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The Virtuous Mission was an infamous CIA operation in August of 1964 that involved a deep insertion inside the Soviet Union. A FOX agent codenamed Naked Snake was deployed via the world's first HALO jump in order to rescue a Soviet defector, the weapons scientist Nikolai Stepanovich Sokolov. While Snake succeeded in locating and extracting Sokolov from his KGB guards, he was subsequently attacked and critically injured by a defecting American agent. Sokolov was then re-captured, and the GRU officer Volgin not only seized Sokolov's project, but also unleashed an American-made Davy Crockett nuclear weapon on Russian citizens, creating an international incident.

The catastrophe of the Virtuous Mission was so extreme that the CIA considered executing both Snake and his commanding officer, Major Zero. They were saved only by the need for Snake to be re-inserted a week later in Operation Snake Eater.


Sokolov mission file

Nikolai Stepanovich Sokolov's mission file.

In 1962, a Soviet scientist by the name of Nikolai Stepanovich Sokolov wished to defect to America. Sokolov was one of the Soviet Union's foremost weapons developers and head of the OKB-754 Design Bureau. Sokolov also requested that his family also defect to America. The man in charge of the operation was David Oh, a British-originating CIA member. The CIA successfully managed to sneak Sokolov's family over the Berlin Wall, and then Sokolov himself, although Sokolov himself ended up exhausted from traveling over 800 km (500 mi) during the two-week journey and was checked into a hospital to recover.

Virtuous team

The Virtuous Mission's supporting team.

Metal-gear-solid-snake-eater-3d-20110607002714493 640w

Sunrise over Tselinoyarsk.

However, on October 16, 1962, President John F. Kennedy received word that the Soviets were in the process of deploying intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Cuba. The President demanded that the Soviets dismantle and remove the missiles immediately. At the same time, he announced a naval blockade to prevent further missile shipments from reaching Cuba. But the Soviets didn't back down, instead placing their armed forces on secondary alert. Soviet transport ships carrying missiles continued on course toward Cuba. U.S. and Soviet forces went on alert for an all-out nuclear war. Frantic negotiations were conducted through the U.N.'s Emergency Security Council and unofficial channels to end the hair-trigger standoff. Finally, on October 28, the Soviet Union agreed to remove its missiles from Cuba. And so the world avoided a nuclear holocaust. This incident became known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.

But in order to get the Soviets to pull their missiles out, the U.S. had to make a deal. Most official records will say that the U.S. agreed to remove its IRBMs from Turkey and the Soviets would remove theirs from Cuba. However, the IRBMs deployed in Turkey were obsolete and the CIA was already planning on getting rid of them, serving absolutely no strategic values for both sides. The Turkey deal was a ruse - a cover story that was fed to the other intelligence agencies around the world. What the Soviets really wanted was the return of Sokolov.


Naked Snake preparing to jump.

Snake HALO jump

The world's first HALO jump.

Sokolov was returned to the Soviets and promptly taken back to his Design Bureau and forced to finish the weapon he had been working on, including an increased amount of tests at Semipalatinsk in February, 1964. However, a mole (who was in contact with The Boss via her own "intelligence channels") within the Soviet Union reported some details about the weapon, including the fact that it was nearing completion. The CIA, convinced that this new weapon would dramatically shift the balance of power, ordered Naked Snake, an operative of the newly formed FOX Unit to be dropped into Tselinoyarsk to recover Sokolov within three to four hours. Unknown to others involved in the operation, the Major had members of FOX's covert support unit, XOF, deployed into the field before Snake into order to provide him tactical support and field intel which was all relayed through Zero in order to keep the Units existence a secret. They were the ones who discovered Sokolov's exact location but were ordered not to interfere with Snake's mission and were to told to covertly observe it from afar.

However, there were initial problems during the flight over to Tselinoyarsk when Naked Snake attempted to savor the Havana cigar he was currently smoking instead of putting on his pressurized mask while the depressurization was in session, only managing to put it on at the last second when Major Zero told him off. At an altitude of thirty thousand feet, just over the Pakistani border, Snake launched himself from a special ops MC-130E Combat Talon aircraft, and performed the world’s first HALO (High Altitude-Low Opening) jump. Snake successfully infiltrated Tselinoyarsk after skydiving at 200 km/h (130 mph) at a temperature of minus 46 degrees Celsius, avoiding frostbite on the way down and activating the parachute.

"Close Quarters Combat"[]

Snake had support from his commanding officer Major Zero (changing his codename to Major Tom for this mission) and FOX's medic Para-Medic via radio. However, there was one other person on Snake's support team: The Boss, Snake's old mentor who abandoned him five years before hand without any explanation. Glad to hear her voice again, Snake continued his mission. Unknown to everyone else except Zero, a small Intel team from FOX's covert support unit XOF, was deployed into the field to provide Intel for both Snake and the Boss which was relayed through Zero.

Snake Sokolov Virtuous

Snake finds Sokolov.

Snake familiarized himself with the area, and later found the rope bridge that would bring him to Rassvet to meet Sokolov. However, a guard was standing near the bridge, making it difficult to go through undetected. Snake noticed through his binoculars that a hornets' nest lay directly above the soldier and decided to shoot it down as a distraction. After crossing the bridge, Snake sneaked his way around the KGB guards, through the rubble exterior and into a cabin towards the back of the perimeter. Inside, he confronted Sokolov (who was in the middle of burning documents relating to the new weapon), letting him know that he was there to rescue him. Sokolov warned Snake that an anti-Khrushchev faction planned to overthrow the Soviet Premier, and that one of their members, a GRU colonel named Yevgeny Borisovitch Volgin, was preparing to retrieve Sokolov himself, along with his weapon. Volgin was looking to remove Khrushchev from power and install Leonid Brezhnev and Aleksei Kosygin in his place, using Sokolov's weapon as leverage.

Snake vs Ocelot Unit

Snake fights against the Ocelot Unit.

As Snake and Sokolov began to make their way to the extraction point, they were ambushed by KGB operatives and held at gunpoint. The KGB agents were then killed by GRU Major Ocelot, as he mistook Naked Snake for The Boss. Upon realizing his mistake, Ocelot summoned his Ocelot Unit to surround them. Ocelot attempted to kill Snake himself, using a technique that involved ejecting the first bullet by hand, but the gun jammed at the last moment. Snake, seizing the opportunity, used his hand-to-hand CQC techniques, and managed to disable all the Ocelot Unit members while Sokolov escaped the area.


Shagohod mountain

The Shagohod.

When they reached the rope bridge Sokolov pointed to the top of a nearby mountain, where Sokolov’s Shagohod, a huge tank capable of firing a nuclear missile across large distances, was being tested. He explained that, should it be completed, it would mean the end of the Cold War, and the start of a new World War, and that the Soviet government forced him to work on the project under the threat of death, and that the project would be discontinued when he defected.

On their way over the bridge they were greeted by The Boss, only to find out that she had defected to the Soviet Union. Sokolov was captured by the Cobra Unit, and The Boss explained that Sokolov, along with a couple of Davy Crocketts (miniature nuclear shells) were her gift to her new hosts. Colonel Volgin himself joined The Boss and Snake on the bridge. Volgin commanded The Boss to kill Snake after the latter refused to have him join, which she attempted to do by breaking his left elbow in a vertical arm chop, and throwing him off the bridge (yet secretly knowing full well that he would survive the fall). Snake managed to retrieve the bandana shortly beforehand.


Master vs. disciple.

Snake helicopters

The helicopters go away.

Snake did indeed survive, and tended to his wounds (which included a broken left rib bone, as well as lacerations to the upper arms, right elbow, and the abdomen, as well as the broken left elbow that was from The Boss) with guidance from Para-Medic two hours later.[1] He briefly saw The Boss in a squadron of five prototype Hind-A gunships, transporting the Shagohod away from Sokolov's research facility. Volgin's troops had also captured a female KGB officer named Tatyana. Volgin, after he and Ocelot speculated that she may be Sokolov's lover, decided that she was "a fine catch," and discovered that she had a Kiss of death in her possession. Volgin, deciding that the Sokolov Design Bureau no longer served of any use to him, decided to test one of the Davy Crockett launchers on the OKB-754 research facility. Ocelot, upon learning this development, attempted to stop him, horrified that Volgin would actually try to nuke their fellow countrymen, even if they were on the opposing side. Volgin then stated that the intelligence would nonetheless think that it was The Boss who pulled the trigger instead of himself, before saying "Remember the Alamo," and then firing the weapon. OKB-754 was completely wiped out in the explosion, which Snake witnessed as he prepared for extraction via the Fulton Recovery System.


Volgin Crockett

Colonel Volgin with the Davy Crockett.

The launching of the warhead led Khrushchev to believe it was the U.S. who fired the nuke, since the MC-130E was picked up on radar within Soviet air space. As a result of the international controversy that ensued, Naked Snake was also detained by the military for any possible involvement in The Boss' defection while he was recovering in the ICU, heavily questioned, and awaiting possible execution, and various key members of the CIA were also under house arrest due to fear that the non-savory members would follow her example and defect. Ultimately, due to a call shortly afterwards between Nikita Khrushchev and Lyndon B. Johnson requesting the latter prove America's lack of involvement in the disaster (mostly to dissuade the Red Army's demands for a retaliatory strike due to his power growing more feeble than anything else), Snake and FOX were dispatched to Tselinoyarsk again for Operation Snake Eater. Volgin's action with the Davy Crockett also resulted in at the very least Rassvet being affected by nuclear fallout, preventing any Soviet personnel from being present in the area, which made it ideal for a planned meeting place for Snake and ADAM regarding Operation Snake Eater.

During the latter mission, Ocelot, when arguing with Volgin after the latter's then-recent murder of Aleksandr Leonovitch Granin during an interrogation before he could divulge information on a mole within Volgin's ranks, referenced Volgin's use of the Davy Crockett when expressing disapproval of the latter's methods, with Volgin, who had arrogantly told him beforehand that he was in command of Groznyj Grad and thus didn't need Ocelot's approval to kill Granin, sarcastically suggesting that Ocelot report him to the authorities in response.[2]

Behind the scenes[]

Just before Naked Snake commences a HALO jump, the cigar he flung back earlier is sent flying and he proceeds to stamp on it to put it out. According to Hideo Kojima, this was added in due to complaints regarding Solid Snake disposing a still-lit cigarette into the Hudson Bay during the Tanker Chapter opening in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.[3]


Timeline of events in Metal Gear
Date Event Game
1962 Sokolov Defection
Cuban Missile Crisis
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Metal Gear Solid Δ: Snake Eater
1964 Virtuous Mission
Operation Snake Eater
1970 San Hieronymo Incident* Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops*
1972 Les Enfants Terribles Project
1974 Peace Walker Incident Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Eliminate the Renegade Threat*
Intel Operative Rescue*
Classified Intel Acquisition*
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
19XX Déjà Vu**
XXXX Jamais Vu**
1975 Destroy the Anti-Air Emplacements*
Ground Zeroes Incident
Wormhole Incident** Metal Gear Survive**
1976 Attack on Zero Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
1977 Zero visits Snake
1984 Hospital Escape
Phantom Pain Incident
1995 Outer Heaven Uprising
(AKA "Operation Intrude N313")
Metal Gear
19XX Metal Gear (NES)**
19XX+3 Operation 747** Snake's Revenge**
1997 Mercenary War Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
1999 Zanzibar Land Disturbance
(AKA "Operation Intrude F014")
2002 Galuade Incident** Metal Gear: Ghost Babel**
2003 Assassination of Dr. Clark
2005 Shadow Moses Incident Metal Gear Solid (The Twin Snakes*)
2005-2007 Snake's VR Simulation* Metal Gear Solid Mobile*
2007 Tanker Incident Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
2008 Liquidation of Dead Cell
2009 Big Shell Incident
2011 Raid At Area 51
2012-2013 Raiden's Capture
2014 Guns of the Patriots Incident
(Liquid Sun · Solid Sun · Third Sun · Twin Suns · Old Sun · Naked Sin)
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
2016 Lobito Island Incident** Metal Gear Acid**
2018 World Marshal Incident*
(AKA "Raiden's Revengeance")
Raid at World Marshal · Ambush in Africa · Abkhazian Coup · Investigation in Guadalajara · Raid in Denver · Operation Tecumseh
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance*
2019 SaintLogic Incident** Metal Gear Acid 2**
* Dubious Canonicity
** Non-Canon

Notes and references[]

  1. ^
    "The setting is that Snake regains consciousness two hours after falling from the rope bridge and into the river. The sky has darkened because it is later in the day. I don't think this came across all that clearly. "During this [sic] two hours, the Colonel's men attached the Shagohod to the Hinds, and had just taken off from the ground."
  2. ^ Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2004).
    Major Ocelot: But... does this mean Granin was the spy? // Colonel Yevgeny Borisovitch Volgin: Perhaps he was being used by someone else. // Ocelot: Perhaps? This man was our comrade! // Volgin: Comrade or not, he is of no use to us now. // Ocelot: I don't approve of your methods! // Volgin: I don't need your approval. I'm in command here. // Ocelot: ...and that nuclear shell... // Volgin: Still feeling sore about that, are you? What are you gonna do, report it to the authorities?
  3. ^
    "The cigar rolling towards Snake, that was because tossing a lit cigarette into the Hudson Bay led to a lot of angry responses, this time we made sure to stamp out the cigar before heading off to the mission."


See also[]