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Series Part 3: Schroeder nuke mission was never discussed with families


FARGO (KFGO-AM) - Retired North Dakota Air National Guard Major General Darrol Schroeder is revealing a secret he's kept for decades. Schroeder was among a pioneering group of fighter pilots who were the first to fly a nuclear mission in Europe.

It was the early 1950's, the Cold War with the Soviets was in high gear, and Schroeder had a "top-secret" security clearance. “We couldn’t discuss any of this with our family” Schroeder said. “We left it all in the building.”

Schroeder was a member of the 388th Fighter-Bomber Wing in Germany and Etain-Rouvres Air Base in France. His secret mission was to fly a state-of-the-art F-86 fighter jet into Soviet airspace and drop a 12-kiloton nuclear bomb.

Schroeder says in all likelihood, it probably would have been a one-way mission if nuclear war had broken out. He still remembers what the pilots' wives were told to do if something happened: get a box of groceries, five gallons of gas and head west to the French coast.