Sunday, October 23, 2011

A PRIEST, A RABBI AND A MINISTER WALK INTO MOUNT WEATHER…

Day After Clergyman

The Continuity of Government planners were not stupid. In addition to stocking the “Classified Facility” (Mount Weather[1]) with food, water and every other imaginable accoutrement necessary for surviving a nuclear war, they recognized the need for a full compliment of clergy.

Mount Weather Needs Clergy: 10/21/1960

This fascinating document[2] from the director of the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization, Leo A. Hoegh (1908-2000), dated October 21, 1960 requests that a priest, rabbi and minister be assigned to Mount Weather in a time of crisis. The bureaucratic language of the missive avoids reference to why clergy would be needed, but the author does note that civilian religious professionals might be otherwise occupied during an emergency. These particular men of God would also be difficult to vet for entrance to the super-bunker. Or, as Hoegh puts it: “The security problems involved in bringing in civilians, as you know, are considerable.”

Leo Hoegh

The solution was to ask the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower, Personnel and Reserve, Charles G. Finucane (1905-1983), for “chaplains from either the Regular or Reserve Corps” of the U.S. military. Hoegh sums up his letter with the data-supported spiritual requirements: “Surveys of the emergency population at the Classified Location indicate that one Protestant, one Jewish and one Catholic clergyman would meet our needs.”

Evidently, Mr. Hoegh’s clergy requisition went directly to the circular file, because more than two years later, the chaplain gap was still an issue of concern in Mount Weather correspondence.[3] We can only pray that Mount Weather now has the religious staff it needs, but it will be up to future historians to find out.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

CONELRAD would like to thank historian and author David Krugler for thinking of us when he came across this document in his research files.


[1] The evidence that the document is referring to Mount Weather is the fact that the Classified Location’s Chief, J. Leo Bourassa (1917-2000), is one of the co-signatories. For more on Bourassa and his role at Mount Weather see Ted Gup’s August 10, 1992 Time magazine cover story, “The Doomsday Blueprints.”

[2] Letter to Charles C. Finucane from Leo A. Hoegh RE: Chaplain Service for the Classified Location. October 21, 1960. U.S. National Archives, Records Group 396, Records of the Office of Emergency Preparedness, Selected OCDM Files, 1959-1960.

[3] See Memorandum to Colonel Justice J.M. Chambers from Robert Y. Phillips RE: “Special Facility Preparedness,” November 29, 1962, U.S. National Archives, Records Group 396, Declassified P95 Records, Accession 66A03, Box 6, Folder “Special Facilities Branch.”

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