Return to operations.

A brief history of
--Batt A,85th Bn, Nike site D-23,
Foot of Lenex St/ Detroit River.

From Thomas Lundregan -

Hello from Tom Lundregan: Here some data, and some "color"/ stories. Also see map that Doyle provided a few weeks ago.

Nike Ajax--1954-1957; arrived at Detroit Site late Aug/Sept 1955: Batt A, 85th Bn, the site was about 1 mile "west" of Grosse Pointe, Mich. Bat B was about 1 mile "west" of us. Both our launch sites were on "eastern" end of Belle Island. The two fire control sites were right along the shore of the river. I believe you now know where Batteries C and D were. These 4 Batteries were Package 31 -Detroit formed at the Brigade at Ft. Bliss, TX in April,1955.

The last half of Package 29 Chicago was formed same time as well as Package 30--Pittsburgh. Equipment from Western Electric arrived for Batteries in the same sequence as the Packages---29,30 &31. Package 31 started getting the sets in June 1955 !

Tests Prior to City Deployments:

  1. Readiness Checks at the Brigade, Ft. Bliss prior to shipment to Red Canyon Range.

  2. Qualification Tests at Red Canyon Range--- usually three firings at RCATs down range. Success measured by Event Recorders in the BC Van and downrange spotters. Others:

  3. Ship to Package City for installation and deployment.

  4. Became Operational soon after checkout and readiness declared.

  5. Flew crew to Red Canyon Range for Annual Practice in November,1956. Three firings, but last two in rapid sequence ! ! !
--------------------------- Battery A Highlites :

  1. Last to leave The Brigade due to WE Field Engineers using the set first for Checkout of Factory Shipments. Then us.

  2. After Qual at RCRC we had to stay a few weeks more since Annual Practice Boys had to use our set. Last to leave RCRC.

  3. Observation during first winter---Detroit River freeze----icing. MTR multi-path from Nike transmission off of ice. MTR locked-on at stronger energy from ice reflection. MTR pointing below the normal of the straight-line RF path-to- Nike. Nike was erected. (see Frank Fenech's recall of a Simulated Test ).

  4. We had Surprise Ops Inspections by Lt. Col. Mancuso : Just prior to an Inspection is when we discovered the RF multi- concern. We let Mancuso get up on the MTR Tower when locked-on and let him see thru the telescope------he observed we were locked -on the middle-of-the- river. WOW ! ! We quickly explained the situation to him, and he took an action item upon himself ! !

  5. We all respected Lt. Col. Mancuso---he was very good, also not a tall man: Hence (in the electronics world ), his nickname was "short-to -ground".

  6. Re Multi-Path: In 1956 I had heard there had been some simulation of the problem, and "all" was OK. I had thought they had done something in Red Canyon, but I guess I was wrong. See Frank Fenech's recall of a Simulated Test.

  7. (You will like this): Battery A Annual Practice in Nov 1956 at Red Canyon:: Prior to arrival we had heard the "record" for rapid sequential firing of two Nikes was about 20-22 seconds between "explosion" of the first Nike and the launch of the second Nike. Well, our Captain had an incentive, and we all did, to try to better the record. So, once we swung the MTR around to the second Nike on the launch pad and locked -on ,with a quick checkout,-----we were ready-----about12 seconds had elapsed . Well, the Captain started the countdown one second at a time (we were at about an elapsed time of about 17 seconds or so when he covered the last "13" seconds available to us in a rapid verbal voice and we launched the second Nike in about 19 seconds----he covered the last 13 seconds in about 2-seconds !!!!! Battery A was now the World Record Holder !!!! The requirement on all Annual Practice Units was to get the second off in 30 seconds or less. We had plenty to spare. Fun !

  8. Miscellaneous----At Red Canyon Range Camp in summer of 1955: At night when we walked over to the Camp PX a Juke Box was playing---had a large assortment of choices-I think. HOWEVER,, there was always only one song being played all-the- time---can you guess ? It was always "On Blueberry Hill", by Fats Domino! ! ! Why ,I don't know ,but that was it ! ?

  9. I guess anybody like me can consider ourselves Second Generation Rocket Pioneers ! After all- how many people do you know who were firing missiles in 1955 and 1956 ! ?

" Detroit-Detroit, What A Wonderful Town" ! ! IT really was in the '50's ! B. Summer time in Detroit along the River:

  1. From the Radar Towers we could watch the Gold Cup Speedboat racers checking out their speedboats. Gold Cup moved to Seattle in the 60's

  2. Changing radar magnetrons (transmitters ) on the towers in the winter-time was no picnic.

  3. The Detroit River along the shore had Taverns on rafts. Especially a lot of fun in the summer- provided many sights, boats, and "suds".

  4. City of Detroit was a great service men's town in the '50's; the USO provided freebies, etc. FT. Wayne was near downtown; Selfridge AFB was a little "east" of us.

  5. Four classmates of the SAM-23 Nike Fire Control graduating class(April 1955 ) just attended a Red Canyon Range Camp Reunion in Las Cruces in Oct 2004. Although the reunion was more of a Camp Permanent Party reunion, we Fire Control Boys had a good time..

Battery A Personnel- 1955-1957, Limited number"

  • Captain Dorious Galipeau-- a great CO. Lieutenants Levaggi and Quegg (sp ? ).
  • Topkick: MSgt Hines ---- couldn't wait to return to Garmisch, Germany.
  • Fire Control Maintenance Men: Sgt. FC Tom Lundregan, MSgt Ed Risk, Spec FC Frank Robinson.
  • Operators and Staff : Ed Keevins, Lauren Kiest, Bob Strawbridge, Meryl Sarber, Gene Scanlon, Tom Goldberg,Bill Feaster, John Baker, Ron Downer, etc.
  • Promotions and Stuff:

    Promotions came fast to the Fire Control boys; after 11 months of schooling the Army wanted to keep us. Also, if we just extended for one year, we could become Warrant Officers immediately. We had opportunities.


    I do have some photos, plus Certificates, etc of life in the Nike Program, in case you are interested ?