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Series Part 4: Schroeder talks bomb targets; landing on freeways


FARGO (KFGO-AM) - Etain-Rouvres Air Base, France, 1953. A young air force pilot from Davenport, ND was chosen to fly on the first nuclear mission in Europe. Retired Major-General Darrol Schroeder was a specially-trained F-86 pilot who had a job he couldn't talk about until now.

Schroeder's top-secret mission was to drop a 12-kiloton nuclear bomb on select targets inside the Soviet Union. Schroeder says he’s still reluctant to talk about his personal targets, but he says generally, the mission was to take aim at railroad yards, dams, and large infrastructure.

Schroeder says looking back, he realizes that if a nuclear war had materialized, he may not have been able to return to friendly territory. “Some of our landing spots weren’t on airports, they were on the Autobahn.” Schroeder said. “We had certain spots on the Autobahn that were good enough to use for a runway.

Schroeder has never before publicly discussed the mission due to national security reasons. He was recently given clearance to talk about his assignment, six decades later.