Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov was a Soviet Navy officer with the rank of Flotilla Commander who saw action during the Cuban Missile Crisis. On September 27, 1062, in his position as both flotilla commander, and second-in-command of the Russian submarine B-59, Arkhipov refused his captain’s authorisation for the use of nuclear torpedoes against the United States Navy, a decision requiring the agreement of all three senior officers aboard (the three officers in question being the captain, Arkhipov and the political officer).
Arkhipov kept arguing with the captain until they agreed to a compromise of surfacing and letting Moscow make the decision. Moscow did not authorise the use of nuclear weapons, fearing that such use would lead to an all out thermonuclear exchange, and likely the destruction of the entire world.
Arkhipov’s later career saw him rise the rank of vice-admiral before he eventually retired during the 1980’s and later died in 1998. After his death, the Russians revealed the truth of his role in preventing nuclear war in 1962, and Arkhipov was hailed by politicians, leaders and ordinary people the world over for the heroism he displayed.