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During the Cold War, the 308th Strategic Missile Wing based at Little Rock Air Force Base was in command of Titan II intercontinental ballistic missiles at 18 underground sites in north central Arkansas. On the evening of Sept. 18, 1980, maintenance workers at silo 374-7 near Damascus forgot to bring a 20-pound socket wrench into the silo and instead picked up an unauthorized model that was being used as a doorstop. The socket fell off this wrench and dropped down the missile's launch tube, puncturing the Stage 1 fuel tank of the missile. The launch complex and 1,400 residents of surrounding counties were evacuated. Two technicians investigating the leak were trying to leave the silo about 3 a.m. Sept. 19, when the volatile fuel exploded, flinging the warhead out into the surrounding field. One airman died and 21 others were injured in one of the most publicized accidents of the Cold War.
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