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Published: August 11th 2009
AIR DEFENSE MISSILE SITE
Ready line for mobile launchers. Elysee is on watch.
(From my book OUR SUMMER IN ESTONIA, AMAZON.COM)
It’s ironic that my second historical interest on Muhu spans those
800 years, with the battle of 1227, representing the beginning of Estonian
subjugation, and a deserted Soviet air defense missile site representing
the final shaking off of Estonia’s foreign occupation.
Muhu was off limits to all but the island’s residents, for the almost fifty years of Soviet Union occupation following WWII. In addition to Soviet paranoia that someone might escape their loving embrace by sea to Sweden, Muhu was a restricted site because of the Soviet military forces stationed there. The military site, which Elysee and I rummaged through, had been a Soviet Air Defense Missile base. The air defenses on Muhu were likely planned
to guard the major Soviet submarine base at Paldiski, Estonia, and the
air approaches to St. Petersburg (Leningrad) about 250 miles away. The
missile site is for a self-contained battery sized unit of perhaps 200 men,
mess hall, barracks, administration buildings, concrete revetments for
the mobile missile launchers, and a maintenance facility. It is remote,
not only by being on Muhu Island, but, even there, set apart on the
island itself, surrounded with fencing, not
another sign of a living soul
Unless one lived on the island, Muhu was off limits to visitors and
the soldiers who served there had not much chance to leave either. It
might have been close to “Mother Russia” but it was actually light years
removed. I had this imagined conversation of receiving an assignment to
duty station, Muhu.
General Commandant (GC) of the Soviet Air Defense Missile
School passing out orders to recent honor graduate, Lt. Ivan
GC: Congratulations Lt. Hadenov for being first in your class you
are to be honored with an assignment to Estonia.
Lt.Hadenov: (Trying to contain his excitement and good fortune
at being assigned almost next door to Leningrad) Thank you
Honorable GC, I shall do my best for the Motherland, suffering
hardship, deprivation, and a soldier’s life for our Glorious Cause.
GC: Excellent. For the next five years you will defend the
Motherland with command of a front line Air Defense platoon.
Oh, yes, your platoon is on Muhu Island.
Lt. Hadinov: ( Fearfully) Muhu?
GC: Yes, Muhu.
Lt. Hadinov: (Breaking down) Muhu. Oh, boo hoo! Not Muhu.
From the bits and
Made by departing Soviet soldiers or Muhu residents farewell?
pieces of evidence, newspapers used for barracks
wallpaper, abandoned magazines, graffiti on the walls, it appears the
base was vacated about 1991. Elysee, in her self-proclaimed “army-ological”
dig found a small plastic container of uniform insignia. Some
maintenance records were found trampled into the dirt at the missile
carrier revetments. Indications are it was a hurried departure. It is not
clear if the departing soldiers or the local citizens destroyed all the
fixtures, but the prevailing story is the Soviets did not turn over their
properties with grace and dignity.
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