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First Nike Guided Missile Site
from robert singleton < robtsingleton at yahoo dot com > June 8, 2010
My son recently got interested in the history of the Nike program and was asking me questions about my involvement. I told him that as far as I know, as a member of the first graduating class of Nike fire-control, I was a part of the first operational Nike site in the United States at Sandy Hook, NJ. This seemed to contradict his research that Ft. Meade holds that title. I put together a short summary for him along with a couple of blurry photos that I had taken years ago.
Although most reports Indicate that the first Nike site was at Ft. Meade, Maryland I believe that because it was staffed with the first graduating class from the Nike training school, the site at Ft. Hancock actually preceded it.
Training for maintenance crews for the U.S. Army Nike anti-aircraft guided missile system began in June, 1952 at Ft. Bliss, Texas. There were 12 members of the first fire-control class, chosen specifically to serve the first operational installation; 3 members to be assigned to each of 4 Batteries. Four of the initial class members were Master Sergeants, and the remaining 8 were new recruits. The training, which included live targeting of B-17 drones at White Sands Proving Ground, lasted 12 months. Upon graduation, the class was assigned to the 526th AA Guided Missile Battalion at Ft. Hancock, Sandy Hook, New Jersey. This later became a part of the NY-56 defense area. Each of the graduating Master Sergeants became First Sergeant of respectively Batteries A, B, C, and D, and two each of the remaining 8 were assigned to those Batteries. This deployment occurred in December, 1953.
The initial Ft. Hancock installation did not consist of permanent structures, but used the mobile launchers and trailers that had been used In training. Radars and launchers were located on dunes along the ocean side and crews manned them on a 24/7 with rotating shifts. On-duty crews had sleeping quarters in Jamesway huts and used portable generators. Permanent barracks, mess halls, Battalion HQ etc. were located at the old Ft. Hancock base at the north end of the hook. The photos below, taken In early 1954, show the primitive state of the command and control site for Battery D at the south end of the hook. Batteries A, B, and C as well as missile launch sites were located north on the hook.
If you have comments or suggestions, Send e-mail to Ed Thelen
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