Speed Reads

Bad Trips

Air Force airmen in charge of America's nuclear arsenal were dropping acid

In March 2016, an errant Snapchat video of a U.S. Air Force airman stationed at F.W. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming led investigators to a ring of airmen who were using LSD, ecstasy, cocaine, and other mind-altering or illegal drugs, The Associated Press reports. Eventually, disciplinary action was taken against 14 of the airmen, all of whom were in the the 90th Missile Wing — which, AP explains, "operates one-third of the 400 Minuteman 3 missiles that stand 'on alert' 24/7 in underground silos scattered across the northern Great Plains," the ICBMs "capable of unleashing hell." Six airmen were court-martialed for using and/or distributing LSD.

"I absolutely just loved altering my mind," the purported ringleader, Airman 1st Class Nickolos Harris, testified at his court-martial hearing. Airman 1st Class Devin Hagarty panicked and fled to Mexico when the investigation began, grabbing cash and a backpack and text-messaging his mom that he loved her. Another court-martialed member, Airman Basic Kyle Morrison, said in his hearing that while tripping he could not have responded if called to duty in a nuclear emergency.

"Although this sounds like something from a movie, it isn't," said prosecutor Capt. Charles Grimsley during one court-martial. Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Uriah Orland told AP that all the drug activity occurred during off-duty hours and that "there are multiple checks to ensure airmen who report for duty are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs and are able to execute the mission safely, securely, and effectively." The military stopped screening for LSD in 2006. You can read more about the trips, the punishments, and the mole at AP.