In The Shadow Of Nuclear War: Montana's Reaction To The Cuban Missile Crisis
On a cool Great Falls, Montana, morning in October 1962, Barbara Stroup, wife of Air Force Tech Sergeant Joseph Stroup, left her house to attend a "coffee klatch" at her friend Exie Evan's house. Not thinking anything of it, she turned onto Gumwood Street between a military vehicle and what she thought was a moving van. Barb drove through the main gate into Malmstrom Air Force Base and guided her 1960 black-and-white Plymouth Fury to Cedar Street, where her friend Exie lived. She stopped in front of Exie's house, gathered her purse and coat, and reached for the car door. Barb jumped when she saw several Air Force Police Officers peering at her over the barrels of their guns.1 The officer on the driver's side motioned to her to roll down the car window, which she did with shaking hands. The officer demanded her identification and then asked her if she knew what she had done. Still unnerved by the multiple guns pointed at her, Barb nervously answered no. The officer informed her that she had interrupted a missile convoy on its way to the base. Shocked, Barb cooperated as the officer interrogated her as to her purpose. After the officer ascertained that she had not been trying to sabotage the Minuteman missile that the convoy had been transporting, he and his fellow officers stayed their guns, climbed into their vehicle, and drove off. Barb sat for a moment, then grabbed her purse and fled into Exie's house.2 Normally, the grave manner in which the officer handled the situation would have seemed excessive. But this day was different; the Cuban Missile Crisis had started just one week earlier.