PBS Uncovers A Little Known Piece Of American History In A New Episode Of AmEx

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

On January 10, 2017, PBS Distribution will take viewers 36 years into the past to a date that while insignificant to most, is much more important to a select few in a new episode of American Experience.

PBS Distribution will release American Experience: Command and Control on Tuesday, January 10. The film follows the events of September 18, 1980, when America almost suffered one of the worst nuclear catastrophes in its history.

It was on that date that a Titan II ballistic missile housed at a complex in Damascus, Arkansas almost caused what would have been one of the nation’s worst nuclear disasters.  The events began when maintenance on the rocket by two men when horribly wrong after a socket from one of the men’s wrenches fell 70 feet down the silo and punctured the missile.

When the rocket was punctured, highly flammable rocket fuel leaked from the missile.  The fuel filled the silo, and over the next eight hours, officials worked to keep the missile, which had a warhead 600 times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, from exploding inside the silo and causing potentially unheard of damage.

The missile was powerful enough to destroy much of Arkansas and spread radioactive fallout across the East Coast.  Being that nothing of that caliber had ever happened before then, the Air Force had no procedures in place to handle the situation.

The two-hour program mixes into its central story the secondary story of America’s nuclear weapons program from WWII through the Cold War.  It is based largely on recently declassified documents.  In turns it asks some very powerful and important questions, making audiences really think about the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

American Experience: Command and Control will be released Tuesday, January 10.  It runs two hours and will retail for MSRP of $24.99, but can be pre-ordered now at a reduced price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store.  It is also available there in a combo pack that includes author Eric Schlosser’s book on which the program is based.

More information on this and other episodes of American Experience is available online now at:




Website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AmericanExperiencePBS

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AmExperiencePBS




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