0415 Zulu– SACEUR submits a final target recommendation to President Reagan. The US leader reviews it with the Joint Chiefs and NSC members first. Next comes a discussion with the leaders of Great Britain, France and the Federal Republic. There is general agreement with SACEUR’s selection. For the Germans, however, their approval is understandably reluctant. Reagan then orders his military aide to open the Presidential Emergency Satchel and place the contents on the table. The commander-in-chief glances at his Secretary of Defense. In a voice interlaced with resolve and melancholy Reagan announces, “Well, Cap. Here we go again.”
0427 Zulu– The mood of the Politburo meeting is growing combative. A cadre of the more liberal members and candidates openly demands to know from Romanov if he had something to do with the Wunsdorf attack. The general secretary vehemently denies this and blames Reagan for sewing seeds of confusion with his previous message. His claim does not satisfy the opposition and even Romanov’s own supporters seem uncertain what to believe.
0434 Zulu– From the thick forest just south of Nersingen West Germany two Pershing II medium range missiles of C Battery, 4/9 Field Artillery Battalion are launched into the pre-dawn sky. Just six minutes later at 0440 precisely, the warheads from the Pershings detonate directly over their targets in East Germany: The Group Soviet Forces Germany wartime command post near Stendal, and the 8th Guards Tank Division’s main defensive positions just east of the Helmstedt checkpoint, a short distance from the Inner-German Border.
0446 Zulu– Marshal Akhromeyev is summoned from the conference room by a senior aide waiting in the hallway. He hands the senior Soviet military officer a telex message from Western TVD announcing two nuclear detonations have been detected near Soviet units and headquarters in the eastern GDR. Contact has been lost with the senior GSFG commander at Stendal and the 8th Guards Tank Division near the border. Before going back into the room with the Politburo, Akhromeyev pocketed the telex message and ordered his aide not to reveal this news to anyone without an order. “Even the general secretary,” Akhromeyev emphasized to hammer the point home.