The Newsletter of the Nike Preservation Group

Volume 3, Issue 4                                                      AUGUST 2000


Nike Preservation Group, Inc., 475 Maple Street, West Lafayette, Indiana 47906

Editors: Don and Susan Peterson             Phone: (765) 743 - 9333            E-mail:



Nominations of Officers and Board Members


In December the NPG Board of Directors will meet to confirm or elect new officers.  Also new board members will be nominated if necessary.   With the recent passing of Bob Peterson the position of president must be filled.  Several other positions may also be adjusted to better meet the needs of our growing organization.   The board also needs enthusiastic individuals to fill new positions related to marketing, membership and community relations.    Members who are interested in serving in one of these key positions are encouraged to contact the NPG for more information.


Old NPG Newsletters Available

Anyone interested in copies of past newsletters needs only to ask!  We have extra copies going back to the first issue.  We sure would like to get rid of them.  Please donate something to help pay the postage, any money left over goes right back into printing the next issues.


NPG Member and Supporter Listing - July 2000


Steve BardowskiMechanicsburg PA
Herman R. Barnard   Franklin IN
Jim Blaszkiewicz  Beverly Shores IN
Roger Borroel    East Chicago IN
John R. Braun Indianapolis IN
Christopher J. Bright Vienna VA
Robert F. Cook Indianpolis IN
Joe Crawford   Indianapolis IN
Casey M. Criswell West Lafayette IN
Charles W. Davenport Glendale KY
Gary M. Davis    Indianapolis IN
Larry Deck   Derry       NH
Paul Diebold   Indianapolis IN
Vincent Disborough    Indianapolis IN
Dennis R. Duncan Portage IN
Curtis Elkins  Valparaiso IN
John M. Gephart  Zionsville IN
Larry E. Green Watertown WI
Roger L. Harrison Lafayette IN
Chrisopher Hedges  Hobart IN
Wayne A. Heimberg Valparaiso IN
Roger C. Huber Brownsburg IN
George Ingles    Brownsburg IN
Marvin C. Johnson Speedway IN
Jim Kendrick    Hartford City IN
William J. Lawrence McLean VA
Frank A. Martinez Alpharetta GA
Dennis McCauley    Danville IN
Stavros Moungelis  North Potomac MD
David Newill   Zionsville IN
Jon F. Nitkowski  Stephenson MI
Don & Susan Peterson West Lafayette IN
Pauline L. Peterson Valparaiso IN
Claude Rakowski  Griffith IN
Sam Raymer  Westfield IN
Robert A. Read Gotha FL
Angus P. Robinson Cedar Lake IN
Jack Rosenbach   Valparaiso IN
Paul W. Rosner   Indianapolis IN
George W. Runkle    Lawrenceville GA
Gerald H. Schloetter Rohnert Park CA
James E. Scott Evansville IN
Jim Shewokis   Somers CT
Anjanette Sivilich Anderson IN
Ed Thelen Fremont CA
Thomas W. Tittle Portage IN
Tom Vaughn     LaPorte IN
Phillip D. Walton Brazil IN
Max Williams  Rosedale IN
James D. Williamson Forest VA
James D. Wilson Johnson City TN
Donald F. Wilson Avilla IN
Brian Wroblewski   Lackawanna NY
Jeff Zimnickas    Macomb MI














JULY 10, 2000




CREATIVE PROJECT: Wheeler/Portage Nile Missile Launch Site C-47: Historic Structure Report

STUDENT: Anjanette U. Sivilich

DEGREE: Master of Science in Historic Preservation

COLLEGE: Architecture and Planning

DATE: July 10, 2000

PAGES: 160



This is a historic structure report for the C-47 Nike missile launch site in Wheeler, Indiana. This report provides a description, condition assessment, and recommendation for restoration of the site since it has sustained damage from weather, fire, and vandals. The site is listed on the State Register and National Register of Historic Places and the Nike Preservation Group desires to turn the site into a Cold War museum and memorial. A history of the Cold War and development of the Nike missile systems and C-47 site provides the background of the project. Each structure and feature is described and the condition recorded. Recommendations for treatment and maintenance are provided. Suggestions are made for a phased restoration of the site to accommodate a Cold War museum.  Since it is recommended the site be open to the public, issues regarding public health, safety, security, and handicap accessibility are addressed. This project does not provide a full management and preservation plan, measured HABS/HAER drawings, or a structural analysis.




I was first introduced to the C-47 site through a session on the recent past at the 1999 Cornelius O'Brien Conference. I would not have been alerted to the topic without the organization's interest in historic preservation. I would like to thank my committee for being patient with me and the situations that delayed the completion of this project. My chair, Jonathan C. Spodek, for being a great help in contacting the correct government officials, directing my research, and proofreading the report along the way. Dr. James A. Glass and Paul Diebold took precious time out of their busy schedules to proofread and make recommendations for this report and directed me to the proper government offices. Without the cooperation of Joseph O'Bradovic, Regina Nally, and other staff members of the General Service Administration, Chicago office, this project would not have been possible. They help me gain access to the site so the conditions could be assessed. Donald and Robert Peterson of the Nike Preservation Group provided current information about the site and directed me to veterans of C-47. I would have been at a loss for historical information if it had not been for Frank Martinez, Herman Barnard, Tom Vaughn, and Ed Thelen. They provided information about the Nile missile system and the Wheeler/Portage site that was not available in any library. They also helped me identify unknown features and missing structures. I wish them all the best in their endeavors to preserve the site and I sympathize with the loss of their president this year, Robert Peterson. He was a wonderful person. A huge "Thank you," must go out to my husband, Kurt, for helping me document the site. I'd still tromping in the weeds and writing this report without his help. He stood by me through all my mood swings, hissy fits, and frustration and helped any way he could. Kurt, my parents, in-laws, and church have been the best cheering section any team, or individual could have. Thank you, everyone for all of you help and support.





Chapter 1

Executive Summary


This chapter gives a brief look at how this Historic Structure Report and restoration recommendation was approached. The background and context of the project is set along with the goals. The methodology of approach to the project and the availability of literature sources are explained.


Project Background and Context

The Cold War influences many areas of our lives, even today. A well-hidden part of this war was the United States defense system, in particular, the Nike missile system. The Department of Defense released the classified documents regarding these sites in 1990. Though it has been more than ten years, there is still very little published information that focuses specifically on the Nike missiles because of the secrecy of the system. There are general guidelines for preserving military sites, but nothing that deals directly with Nike missile installations. There were 300 sites, located throughout 29 states, protecting vital cities across the United States as a part of our defense system during and following the Cold War. The sites have now been stripped of the missiles, and most are vacant. This paper presents a Historic Structure Report to document the existing conditions and recommend preservation methods for a specific Nike launch site, C-47 in Porter County, Indiana.


There are two questions that will be addressed by this report. 1) What is the current condition of the C-47 Nike missile launch site? 2) What issues must be addressed when preserving, maintaining, or restoring the integrity of the site?



The primary goal of this project is to help preservation groups, specifically the Nike Preservation Group, preserve and interpret the launch site associated with the C-47 Nike complex. To accomplish the goal, the following activities were completed:

Record the current level of integrity.

Catalogue available or missing resources on the site.

Document the condition of these resources.

Determine preservation issues that need addressing.

Investigate common preservation and maintenance techniques for each issue.

Determine methods of treatment to preserve the site and structures.

Recommend general restoration techniques for C-47 launch site.


The final recommendations can be applied to the preservation of other similar sites since many of the same issues are present at other such sites. Through the information presented in the project, the usefulness of Nike sites and methods used to preserve these sites can be presented to groups that have been thinking about such a project. They will have a better understanding of the scope of such a preservation project and will be inspired to stand up to the challenge.



To complete this project several steps were taken. A brief history of the site and historic context was researched and written to establish a setting. The condition of each structure and its materials was documented. This documentation facilitated the creation of recommendations to preserve the materials and maintain the historic character, integrity, of the site. The history was compiled through published documents, interviews, and government documents. This history briefly addresses the Cold War and Nike missile system and the history of the C-47 launch site in more depth. The condition of the site and each structure was documented. The methods used for this documentation were site inspections, base drawings for annotated plans and rough dimensions; a checklist, created by the author, supplemented the plans, and photographs were used for reference and to document conditions. Recommendations for use, restoration, and treatment were made from the information compiled on site. Documents produced by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, and by other preservation professionals were used to make these recommendations. There are very few primary sources available on this topic. There are a few Historic American Engineering Record reports for Nike installations such as the Newport Nike Battery in Newport, Michigan; SL-40 and C-84 in Illinois; 2 in Los Angeles County, California; 2 in Alaska (Fairbanks and Anchorage); and one in Hennepin County, Minnesota. The National Park Service prepared these reports. Some general information from these reports may be applicable to C-47 since the layout and design of the site and structures was typical for the type of missile site. The area available for the site and the location to be protected dictated specific changes within the site such as overall size and the number of magazines provided. Any first hand information on the history of this subject can only be obtained through interviews of people that served at the C-47 Nike missile installation. However, a complete list of C-47 veterans was not available. Of the veterans that could be found, only one worked at the launch site, all others were based at the Integrated Fire Control (IFC) area. The reliability of the information provided by the veterans is not completely reliable since details of the site and activities may be forgotten.


There are a few books that enumerate the history of missile technology, nuclear war, and the culture of the Cold War in general but nothing specifically documenting the Nike missile defense system. Unfortunately, most of the books available on the Cold War are about propaganda and World politics at the time, and not about the missile defense systems of the time. Since few books cover the history required, web sites were used in this project as a main source of information on the topic. People or groups that have served at or have a deep interest in Nike installations produce many of these sites. Cross-referencing data was done to ensure the integrity of the information on these sites. The areas of concentrated study dealt with (1) the current integrity and condition of the structures and (2) restoration and maintenance techniques of the buildings at the Nike installation The integrity requirements for the National Register of Historic Places along with historic documentation of the C-47 launch site were used to determine the level of integrity.


Arrangements were made with the Chicago General Service Administration office to gain access to the site and observe the condition of the buildings. Once at the site photographs and field notes were taken. The photographs of each building and room were taken for future reference when describing the buildings. Field notes were used to note the general condition of each part of a structure and the materials. The condition of some building elements, such as roofs, or site features, underground facilities, could not be ascertained because they were inaccessible.


The site has not been maintained or secured, beyond the padlocked gate, since it was decommissioned. Many of the structures have suffered damage from vandalism, fire, and weather. Debris such as toilets, doors, and wood is just thrown on the floor of the structures, the worst being the fallout shelter and ready building. The wall material of the buildings appears to be in good condition, it is the paint that is failing from thermal changes and moisture. The roof structures have sustained the most damage from weather and fire. Both the ready building and missile assembly building require new roofs because of the extent of damage. Most of the floors are in good condition, except in the missile assembly building where the whole north side is damaged from vegetation growing through the cracks. Many of the doors and window glass are missing and have been left open or sealed with plywood. Some of the doors have been replaced. The wood features of the site that remain have lost most of the protective coating of paint and begun to show signs of mostly dry rot. Some wet rot is evident where wood frames meet a horizontal sill.


Preservation Briefs produced by the National Park Service and preservation books were used as a basis for the recommendations of material preservation techniques specifically for Nike installations. Detailed preservation techniques were not explored since determining the specific cause of deterioration was outside the scope of the project, Only common symptoms of deterioration are enumerated. There are many different sources that recommend specific treatments for deterioration. These should be explored further to determine the appropriate method of preservation to be used.


Suggestions for restoration were made according to the desires of the Nike Preservation Group who is lobbying strongly to acquire the site and based on the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Restoration. Recommendations were only made for the use of the structures and site. Suggesting the content and organization of the displays is outside the scope of the project or the expertise of the author. Recommendations were made to make the buildings more accessible to the physically challenged.


It should be noted that a full management and preservation plan for the C-47 site was outside the scope of this project and was not undertaken. Also, outside the scope of the project was a complete Historic Structures Report on the entire C-47 complex, launch and command site. The focus for the study was the C-47 launch area since the site is currently vacant. The command area is currently used as a paintball game facility. The owners have retained all of the structures within the command area and have not damaged the overall integrity of the C-47 complex. 


Watch for additional chapters of this historic structure report in future issues.



45th Air Defense Artillery Brigade History




This history is limited to the 45th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, its subordinate units and those Army National Guard units operating in the air defense role from 28 July 1952 to 1 April 1972, while assigned to the Chicago-Gary-Milwaukee Defense. As background information, a brief resume of the units assigned the air defense mission in the Chicago-Gary-Milwaukee Defense and the history of the Arlington Heights Defense Site are also included.


I feel that I should acknowledge in advance some of the limitations which I am sure exist in this history. It was prepared by personnel not particularly schooled in the writing of histories. I an sure we have made some technical errors. There are probably many places where professional writers could have improved the general reliability of the document. There are, no doubt, misspellings of names and slight inaccuracies on dates and other factual material. I hope we may be forgiven for some of these sins. To have insisted on perfection as a requisite for publication, considering the resources available at the Brigade Headquarters for this type of activity, would have demanded abandonment of, or long delay to the project. I feel that the accomplishment of this task, even in an imperfect form, represents a highly worth-while achievement. I hope the readers will concur.


Credit for the preparation of this history must be afforded to Major Ronald R. Recher. He took over the preparation of this history on his own initiative apparently to fill his spare moments. Major Recher attended to the research, the organization and the writing of the draft copy. Virtually all this effort was accomplished during what would otherwise have been his free time. The work continued over a long period and extended beyond his assignment to the brigade. He completed the work while a student at various temporary duty schools preparatory to his current command assignment in the Republic of Korea. I feel that others--particularly those who over the years have had a share in the operations of the 45th Brigade--will share in this gratitude. There are others who have cooperated in the formulation of the history and who also deserve credit. Unfortunately, I have been involved in the preparation to such a limited degree that I am unaware of the identity of many of those whom I am sure fall into this category. I do know that Colonel Julius Schwartz, Lieutenant Colonel Callos, and others within our Illinois National Guard Air Defense Battalion, the 1/202, were very helpful in the historic reconstruction of the Chicago Air Defense. Likewise, Major Phil Christoffersen, Major Recher's replacement, can be credited with preparation of the document in final form and with making the arrangements for its publication. Fort Sheridan authorities have been very cooperative in printing the volume. To the others who I am-sure have also helped, my apologies. I just do not know who you are.


Let me conclude by stating that there was no requirement for this undertaking, and yet it was done. There is lasting satisfaction in completing an imposing but optional task such as this. I hope that some future enterprising member of the brigade will find the energy and the initiative to revise the history to include those years still to come, perhaps correcting some of our mistakes as he does so. To that end, I solicit corrections from any reader who may discover errors. Significant missions may likewise be brought to our attention. We will post such changes in a master copy for a possible future edition. All corrections and additions should be directed to Commanding Officer, 45th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, ATTN: Unit Historian, Fort Sheridan, IL 60037.


There is no need for me to dwell on the proud record of service of the brigade and its subordinate organizations. The pages which follow do this beyond any question.








I -   Statements of Service of all units which have been assigned to the Chicago-Gary-Milwaukee Defense – OMITTED


II - Arlington Heights Air Defense


III - Resume of past histories

      45th Artillery Brigade

      3d Battalion, 59th Artillery

      1st Battalion, 60th Artillery

      2d Battalion, 126th Artillery

      1st Battalion, 202d Artillery


IV - Gun Days - 28 July 1952 - 31 December 1954


V -   NIKE-AJAX - 1 January 1955 - 31 December 1959


VI - Transition - 1 January 1960 - 31 December 1965


VII - NIKE-HERCULES - 1 January 1966 - 31 December 1969


IX - Loose Ends - 1st of 1968 thru 1969


X -   1 January 1970 to 31 December


XI - 1 January 1970 to 31 May 1971


XII - 1 June 1971 to 1 April 1972








In 1942, the Arlington Heights Airport was used as an emergency airfield by the U.S. Navy. In September 1944, the land was bought for $25,645.86 and converted to Auxiliary Airport, Field Nr 25610 to train Navy pilots stationed at Glenview NAS. The U.S. Government owned 93.97 acres and leased an additional 182 acres. With this transaction began the federal ownership of the present Arlington Heights Air Defense Site.


In late 1944, additional locations for German, Italian and Japanese POW camps were being explored. On 4 May 1944, the first German POWs were brought to Arlington Heights. The present "H" building, #T114, was used to house the 17 to 20 year old German veterans of Rommel’s North African Corps. Barbed wire enclosed the two story wooden building and a soccer field south of the barracks. A guard detachment of 37 American soldiers under the command of Captain Austin P. Reed was assigned here.


The prisoners were trucked to and from Glenview NAS every day. Initially they were used to do heavy labor and grounds maintenance, but it was soon discovered that they were good mechanics. Most were then put to work in the engine overhaul and repair department. They were able to make $21.80 per month and were paid in coupons, redeemable at the prison post exchange. In October 1945, -the prisoners voluntarily donated $656 to the American War Fund. Posted on their bulletin board was this statement:


"By this contribution it will be shown to the American people that German prisoners of war are ready with the limited means at their disposal to support American relief organizations in the purpose of lending support to all persons who have fallen into misery and distress because of the war."


The prisoners numbered more than 200 at the peak. By 1947, little remained of the POW camp, other than the buildings, to remind the local residents of its existence. After the departure of the prisoners and the training aircraft, the government land was declared excess by the U.S. Navy. Arlington Heights again realized the chance for an airport. However, through a series of disagreements, the land was awarded to a private company. 


Later, the Navy decided that they wanted the land back, and though a court action ensued, the land was returned to Government control. The land was then leased as an airport and later a trailer park. There were plans to convert the “H” building into 20 apartments for returning World War II veterans and their families, but this never materialized.


In 1953, the U.S. Army began looking for a Missile site for the converted 86th Antiaircraft Battalion (NIKE) and a permanent site for the recently activated 45th Antiaircraft Brigade. On 28 April 1954, the Army acquired Arlington Heights POW Camp from the Navy at no cost and leased two additional pockets of 5.78 and 6.98 acres southeast of the site on Illinois State Route 58. Construction of site C-80 was begun with the dual launching pits on the old Navy land and the fire controls on the two small parcels of land. HHB, 86th AAA Battalion and Battery A, became an operational missile battalion in March 1955. The hangar was the Battalion and Battery headquarters, the missile support shop, the mess hall (cooking was done outside in a tent) and barber shop. The “H” building was the barracks.


In addition to the construction of the missile battery, the Brigade headquarters building, two enlisted men's barracks, one enlisted women's barracks, two bachelor officer's quarters, the service club, and two motor pool buildings were constructed. The 45th AAA Brigade moved from the Museum of Science and Industry to the "Arlington Heights NIKE Site" on 19 August 1957. The new building constructed as an enlisted women's barracks was never, used for that purpose, but was used as NCO quarters and the Brigade's Drum and Bugle Corps practice room.  This practice room was later, converted to the Service Club and the old Service Club building remodeled into the present NCO Open Mess. Additional construction plans were drawn to provide for 126 EM quarters, 102 officer quarters, post exchange, clothing sales store, commissary, theater,, swimming pool, gymnasium, bowling alley, NCO & Officers' Open Messes, chapel, dispensary, and a field maintenance support shop and warehouse. Other than the latter, these were only plans and were never built.


The site remained virtually unchanged, until an additional 44.38 acres was purchased. On 6 April 1959, BG Peter Schmick, Brigade CG, announced the purchase and plans for the construction of the Command Post, five radar towers and supporting buildings, to house the Missile Master. The official dedication of the nation's first operational automatic electronic weapon system to coordinate all elements of antiaircraft defense was made on 28 October 1960. The ceremonies were hosted by BG Frederick W. Ellery.


During the next few Years, the inactivation of the NIKE battery and battalion, the release of the fire control areas and the building of a mess hall, another, barracks, dispensary, and two office buildings, caused minor changes of the site. In late 1964, the Village of Arlington Heights hoped to acquire approximately 100 acres which seemed destined to be declared excess land. An 18 hole golf course and park were planned. However, on 29 December 1964, it was decided by ARADCOM that the entire 145 acres would be retained “for future missile requirements”.


Again late 1965, it was decided that some of the 145 acres was excess to the present and future needs of ARADCOM. However, this was to be the biggest heartbreak of the long battle by Arlington Heights. From November 1965 to the final sale in February 1968, there were allegations, congressional interest, misunderstandings, disputes and bad feelings between the civilian populace and the federal government.  Arlington Day related the feelings of the people of Arlington Heights On 25 January 1967, when this story appeared on page 1.


Twenty-five years ago the area in question was not yet inside the village limits, and it had a Cook County zoning for F (farming). Before the zoning ordinance was passed an airport had been established on the site and light planes took off and landed on the unpaved, grassy turf.


Under usual procedure then, use of the farm land as an airport was considered a special use, which would prevent further expansion of the facilities.


But early in 1942 the Navy bought the land, and the Cook County Zoning Board of Appeals authorized a temporary expansion of the airport for use as an auxiliary field by the Glenview Naval Air Station “for the duration of the war emergency”.


This was done over the official protest of the Village of Arlington Heights, an action that was to plague the village when it wanted to establish its own airport on the site after World War II.


In February 1968, the Navy paid the Army $14,128.81 for 51.77 acres which would be used for approximately 160 housing units. Another 21.59 acres was leased to the 7th Howitzer, Battalion, 3d Artillery (USAR) for a motor pool, park and training grounds. This however caused more consternation in Arlington Heights and Rolling Meadows - where were the children to go to school? In 1969, Glenview NAS lost the $3.5 million programmed for the construction of the housing; however, the Navy still wanted the housing and was not releasing the land.


On 13 March 1969, the dispensary was gutted by fire. The entire building and most of the contents were destroyed. A new building was required if the site was to retain the dispensary and dental clinic, which cared for personnel assigned to the 46th Brigade, dependents, and the large number of retired personnel in the area. The 755th Radar Squadron had received notification that they were being phased out. It was decided that the new dispensary would be located in the Officers' Open Mess, which would move to a barracks. The barracks was being vacated by HHB, 45th personnel who were moving into the "Old Air Force Barracks". Though the dispensary could not furnish full support, the 5th Army medics stopped operations for only 2 days, while records were being moved. The dental clinic remained closed for approximately two months waiting for the installation of equipment.


In November 1971 the administrative sections of the Brigade and Headquarters Battery relocated at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. The mess facility was discontinued. The Officers' Open Mess and the Non-Commissioned Officers Open Mess were consolidated on 1 January 1972 in the Officers' Mess Facility. The command post, security section, signal detachment, search radar maintenance and the TSQ-51 sections remained at C-80, Arlington Heights, Illinois.


Look for more of the 45th Brigade History in the next issues.





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Mail to: The Nike Preservation Group, Inc., 475 Maple Street, West Lafayette, Indiana 47906


Membership fees:

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or  $40 for 3 years.                                $200 NPG family life time membership*

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“The Nike Hercules Story” Video

as told by the United States Army


This historic footage tells the public affairs version of the Nike Hercules development and deployment. 30 minutes of family entertainment.   Yours free when you make a donation to the Nike Preservation Group of $18.00 or more.   


Send your donation to: 

The Nike Preservation Group, Inc., 475 Maple Street,  West Lafayette, Indiana 47906 Available in VHS only.  Allow 3-4 weeks for delivery. The Nike Hercules Story - produced in 1958/59 by Herbert Kerkow, Inc. of New York

















The Nike Preservation Group, Inc.

475 Maple Street

West Lafayette, Indiana 47906












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