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Published January 21, 2012, 05:50 PM

Tour Offers Recent History Lesson of ND Nuke Site

COOPERSTOWN, ND (WDAZ-TV) - An historic missile site just north of Cooperstown allowed guests to walk in an Air Force missileer's shoes.

COOPERSTOWN, ND (WDAZ-TV) - An historic missile site just north of Cooperstown allowed guests to walk in an Air Force missileer's shoes.

The Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Site opened in 2009, but just recently started giving in-depth tours of the facility.

"If you lived in this area of North Dakota during the second half of the 20th century, a nuclear missle was a stone's throw away," said site supervisor Mark Sundlov.

The nuclear missiles in peoples' backyard could cause a catastrophe many times larger than Hiroshima. Missile expert Mark Sundlov says the tours give people a chance to "meet their neighbor."

"Come in and see what actually was going on here. What were the details, how did this place operate, how was this working?" said Sundlov.

Not only do they get to see how Oscar-Zero worked, they hear it from someone who experienced it first hand.

"I try to rack my brains to give them an accurate account of what was going on when I was out here," said facility commander, Joe Conzo.

50 feet below ground was a two-man crew where all the action took place.

"They were essentially waiting direction from the president should the order come to launch those missiles," said Sundlov.

This is the launch control center where missile crew members sat 24 hours a day. In order to launch a nuclear missle both members had to put this key in the ignition and turn the switch at the same time, luckily they never had to do that.

But they did come close. Joe Conzo recalls a scary moment.

"Got up in the morning and found out about it I was kind of a little bit shakey, I don't know if they would've called us downstairs or what. That was kind of scary," said Conzo.

Tourists learned the importance of the two-man team, and how these crew members protected the US during the Cold War.

"Takes on not only a regional or local importance but really an international importance," said Sundlov.

"I felt like I did a good job, I felt like I protected America," said Conzo.

And that, he did.

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