Life on a Nike Site

Return to Home
Goto Next Section - Nike Battery Alert

The Ft. Hancock web site has some oral histories.

You get travel orders, and you go
And equipment is ordered to go - found by Ron Plante
A Group of people, 1956 at a SF-88 (north of San Francisco)
Early Life at 'my' site, 1956 at C-41 (Jackson Park,,Chicago)
Care and Feeding of the People
Care and Feeding of the Equipment
Continuing Training, Available Education
Proficiency Inspections
Work Schedule
Custodial Team
Technical Officers - Air Force
Small Military Unit with an Enlisted Commander - Air Force
Give and Take between Officers and Enlisted - Air Force


Being a techie, I (Ed Thelen) didn't care what I wore as long as I was warm enough, feet protected, and kept out of trouble.
However, other people wanted folks to look good enough, and to be identifiable as to organization, rank and status.
Class A s
- Fatigues
- Cold Weather Gear
- Ajax missile fueling gear

Class A s
This picture and text is from Gordon Lunn

"The standard uniform for Nike crewmen-enlisted and officers-at my site was the OD fatigue uniform.
Class A uniforms were as shown in the picture-khakis with bloused boots, including the "cravat"-called a scarf-red for artillery. (Summer uniform). Winter uniforms were "Ike jackets" and pants with shirt and tie and scarves for inspections. Class A uniforms were not worn for daily duty except fo shows and open houses..."

Picture from Ken Fraser

This is what we wore 99% of the time while on site.

Cold Weather Gear
This picture and text is from Gordon Lunn

... my firing crew at Red Canyon Range in 1957. Those wearing parkas (longer tail )are wearing pile caps; those in field jackets are wearing Ridgeway caps (battery policy). This was the normal duty uniform for both officers and enlisted men at my (Buffalo) site. The reason there is no missile in the picture is that we had just fired it, and the launch crew is getting ready to scrape and repaint the handling rail and the launcher...

You get travel orders, and you go

As the First Sergeant says "I can't make you DO anything, but I CAN make you wish you had!"

Somehow your name and serial number gets onto very coarse, cheap appearing paper directing you to report at a particular location on a particular date. There are likely several or many people being ordered about on one piece of paper. I really don't remember how the travel time, travel allowance and/or tickets were handled - apparently well enough so that no disturbing memories are stirred up.

Ah yes, the orders - always on paper that looked recycled before recycling became popular. We figured the Army was as thrifty about the paper as it was about our pay. In 1954, privates got an initial set of uniforms, a monthly clothing allowance - maybe $5, medical care, a place to sleep, 3 meals a day, and about $75/per month cash. That does not sound like much now - and it wasn't much then either.

Yes - the orders. The orders were "printed" by some stenciling process which was about as ragged as the paper. OK - this was before XEROX, and certainly before the fancy laser printers. Sufficient copies were "printed" so that all necessary people got a copy. The system had been perfected over the centuries, and worked well by the time I got there.

A Nike Classmate (Tom Lundregan) sent me these promotion orders. These orders elevated those of us in the IFC Maintenance class who were PFCs to the rank of "CORPORAL E-4 (TEMP)". In all fairness, the combination of cheap paper and cheap "printing" has not been helped by what appears to have been some XEROXing in recent years. But I assure you that you squinted a bit, and verified that your serial number matched what appeared to be your name. (Please don't get the idea that I am against thrift, I've been accused of such my self. But the Army did not waste a cent publishing orders!)

These folks made PFC.

(Large image is 140 K bytes)
Some of these made CPL

(Large image is 125 K bytes)
Above documents courtesy of Tom Lundregan.

Travel orders had a similar style. If you happen to have a copy of travel orders, I would be happy to display it here. :-)

330 K Bytes

Return to beginning of Life on a Nike Site

A Group of people

Armies, companies, clubs, teams, political parties, ... are all about people. Even an automobile club is mostly about people who share an interest in some automobile(s).

A Nike "battery" is a group of people somewhat thrown together, whose purpose is presumably to be ready to fire Nike missiles at an appropriate time in an effective manner.

Most people are not cabbages, and even cabbages have good days (say rain or sun), troubles (say cabbage worms, drought), and bad days (their head is cut off and sent to market).

Here is a photo from James English of the folks of Nike Site SF-88. - Just north of San Francisco.
See - real people, not mindless robots as represented by my "liberal" friends.

"1956 Chain of Command Capt. Henry Paine,Commanding Officer, 1st Lt. G. Milligan Launcher Platoon Leader, 2nd Lt. E.Gross Launcher Platoon, 1st Lt. L. McCabe Executive Officer , 2nd Lt. J. Erlach, IFC Platoon Leader. CWO P.Bonan, Missile Officer.CWO L. Chandler IFC Warrant. M/SGT J. Johnson First Sergeant. I have a group picture of all 91 people assigned to A Battery in 1956."

Note that the picture even includes a "CPL Blackie", who looks like a dog ;-))

as sent, (176 KBytes)
image enlarged x2 to see the real people
(287 KBytes)

Here is an Army Autobiography by Recruit William J Auell, RA13303902 reporting Sir!

Return to beginning of Life on a Nike Site

Care and Feeding of the People

A military organization is mostly about people. If the people are not housed, fed, clothed, motivated, and trained, then all of the fancy equipment they might have is under served, or even useless. Just ask Sadam Hussan about this problem. In the First Gulf War, his people got pounded by bombs very heavily, supply trucks didn't come and they got very hungry and thirsty, communications were cut and they felt isolated and out of touch, and did not perform up to any body's expectations.

Written in 2010. I've been running this Nike web site for about 14 years - and had completely forgotten "Race Relations" in the Army until this story popped up in 2010. As far as I could tell (I'm white), the U.S. Army was very well "integrated" as far as race was concerned. The southern guys at the time just had to ride with the tide. Race seemed a non-issue, no quotas, no parallel ladders, ... If you did your job, kept your nose clean, seemed promotable (you know, get along, show a little enthusiasm, learn a little, ...), you had just as much chance at promotion as the next guy.

The people in the Nike program lived (primarily) in barracks in the administrative area. Individuals with families in the adjacent city could live with their families. The barracks were warm but nothing to brag about. The lower ranks (me) slept in large rooms, about 20 to the room. Your private stuff (would you believe a calculus book?) could be kept in you foot locker at the foot of your cot. There was a vertical locker for hanging clothing. Higher non-coms sometimes had shared or individual rooms. At our site, officers lived off-post, there was no BOQ (Bachelor Officer Quarters).

Thomas Zangla sent this photo of an enlisted barracks.
....all ready for inspection. It seemed like we were always having some sort of inspection. One night one of the guys phoned home and told his wife he had to stay for a GI party. She said she wanted to come to the party and did. Boy was she mad when she found out what a GI party really
Look! Curtains !! Thomas! your pulling my leg! We certainly did not have lovely curtains like that! What army were you in anyway?

Each soldier got one vertical locker, one foot locker (not shown), and a bed. About 20 people would sleep one a large room like this. Of course folks were coming in late from ..., leaving early for K.P or other duties, not all that restful. The bed isn't that great, but if your dog tired, who cares. I don't remember any big bay windows.

Leroy Lewis sent the following images - with the comment "Check out the footlocker and the fake badger hair shaving brush."
Ken Fraser said "At ORC [launched targets for Red Canyon] personal inspections were easy. The night before some of us just carried out our surplus personal junk and hid it behind a boonie. We didn't have many inspections because they were a terrible waste of valuable off time. The NCOs hated them too."
From Ed Thelen - most guys left the top drawer alone, never touched the stuff. Gluing items down was considered cheating - inspectors sometimes touched things to make sure they could move ;-))

The launcher guys did not have sleeping facilities in the launching area. When one of the many alerts were called, about half of them would get rousted out of bed and head for the nearby launcher area. You know, undisturbed sleep is a precious quantity in the army. Some how I don't remember ever "sleeping in" and relaxing. Some damn one or thing is always disturbing you. I guess that is what leave time is for.

I preferred to live at the IFC "ready room" (eating C rations yet) until forced to come back to the administration area to shower and swap laundry. Fewer people and things to disturb you. I even set up another electronics hobby shop in the IFC "ready room".

Bob Murray sent these images of B-05, Danvers, Massachusetts 1961. I presume this was a Saturday morning formation. I succeeded in avoiding about 95% of such :-)) It ain't that I'm against the military, I just detest this form of activity that seems universal in the world. Like high school education, "there just gotta be a better way."

Our Location
Our site was in a Chicago City Park (at 63rd and Outer Drive). All areas were fenced off with serious 8 foot cyclone style fences. (No traces of the site remain - filled in - flattened - re-planted - Gone!) The barracks and other buildings were pale green (to fit the park decor?) There was a guard "shack" at the main gate, occupied to keep the casuals (and sometimes the police) out. We had an orderly room, with offices for the captain and 1st sergeant. There was even a clerk that resembled the clerk "Radar" in MASH. There was a mess hall, complete with cooks (and I haven't the foggiest recollection of who did "KP").

Mess hall food was really not bad, and there was plenty of it. We got more food because we were on combat duty (yes, duty on a Nike site was considered "combat" - if the Russians came - we were on the line - even in Chicago). Seemed to get rabbit a lot, not bad, just that once a week was plenty. Only complaint was their sloppy preparation of Jell-O yielded shoe leather on the bottom and Kool Aid on top.

I had gotten very hungry in basic training - whether it was that the cooks were stealing too much food (we saw some strange things), or that army rations were normally tight, I cannot say. (Learned to steal "C Rations", acquired a taste for them.) (And many of us spent most of our money eating ice cream at the PX)

NEW FOOD DISCOVERED - from JP Moore Aug 07, 2016
I am probably the last person on earth to finally eat Maruchan Ramen Noodles, chicken flavored. Know what? I really like them. So does Loraine. I used 2 packages, total cost 40 cents. That made 4 big bowls of soup, 1 for Loraine, 2 for me and the rest for Pepper, the dog.

Man, would I have loved to have these packages of noodles at Red Canyon Range Camp in the 50's. We were always hungry, no money, 15 miles to nearest store over a huge lava bed. Ramen Noodles would have been a real lifesaver for us GIs starving out there in the New Mexico desert.


Sick Call

From Bill Evans
Subject: sick call
Hey Ed:

Here's a response Bud Halsey wrote today re my question about what was done about sick call at the sites.

Another 'human interest' thing that I was trying to recall is what did we do about sick call? I do remember going to a _dentist_ at an Army facility (an annex of Walter Reed, at Forest Glen, which is a very bizarre place, so I distinctly recall it). And someone must have driven me there, since I had no car at the time. But I have no recollection of going to any medical facility. Maybe I never got sick.

If your unit was typical, there was a "sick call" formation daily. Since individual batteries do not have medical personnel assigned, most likely those attending "sick call" were transported by administrative vehicle (a sedan or carry-all--usually civilian style but painted olive drab) to battalion headquarters. The Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, by TO&E (Table of Organization and Equipment), did have a medical section assigned. Units, far from established military installations with hospitals, often had a medical augmentation team consisting of a doctor and/or additional "physicians' assistants" (then called aidmen or corpsmen) who could administer medical care. So, your dental experience was typical. Since your site was near an Army Medical Center, you were probably screened at battalion headquarters and then transported to the dental facility at Forest Glen (I agree with your assessment of Forest Glen--a collection of bizarre and eclectic military buildings left over from some Victorian nightmare).

Had you been "sick" at your site, you would have probably attended "sick call" at your site, then been transported to battalion headquarters for their "sick call"--held by either enlisted aidmen or a doctor if your unit was augmented. Those things beyond the ability of your battalion medical section to handle would be treated at the nearest military medical facility (or civilian hospital if you were in a really remote area) where you would be sent.


The Launcher Area was adjacent to the administrative area, but basically off limits to IFC personnel. One fine day I decided to pay a visit. And was ordered by Sergeant Lubsdorf to start pulling grass! After further discussions with the 1st sergeant I spent a morning pulling weeds in the launcher area. So we kept the launcher area people out of the IFC area. Nice.

"They" (the launcher people) said we squatted to pee,
and we (the IFC people) didn't regard them as quite human (with exceptions).

Joe Williams says:

Interesting. I have the converse story. While at B 5/6 launch area, I hitched a ride on the mess truck so that I could see the IFC area. They wouldn't let me in. I then spent 2 years at 5/6 BOC fifty yards from C 5/6 Hipar van, but I never got to step inside.


Captain Hill - a large fatherly figure, we judged him somewhat brighter than his boxer dog, a great deal more savvy than the media stereotype.

First Sergeant Miller - again a large fatherly figure, surprisingly alert to people situations and interactions. Would put the usual marriage councilor or psychologist to shame. Very good at when to speak loudly, speak softly, and when to shut up. Don't bet against him any situation.

Sergeant Lubsdorf - reputed to have local underworld contacts. Two of our more playful black guys irritated the Chicago Police too much. Their hobby was finding police sleeping in a police car near our site, pound on the car with their fists - waking the officers, and run like hell for the front gate, and into the protection of the army. They got picked off the street by apparent plain clothed police, and disappeared from the face of the earth. Lubsdorf's contacts found them, 12 hours later, 30 miles away in a small police station, laying on a jail cell floor, somewhat bruised. The sergeant was later transferred under a cloud of missing army equipment.

Cpl. Lopresti - IFC maintenance & chief scrounge, a treasure. He was 5'5", we called him "Low Butt".

Warrant Officer Langemak - seemed rather academically inclined, was making the Army a career, 12 year man, did not like the Nike experience and resigned. Later got to be a big wheel in Germany for Hughes. Thanks for the tour of the various embassy bars in Bonn, Germany years later!

There are more stories in Nike Stories.
And life on site C-48 from its last commanding officer.

Return to beginning of Life on a Nike Site

Care and Feeding of the Equipment

This equipment was (and still is) very high tech and also required much daily, weekly, and other periodic checking and service.

The Missiles and Launching Equipment
The Ajax missiles had very dangerous propellants that had to be checked, and serviced on a regular basis. There was quite complex electrical check out equipment to check the missile electrical, guidance, hydraulic, propulsive and launching equipment.

The IFC (Integrated Fire Control) Area
The three (or more later) radars, the multitude of CRT displays, mercury vapor rectifier regulated power supplies, the hundreds of tubes in the computer, the plotting boards, ink for plotting board pens, timings, pulse widths, voltage balances, switches, relays, cables, ... forever.

Support from outside the battery, higher level
There was technical support from outside the battery, such as supplies and parts. Also were experts who could come to the site for severe problems, and or take defective equipment back to "Ordnance" for repair.
This is a letter which Linda Klais didn't want to just throw out :-))

A problem common to both areas was the storage of gasoline, for electric generators, heaters, trucks, ...
OH - Gasoline storage!! - and gasoline storage tanks!! -

In Chicago we had some above your head storage tanks,
     like the farmers use - 
Due to temperature changes - and air expansion and contraction,
    there were vents to let air in and out to prevent the tanks
    from presurizing and collapsing.
The air had moisture, which would condense inside the tanks
       as dew as things got colder each evening.
The dew would drip and fall into the gasoline and sink to the bottom,
     where the output hose was.
So - in freezing weather, the hose was full of ice,
         and you did not get gasoline
   - if the weather was not freezing, the first few quarts
         from the tank as water.
Good maintenance, not perfect, was to drain a little water/gasoline from
     each tank every morning - throw out the water, recycle the gasoline.

Return to beginning of Life on a Nike Site

Continuing Training

(Speaking of the early years - 1955) Usually in the form of Alerts tracking anything flying.

Later there were specialized Training Trailers (T-1) that could simulate real combat situations including jamming and groups of aircraft.

Also, once a year, the site would go off of ready status and many of the people would be flown to Red Canyon, New Mexico to actually launch three missiles. This was called ASP (Annual Service Practice). (The name was later changed to "SNAP" - Short Notice Annual Practice - I think.)

I am told that later Hercules re-fire launchings were from "McGreger Missile Range" due to the limited size of Red Canyon and the longer range of the Hercules. A jet target drone was developed for higher speed and higher altitude. The T-1 training system could also simulate targets and was sometimes used to simulate a target for actual launches.

The people for the re-fire were generally selected as follows:
- most commissioned and warrant officers
- all technical maintenance people
- one shift of radar operators
- one launcher section

(Nike missiles were never test fired from defensive sites in the "lower 48". The threat of the falling booster and other missile parts into civilian areas was considered excessive. People that served in Alaska report firing from Site Summit up there.)

The planes were chartered from ??Hell??
The planes were the most:

  • rickety, propeller driven
  • broom cleaned, once a month?
  • vomit smelling, stained floor carpet
  • oil leaking, that black streak going back from the right hand engine didn't seem to be paint ;-))
  • usage scared, the inside looked scratched, dinged, dented from too many ski specials
  • drunk crewed, we figured the bulge in the steward's jacket was a pint, the very model of a whiskey nose -
aircraft you ever had in a night mare. Like a kid's Saturday morning cartoon
OK - it did have seats -

At Red Canyon there were Nike sites all set up and ready to go - except the equipment and missiles were wildly miss adjusted. The troops were to bring the equipment and missiles up to operational specification, and fire three missiles at a little radio controlled drone airplane.

See newspaper article Log of Activity Shows Tense Air at Practice at Doyle Piland's web site.

In any case, those drone aircraft had a very low probability of a safe flight. The Nike system really worked better than one could reasonably expect of a complex mix of people, complex electronics, and well proven chemistry.

A fuzzy 11 K byte photo of an RCAT target drone, no photo credit to protect the guilty. The wing pods (look like drop tanks) are radar reflectors to present a larger "radar cross-section". More and better pictures and stories at Ken's & Friend's RCAT Korner and Camp Wellfleet - RCATS

From Evans, Frank H.
"USARADCOM eventually switched from ASP to SNAP - Short Notice Annual Service Practice. Units arriving at Bliss billeted their until a site became vacant, then they moved to the range. Maintenance crews receipted for several missile, generally 2 Ajax and one Herc missile, assembled them then the crew prepared to fire them. Range control would alert the site upon launch of a down range radio controlled aerial target (RCAT). Two types - one prop driven - another ram jet engine.

"Several times we used air force planes as targets. The Site would slip the TTR azimuth pot 1600 mils, so the target flew south to north over the shoulder and appeared on the system as being on course from north to south. A few time the azimuth pot got slipped twice so the system saw it as it was and the missile was fired at the air force plane. Biggs [Air Force Base] stopped that very fast. One time such was the case and the battery control officer activated the BURST OVERRIDE switch and the missile passed the aircraft - ran out of fuel and landed in Mexico."

Return to beginning of Life on a Nike Site

Proficiency Inspections

I do not include barracks and shoe shine inspection as "Proficiency Inspections". Being a low on spit and polish nerd, I avoided most all non-technical inspections by simply staying in the IFC doing "important things" during the usual Saturday morning ordeals.

When I was in Chicago in 1955, Proficiency Inspections of the IFC were pretty much a joke. Occasionally some clueless guy would come by to see if some non-technical item (like the van air filters) were REALLY clean, like sparkling. Or the generator records were properly filled out.

In Chicago in 1955, there were no tests of operator proficiency or of technical (equipment and adjustments) proficiency other than annual refire, which was not sufficient. For annual refire, the battery took its technical staff and best operators, and fired at an easy target with no jamming.

In 1956, a Col. Kramer came to the area, and got very concerned about Proficiency. However, it takes time to collect/train knowledgeable motivated people and establish procedures to perform inspections that would meaningfully test Proficiency. (What I meant about Col. Kramer being "Concerned" was that he "rattled some cages" really hard. He caused other folks to get REALLY concerned.)

A little story

In 1956, there was a rumor in our battery that a "full bird" Col. Kramer was the new boss of our area of Chicago defense, and that he was really tough.

Well, I figured that our officers had something to worry about - but the net effect on nerds like me would be minimal - I figured we IFC mechanics were as good as any :-)) and that we kept our equipment in top shape !!

About a week later there was word that Col. Kramer was on his way to our IFC. We of course made a mad dash to pick up, and I headed for the Radar Control van to stay out of harm's way - and being a nerd, I also didn't want to cause any trouble.
Heck - even the battery commander hardly ever went into the Radar Control van.

In hardly any time at all, Col. Kramer was in "my" Radar Control van with the IFC platoon leader, 2nd Lt. O... , who had recently graduated from Ranger School (a rather elite physical combat facility.) Sorry - I must introduce 2nd Lt. O... He was a pleasant short rosy faced look-alike to Audy Murphy, a WWII combat hero, and briefly movie actor.

2nd Lt. O... had undoubted physical courage, had considerable personal charm - but was lacking in a certain military bearing and also lacking in interest in the technical aspects of radar, operator training, and other vital working aspects of the IFC area. A really nice guy - but his mind was elsewhere - somewhere - maybe parachuting from airplanes, blowing bridges, ....

In any case, 2nd Lt. O... was being asked by Col. Kramer to verify some of the adjustments in the radar receiver and range cabinet for the Missile Tracking Radar and the Target Tracking Radar - a horrible mass of IF strips, test sets, range servos, and other chassis - easily the most challenging looking volume in the Nike site. It had several dozen frequent tests and adjustments for each radar.

I don't think 2nd Lt. O... had ever intentionally peered into that or any technical space. And it was evident that Col. Kramer had at least the names and general functions of the various chassis well in hand. And Col. Kramer was *very* unhappy that an IFC officer could not verify that the tracking radar equipment was properly adjusted and working correctly.

I was partially hidden behind one of the doors of the cabinet (in the TTR elevation operator's chair) - trying to be very small and quiet - like a mouse sensing great danger, the cat.

The discussion quickly turned into a heated chewing out of Lt. O... by a loud, sharp, aware, probing, highly irritated Col. Kramer. In my twenty three years I had heard various levels of "reaming" but this was off the charts - memorable to this day.

In my now 80 years (2012) of "interesting" life experiences, it still rings the bell for the most probing, intimidating, life and career threatening reaming I have ever heard !!
That reaming far outclassed any mere in-your-face shouting of the TV/movie drill instructors.

Lt. O...'s goals in life, his hoped for military career, his relations with people, his responsibilities for the safety of Chicago and his family, his suitability for adult life, his childhood, his future manhood, ... all came in for harsh analysis.

The reaming moved away from me, and I opened a port hole in the van, crawled out of it, and fled, not wishing to see a grown man sob.

For a few weeks, Lt. O... asked for our help in his learning the verification the equipment in the IFC area - but the interest on both sides soon faded. About a month later I heard that Lt. O... was asked by Col. Kramer to help with a technical inspection of another Nike site.

We never saw Lt. O... again. We guessed that Lt. O... had failed to impress Col. Kramer with the expected new knowledge. There weren't even rumors of where Lt. O... went. He was just gone - pooof -

For a different view point, please see Technical Officers - Air Force

I left at the end of 1956 before anything really useful was accomplished. I did wish the good (bad ;-) Colonel well - he had a lot of comfortable inertia to shake up.

In general I was disappointed in the demonstration of technical knowledge by our IFC officers. They had no clue if we were ready to guide a missile to a target on not. To the best of my failing memory, none of them had any clue of how to verify:

  1. whether the tracking antennas were correctly leveled, or its importance
  2. whether the tracking antennas were bore sighted, and/or backsighted
  3. the general function of major sub-assemblies in the radar control van
  4. or even the specifics of tracking a target
  5. how to run any computer checks - (most 10 year olds could master them in 10 minutes)
They were completely dependent on the good will of others (us) about the readiness of the IFC equipment.
I have no clue about our launcher area, but suspect the worst-
I can imagine their idea of our proficiency and effectiveness was the polish of our shoes and ability B.S.
They would sit in the Battery Control chair and see if they could see aircraft - period -

HOWEVER - eventually "Proficiency Inspections" were established - with a vengeance. As William E. "Bud" Hall (Las Cruses, NM, phone 505-522-6567, former Nike battery commander, former Operational Readiness Evaluation inspector) says
"Never have so few, been inspected so much, by so many." There were an average of 2 inspections a week, not including alerts.

Apparently (after my time of service) there were

as well as the annual refires, which do not include the other non-technical inspections so dear to keeping the soldier looking good.

When I first started this web site (1996?), a Jack Emry sent me some images of himself doing technical inspections of Nike sites. I took one look and saw the ever present clipboard. Anger flooded through me remembering all the incompetent clueless nobodies that inspected us, carrying clipboards. I refused to post an image of anyone carrying a clipboard :-((
Evidently later, trained caring people, like apparently Jack Emry, carried on much more meaningful tests and inspections.
I am unable to find Jack Emry, (he was a marine in WWII) to apologize. :-|

From Ted Willes
Just for the record, I wasn't exactly "visiting" when I went to other sites. While at Group HQ I was on the Operational Readiness Inspection Team, so I got to see all the sites in the SF Defense.

They were not usually happy to have us stop by, however. It was often late at night and 15 minutes after we cleared the gate, there had better be a missile ready and a target tracked light. "

... We usually traveled by vehicle (sedan if we were lucky, van if we weren't). Sometimes we could hitch a ride with the old man in his chopper if he was going to visit the site. General Lolli liked to go on the ORI's every so often. He was qualified as a BCO and had fired missiles at the range.

And there were stories that if a battery commander was considered marginal, and his battery failed an ORE, that he left the battery with the inspectors, never to return. In modern jargon, there was a "high pucker factor".

If you have more information on Nike oriented inspections please let me know.

Return to beginning of Life on a Nike Site


Chicago is a big city, with a lot of everything to offer. Military people don't make big wages, (some qualify for welfare) - so some of the things seemed a bit pricey.

The bars seemed to get the usual amount of business. Some troops had some learning to do about alcohol. How much red wine would make you sick? again? There were interesting stories from the bars. Information that we thought was confidential or secret seemed to be freely available. The current missile tracking radar pulse pair spacing was not exactly secret - but how did they know? They knew the operating limits (range, speed, ..) of the equipment - they were not asking, they were bragging! They knew when we were going to change IFF codes - and what they would be - hell - even we did not know that stuff. A bit scary!

I started an electronics hobby shop in an unused room in the barracks. Several of us had a good time there. We would go up the Navy's Great Lakes Training center and get navy surplus electronics. Built to withstand heavy shock, heavy weather, and heavy hands! Made our army boxes and switches seem wimpy. Cpl. Lopresti found an old bowling alley lane, which when cut up made great work benches when set on top of desks or short cabinets. I constructed a Heathkit 5 inch oscilloscope. :-))

We even modified and installed an ex-Navy squawk-box system throughout the administration area. (You know, the "NOW HEAR THIS" equipment.) We added a noise generator that sounded a little like a car alarm intended to quickly wake sleeping soldiers. It turned out to be very useful (and disliked) for waking launcher folk up for alerts. (IFC folks stayed at the IFC area for their duty shift.) That squawk-box system survived sabotage, tall trucks snagging its low hanging wires, ... until one night a lightning strike hit our area. Inter-building communication wires evaporated, and the hub squawk-box in the orderly room arced and smoked, The administration decided the risk was not worth the convenience. :-((

And there were excitements in the big city of Chicago. Military people, not much pay, usually went to modest bars, pizza places were a treat, etc.
HOWEVER, I knew a guy who knew a guy, and I went as a guest to Hugh Hefner's rather new Playboy Club. Indeed it was something else !! The bunnies, pictures, and environment were indeed factual. - but as they say, considerably above my pay (and sophistication) scale -

A few months before my enlistment was up, we got a new executive officer. He seemed morose, and did not seem to like to see people smile or relax. We were advised that there would be a serious inspection, and that this time the electronics hobby shop would not be exempt! We cleaned up quite well, put everything "away", polished the window inside and out. I did the final check and final sweep.

During the inspection, a cigarette butt was found in the middle of the floor.

Protests that the cigarette butt wasn't there when we left, and that none of us smoked, were to no avail. I was confined to the site for the weekend.

I may not be very smart - but I ain't usually stupid. By the next weekend the former electronics hobby shop was bare - no trace of the former usage; all the materials including work benches, wall lockers, ... gone from army inspection and control. I did not even ask for permission. I just rented a U-HAUL trailer and did some serious moving. (Interestingly, no one asked any questions. Looking back, I must have violated 15 or 20 federal laws about misappropriation of government (mostly ex-Navy) material. )

Some troops wanted more money and loaded trucks in western Chicago. About 30 % of the launcher people got involved with that. There was considerable duty shuffling and job swapping to keep that going in the face of alerts, leaves, and off-site training.

I made and figured a 6" Newtonian telescope at the IFC area. Toured most of the cities museums. Some went to various classical and other musical concerts. Oh, yes, girls. They had to be a bit tolerant of low budget troops working erratic hours. (I don't remember anyone having any big romance going.)

Available Education
Formal (civilian) Correspondence Education (added 2021)
I forgot to mention that the military sponsored continuing education. I had quit college after a spotty carrier. (I didn't know what I wanted to be.)
    While on site I took integral calculus again after not understanding liberal arts (not engineering) calculus in college. I was sent an army manual type calculus book, and a series of exercises. I diligently studied the book and mailed in the exercises to be graded. (I really did not expect much.) To my surprise, the grader(s) did a good job of correcting and commenting. I completed the course, and to my surprise, I understood the material :--))

Formal MOS Education
Dennis Claudio sent this 16B-MOS-Study-Guide-1974 which strongly encouraged launcher folks with MOS 16B to keep their knowledge sharp.
I left the Army in 1957, seemingly well before this program.
Not directly related, Dennis also sent this blank accident report.

Leave schedules - interesting. The nominal Christians (or those with nominally Christian families) wanted the Christmas holidays off. The nominal Jews had other days. The nominal agnostics ... In any case, there was a lot of casual negotiation, and everybody seemed satisfied with the results.

From Bill Evans
Subject: tennis
Hey, Ed:

I placed a question on the SF88 guestbook about what I thought were tennis courts, as you might have seen. Here's Bud Halsey's reply, in case it might be of interest:



As a matter of policy, the Army tried to provide recreation facilities at remote sites to include most Nike IFC and launching area sites. They developed a "multi-purpose" "athletic court" that was installed at many Nike sites nationwide. Many of the maps I have of admin areas, launching areas and IFC sites from all over the United States show an "athletic court" on the site plan. These were used as basketball courts, volleyball courts, drill fields or even tennis courts.

They generally are asphalt pads with different courts (basketball, volleyball or tennis courts) painted on them. Some are fenced in and some have backstops, but generally all can be found at a site distant from a post gym. So, it looks like the Army built the one you asked about, but perhaps someone else, in later years, has made a permanent tennis court out of it.

Ah, Yes, the recreational fund !! There were persistent rumors that one existed, but when guys asked about it - like for soft ball equipment, it was always empty. I don't think the officers ran off with it - maybe it went for lawn mowers and other more important items?

Return to beginning of Life on a Nike Site


Many Nike people were stationed near population centers. The selection of areas to be defended by Nike missile often involved population centers, industrial centers, and government centers. The site people had a reasonable chance to participate in ordinary "civilization" - see baseball games, chase girls, maybe even drive to see family/girlfriend a thousand miles away on a three day pass (not recommended).

Some defended SAC (Strategic Air Command) bases, which were often in rather remote areas - rural Maine, rural Texas, ... where the "advantages" of city life were more remote. Korea and Okinawa were a bit on the remote, foreign side.

Dale Hall Jan 2006, re: Site H-06 - Saddle Mountain, Washington

We single guys would stay on site for 30-40 days at a stretch, because we were so far from civilization, and the old man would finally take pity on us and give us a 4-day pass, an unheard of thing in the army.

Comment by Ed Thelen - 4 day pass - Outstanding idea! As part of the 3 day pass system guys would try to drive say 1,000 miles home to party and then try to drive back - sometimes with tragic consequences. When I was there we had to sign a form saying we wouldn't drive more than ?300? miles away on a 3 day pass - and just how do you enforce that? Yeah - you guessed it - my parents and sortof girl friend were 400 miles away. - Maybe if you were killed on the way back you wouldn't get a three day pass for a while.

But the stories of Greenland are truly different. Unless you were into serious alcohol or serious reading or serious cards, I have no idea what the folks did except work and sleep. (A bit like a submarine?)

Gene McManus
from Gene McManus
Taken in May 1961 on one of our _many_ hikes around the area. Still cold at this time, temp this time of year is maybe +20 on a good day.

Work Schedule

A description from Davis Watkins February 12, 2011
Our barracks, mess hall and offices were by the fire control area and that is where we lived full time. I think once a month or maybe every three weeks you were the “Hot” Battery and all crew members had to stay on site even the ones who lived off base.

We had two complete crews and we would swap off every 24 hours when you were not the hot crew you could go off base then the next day you had to stay and the other crew could leave. I ended up being the fire control crew chief I think the name was. I was the 5th member of the tracking crew and the one who lead the pre-fire checks and ran the anti-anti-jamming.

Hi Bill and Ed,

I'm curious what the daily routine was at operational (not RCRC or Board #4) Nike sites. Did you have an 8 to 5 day normally? What did you do with spare time (I whitewashed rocks)? Was it terribly boring with moments of sheer panic? Could you play with the radar, tracking aircraft, birds, etc? Or was it all war games and equipment checkout/maintenance?
My biggest surprise came when I got out of Army and joined SAC. It basically was an 8 hour a day job, 5 days a week. Of course, there were some monumental exceptions to that!!! ;<))
What do you guys remember of those good ole days?
Thanks for the memories,

and back from Bill-

>>You have asked my old rusted over memory banks to draw into their archives :-)

I lived off-post and got to the site about 5AM every other day and left approximately the same time in the morning when the only other EM tech replaced me. Many times we had to stay extra time to help each other out when things got a little hairy trying to get the site back in action.

Daily routine was to oversee the operational daily and weekly checks and correct any problems. Between 2 computers,6 radars,2 inter-area radios and IFF there was always something not quite right. Monthlys were more involved and required us being bodily present most of the time. Some of the more involved checks we had to do.

Other duties were being involved with the tritium monitoring team which didn't take up too much time. Because of being a SP6 and living off-post many times I had to come in on my off time before a big inspection and oversee the cleaning of the barracks etc. (hated that one)

When I had to be there and we weren't "hot" I was the NCO club bartender at night . We had two neat small 8X20 house trailers the original BC had "scrounged" for us and we turned into a nice place to have clambakes etc.

Many times since I was one of the biggest "scroungers" in the outfit,in my spare time I would grab somebody and head across the bay to one of 3 Navy bases (Quonset, Newport and (?))for "supplies". Quonset was a Naval Air base and had the darnedest junkyard you ever saw. Always hit there around lunch time on a Friday 'cuz they had 3 kinds of meat and 2 kinds of fish in the mess. Shrimp all you could eat... the Navy always had the best!

I used to tinker with the radars quite a bit on my spare time trying to get that last bit of "meter peak" out of them. Ya, I know "if it ain't broke don't fix it" but there was usually a big difference between just making it and max. Hey, they were MY babies :-)

Sometimes made trips to the other side of Providence, RI to the support shop for parts. These guys would bend over backwards to help in case we were short on something. Got along real good with them as they were our "backup" in case of something major.

Also in a corner of the ready room up on the "hill" I had set up a small ham radio station. Being on one of the highest points of RI was a big advantage. This was a great way to eat up spare time.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis everybody had to move on post for the duration. Even brought in our own personal weapons. (them carbines we were issued were worthless :-) I swear I could hear the slug rattling down the barrel when we used to take them out for familiarization practice.) Then our spare time was eaten up mostly by either being on the hill or being in charge of a patrol walking the fenceline. Surprised nobody got shot as some local kids got together and were tossing firecrackers over the fence. We also set up lighting around the perimeter. I had a big fight with the platoon leader about that one. He wanted to set up the light INSIDE the fence only. I made damn sure the outside of the fence was lit also. The outside was mostly all wooded and that's where these kids were hiding. That's all we would have needed for some local teenager to be shot!

My spare time during the setup of all the HIPAR equipment was taken up helping install it. Both the other tech and myself were "hired" on the side to help. Best way to learn ...from the ground up :-) Almost all done and somebody blew us in and that was the end of that. I guess they were supposed to hire only union help.

We also used up our spare time going down to the beach just below us on Narraganset Bay that was owned by Brown University. Fishing right there for flat fish (small flounder) and tautog(?)was great when the tide was either coming in or going out. Also dug quohogs (clams) in the sand when the tide went out. One day another guy and myself were fishing near there and the tide came in and darn near left us out on a sand bar. Knee deep in water getting back!!

Off time was a bit iffy at times 'cuz I would get off at 5AM and just get home and to bed and the phone would ring and it would be the site calling to get me back(along with others who lived off post)for a mandatory character guidance class or some other similar stupid class. (hated this also!) Lotta times just got home (which by the way had to be within 15 minutes from site)and the phone would ring and I was needed back to help the other tech troubleshoot and the site had gone out of action. The other tech or myself had the power of the old man when it came to calling the site out. Biggest problem sometimes was it would take 5 minutes to fix but 2 hours to find, especially if we had to "steal" parts from one section of a radar/computer to try in another.

We weren't supposed to unsolder and change any components in the chassis other than tubes but I remember doing it on a number of occasions that the chassis wasn't available either in our spares or at support and the site was out of action. Battalion HQ was constantly on our backs once the site was called out. they would call up just about every 20 minutes wondering when we were coming back in. Pain in the butt when we were up on an antenna in the winter and the switchboard op has to run out and get us every 20 min. We had a telephone out there but couldn't hear much on it with the wind blowing.

The local towns had alot of clubs (German, Italian and Portuguese). We used to hit them all to play pool BUT it was no place to get in a fight. These guys had arms as big as a horse. All day long these guys were out in a small boat in the bay digging quohogs off the bay bottom with a long handled rake.

We had a one IFC warrant that was supposed to be IFC maint trained but he was a worthless tit. (this guy was nearly shot a number of times pulling OD) The other one we had later on was CWO4 Thomas Schultz and this guy was the greatest. Would roll up his sleeves and get right into it. He knew Nike inside and out. And how to handle people who worked for him.

Thankfully being a tech we got out of alot of details involving site beautification etc. Us techs were the "fair haired boys" of the site much to the dismay of the platoon leader at times.

Well that's about all I can remember of the duties and spare times. We had 6 techs when the site was first built in '56 but as time went on and the site changed from Ajax to Herc then to Improved Herc with all the goodies our EM tech compliment had dwindled to two. All the others got transferred to Ft Churchill(Manitoba),Thule and other places. Nothing like a critical MOS!


From Masters, Ronald

I spent three years on a Nike Hercules site and it was never a 9-5 job. There were two crews and we worked 24 ON and 24 OFF 365 days a year. To be blunt, that sucked!. As far as week-ends off that never happened so I really have doubts the Pete was on a Nike Herc site.

Return to beginning of Life on a Nike Site


Yes, we in Chicago got civilian visitors -

Mike Albaugh visited Fort Cronkhite) a San Francisco site. with a cub-scout troop. "In January of 1958 I would have been 8 years old, in the Third Grade (Mrs. O'Brien, if I recall correctly, or possibly Mrs. Standring). I got the impression that these visits were not uncommon. After all, they had the certificates. I don't believe they erected a missile for us, but they may have done so sometimes. We did see the places that looked a lot like freight-elevators, but in the middle of a grassy area, not a sidewalk. Also, I recall the guy who demonstrated the backup generator making a joke about an "Ether Egg" (the gelatin-capsule full of ether that they popped into a funnel-like tube at the air intake, like a shot of starter-fluid)." Mike's certificate

Custodial Team

Nuclear warheads at Nike sites manned by other than U.S. Army troops were controlled by U.S. Army Custodial Teams.
Dear Ed,
I was on a "custodial team" as a federal official. According to the laws of the United States, no one except the president can have control of nuclear weapons. When the National Guard was given control of certain Nike sites, they operated under the control of the various governors of the states; however, to follow the law, federal custodial teams were set up to control the issuance of authority to the field guard units. We had top secret "Q" clearances and we had access to the war codes and arming plugs. We oversaw the movement of the warheads and missiles on site and maintained a daily log of activities. When we received an alert or a simulation test we would go through the activity of our portion of the drill. We would receive the code, authenticate the validity with one of our team and simulate the release of the arm plugs to the National Guard personnel. Our team consisted of the following: 1-master sergeant, 1 first sergeant, 1 staff sergeant, and 3 spec - 5's. We had 1 person at the launch site at all times 24 hrs. / day and 1 person on call 1 hr. from site. We were led by a warrant officer. He had authority over 4 or 5 teams in our area. He operated out of Selfridge AFB at the Missile Master command post. We worked with the National Guard in an advisory role and served as a liaison between the U.S. Army and the National Guard. We kept up our skills as MOS 225's by observing and practicing with the guard personnel. This is basically what the custodial teams were set up to accomplish.

Harold Arbour

Technical Officers - Air Force

I have asked most of the officers who have listed on this web site to - I guess - show the world from their viewpoint - attempting to manage the troops and/or us techies. Few have responded, I haven't figured if it was from old pain, shyness, ...

But I was invited into an AirForce Radar blog,, and occasionally "lift" material from there.

It would seem that officers in the Nike world were supposed to be smart about everything, while officers in the Air Force world were on one of two tracks? command&control? and technical?

The Army, at that time, had two carrier paths for "enlisted" troops, (including draftees ;-))
- non-technical - Corporal, Sergeant
- technical - Specialist ( of different classes) -> Warrant Officer (grade W-1 to CW-5)

Sun, Mar 31, 2013

I read Chief Smith's comments with interest and there is much to learn there. My introduction to Radar Maintenance Officer duty was a little odd. I had had 4 years of AFROTC training to be commissioned as a 2Lt, but my education was as a Chemical Engineer. I had one class in AC/DC Circuits and Machines but it didn't cover much. I was supposed to have been sent through the 3041 course (51 weeks) at Keesler for training as a Ground Electronics Officer before being sent to an operational unit, but Hq, USAF goofed and within less than a month of my graduation/commissioning I was reporting in to the 689th AC&W Sq, Mt. Hebo AFS, Oregon to be the Radar Maintenance Officer. (I could barely spell RADAR.) Not only that, when I reported in there was already a fully-trained RMO on duty there and he wasn't scheduled for rotation for another year--I was an instant overage, and an untrained one, at that. Not only did I not know anything about radar, I had not had the other benefits of the Keesler experience: a security clearance, for one; and about a year's exposure to other officers and enlisted men, which would work off the "rough edges" and teach me how to be an effective part of the maintenance team and a unit.

My boss (the C&E Officer) was a senior Captain about to be RIFed and he was less than enthusiastic about suddenly being saddled with a brown-bar who didn't know squat and that he didn't have a job for. As it happened, there was a 3041 course beginning right when I reported in, but attempts to get me reassigned did not work. (We figured that I was supposed to have been sent to that course, THEN to Mt. Hebo to replace the existing RMO when it was time for him to rotate. Didn't happen.) The Captain's idea of OJT for me was to give me a list of all the AN-nomenclatured equipment on site with instructions to locate each piece, find out in general what it was for, and as much about how it did it as I could do without a security clearance (not much). As it happened, the 689th was transitioning to be a Radar Sq from a manual AC&W Sq, so the Burroughs Tech Reps were conducting a class on maintenance of the AN/FST-2B about to become operational at the site, and I was sent through the same training as the enlisted troops (including some hands-on work). I was assigned as the OIC of the T-2 section, leaving everything else under the existing RMO.

The Radar Maintenance section was greatly undermanned and had 3 radars (AN/MPS-11 search and 2 AN/FPS-6 height finders) plus about a dozen scopes and miscellaneous ancillary equipments to keep running--they didn't have much time to school me on matters radar. The RMO was single and lived off site; we were not particularly friendly and seldom talked. Fortunately (?), there were quite a few Operations NCOs who were able to spare some time to mold a new 2Lt into a more effective officer. As a result, when I became THE RMO later, I had an Operations view of radar expectations--I don't think that was a bad thing.

The transition to SAGE operations went smoothly and about a year into my career the site was scheduled to receive one of the new Frequency Diversity (FD) radars--an AN/FPS-24--and I was sent TDY to Eufaula AFS, Alabama to a school for Anti-Jam Officer on the -24 prototype. When I returned from the school, construction of the tower for it had begun and was completed about a year later. I was put in charge of the new radar, while the older RMO retained all the other equipment. Of course, since the -24 was not yet operational, most of the maintenance was being done by civilians and I didn't have a lot to do.

The only one of Chief Smith's rules I didn't follow exactly was his #5: I was single and lived on the hill in the BOQ. I was the only officer on-site for much of the time after the unit became SAGE--all the others lived in the housing area or down the hill. I was not a terribly social person and almost never left the hill (I did go to church in Tillamook and sang in the choir--that took me off the hill twice a week; I also sometimes went to Tillamook on Saturdays.) I was not cut out to be a hermit, though, and some evenings I walked down to the Operations area and chatted with the troops on duty there. I won't say this was "fraternization" because I didn't form any strong friendships and I never once entered the barracks unless performing a squadron duty there; I did have informal conversations, though. I don't think that any "contempt"; developed--I know that the gate guard always called down to say I was on the way, so apparently they were enough concerned about an officer entering that they wanted to have time to quit whatever nefarious activities were under way before I got there. Only once did I find anything amiss: one of my AN/FST-2B troops was asleep in the height-finder dark room one night. Nothing was broken, things were clean, and (presumably) he'd done his shift chores OK, but he was the duty technician and was not supposed to be asleep. I just left the area and went somewhere else for a while and then came back through--he was up, sweeping the floor (it didn't need it) and looking worried. The next morning I spoke to the T-2 NCOIC (a MSgt) about it and wondered what actions I should take. He just said "Don't worry about it, Lieutenant, I'll take care of it!" The next time I saw the kid in the room, he was ass and elbows in the cable troughs cleaning them out (and smiling). God bless NCOs! I don't know how officers would get by without them.

I have often wondered how my career would have been different if it had gotten a proper start. Perhaps I'd have been a more effective maintenance officer and maybe I'd have actually achieved something notable and gotten promoted to Major eventually. As it was, I spent 10 1/2 years as a Captain (had a Regular commission) and was eventually tossed out for failure of promotion. I have met other 3044 officers who had more successful careers and I can see areas where I was deficient. When I was canned, I did enlist (as a 511x1 COBOL Computer Programmer) for another 5 years to qualify for retirement (as a Captain). In that time I did go from an E-4 to an E-6, and really enjoyed my work. My bosses seemed happy with me--they were getting a person with a MSIE degree for half-price, after all. Although I suspect I'd have done better with a more conventional start to my career, I don't think I'd want to do it over. I am what I am and it was what it was, and I have to think it was what was supposed to be. I've had a couple of guys who worked for me tell me (years later) that I'd been a "good boss", and that's enough for me.

David E. Casteel, Captain, USAF (ret)

Small Military Unit with an Enlisted Commander - Air Force

from an AirForce Radar blog,
Re: Military Unit with an Enlisted Commander
Tue Sep 2, 2014 9:41 pm (PDT) . Posted by: ebetten418

I was an enlisted site chief at Richmond Heights, Fl from 1980-1984. It was part of the Joint Surveillance System (JSS). First of all, we were not called enlisted commanders, though our office symbol was the same as commanders (CC). The reason we were not called or referred to as commanders is because, by law, commanders administered judicial and non judicial punishment. Enlisted site chiefs, by law, could not, and therefore could not be called commanders.

As an enlisted site chief in the 23 Air Division headquartered at Ft Lee, VA, we had 3 people we reported to directly: The regional/air division commander (a one star general), the vice CC (a colonel), and a Lt Col who was the person who administered judicial and non judicial punishment. We also reported directly to the operational commander (a colonel) at Tyndall AFB, where our data was also channeled to. Some days, they all needed to speak to me about something.

There was no formal training for JSS site chiefs. It was all learned on the job, which was very challenging some times. Staff assistance teams came from the air division, but most of what was learned was self-learned.

I remember when BGen Paul Wagoner, the region/air division commander, first arrived at Ft. Lee from Iceland. He hadn't pinned on his star yet. All the site chiefs and commanders who were still at some of the sites preparing to leave everything in the hands of the newly appointed site chiefs, went to Ft. Lee to attend a commanders’ conference. That was the site chiefs first meeting with then Colonel Wagoner. He was given a briefing by his staff about the transition from commanders to enlisted site chiefs as head of the sites. I will never forget him asking if the sites under the enlisted site chiefs would be inspected. He was told that they would receive Management Effectiveness Inspections (MEI’s). The general looked very concerned at hearing that. We, the enlisted site chiefs, were concerned as well.

I had a total of 7 or 8 people assigned. Besides me, there was a civilian material management/supply technician, and the remainder were radar operators. All radar and radio maintenance was done by our onsite FAA people.

The site chief was the focal point for everything that happened on site. I had to maintain all the programs that a commander maintained at radar sites including civil engineering, administration, personnel, communications, budget, safety, facilities and self help programs, training, and material control, plus many more that I can’t think of now. The difference was that commanders had a staff to help him do that.

Since the one star came to visit now and then, many of his people came at other times (the general expected his people to be out helping us, but lots of them did the snow bird staff assistance visits where they dropped in for a short visit and then did their own thing). We also had a visit from the 2 star from ADCOM one year. When generals show up, others want to come along. They arrived at Homestead or Miami International. The site chief meets them all, arranges for their quartering, transportation, etc.

The bottom line is if something happened at the site, the site chief was the focal point and had to be well versed in what it was about. If he wasn't knowledgeable of something, he had to take the initiative and find out. “I don’t know” or “no one told me” were not acceptable answers.

When ADTAC/IG published their schedule announcing which JSS sites were going to be inspected that first year (1982, I believe), everyone was very nervous. Turned out that a lot of those MEI inspection results were marginal or worse. Some of the enlisted site chiefs were replaced while some put their retirement papers in. At other sites yet to be inspected, some site chiefs chose to put their papers in as well rather than deal with the inspections.

In early 1983, we were advised that the IG would be visiting Richmond Heights in October of that year. The IG team was comprised of three people headed by Lt Col Hershberger. One of the senior NCO’s on that team is a RSV member. I don’t remember his name, but we exchanged emails a couple of years ago.

Well, our inspection went well. According the team chief, it was the first time throughout the JSS system that the categories of leadership and management were rated OUTSTANDING. This was not something that I solely earned. All of our people contributed to this award. It was a team effort. We all deservedly earned the overall rating of EXCELLENT.

Being a JSS site chief was a 24/7 function. I did it for 4 years. I was burnt out too often and wanted to move on earlier, but BGen Wagoner called me one day and said he wanted me to stay and promised that he would bring me up to the air division as a follow on assignment. Well, I got an assignment to Mobile TACS in Germany instead. The general wasn't very happy, but the Air Force spoke. I went to Germany. I arrived at Richmond Heights as a Master Sergeant. I left as a Senior Master Sergeant.

Sorry for such a long posting.

Rich Bettencourt

Give and Take between Officers and Enlisted - Air Force

I was invited into an AirForce Radar blog,, and occasionally "lift" material from there. ;-))

"With All Due Respect"

Sun Dec 29, 2013 7:08 pm (PST) . Posted by: "Stan Brown" stoshb5

Air Force Attitude towards respecting the rank is somewhat different than our other American military institutions. We tend to hold stupidity regardless of rank in contempt. So you can be a 4-star general and still have your head handed to you by a smarter NCO, as long as you start the conversation with "all due respect".

This is one for those who have donned the uniform and can truly appreciate the significance . .

A US Air Force C-130 was scheduled to leave Thule Air Base, Greenland, at midnight during a winter month. During the pilot's pre-flight check, he discovers that the latrine holding tank is still full from the last flight. So a message is sent to the base and an airman who was off duty is called out to take care of it.

The young man finally gets to the air base and makes his way to the aircraft only to find that the latrine pump-truck has been left outdoors and is frozen solid, so he must find another one in the hangar, which takes even more time. He returns to the aircraft and is less than enthusiastic about what he has to do. Nevertheless, he goes about the pumping job deliberately and carefully (and slowly) so as not to risk criticism later.

As he's leaving the plane, the pilot stops him and says, "Son, your attitude and performance has caused this flight to be late and I'm going to personally see to it that you are not just reprimanded, but punished."

Shivering in the cold, his task finished, he takes a deep breath, stands tall and says, "Sir, with all due respect, I'm not your son; I'm an Airman in the United States Air Force. I've been in Thule, Greenland, for 11 months without any leave, and reindeer's asses are beginning to look pretty good to me. I have one stripe; it's 2:30 in the morning, the temperature is 40 degrees below zero, and my job here is to pump shit out of an aircraft."
"Now, just exactly what form of punishment did you have in mind?"

Return to beginning of Life on a Nike Site

If you have comments or suggestions, Send e-mail to Ed Thelen

Return to Home Goto Next Section
Return to beginning of Life on a Nike Site

Updated Feb, 2018