Saturday morning, January 13, Wailea, Maui, Hawaii.
My wife Linda and I had just bought our coffee for our morning beach walk. We saw hundreds of people walking and running past us. Something was wrong. A security guard at the hotel was directing people traffic and we asked him what was happening. He replied there was an incoming missile attack and showed us a cell phone message which read:
“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII.
SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
It was 8:15 am. The security guard directed us to the hotel “bunker” a gigantic cement ballroom.
After a few steps towards the bunker, I told Linda we are no better off in the bunker than on the beach if this is for real. We retreated to our room, told each other we love you, kissed, prayed, gathered our identification and cell phones. Linda tried to call each of our five children to tell them she loved them—but there was no phone signal.
Just before leaving the room I turned on the TV to gather the latest information. Not one channel had any information or a news special on the missile threat. I now had a doubt about the ballistic missile alert. I know from my corporate and military experience that the US military maintains a complex and integrated network of sensors and detector capabilities in the Pacific to track ballistic missile activity.
Real-world missile launches are detected immediately by satellites that discern an infrared signature right off the launch pad. I was now thinking that without an immediate public announcement by the US military of a ballistic missile launch that this could be a false alert.
Linda and I walked to the deserted beach. We looked about rather than speaking to each other. We scanned the horizon and it appeared that even the breaching whales were now in their water bunkers.
My cell phone buzzed. It was 8:45 am. The message read:
“There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii.
Repeat. False Alarm.”
We then continued on for our best beach walk ever.