Army Reservist at Chicago Area Nike Sites
by Tom Vaughn
In 1959 the Army activated two Army Reserve Air Defense Detachments as part of a program to test the use of Army reservists as a pool of Nike technicians that the Army could activate in time of need for use at regular Army Nike sites.You can contact Tom at: firstname.lastname@example.org
One detachment was assigned to C-54 Orland Park, IL and the other was at C-45 Gary, IN. The Gary detachment consisted of 25 men and was commanded by Lt. John Polihronis. The test detachments were under the direction of Col. Avery Masters, 22nd Air Defense Artillery Group, Chicago.
It was planned that if this test program was successful, the reservists would accompany the regular Army units to the Red Canyon Range in New Mexico for the annual missile firing.
The Gary library has a file of newspaper clippings on the Gary area Nike sites. From these articles and pictures I got the names of several of the reservists who were members of the reserve unit. I found and spoke with two of the reservists.
Gilbert Deppert was a member of this detachment. Gilbert served in the regular Army at SF-31 Castro Valley, CA, working in the IFC area as a radar technician. After leaving the Army and living in the Chicago area he was contacted by the Army and asked to join this reserve program. He was not assigned to any existing reserve unit but reported weekly for training at C-45. He was one of the few reservists with any Nike background. He recalls that the program came to an end when the reservists were activated and shipped out during some crisis ( Dominican Republic intervention?). He was not activated since his reserve commitment was up.
As far as I know, no reserve detachments were ever deployed on a regular basis. Gilbert did say there was talk about having civilian technicians work at Nike sites when he was part of the test program. The National Guard did come to use civilian technicians at their Nike sites.