The brutal shoot-down of a commercial airliner by the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s provided the backdrop to an urgent situation that Amb. Quinn confronted while serving as the Executive Secretary of the State Department. In late August 1986 with few officials or staff left at the State Department during vacation period, Amb. Quinn receives intelligence that the Soviet Union is about to conduct missile tests that will pass through commercial aviation routes across the Pacific Ocean. Racing against time, he urgently pulls together information in a rush to get an alert sent to all of the major airlines so they will avoid those endangered areas.