Two Contrasting Photos With 56 Years Spread

Discussion in 'Jobs I Have Had' started by Thomas Stillhere, Aug 18, 2022.

  1. Thomas Stillhere

    Thomas Stillhere Very Well-Known Member
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    Here are 3 photos of early 1967 while I was at Alvarado Texas D-50 Nike Hercules site. The colored photo of the Missile raised for a photo op is one of my birds and the two other two photos show the deterioration of the site after being closed since 1970. If you look very close at the worn out guard shack then look at the fresh color photo of the missile you can see that shack as it was in early 67. Also my elevator is nice and pretty and shiny in the paper coverage but today it looks like this slowly wasting rusted mess. The paper photo was taken just to the left of the original angle. The Paper had the spread in the Sunday Magazine that was so popular when all of us were young. Today none of the younger folks know what one of those magazines looked like. This missile raised is a High Explosive warhead not one of the two nukes below. We had 3 pits and all the loads were exactly the same. You can tell the nukes because they keep a red steel cover over one of the tip instruments that is used to help guide it to a top down attack. My job as a crewman was to remove those two covers without damaging the two instruments. At the time they were like 3000 dollars per, I didn't want to be paying for any breakage so I learned to remove them expeditiously without going into debt. Then the fun part was two of us pushing 11,000 lbs onto the elevator without forgetting to jerk the unlock rope to allow the end of the rails to open and allow the missile to roll onto the elevator. The upstairs crew did the topside pushing. One of my jobs was to inspect the physical surface of the missile while dragging my hand down the closed compartments containing electronics and hydraulics. Once a week we would remove the main cover over the fuse panel to check fuses and make sure all were good. The missile was live all the time and had hydraulic fluid circulating constantly. The Nuke warheads were removed and serviced in a scheduled maintenance. A specialist working in the Warhead room did that work and it required a complete tear down using an overhead crane, there was a safety berm around the warhead building but I don't think it would have helped had something gone wrong. I feel really good the old site is still alive even if it is a relic of the past, it was one part of my past a long time ago.
     

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  2. John Brunner

    John Brunner Senior Staff
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    So why was it located in that part of the nation? Was it set up during the Cuban Missal Crisis?
     
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  3. Thomas Stillhere

    Thomas Stillhere Very Well-Known Member
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    No, it originated during the cold war when we feared long range nuclear bombers coming across our northern borders. The Hercules system replaced the old Ajax solid fuel missiles, they were dangerous and needed fueling which made them extremely hazardous. The big change was the Nike carried low radiation yield warheads that did not spread large doses of radiation onto the population f detonated. It was designed as an overlapping shield of bases that covered a 90 mile range around our largest cities nation wide. If one battery were to be down for any reason it still had over watch and protection in that sites coverage etc It was a ground breaking technology engineered by Bell Telephone using the old Ajax system as a root plan. Strange but a large city such as Houston was not covered. I suppose they figured those southern large cities and military bases would be struck by submarine regardless and there would have been no time to react before being hit. When they closed the systems down totally no one knew it was coming and it happened very quickly. They sent as many trained people as possible to man the German American bases in Europe but most people were just booted out of the MOS and put into something else until they left service. I actually had orders for Bonn Germany to continue Nike Service because I had re enlisted and it was contracted, but at the last moment they changed my orders and sent me to Vietnam which directed me to report to an offshore Hawk missile base on a small island 90 miles off the coast of Vietnam. They had so many people there was no slots open for any MOS and they were in a pickle now. They had to ask me where did I want to go and what did I want to do. Naturally it would have been to Germany because that was the only still left American bases for Nike Hercules. Today there are still some small nations that use the Nike Hercules but not with Nukes only the HE warhead Nike, which can target a single plane where the Nuke Nike can pop up and dive down on top of a large bomber formation then detonate. Trust me this Nike can get down range pretty quick for an old either based cluster of rocket motors. The motors had large diameter plastic covers and if you came to work tired and with a hangover all you had to do was pop one of those covers and take a deep breath, you would get a really good charge and you were off and running for the day. When the military closes something down they no longer control it. There was one spanking new base that getting ready to open just waiting for personnel to be assigned and they simply shut the gate and it sat there until the vandals had completely stolen every piece of equipment already installed. All the normal accessories from bathrooms and mess hall and billets were picked clean, naturally the last act from the scum bags was to break all the windows and paint graffiti over all the walls. Millions just thrown out the window, sounds familiar as our present bunch of deep spenders. Oh, all the D designations had numbers for each large city it was located, D_50 was Dallas Forth Worth. The silos were designed to withstand an aerial burst but not a direct hit. I never knew just how tough the pits were until I saw one totally unearthed and converted into a nice workshop by a farmer who purchased the site, he cut out one side of the back wall and opened it up. Up in the front area of the launch area was a fallout shelter for those personnel caught on duty while a launch was taking place, it was p rebuilt and weighed so much it had to lifted to the slab by crane. They built the main building around a radiation proof container. I have photos of the outside of ours and you can see the lifting eyes used when it was transported. I have a photo somewhere of out ready room after someone had ripped out the sheet rock and had lived in it for some time. The Texas Highway Department was the first new tenant after shut down and they made some changes in the front of the barracks building and administration buildings. They cut window holes and a series of doors that had little drive up ramps poured. I suspect they were servicing mowers and such. I lived in that one barracks and I sweat I could not remember having a window, it was always dark inside but I didn't spend much time there and lived in DeSoto and at one time in Midlothian Tx and even Cleburne the opposite direction from Dallas on the old Highway 67. It was some really nice duty and they had no problems finding people to change their MOS and re enlist for 3 more years.
     
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