at not getting caught!


I will not go in to details about specific incidents, as they are probably still classified. I will tell you that the Cold War was not so cold, and that many men lost their lives performing their duty. I lost several friends from in-flight accidents while they carried out their missions. I nearly lost my own life on a few occasions doing the same. It was a very dangerous, but necessary job at the time, and I am proud to have been a part of such an important time in our history.

December 4, 2009
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December 4, 2009
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December 21, 2009
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