Do You Remember The Time ??

There many stories from the hill we just have to Get'Er Done

The Great Smoke-Out

All Nike sites were run at various levels of readiness, sites could be down for repairs or able to fire a missile on short notice. When on the highest level of alert status sites were visited by ORI teams (Operational Readiness Inspection) teams arrived unannounced usually via automobile but at some times remote sites they could arrive via helicopter. Our site was visited in the IFC area by a Warrant Officer who always was smoking very  large and putrid smelling green cigars. As the radar vans were fairly small and cramped only about 22 x 8 ft with a inside height of 6.5 ft the smell from these cigars rather lingered in the vans. After one of these rather unpleasant visits we vowed we would get even. We all got together when we thought the timing was right for the next visit. All had some form of  "Stogie" at the ready awaiting the next ORI Inspection. Sure enough in waltzes our favorite WO with his famous Green Stogie and yells the infamous "Blazing Sky's"  and things are off and running as things progress in the BC Van, Computer is up and running acquisition radar operators at the ready, things kind of slow down then we all "Light Up" was less than a minute and the WO blares out "Well got to go and see how things are going in the other van". He bombs out and over to the Tracking van only to be greeted by another cloud of smoke. After that no more large green cigars were seen during ORI'S at out site.

Interior Director  

Not sure how the rest of the service was treated but due to the remoteness Nike sites were visited by USO shows and we also had our own in house movies. Movies were shown on selected nights and the equipment when not in use was stored in a rather large cabinet in the day room. One day the powers at being had decided that the cabinet was looking rather shabby and required painting. Two of us were assigned to the task simply told paint it! Never give us such latitude you may not like the results. Well me and Eric Cleworth were assigned the task went out to the paint locker to get paint and brushes opened up the locker and we found a Gal of  "Genuine OD Paint"  it just had to be done. We painted the cabinet and put every thing away no one looked in on us till it was all over. Needless to say those in charge weren't  very with our color choice had to do it over. But we had fun doing it!!   RAB

Live Firing Story

We did have live fire ASP in Alaska. The batteries that belonged to the 2d Bn 562d Arty fired out of Bravo Btry which was out in the boondocks behind Eileson AFB. Alpha Btry's IFC and Admin Area looked down from Moose Creek Bluff at Eileson's runway just off the Richardson Highway.

... We did fire from "Bravo" Btry. Our unit fired a surface to surface HE round from there. Unfortunately, the section crew only put four screws on the HPU hatch the morning of the firing and when the round was fired, the hatch came off and the round would not take any dive commands. I remember the ASP board that was maintained at "Bravo". It wasn't long before they put up a Herc diving on an outhouse to signify "Alpha's" moonball shot. R Foy

Battle Short startup!

I remember one incident (of many) that happened to me. I was in the Acquisition trailer, making adjustments on the display for the lo-power acq. radar. The operator complained of something to do with the presentation or sweep time.. I arrived out at site, I'm thinking it was either Bravo or Delta battery (the furthest from Ft. Wainwright), very late one evening. I had the radar console pulled out onto the shelf, changed out the writing gun driver,  and was making adjustments. I was sitting on an operators chair with wheels. I was adjusting the -28V power supply through a plastic cover with a pocket screwdriver and pressing the "erase" button on the front panel at the same time with the other hand. Well, I got into contact with the blade of the screwdriver with my one hand and the metal around the erase button with the other hand. The next thing I remember, I was across the trailer thinking that I just got hit by lightening!! Wow, what a rush. While trying to recover from that wake up,  all hell broke loose. Sirens all over the place and people running into the IFC area. I never finished adjusting and replacing a console so fast! The battery had been called up to HOT status because of a Russian Flyover!! Around Fairbanks, we had at least one per week. That was an even bigger rush. I stepped back while the operators took over and it's the first time I saw a battery bring up the radars using the BATTLE SHORT startup! We in Ordnance rarely used it.  That bypassed the usual warm-ups, but I guess you would know that! Gee, makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up just thinking about it!! Here I was, just about 21 years old and all that was happening right in front of me. At the time, it was a rush, but now that I'm pushing 70, it is even more exciting. To explain it to a layman, just doesn't do it justice. It's one of those "ya just had to be there" moments! 

Bob Belli, 

166ord. Co. GMDS Nike, 

2-562nd. Fr. Wainwright AK, 

July '66 to Oct. '67



Chena River Flood

In addition to the occasional excitement caused by political pressures, natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes could also punctuate the typical routine. The 1967 Chena River flood in Fairbanks, for instance, knocked A Battery (Site Tare) out of commission for ten days. Electronics technician Bobby Pace remembered no one could get on or off the site:

I was pulling duty one night for a fellow that had a new baby, and he had to be home for his baby that night...Anyway, I stayed out for him and I got stuck out there for about ten days because a flood came and nobody could come or go. Our launching control area was down at the flood. The fire control area, we were up on a hill probably three or four hundred feet. But nobody could get to us or away from us so we were stuck there for quite a while. All the other batteries, like I say, they were up on hills mostly. But the launching area for A Battery was down very low, it was, well the floodwaters got it. That was an interesting time too. We made do with the equipment we had on-site, the food we had ¦and everything worked out fine.

Best Mess Award

In 1968 or 1969 A Battery in Fairbanks was awarded the Best Mess Hall in the U.S. Army. Bobby Pace remembered the Mess Sergeant went above and beyond the call of duty, ensuring there were always sandwiches, doughnuts and fresh coffee available to men working on the night shifts. This made a substantial contribution to morale.

Life on A Nike Site " I Can't Improve on this Description"

" We are the Nike boys, we play with tinker toys, we raise our missiles up and down but they never leave the ground. "

Nike soldiers were dedicated to defending the country at a moments notice. Men passed countless hours training and maintaining equipment to accomplish a mission that, fortunately, never had to be executed. The saying cited above circulated amongst the Nike crews, articulating one interpretation of the mission. Warrant Officer Don Neal of Battalion Headquarters explained how the daily routine could be simultaneously demanding and tedious for the typical soldier:

It was sort of like having a Cadillac limousine sitting out here in the driveway and everyday you have to wash it, you have to grease it, you have to take it apart, you have to check the air pressure. Sometimes you've got to change the brake lining, whether you need it or not. But youre never allowed to start it and drive away with it. And you can see that after four or five years of that it gets real boring in that way. They'd go out and the launchers would start to rust, so they'd scrape all the launchers off and then they'd paint the launchers and they'd paint the racks and a guy like me would come along and gig him for painting over the grease fittings and painting over the gauges. So take all that off and get it right and six months later they were rusting and they'd have to do it all again. And a guy that spent two years on a Nike site up here has probably torn apart twenty missiles and put them together, probably painted his launcher twenty times‚ that got a whole lot of guys like me that are trying to catch him doing something wrong. I mean not that we wanted to find something wrong, but our job was to find out about it if there were. So in the mean time, after painting launchers all day, he'd getting rocked out of bed in the middle of the night [for Operational Readiness Inspections].

Nike duty was similar to combat duty in that a constant state of readiness was required. “It was as close to a combat situation as you could get except nobody was shooting at you". I imagine it tired them out. They were under constant pressure, remembered Jackson Murray. Yet there were some marked differences from combat duty. The following statement was made in reference to anti-aircraft artillery operations, but it is an equally applicable description of the Nike service:

Soldiers at such stations are not faced with frequent crises. Rather, their existence is marked by monotony and seeming purposelessness. Like other soldiers, they are there to meet crisis when it comes. The difference is that crisis does not come to them in peacetime and their lot is to wait and to watch‚ Passive defense, with its vigilance tasks and its monotony, certainly offers different stresses and different rewards from those offered to the soldier in the field.41

Nike batteries on fifteen-minute alert status had to be up and ready to operate around the clock. There were only around 110 men per battery to carry out the mission. Shifts were generally 24-hours on, 24-hours off. Even batteries on the lower alert statuses had an incredible amount of maintenance work to keep up with.

Copied from the following publication

41 Military Small Group Performance Under Isolation and Stress. Critical Review III. Environmental Stress and Behavior Ecology. Technical Documentary Report AAL-TDR-62-33. Arctic Aeromedical Laboratory, Aerospace Medical Division, Air Force Systems Command, Fort Wainwright, Alaska. June 1962.

Motoring in Alaska 1965
    I had the good fortune of having "wheels" while stationed at A-2-562 took a lot of nagging on my part but finally my parents were convinced to deliver. Dad being a old truck driver and part time mechanic took extra precautions and prep work to get the mighty Corvair ready for the trip. One of Mom's brothers from South Dakota also came along for the trip. They had no real trouble on the way which was a good sign they stayed about a week then put them on a plane and homeward bound. Had to get the car registered to be on post this required some additional prep work the army insisted on installing some funky frost windows over the rear window and the driver’s side window. Then after getting the post sticker it was off to Fairbanks and Tip-Top Chevrolet there they outfitted the Corvair for winter starting. Being a air cooled engine the install was some what different. Normally a block heater or tank heater was installed to keep the engine water warm coupled with a battery trickle charger you were set to go. On the Corvair they installed 2 long heating elements in the air duct's on the lower side of the engine coupled with the trickle charger I was all set to go. Hitching posts "electrical outlets" on posts were provide on site and a lot of places had them in town also just plug Betsy in and keep her warm.  The Corvair had the plugs in the rear as that is were the engine was no big deal just back in and plug in. We were off and running explored all over the area on off days very little trouble with the Lakewood had to have a rear seal replaced in town at the dealership was sort of costly but drained some of the savings account at home. Gas had to be purchased at Eielson AFB or Fort Wainwright as local pricing was "outrageous" and Uncle Sam subsided the gas pricing. Winter came and every thin seemed to work OK car started great ran Ok after driving about 1-2 miles then the tyranny started to shift with out a lot of effort got things warmed up and they worked better. Gas mileage seemed to be a real big factor when extremely cold. We weren't to sure what was happen but the tank seemed to be always only 1/4 full. Finally went into Tip-Top Chev. to have it checked out thought some one may have been borrowing gas but that was not true. They put the car up on the hoist and removed some packed snow around the gas tank. Then they informed me what the trouble was, seems that the Corvair tank had a small plate that was on the side of the tank where the gas gauge sending unit was inserted. This plate was sealed by a rubber O-Ring in the severe cold the O-Ring would shrink and gas would drip out. Simple fix we just got a 5 gal. gas can kept it full and when we wanted to go we poured it in and of we went. This worked great one day we ventured down to Eielson AFB to the BX to get some supplies. The Corvair started right off and off we went it was about 3-5 miles to Eielson we got there and went in and made our purchases. Came out and tried to start the Corvair only a click would not turn over, seems I neglected to be checking the battery and having the trickle charger on it all the time it was bone dry got back added some water and was OK. The trusty old Corvair stayed in Alaska and when I got to Seattle picked up a New 1966 El Camino those were the days.


KAL 007


            I think we are all familiar with the tragic events surrounding that led to the downing of KAL flight 007. Such an event also could have taken place in Alaska and also could have included the use of nuclear weapons.   This would be the events as they unfold. In each Nike Battalions in Alaska both Fairbanks/Eielson and Anchorage/Elmendorf one battery would be at a "High Alert Status" at all times.  Unknown aircraft information that were detected by the Early Warning sites were relayed to the active battery as a "Unknown" this prompted the going to full alert and placing a missile in the ready to launch position. The aircraft was tracked by the battery till its status was confirmed (friend or foe).  The vast majority of these Alerts were simply bush pilots and civilian aviation types that had veered/strayed away from planed flight paths with out radio or IFF contact. Rarely did USAF planes become unknowns although we were being tested by our friends across the Bering Sea.  Alaska is also in the flight paths of commercial aviation to the far east.


            Imagine this scenario a flight from Japan or a , over the pole flight strays off course on its way to Anchorage or Fairbanks International also has communications problems and can't contact any one we now have a unknown heading into Alaskan air space given cloud cover ect a visual ID of the plane may be impossible. Hence we alert the respective Nike Battery that battery solely relies on communications via microwave link to its alerting center. The link to that center becomes dead after the "Unknown" is acquired and locked on by the BCO the fate of said object is now solely in the hands of  one man be he Second Lt. up to Captain.  At his finger is the ability to destroy this aircraft with either a high explosive or up to a 40 Kiloton Nuclear warhead.


Another scenario would be an internal takeover of a site by a small group they then  have launched a ground burst launch against either Eielson AFB or the BEMEW'S site at Clear this is fairly far fetched and would require cooperation of a group of 8 to 10 guys to complete the task.  Thank god none of this ever happened following is a link to the web site that describes 20 mishaps that might have started accidental nuclear war.


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