Cold War Veteran

Cold War Veterans of all service branches have interesting stories such as:  


(^Click^ the red title above to read the article.) 

USS Wright
 The U.S.S. Wright was one of the two “Ghosts of the East Coast.”

The U.S.S. Northampton was one of the two “Ghosts of the East Coast”.
The U.S.S. Northampton was one of the two “Ghosts of the East Coast.”


The “Ghosts of the East Coast” were the command communication ships USS Northampton (CC-1) and USS Wright (CC-2) which were known as Presidential Command Ships during the height* of the Cold War.  CC stands for Command Communications. The Wright and Northampton served as a potential floating White House/Pentagon in case the United States been the target of a nuclear attack (Doomsday). See "Ghosts of the East Coast:  Doomsday Ships." 

“The Cold War was waged to stop the spread of communism. Communism (in a nutshell) required (1) abolition of religion; (2) government ownership of communication, transportation, factories, agriculture; and (3) government control of labor and education. Communism resulted in bloody purges, lethal labor camps, and the cold-blooded murder of multiple millions of innocent people. Lasting from about 1945 to 1991, many experts refer to the Cold War as World War III. It was global, with many facets and changing strategic considerations. During some parts of the period, actual shooting wars were involved, but always it was a political and military confrontation. Many of the personnel losses in the Cold War were on missions that were under the veil of secrecy because it involved various shades of warfare--conventional and unconventional; open and in the shadows.” 
(Adapted from various Internet sources.)

Cold War Timeline: 1960 TO 1969 (
Cold War (1962–1979) (
What if the Cold War was not so cold? (
Cold War History (

An April 14, 1950 National Security Council Report to the President (“United States Objectives and Programs for National Security”) stated “A program for rapidly building up strength and improving political and economic conditions will place heavy demands on our courage and intelligence; it will be costly; it will be dangerous. But half-measures will be more costly and more dangerous, for they will be inadequate to prevent and may actually invite war. Budgetary considerations will need to be subordinated to the stark fact that our very independence as a nation may be at stake.

The report concluded that “The whole success of the proposed program hangs ultimately on recognition by this Government, the American people, and all free peoples, that the Cold War is in fact a real war in which the survival of the free world is at stake.”  

Cold War Veterans answered the call -- drafted or volunteered, when it was popular and when it was not -- America needed it's guardians of freedom and we were there. Cold War Veterans served around the globe for 46 years ensuring freedom would not disappear at the hands of totalitarian communist regimes. Cold War Veterans served at places most of the world never heard of and at locations that made routine headlines. Cold War Veterans served in the air, on land and at sea.  Cold War Veterans served with active duty forces, reserve forces and with the National Guard. Cold War Veterans served with conviction and honor.  Cold War Veterans served in all kinds of roles from the mundane headquarters jobs to the front lines, in the bunkers of NORAD and over Soviet airspace, tracking Soviet submarines and detecting enemy radar and signals along the coast of North Korea and the USSR, deployed to Nike Hercules nuclear missile units that defended such familiar places as New Jersey to forward locations along the Iron Curtain and Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), and in places of which many had never heard.  Sometimes, the Cold War turned very dangerous and Cold War Veterans accepted that risk.”
This paragraph was adapted from: American Cold War Veterans    
( NOTE: website is no longer active.)

Vietnam and Korea were major parts of the Cold War.

“On June 25, 1950, the Korean War began when some 75,000 soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army poured across the 38th parallel, the boundary between the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the north and the pro-Western Republic of Korea to the south. This invasion was the first military action of the Cold War.”

“The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, was a major conflict during the Cold War… The Vietnam War represents the fight between communism and capitalism, the fight of the Cold War.  Basically, the Vietnam War was a microcosm of the Cold War during that time period.”

“For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence — on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations. Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed. It conducts the Cold War, in short, with a war-time discipline no democracy would ever hope or wish to match.” 
(President John F. Kennedy 27 April, 1961

In his first State of the Union speech President Dwight Eisenhower said, “There is but one sure way to avoid total war--and that is to win the Cold War.” 

The Cold War is considered one of the most important historical events in world history. It spawned many things from infrastructure to spy novels, such as James Bond, the space race and more…The term Cold War came from Bernard Baruch, an adviser to presidents from Woodrow Wilson to Harry S. Truman. He coined the term to describe the “chilly” relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was a state of conflict between the nations that did not involve direct military action, but was pursued through economic and political actions, propaganda, espionage and proxy wars. Despite the term Cold War, there were still soldiers on the front lines…The cold war was the longest war in United States history. Because of the nuclear capabilities of our enemy it was the most dangerous conflict our country ever faced. Those that won this war did so in obscurity. Those that gave their lives in the Cold War have never been properly honored.”   

The Cold War was “a war. The Cold War is sometimes referred to as World War III, which is apt. At its quietest moments, the Cold War was warm…It was global. The Cold War was not just about parts of Europe and Asia--every region of the world was involved. The conflict was usually central to politics, diplomacy, and trade. No matter the issue, it was impossible to escape the Cold War… It was a battle of ideologies in every possible realm--political, economic, moral, and spiritual. But there was no equivalence between the two sides. The Cold War was a conflict between good and evil, freedom and tyranny, liberal democracy and totalitarianism, capitalism and communism, theism and atheism.”

“The Cold War, which lasted 50 years, was the longest war in United States history, and the most expensive, costing trillions of dollars. At its conclusion, America emerged as the only remaining superpower in the world. Because we faced an enemy with tremendous nuclear capabilities, it was the most dangerous conflict our country ever faced. The threat of mass destruction left a permanent mark on American life and politics. Those that won this war did so in obscurity…(There are) thousands of stories of men and women who worked in secret to bring us safely through the Cold War conflict. Our nation needs to recognize the veterans of the longest war in United States history--a battle which also had the highest stakes.”   (Harry Reid, U.S. Senator

After Ronald Reagan became president he put in place policies that put pressure on the Soviet Union and said, “Here’s my strategy on the Cold War – we win, they lose.”
(Ronald Reagan, June 1988

We won!

“But the biggest thing that has happened in the world in my life, in our lives, is this: By the grace of God, America won the Cold War.” (President George H.W. Bush, State of the Union address, January 28, 1992.

"And so the greatest of American triumphs... became a peculiarly joyless victory. We had won the Cold War, but there would be no parades." (Robert M. Gates, 1996

Cold War veterans seek due recognition for their service

“They may have served in the U.S. military overseas or at a missile base in America. They may have been on secret missions in submarines, in aircraft or on the ground. They are millions of Cold War veterans, who served in the military from September 1945 to Dec. 26, 1991 — the day the Soviet Union dissolved — during pockets of peacetime tension that came during the expansion of communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“Frank Tims, historian and past chairman of the American Cold War Veterans, said a medal or a memorial would 'at least get some formal recognition that the Cold War was more than just a period of unpleasantness and that the Defense Department has never owned up to recognizing it.'

“Supporters say there are small memorials around the country for Cold War veterans, but they think there should be one in Washington, D.C., which is home to numerous other memorials, such as for World War II and the Vietnam War.

“There has been federal legislation for a Cold War service medal, but the Defense Department, some veterans said, has stymied the idea in prior years.

“A Cold War recognition certificate (see below), established in 1999, is available for service members and civilian workers, according to the Defense Department. There also are commemorative medals sold by private vendors, but they cannot be worn on military uniforms, the department has said.”

House Resolution 900

In the House of Representatives, U. S.,

March 21, 2010.

Whereas the Cold War involved hundreds of military exercises and operations that occurred between September 2, 1945, and December 26, 1991;

Whereas millions of Americans valiantly stood watch as members of the Armed Forces during the Cold War; and

Whereas many Americans sacrificed their lives during the Cold War in the cause of defeating communism and promoting world peace and stability: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) honors the sacrifices and contributions made by members of the Armed Forces during the Cold War; and

(2) encourages the people of the United States to participate in local and national activities honoring the sacrifices and contributions of those individuals.

429 Ayes, 0 Nays, 1 Present/Not Voting.


Disgrace: Barack Obama Broke Promise to Honor Cold War Veterans 11-11-12

“President Barack Obama once promised, as a U.S. Senator, to honor veterans of the Cold War, who have never received official recognition and are therefore prevented from full participation in many Veterans Day celebrations. But he never fulfilled that promise--neither in the Senate nor the White House--leaving Cold War veterans in the cold.

“The U.S. has thus far failed to honor those who served in the long struggle against communism, which began almost as soon as the Second World War had ended. Though communist regimes--especially Stalin's Soviet Union and Mao's China, and satellites such as Pol Pot's Cambodia--committed more murders than the Nazis, few Americans are aware of the absolute moral evil that communism represents, or the sacrifices made to stop it.

“The U-2 pilots who provided essential intelligence; the soldiers who kept watch in Berlin; the sailors who were silent sentinels aboard submarines, tracking Soviet movements, ready to strike--all have gone unheralded, and largely uncelebrated, even on Veterans Day.

“It is possible that the reluctance to honor Cold War veterans springs from a political motive. Many on the left opposed the tough line taken against communism... They won the longest and most important war of our nation's history, freeing millions from totalitarianism. But the nation they served has yet to commend them--and the president has, disgracefully, failed to honor his promise.”

“When many of our Cold War veterans returned from their service, they went back to their families, jobs and lives without public fanfare. Freedom is passed down from one generation to the next by the American patriots who are willing to stand between a threat and our civilian population. It is long overdue that our Cold War veterans receive the respect and recognition of our grateful nation.”
( NOTE: website is no longer active)

Perhaps another president will award all Cold War veterans the Cold War Victory Medal.

The Cold War Certificate

Cold War Certificate

Under the 1998 National Defense Authorization Act, the Secretary of Defense approved awarding Cold War Recognition Certificates to all members of the armed forces and qualified federal government civilian personnel who faithfully and honorably served the United States anytime during the Cold War era, which is defined as Sept. 2, 1945 to Dec. 26, 1991.


10 Reasons Why the Cold War Matters
Allied Forces Cold War Association 
Cold War History
Cold War Museum 
Cold War (TV series) 
Scholarly Resources
The Cold War International History Project
Ten Histories of the Cold War Worth Reading
Thoughts of the Cold War (blog)
US Navy Museum Cold War Gallery
What Was the Cold War? (Great 5 minute video.)

There are Cold War Veteran items available on Amazon.

You can see interesting YouTube videos by searching for “Cold War,” “Continuity of Government (COG),” “Cold War bunkers,” “MAD,” etc. You can actually see the USS Wright’s sister ship, the USS Northampton, from 5:55 to 6:47 in THE ANSWER TO THE PRESIDENTS CALL: Military Cold War Exercises in the 1960’s (Part I).


U.S.S. Wright CC-2 (See photos of my time aboard the ship.)
USS Wright Novelty Items 



“Why is anarchy so attractive to Gen Z and millennials?...Unlike older generations, this age group didn’t live through the Cold War, where every American was acutely aware of the realities of communism…”

“The Left reached its hand out in solidarity to the communist enemy in the Cold War. Now it is doing the same thing in our terror war, but this time the totalitarian adversary that garners the Left's veneration and devotion is Radical Islam. The Left is always engaged in a pathological romance with our despotic enemies who wish us harm.”

“(I)n the midst of the Cold War. Leftists of that era had this insane notion of ‘unilateral disarmament,’ the belief that if we dismantled our nuclear arsenal, the Soviets would see that we meant them no harm and do the same. The flaw in this theory is that the Soviets made no secret of the fact that they did indeed mean us harm, and the only deterrent was our stockpile of nukes.”


From a submarine officer:  “The mid-1980s were the height of the Evil Empire phase of the Cold War, and our patrols were 90 days underwater with no port calls. We hid in the North Atlantic, and we were perpetually ready to launch ICBMs at our targets. During off-crews, we trained relentlessly on emergency communications, launch procedures, and casualties. We knew that a nuclear war could end the human race, but we also felt that we were a critical deterrent to Communist assaults.”

From a heating system specialist:  “Spending a Tour of a year on the DEW line remote and isolated duty on a secret Radar Station on the western most part of the DEW Line protecting America during the Cold War. Northern Alaska above the Arctic Circle was harsh and a brutal environment. It consisted of Polar Bear, Wolverine, Arctic Foxes, and Wolves. In the land of the Midnight Sun from mid October until mid February was total darkness. February on was progressive daylight until July when the Sun was at 12:00 o’clock and twenty-four hours of daylight. Temperatures reach as low as negative 90 to a high of positive seventy-two degrees. The continent of Siberia Russia was within a short traveling distance. We were harassed daily by their TU_95 aircraft surveillance planes. The mission was for early warning to the lower forty-eight states. We endured total isolation relying on Supplies via plane. Mail was erratic sometimes going for eighteen days without.”

From a news reporter: For Chatsworth, Georgia, veteran Tom Ramsey, the distinction of being only one of four sailors in the U.S. Navy who served in highly specialized roles aboard one of the nation's two operating "Doomsday ships" during the latter part of the Cold War is one of unique pride…(I)n September of 1968 (he) was assigned to the Wright, where even as a petty officer he would have an important role. Often, members of all branches of the military were aboard… The specialized communications ship was able to connect global ship-to-shore and secure telephone calls on normal and closed lines among top officials…Ramsey, his friend and their Northampton counterparts served military leaders who assembled in the ships' Combat Operations Center, the nerve center of the ship to oversee military action. The room inside the Wright had a large conference table for the highest-ranking officers and a gallery for lower-ranking officers… Ramsey said the primary international enemy in those days was the United States' Cold War foe the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics — the USSR — and their military and technical advances going into the 1970s would spell the end of the Wright. U.S. military leaders decided the president and military leaders could no longer be counted safe on the Wright due to improvements in enemy satellites and missiles, Ramsey said. Some of his last duties were to remove sensitive, secret equipment from the ship.
Chattanooga Times Free Press November 10, 2021 “Navy veteran Tom Ramsey's job on USS Wright one of only four in the world during late Cold War”


A fellow Cold War vet called me (Karl Priest) a “Cold Warrior” and I pointed out that I was only a flunky. So, who would qualify to be labeled a “Cold Warrior”?

I volunteered for Vietnam duty, but Uncle Sam had other plans (God’s perfect plan). Besides being a Cold War veteran, I am a Vietnam Era vet.

“A Vietnam Era Veteran is a person who served on active duty for a period of more than 180 days, any part of which occurred between August 5, 1964 and May 7, 1975, and was discharged or released with other than a dishonorable discharge.” (



Both the Wright and the Northampton had a huge dish-like structure used for Troposphere Scatter Communications called a Tropo tower. Troposcatter allows microwave communication beyond the horizon.



Motto:  VOX IMERII (Command Voice or Voice of Command)


For questions, email:
 coldwarvet68 [at]