Nike Glossary
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The following Nike Glossary provides meanings of specialized words as used in the Nike program. Please feel free to offer suggestions or definitions.



0500 hours
5 AM in the 24 hour military time scheme. 2:15 AM=0215, Noon=1200, 1 PM=1300, 2PM=1400, 6:37 PM=1837, 1159 PM=2359, Midnight=0000 hours, not 2400. Great system, once you get the hang of it. If you find this confusing, you’ll love ZULU time. See ZULU.

1st Sergeant (1st Sgt)
The chief administrative sergeant in charge of a unit. Not necessarily the highest ranking enlisted person in the unit.

Army Air Defense Command Post

A Strategic Air Command heavy bomber with both reciprocating and jet engines. A mammoth, gigantic, behemoth. Now extinct, replaced by the B-47.

A Strategic Air Command medium bomber, the first all jet-powered, swept-wing type. Now extinct, replaced by the B-52, a heavy bomber still in use.

Battery (Batteries)
The basic artillery unit, equivalent to an infantry company.

Blasting cap
An electrically fired detonator for igniting dynamite or other devices. Also called a squib. I used the fulminated mercury variety.

A thick-walled concrete bunker to protect personnel from explosions. Usually houses the electronics for a missile launch.

Board Number 4
That part of the Continental Army Command which performs User Tests on new (or modifications to) guided missile equipment.

To align the electrical and optical axis of a radar. Used for camera mount alignment. Also pinpoints the direction a radar points toward, relative to True North.

Military officers, usually Major or above (Field Grade). Refers to brass insignia on the service cap.

Buck Pvt
A Private. The lowest enlisted rank (E-1). Bottom of the heap.

Combat rations. Prepackaged individual meals, ready to eat.

Chaff: Strips of aluminum foil dropped by military aircraft to jam radars by reflecting huge amounts of energy.

A spiny cactus commonly found in the New Mexico desert.

A helicopter.

City Slicker
A Desert Rat’s term for Nike personnel stationed near large cities. From "Spike Jones and the City Slickers", a band popular at the time.

Continental Army Command. Parent organization of Board No.4.

Corner reflector
Radar signal reflector containing numerous 90 degree corners for maximum reflection. Mounted on RCAT drones as an anti-stealth device.

Military rank of enlisted grade 4 (E-4).

Corporal Missile
Large, Surface to Surface, liquid fuel missile, short range.

Cow pies
Cattle dung. Can be used as a fuel when dried. Premium quality dried ‘pies’ are about the size of a standard Frisbee, and are odorless. Slow burning.

Charge of Quarters. In charge of administrative duties after duty hours.

Chief Warrant Officer. Military grade between noncommissioned & commissioned officer. Addressed as "Mister".

Powerful insecticide. Now banned by the EPA as too dangerous to use.

Desert Rat
A person living as a hermit in the desert. A recluse.

Deuce and a half
Two and one-half (2 1/2) ton capacity cargo truck. Our everyday workhorse. There were two models, GMC and REO, I think.

A remote controlled, pilotless aircraft. In our case, a Nike target.

A sturdy field telephone. Hardwired to other phones or switchboards.

Military work uniform.

Government Issue. Synonymous with soldier, as in "I am a GI."

Bird (and bat) manure. Very valuable for its high nitrogen content.

Honest John Missile
Short range, Surface to Surface, solid propellant rocket. Large warhead. Looks like a 3,000 pound Bazooka round.

A speed equal to or greater than five times the speed of sound.

Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile.

IRP stands for Initial Rediness Position (IRP). When we made the transistion from Herc (Concrete Soldiers) to PATRIOT(on the move always) we were introduced to the HAWK concept of IRP's.

We would spend 30 days of HOT Status at the IRP (a hardened site); move to the field for 30 days of manuveur; and then into garrison for 30 days of maintenance and parade details. Typically we spent that time in the field too.

Kitchen Police. Those who work in a mess facility as laborers, not cooks. Dishwasher, pots & pans scrubber, floor mopper, etc.

French for toilet, usually for large number of personnel.

Lye soap also GI Soap
Strong, caustic, alkaline soap.

Literally, ‘Badlands’, from the Spanish mal & pais. Pronounced Mal-Pie.

Mess hall
A military eating facility. A dining hall.

Mess kit
Compact metal eating utensil carried by individual soldiers.

Mess tent
Military eating facility housed inside a tent, like the Down Range mess.

Missile Tracking Radar
Dual function radar, tracking the Nike missile inflight while transmitting steering commands to the missile for an intercept.

Motor pool
The central storage area for military vehicles. Includes vehicle maintenance, refueling, tire shop, etc.

NCO: Non Commissioned Officer. Enlisted grades from Corporal to Master Sergeant .

Nike Ajax
1st generation Nike missile system to be deployed.

Nike Hercules
2nd generation NIKE system. Much larger and more powerful.

Nike Set
Equipment vans, radars, launchers, etc. Everything needed to launch a Nike missile. The Army buys this stuff as a complete "set". Each Set has a serial number. Ours at WSPG was Nike Set Number X-SAM-A-2, the 2nd Nike Ajax set built. A Nike Set sits on a Nike Site.

Nike Site
A place or location where the Nike Set sits. Remember it this way: "A Nike Site is where the Nike Set sits." You should be shouting EUREKA now. In reality, Set and Site are interchangeable.

Officer-of-the-Day. The officer in charge of garrison security for the day.

Legendary featherless bird, the "guardian of all missilemen".

Orderly room
The administrative office of a unit.

Oscillograph Chart
The Event Recorder chart. Made by shining a bright light on tiny, very sensitive, electronically moved mirrors that expose photographic paper, recording the entire firing mission in fine detail.

Toilet. Same as latrine, except can be as small as a ‘one-holer’.

The angle formed by two different views of an object.

Manually operated telephone switchboard. Literally a patch board exchange. The Battery Control Van (IFC area) has one, as does the Launch Control Van.

Private First Class. Enlisted grade of E-2.

Potable water
Water fit to drink.

PPI - Plan Position Indicator
Referred to the radar scope that displayed the early warning data derived by the M-33 acquisition radar and other surveillance radars that went round and round.

Private. Enlisted grade of E-1. Bottom of the pecking order.

Post Exchange. A retail store on a military installation.

One who provides military troops with quarters & supplies, such as clothing, bedding, and DDT. Also operates the Quartermaster laundry.

Quick lime
Unslaked lime used to dry out residue in a latrine pit. Highly caustic, it will eat the skin off your hands if touched.

Radar Scope
A video screen where radar returns are displayed as ‘blips’.

Radio Controlled Aerial Target. An unmanned target drone.

Red Canyon Range Camp.

Red Canyon Range Camp: New Mexico Nike Ajax missile launching range.

Re-entry Vehicle
An ablative outer shell protecting its contents from the enormous heat developed during re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere.

The bugle call accompanying the lowering of the flag at sunset.

US Air Force’s Strategic Air Command. Charged with strategic (Long Range) defense.

Surface-to-Air Missile. An anti-aircraft weapon.

Scope Dope
Radar operator (From having look at a CRT (cathode ray tube) too long.)

Servo system
Electronic system for remotely controlling drive motors.

To move something rapidly, controlled by Servo systems. In our case, to slew a radar antenna or a radar range gate.

Situation Normal--All Fouled Up.

Creamed beef on toast. (from S--t on a shingle)

Short Range Attack Missile. Air-to-Ground missile system on B-52s.

Target Acquisition Radar
Fancy name for a search radar. Sweeps 360 degrees searching for intruders into its airspace. Can be used to designate a target for acquisition by a target tracking radar.

Target Tracking Radar
Can track a target automatically. Sends the target range, azimuth, and elevation data to the computer for an intercept plot.

Temporary duty. Usually for 90 days or less.

Civilian technical representative. An expert on the equipment made by his company. Used extensively in high-tech fields.

Trinity Site
Site of the 1st atomic bomb detonation, 16 July, 1945, in New Mexico desert between Carrizozo and Socorro, 20 miles west of Red Canyon Range Camp.

Time To Intercept. The time remaining before a Nike intercepts a target.

Vacuum tube
Electronic switching and amplifying system inside a glass tube. Pre-solid state. Requires huge amounts of power, generates beaucoup heat, takes up lots of space. Fails regularly. Over 2,000 of them in a Nike Set.

A missile’s explosive payload. Nike Ajax used high explosives covered by shrapnel. ICBMs are more potent, carrying thermonuclear devices ranging from several kilotons to multi-megaton equivalent TNT yield.

White Sands Proving Ground, long-time testing area for military weapons. Located in south-central New Mexico between Las Cruces and Alamogordo. Name changed to White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) in May, 1958.

The local time at Zero (thus the phonetic Z for Zed or Zulu) Degrees Longitude, near Greenwich, England. Some call it Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), others Coordinated Universal Time (CUT). Zulu is the same all over the Universe. No time zones or daylight savings to confuse. It is the time used for all US military operations. Written as the time followed by the letter Z, 2345Z means 2345 ZULU, often shortened to zoo. Radio station WWV, Ft. Collins, CO., operated by The National Institute of Standards and Technology, continuously broadcasts Coordinated Universal Time (ZULU) on 2.5, 5, 10, 15, and 20 MHz standard frequencies. Militarily and scientifically, it is one of, arguably the most, important radio signals broadcast in the world.

(Whew! J)

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

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Updated Jan, 2006