In World War III, Cheyenne becomes bulls-eye

Bill Sniffin

nuclear bulls-eye is focused smack on Wyoming’s state capital. Today, when madman Vladimir Putin is talking about sending Russian nuclear missiles to the USA, it can make you wonder about what you would do in such a scenario?

This is one of those “what if” columns. I want to believe that what I am writing about here is just not realistic . . . but? Sorry if this is so pessimistic, but I think Putin has gone off the rails. If he has, that could be very bad news
for Wyoming. 

You can run, but you cannot hide during a nuclear attack. If Putin launches, the world as we know it could cease to exist. 

Because Wyoming is the home base to 150 sites of ICBM nuclear-tipped missiles around the F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, our state capital would be one of the main targets of Russian missiles. 

The prospect of world-wide Armageddon becomes real when folks realize Putin is becoming more paranoid as his ill-fated invasion of Ukraine looks worse all the time. If his own people rise up against him, could he set off a nuclear war as a last desperate act of a delusional dictator?  This could be the awful outcome of Putin’s horrible actions. Peaceful people all over the world are being drawn back to a Cold War time when such a conflagration was on most people’s minds. 

World leaders and Putin experts worry the Russian leader is leaning toward using nuclear weapons in his war with Ukraine. Once that tipping point occurs, the fear is that it could escalate to World War III.

And if such a nuclear war ensued, Wyoming could be one of Putin’s first targets.  

The states of Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, South Dakota, and North Dakota are called ‘sponge sites,’ for their ability to absorb a nuclear attack. According to Tom Collina of Ploughshares Fund, the five states’ ability “to absorb a nuclear attack from Russia” is factored into the country’s ability to survive a nuclear attack. He says “while high population centers with huge cultural impact may seem like obvious choices, a smarter nuclear attack would focus on countering the enemy’s nuclear forces.”  This means the missile system at Warren AFB will be a main target. 

Some decades ago, we had our Lander newspaper cartoonist draw an illustration showing a map of the United States with a bulls-eye located in Cheyenne. This gave us an idea of where the former-Soviet Union (Russia) was aiming its missiles. It was assumed the Russians would want to cripple the ICBM (InterContinental Ballistic Missile) headquarters as a pre-emptive start of a nuclear war between the USA and the USSR. The message of that cartoon was that the rest of Wyomingites would bear a big brunt of that onslaught.  

Meanwhile, the threat of a pending nuclear war, thanks to Putin, are on peoples’ minds. 

To folks of a certain age, such a prospect brings back memories of our childhood when we had weekly Cold War drills in our schools. We were either shown how to hide under our desks or how much time it took to rush home. 

Back in the 1950s, the Strategic Air Command Base in Omaha would have been the #1 target for the old Soviet Union. My wife Nancy lived in Harlan, Iowa, which was downwind from Omaha. She recalls school officials timing the students on how long it took them to rush home after during a
missile drill. 

I grew up in eastern Iowa and my dad would round up me and my brothers and take us to huge silica mines near Clayton on the banks of the Mississippi River. We would work with other folks storing huge barrels of fresh water and cases of a product called survival crackers. This would be the best place to hide in that part of the world during a nuclear attack. The mines were huge with a capacity to hold 44,000 people. It was 60 acres in size and had 14 miles of tunnels.

Out here in Wyoming, I assumed our whole state would be toast because of F. E. Warren, but not so. Maps created by Survival Freedom shows a big area near my home town of Lander that could be among the few places in the country that might provide a survivable habitat. 

I guess that is a puddle of good news amidst a whole ocean of bad news in the world right now. 


Bill Sniffin is a retired newspaper publisher who has penned a number of books about Wyoming. Check out additional columns written by Bill at, and find volumes from his coffee table book series, which have sold over 30,000 copies, for sale at the News Letter Journal.


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