THE NPG NEWS
The Newsletter of the Nike Preservation Group
Volume 4, Issue 2 JUne 2001
Nike Preservation Group, Inc., 475 Maple Street, West Lafayette, Indiana 47906
Editors: Don and Susan Peterson Phone: (765) 743 - 9333New E-mail : email@example.com
NIKE VETERANS SOCIETY
By - John Braun
At the beginning of May, The Nike Preservation Group received an E-mail from a fellow foreign Nike veteran, Mr. Kaare Naess of Oslo, Norway. As a Norwegian Army Corporal, Mr. Naess received operational and technical training at Ft. Bliss in 1958 as a foreign student assigned to the Norwegian Nike Battalion (C-1-1) located in building #2407. His Nike "package" exercise scored 99.2% with 8 missiles fired at McGregor Range. He states, 1,200 soldiers of the various units of the Norwegian forces were selected to participate in the first training "package" Norway Nike Battalion. This was to man a ring of four newly emplaced firing batteries and a Battalion HQ. 25 miles around Oslo. Upon his return to Norway from Ft. Bliss, he was sent to a Norway Military ground radio school and then worked under MAAG in a clandestine operation. Using a suitcase sized data machine, he participated in roaming operative technical surveillance listening, under the cover of a civilian company. The Norwegian Nike Battalion, C-1-1, was activated 7/57 and deactivated 12/90 with ceremony at Norwegian Battalion HQ’s. where the Guidon was officially retired and is now displayed among the military relics housed in the Armed Forces History Museum located at Akershus Castle in Oslo, Norway.
Mr. Naess formed the Nike Veterans Society on 5/11/84 with the concurrence of the Commanding General of Ft. Bliss. The NVS was located in Oslo, Norway. It was later re-established, as the Norway Nike Veterans Society at Ft. Bliss, TX in a special ceremony on 5/02/90 at Hinman Hall. Sixteen of the original 1958 Norway Nike Battalion veterans made a journey back to Ft. Bliss and presented the CG of Ft. Bliss with a NNVS plaque and an original Norwegian Flag that was flown at Norway Battalion HQ. They remain in inventory with the CG’s office at Ft. Bliss to this day. The NNVS is a member of the Air Defense Artillery Assoc. (ADAA) in Ft. Bliss. Mr. Naess, current president, is also personally a lifetime member #4396.
Since Nike missile sites were operational around the world, Mr. Naess suggests that, "we Nike veterans need an international organization to cooperate our strengths" and inquired to see if the NPG is interested in, "establishing a real international Nike veterans society." The NPG will discuss this at our next Board of Directors meeting.
Meantime you can let us or Mr. Naess know what you think of his idea. He can be contacted by E-mail at >firstname.lastname@example.org <.
You can submit your comments to us at the NPG >email@example.com <.
I wonder, what will be our quid pro quo for an international alliance?
WHEELER/PORTAGE NIKE MISSILE LAUNCH SITE C-47:
HISTORIC STRUCTURE REPORT
BY ANJANETTE U. SIVILICH
An abbreviated history of the Cold War and the formation and development of the Nike missile systems is given in this chapter. Once the broad history of the war and system is given the development and use of the C-47 Nike missile site in Wheeler, Indiana can be understood.
Time Line of Cold War
1945, July – First nuclear weapons test in the world performed by the United States code-name "Trinity."
1946, March – Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill warns, during a speech made in Fulton, Missouri, that an "iron curtain" is descending across Europe.
1948, April – The Marshall Plan, a U.S. sponsored economic program, was initiated to aid 16 war ravaged nations in European.
June – Soviet troops block all means of transportation between West Berlin and the West inciting the United States, Britain, and France to air-lift food and supplies into the city.
1949, April – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) creates a common defense alliance to match Soviet forces in Eastern Europe.
August -- Soviet Union performed their first nuclear weapons test near Semipaltinsk in Kazakhstan.
October – Mao Zedong instates Communism in China.
1950, June – The United States and 16 other United Nations countries help South Korea fight the invasion forces of North Korea.
1953, June – East German anti-Communist revolt suppressed by Soviet troops.
July – An armistice is signed withdrawing United Nations forces from South Korea.
1955, May – The Warsaw Pact was signed by the Soviet Union and seven Eastern European countries to ensure unified control against NATO.
1956, November – Thousands flee to the West after Soviet troops stop a national rebellion against communism in Hungary.
1957, August – U.S. nuclear weapons testing suspended for two years by President Eisenhower.
1960, May – American U-2 shot down over Sverdiovsk, Russia.
August – American U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers is sentenced to 10 years in a U.S.S.R. prison. -- Yuri Gagarin, Soviet cosmonaut, is the first man to travel in space aboard the Vostok 1. -- The Berlin Wall is erected by East Germany to halt fleeing of its citizens to the West.
1962 - Francis Gary Powers is traded for Soviet spy Rudolf Abel.
October – Cuban naval blockade ordered by President John Kennedy to prevent Soviet shipments of nuclear missiles. -- Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev stops work on Cuban launch sites and removes missiles in Cuba.
1963, August – The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, prohibiting nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere, underwater, and in space, is signed by the United States, Britain, and Soviet Union.
1964, August – The expansion of American involvement in the Vietnam War is approved by Congress after two American destroyers are attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats.
October – China performed their first nuclear weapons test at Lop Nor on the Qinghai Plateau.
1968, August – Czechoslovakia is invaded by the Soviet Union, East Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria to prevent political reform.
July – The United States, Britain, Soviet Union, and 58 other countries signed the Non-Proliferation treaty.
1972, February – President Nixon reopens relations with China.
May – SALT I agreements limit anti-ballistic missile systems in the United States and Soviet Union.
1975, April – The communist North Vietnamese occupation of Saigon marks end of Vietnam War.
1979, December – The Soviet Army invades Afghanistan; beginning of a nine-year war.
1980, September – Solidarity, an independent trade union, is founded under Lech Walesa.
1985, March – Mikhail Gorbachev initiates "perestroika," an economic and political restructuring of the Soviet Union.
1989, November – The Berlin Wall falls, marking the opening of East to West.
1990, October – East and West Germany reunify with the help of NATO and approval of the Soviet Union.
1991, December – Gorbachev resigns from office and 74 years of communism in the Soviet Union ends.
Formation of the Nike Missile System
Political tensions ran high in the United States between Russia and China after World War II. Russia developed long-range aircraft, early in this period. These new Russian bombers moved the United States military to develop a defensive system to combat this threat. This was the beginning of the Cold War. The recorded period of the Cold War is from 1945 to 1989, but the effects can still be felt today.
Propaganda and survival training was widely used to ready civilians for the possibility of a nuclear attack. Films, advertisements, television shows, and public exhibitions were the primary means of educating the public about civil defense and family preservation procedures.
The threat of Russian attack increased in 1949 when Russia detonated their first atomic bomb. The United States surpassed Russian missile technology with the creation of the Hydrogen bomb in 1952, but the Russians built their own Hydrogen bomb in 1953. The United States military had begun developing a new defense system that would be an effective counter-attack to bombers before 1953.
The new Nike missile system was created to detect, identify, track and destroy enemy aircraft. The creation of the Ajax, Hercules, and Zeus classifications of Nike missiles would not have been created without the collaborated genius of Bell Telephone Laboratories, Western Electric, Aerojet Engineering Corporation, and Douglas Aircraft. In 1953 sets of Nike command and launch areas were constructed in 40 U.S. cities in defense rings to guide and launch the Nike missiles. The system reached its peak distribution of approximately 300 installations.
The defense ring protected large populations, important government installations, a research compound, or a manufacturing center. Areas of large population and government installations such as Strategic Air Commands and government bunkers were protected because of their importance to the survival of the United States during attack. Research areas such as Los Almos were protected because of the technology that was being developed for military use. Cities with large manufacturing centers were also protected so the flow of supplies to the military and public would not be disabled.
The Nike system was a small part of an early-warning radar, communications, and weapons network. The Nike system served as a defensive weapon for a quarter of a century, until 1974, when U.S. defense dollars were re-routed to the development of the American ICBM defense system and to fund the war effort in Vietnam.
Air Defense in 1950 consisted of radar-directed 90mm and 20mm anti-aircraft guns. Other defense armaments such as the AAA, M-33, and Skysweeper, were also used, but none had the ability to counter incoming air attack. The U.S. military began researching a new defense system during the last year of World War II that would be more effective against enemy air strikes. Jacob W. Schaefer, a First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Ordnance and former Bell Telephone Laboratories employee, proposed the development of a radio-controlled antiaircraft rocket on 17 August 1944. The rocket would be used to protect a large target area from bomber attack.
The greatest concern for the national defense system was the capability of the Soviet Union to launch an attack on the continental United States from over the North Pole or against either coast. The perception that the Soviet Union could easily build a fleet of long-range, nuclear-armed bombers and the new Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) could reach anywhere in the continental United States, fueled the effort to create a national defensive system. The Nike Ajax missile was created and was able to destroy a single aircraft.
The "Ajax" missile system was designed in the early 1950s. The missile system was designed as a "last ditch" line of defense to destroy any attacking bombers and long-range aircraft that the Air Force had failed to neutralize. The defense systems were typically placed in defensive "rings" around major cities to protect the population and manufacturing industries in the area. The number of Nike bases placed in a "ring" was determined by many factors, such as population, industries, government facilities, etc. A defense area such as Chicago/Gary was protected by approximately 21 installations at one time.
Nike bases were typically located close to the center of the defense area because of the short range of the original "Ajax" missile. The missile sites were located on government owned property, such as military bases, when possible. In some cases, such as the Wheeler site, real estate had to be acquired. The owners of the desired property were often reluctant to give up their land, so the land was acquired through a court order.
The facilities for these new missile systems were self-contained. All of the maintenance equipment and supplies were stored on site. Water and power for the site were provided by on-site facilities. There is no evidence of an on-site communication system at the launch site so it has either been removed or communication was primarily by radio.
Three companies, Bell Telephone Laboratories, Western Electric, and Douglas Aircraft, contributed to the construction of the three different types of Nike missiles. Western Electric and Bell Telephone Laboratories worked together to develop the guidance and tracking system for the missile system. There were a couple radar towers placed in the Launch Area, but the majority of the systems created were installed at the Command Area. The airframe of the missile was designed by one of the largest United States aircraft manufacturers, Douglas Aircraft.
The "Ajax" missile was the first ground-based supersonic anti-aircraft system, but it had many limitations. The system, because of technology constraints, could only be equipped with high explosive warheads instead of nuclear. The design of the propulsion system also severely limited the range, altitude, speed, and flight time of the missile. To save on the amount of real estate required for the launching system, the missiles were stored in underground magazines and were transported by a rail system to and from the elevator to the launching position, either on the elevator or the surface rail system.
Testing of the Nike Ajax system continued through the early 1950s. As faults of the system were revealed, the Army became concerned that the missile could not handle a massed air attack since the Ajax system could not discern an individual bomber in a tight formation. The U.S. military also needed a way to deal with faster, smaller, and deadlier targets. In July 1953, the Army contracted again with Western Electric, Bell Telephone Laboratories, and Douglas Aircraft to create a more effective missile. The new Nike Hercules system, designed to disable a squadron of aircraft, was deployed to 110 converted Nike Ajax installations and 35 new bases, in 1958.
The new Hercules system integrated a booster and missile propulsion system that utilized only solid fuel. The new fuel allowed the missile to have a greater range, altitude, speed, and flight time. The solid fuel was easier to manage and made the missile safer to move once it was fueled. The improvements to the missile made this "last ditch" defense system more effective.
Other improvements were seen in the development of the warhead and delivery system. A new interchangeable design was developed for the Hercules warhead. The new warheads could be changed between a high explosive and nuclear warhead depending on the situation. A fragmentation warhead was developed, but not deployed, for use against a single aircraft or in proximity to populated areas.
The Hercules missile was designed to primarily defend against air attack, but could also be used against ground or marine units. Because of the nuclear capability of the Hercules, this missile was able to effectively take out the threat of enemy personnel and nuclear armaments.
Development of the Nike Zeus system began in 1958. This new system was equipped with a more efficient radar system to facilitate the tracking of high-altitude enemy missiles. The rapid advancement of technology made the Nike Zeus systems obsolete by 1960, before it could be deployed.
As the mode of threatened attack changed from bombers to missiles and more efficient missiles were created the usefulness of the Nike Hercules diminished. On 4 February 1974, the Army ordered all existing continental United States Nike installations to be deactivated.
Even though Zeus was never activated, the technology did not go to waste. Much of the technology was used in new armament systems such as the ICBM, Sentinel, and Patriot. These new systems were designed to destroy the faster planes and missiles constructed by China and Russia to attack the United States.
Ajax and Hercules Deployment at C-47
There were a total of six sites in Indiana protecting Cincinnati and Chicago. Five of these sites, located in Lake and Porter Counties, were designated as a part of the Chicago ring. The five northwest sites were a part of a defense area that contained a total of 21 Nike sites. These sites protected the populations and industries of Chicago, Illinois and Gary, Indiana.
The Nike Ajax system was first deployed on the East and West coasts beginning in 1953 to defend against the greater threat of coastal attacks. The interior of the United States was supplied later in the year. In total, more than 4,000 Ajax missiles were deployed. The new missile bases were constructed around America's suburbs to protect the major urban and industrial areas. Strategic Air Commands and major government installations were also placed under the protection of the Ajax system. Because of the amount of land required for the installations land would be acquired through Eminent Domain or court order.
The Wheeler site was one of the few sites to have the capability to launch Ajax and Hercules missiles. The conversion of the Wheeler site did not happen until 1965. To accommodate the Hercules system, the original Ajax support systems at the C-47 Launch and Command areas needed to be updated. The High-Powered Acquisition Radar (HIPAR) replaced earlier radar systems since this system could acquire and track targets at a greater range. Equipment was also installed to prevent jamming of targeting frequencies. The underground storage racks, rail system, and elevators underwent modification to accept the larger missiles. Converted Ajax sites had an inner security fence and guard dog kennels added. The generator and ready buildings were modified. A fallout shelter was also added, but was not a common structure.
The site was originally constructed in 1954 to accept the Ajax missile system. The site was later modified in 1965 to accommodate the conversion of the site to a Hercules system. The layout of the Wheeler site is typical, see Appendix II for a site map. The Command site was constructed in a separate area than the Launch site. This allowed time for the guidance system, at the Command site, to lock on to the missile as it was launched. This guidance system would then guide the missile to the target. The north half of the Wheeler Launch site is dedicated to the administrative duties required of the site. A guard shack is provided at the entry gate to maintain the security of the site. The ready building was used as an office and recreational area. The south end of the site contained all of the facilities required for the maintenance, assembly, and launching of the missiles. The missiles would be assembled and maintained in the assembly building. The well house and generator building provided water and power to the site. The three missile magazines were used for storage and as a launch pad for the Ajax missiles. Any orders that the Launch site received from the Command site were taken within the missile magazines.
Chronology and Developmental Use
Not much is known of the early history of the site or when this specific site was commissioned. It is known the two areas were once farmland, but how the Department of Defense acquired the land from the owners is not known because of the secure nature of any information pertaining to the site. Also, many of the land records for the site cannot be found. The land was most likely either taken or purchased between 1954 and 1956 from the farmers that owned the land. The exact date is not known but these dates mark the initial placement of the system and the dates of construction for the site. C-47 veteran Frank Martinez, during a telephone interview, was able to provide the dates of construction and modification, general activities associated with different structures, and the modifications made during the 1965 re-fit for the Nike Hercules system to the site and structures.
Site and Structures
A modern galvanized steel chain link fence surrounds the C-47 launch site. This fence is one of two vestiges of the security of the site. There is one fence around the full perimeter of the site. There are also two interior fences. One fence splits the site in two, separating the administrative portion of the site from the defense systems. The second fence is located just inside the perimeter at the southern end of the site surrounding the missile storage area. Military and canine units would patrol the area between the two fences to ensure the security of the missiles and equipment.
The guard shack is the second vestige of the security system. Patrols were stationed here 24 hours a day to regulate personnel, vehicles, and supplies entering and leaving the site. If civilians pulled in the drive, even just to ask directions, they would be detained for questioning. Incidents of this nature were recorded along with any personal information of the civilians to be kept with on file with the Department of Defense. A second guard shack was possibly constructed near the secondary security fence in 1965 to protect the technology of the nuclear missile system.
An important, but unused, structure on the site is the fallout shelter. The walls and roof of this 1965 concrete structure was constructed of 16-inch thick poured concrete. There were no windows. The only openings in the structure were the nine-ton metal personnel door and the vehicle bay door. Another nine-ton personnel door was provided within the vehicle bay to further protect from radiation. This structure was designed to house 60 men during a nuclear attack for 60 days.
The ready building, constructed in 1956 and modified in 1965, was used as a recreational space when the duties of the soldiers were complete. Two bathrooms were provided one for the officers and one for the enlisted. Sets of triple awning windows allow light into the space. A wood frame roof protected the concrete masonry unit structure.
The first building inside the south security gate is the assembly building. This structure was built in 1956 to provide an area to assemble the Ajax and Hercules missiles once they arrived on the site. A storage room contained the smaller equipment and supplies needed to assemble the missiles. A restroom was provided for the assembly personnel. A mechanical room for the structure would be accessed from the exterior.
A well house and generator building supplied water and power to the site. The well house was constructed in 1956 to provide water. The generator building constructed in 1956 to the west of the assembly building was the main source of power for the site. It is known that the structure was modified in 1965 for the Hercules conversion, but the specific alterations are not known. Five pads were provided for diesel generators, but because of the power requirements for the site only three were used. The power generated was directed through wire trenches and into the transfer room. This room was separated from the generator room by air space and a thick expansion joint to minimize vibrations from the mechanical equipment. A transfer station with ceramic insulators was located outside the transfer room to send power to the other facilities on the site.
The warhead building was constructed in 1956 as a place to safely install the warheads on the missiles. The structure was surrounded by an earth berm to protect the site and its occupants from an accidental explosion. The liquid fuel in the Ajax missiles had to be changed on a regular basis to ensure that the fuel lines would not be obstructed by the settlement of impurities and allows for the proper combustion of the fuel. The area within the berm provided a secure area to de-fuel and re-fuel the Ajax missiles. If the highly combustible fuel accidentally was set off the resultant explosion would be directed upward, away from personnel and equipment.
A kennel was constructed during the 1965 Hercules conversion. The kennel housed the guard dogs that would patrol between the primary and secondary security fence at the southern end of the site. A small trench ran along the edge of the kennel and into a cistern. This cistern held anything washed out of the kennels.
Three underground missile storage magazines were constructed in 1956 on the extreme south end of the site. These magazines were the center of activity on the site. Launch commands would be received and the missiles prepared for launch underground. The missiles were then conveyed to the surface by and elevator and rail system. The final launch command would be given and the missiles launched either from the elevator lift of the surface mounted rail system. The magazines were modified during the Hercules conversion in 1965 to accommodate the larger missiles.
Historic Time Line of C-47
(Items marked with *)
1950-4 Department of Defense purchases or takes land for all Nike sites
1951 Nike missile program approved
1954-6 Site acquired by the Department of Defense
1956 C-47 Nike Ajax Launch site constructed
Missile Assembly Building
Underground Missile Storage
1965 C-47 Launch site converted to a Nike Hercules facility
Ready Building Modified
Missile Assembly Building Modified
Underground Missile Storage Modified
1972 Site decommissioned
1973 (June) Ownership of Launch site and Integrate Fire Control (IFC) area transferred to the Portage Township School System*
1973-82 (June 1973 to August 1982) Portage Township School System uses as a Driver’s Education Course*
1982 (March) Ownership of IFC transferred from school system by Dale Summers*
c.1985-93 The South Haven Volunteer Fire Department uses the site for training*
1993 Ownership of Launch site returns to the General Service Administration*
1994 (August) Paul Johnson and Tom Mikos purchase the IFC site for a paintball camp*
1995 Army Corp of Engineers removes hazardous material
Letters written to the FPO and County Commissioners by Nike Preservation Group members requesting the site be saved.
(April) Site is listed on the State Register
2000 Site listed on the Nation Register of Historic Places
45th Air Defense Artillery Brigade History
Chapter V – NIKE AJAX (Part 1)
1 January 1955 – 31 December 1959
The missile era officially arrived in the Chicago area when B Battery, 86th AAA Missile Battalion moved into the first permanent NIKE - AJAX site on 24 January 1955. The unit departed C30T at 1230 and arrived at Skokie, Illinois (C93) at 1605. Not only was this a major operational change, it was one of the biggest morale boosters the unit had received for a long time.
When it was first revealed that the battalion would be the first missile battalion in Chicago, the personnel gladly turned in the guns, obsolete equipment and the semi-permanent sites. They were looking forward to the plush concrete block buildings, warm barracks, fully equip mess halls, and new equipment. After many hours of training in Texas and Illinois, the batteries were assigned temporary locations. To say that these sites were poor would be an understatement. Since they were temporary, no money could be spent for improvement, comfort or morale. There was not even water or commercial electricity.
Site C30T is an example. Being located on the southern end of Lake Michigan made it a cold, windy, wet, uncomfortable place. The winter months only made matters worse for B Battery personnel. The sand was everywhere, including the food, footlockers, drive gears, and bearings. After the build-up of morale and esprit de corps, this was a "low blow".
However, later in January, almost all was forgiven at C93. C93 cost approximately $1,350,000 to build and install the latest equipment. The men could take a hot shower in the barracks. The missiles were stored and maintained underground, out of the weather. The food could be properly prepared and eaten in a pleasant atmosphere.
As C30T was vacated by B/86, B/79 moved on the sand dunes. The second missile battalion in Chicago began its operations on a temporary site. Though the 79th was the second operational, they were the first to have the majority of their batteries in permanent quarters. The movement time table was:
17 February - D/79 - Glen Park Sta., Gary, Indiana (C48)
22 February - HQ/79 - Gary Airport, Gary, Indiana (C45)
23 February - C/79 - Gary Airport, Gary, Indiana
3 March - A/79 - Worth, Illinois (C51)
23 March - C/86 - Lemont, Illinois (C61)
25 March - HQ and A/86 - Arlington Heights, Illinois (C80)
From 5 to 23 March, all firing batteries from the 86th participated in their annual Service Practice at Red Canyon Range Camp, New Mexico. Three missiles were fired by each battery. The battalion aggregate score was 11 out of 12 successful shots, an outstanding "shoot".
The first operational death, resulting in the only Soldier’s Medal ever, presented for a deed which occurred in the Chicago-Gary Defense, happened on 12 March 1955 at C45. The Jamesway hut which housed the battalion surveillance radar caught fire, due to an electrical short. A flash fire broke out which immediately enveloped the wooden structure. PVT George Bigger kicked a hole in the side of the building and escaped. After reaching safety, he realized that the other two men in the building did not get out. Disregarding his own burns and safety, PVT Bigger, went back into the fire and rescued PVT Marion L. Salloum but was unable to return for the other. PFC Clinton D. Roddy perished in the fire.
On 1 March, another battalion was activated at Ft. Sheridan; the 485th AAA Missile Battalion. This activation was more a paper transaction than anything else. After many weeks of training at Ft. Bliss, Package 29 fired at Red Canyon Range from 20 May to 25 June. The headquarters, commanded by LTC Robert W. Baker, and Battery A moved onto the new site at Montrose Beach (C03). The Fire Control and Administrative Area was located where the old gun site 97 was located and the Launching Area at the abandoned gun site 98. B Battery occupied C40, Burnham Park, near the old gun site 28. C Battery occupied C41, Jackson Park. The administrative Area was located on the old location of the gun site 42. This move and construction rekindled the civilian anger against the military because of the obviously permanent occupation of the lakefront parks.
On 6 April, D/86 moved from C95T to another temporary site, C60T, at Lemont, Illinois.
In mid-1955, COL Frank T. Folk took over the 45th Artillery Brigade. LTC Carel C. Hines (CO, 49th) temporarily commanded the 22d Group from 1 July until 20 August when COL Arthur Kramer, Brigade XO, was assigned the job. A/79 received a new Battery Commander on 24 May, LT Paul R. Motta. In the 86th, LTC Stano was replaced by LTC Clinton A. King on the 11th of August. B Battery, 86th also received a new CO, CPT Philip H. Peterson in June. CPT Frank E. Hamilton commanded C Battery.
At the ceremony on the 180th birthday of the U.S. Army, Battery B, 784th AAA Battalion received the trophy for the best firing battery in the 22d Group. The trophy was presented by the 5th AA Regional Commanding General at the battalion headquarters in Oak Lawn, Illinois.
The Chicago-Gary Defense had 7 operational battalions, 3 NIKE and 4 gun, by FY 56. Due to the large defended area, the importance of the area, the number of the units and expected new units, the 16th AAA Group was re-assigned from Camp Stewart, Ga, to the 22d Group by GO# 8, 5th AA Regional Command, effective 6 September. The 16th was to remain assigned to the 22d until it became operationally ready to assume its role in the Defense.
The Army opened the doors to C93, Battery B, 86th AAA Missile Battalion (NIKE) (Continental) to the press on 17th August. This was the first time the public in the Middle West was allowed to see inside the chain link fence.
BG Marshall S. Carter, 5th AA Regional Commander was the host. Reporters and photographers spent most of the day touring the site. They were shown the administrative buildings, the missile assembly operations, fueling the missile, radar operation and a simulated intercept. The press was impressed. The news articles lauded the equipment and the men on the site:
"Chicago has become the best defended city in the Middle West against enemy air-to-ground attacks." /Chicago Sun Times/
"… Nike probably would shoot down not only enemy bombers but any bomb armed rockets the bombers might drop." /Milwaukee Journal/
"The structures contrast grimly with the pastoral scenery extending toward the horizon… It is a contrast of grim necessity - the grimmest of our civilization." /Chicago Daily Tribune/
"Chicago is loaded for bear - even the Russian bear if the Reds should ever dare send their bombers to attack the city."
"A ring of sword-like guided missiles called the Nike - revealed for the first time today - stands ready to send sudden death belting into the sky to meet any enemy head on."
"They are inescapable by any air maneuver now known to aviation…"
"The thing you ought to remember is that the Nike's presence hereabouts should enable you to sleep a lot more soundly."
"They make nice neighbors." /Chicago American/
While in Gary, the 79th was carrying out its own community relations projects. It participated in parades, the men toured the steel mills, donated blood to a leukemia victim, contributed to needy families, engaged in speaking engagements and in general, an extensive public relations campaign was pursued.
The first of September, General Williston B. Palmer, Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, toured the defense - Also in his group was BG P. D. Berrigan, Division Engineer Chief, and COL P. F. Kromer, Chicago District Engineer. Again the Skokie Battery took the brunt of the tour, being located so conveniently to Ft. Sheridan.
On 28 September, D/86 moved to its permanent site, C72, in Addison, Illinois. The next day, B/79 left the "sand box" for Homewood, Illinois. In 1955, this site was designated as C49 but in later years it was re-designated C50. (Since the latter is the more familiar title, the Homewood site will be referred to as C50 henceforth.)
General Order #116, HQ, 5th Army, activated the 78th AAA Missile Battalion, effective 1 October 1955. The Battalion Commander was LTC Robert J. Tolley. A and B Batteries were the first to leave Ft. Sheridan. On 11 November, they moved to C92/94, Libertyville, Illinois and on 18 November, 247 basic trainees arrived for duty. A Battery became the training battery and all trainees for the battalion were assigned to the battery. The training consisted of general advanced Army training, not technical training. The package personnel, Package 37, would not arrive in Chicago until January 1956. The technical training would begin then. A Battery was commanded by 1LT Robert Taylor and B Battery by 1LT Paul R. Motta, who bad been transferred from A/79. C Battery, slated to take over C98 at Ft. Sheridan, was commanded by 1LT Kenneth Dawson. D Battery, also temporarily located at the south end of Ft Sheridan, was scheduled to move to the dual site in Arlington Heights (C80). Its commander was 2LT Ebed Hardie.
Since the Package Personnel formed the nucleus of the operational firing batteries, the commanders in Chicago closely followed the Package progress. LTC Tolley was justly proud of Package 37 reports. On 4 December, the battery and battalion assembly crews, the four Launcher Control Officers and the Battalion Missile Officer departed for Red Canyon to assemble the missiles to be fired by the Package. The requirement was to prepare eight missiles in a two-week period. These missiles were prepared in three and a half days. This was a record for any package assembly crew prior to this time. The ultimate test in preparing the missile is the firing. Each battery was required to fire two rounds, of which one must be successful. The Package fired 4 successful missiles, 1 near miss, 2 "fail safes", and 1 broke up on launch. Package 37 was the first Package to pass the training program by firing the least number of missiles possible. Each man received praise from the Ft. Bliss trainer cadre and the officers of the Package they also received 10 days leave.
The 734th Battalion volleyball team won the 22d Group championship. When they went to 5th Army championships in October, though they made a good showing, they did not fare as well.
1LT Donald K. Digison was transferred from D/79 to take command of D/734 in October. On 18 December, LTC Gauvreau departed Chicago for duty in the Pentagon. MAJ Richard E. Campbell took over the command of the 79th. The Headquarters Battery changed commanders on 7 November, to 1LT Michael G. Duerr. The previous HHB commander, CPT Myron H. Bengson, moved to A Battery to replace LT Motta, who was transferred to the 79th. The next day lLT Parrish departed C Battery leaving it in the hands of lLT Edward L. Queeney.
The 734th was the "Best Battalion" in the 22nd Groups second semi-annual operational inspection in 1955. During the Christmas holidays, the troops found time to have a party for handicapped children in the NCO Open Mess, a Christmas Day party for orphan children in each mess hall, and to furnish 12 drivers and vehicles to assist in the delivery of the Christmas mail to the city of Oak Lawn.
The 86th Battalion was the first to go to Red Canyon Range in 1956 for the Annual Service Practice. 131 men left O'Hare AFB on 15 January. Out of the 12 missiles fired, 4 were successful. LTC Henry J. Willis took over the battalion on 6 February when LTC Clinton was transferred to HQ, 5th AA Regional Command.
On 27 February, MAJ Ogden Johnson replaced LTC Panneck in the 734th. During the year and a half that LTC Panneck had the battalion, much was achieved toward troop morale and mission accomplishment. The Battalion NCO Club was constructed by troop labor and officially opened. A cement block AAOC was constructed which enhanced the appearance of the area and eliminated the fire hazards of the old Jamesway. The changeover from the old AAOC to the new was made without going out of action. The space heaters in the barracks were replaced by a central heating unit, which also acted as a cooling unit in the summer months. A contract surgeon was authorized and hired. This saved the men from the long trip to Ft. Sheridan from the south side of Chicago for sick call and reduced the accident exposure time. A commercial-type telephone switchboard was installed to handle the off-post calls and all internal communications were converted to the dial system. Though it was after LTC Panneck departed the battalion, it was through his efforts that 21 quarters were leased by the U.S. Amy for the personnel of the 734th. 1LT Digison was replaced by 1LT Alvin Hauge in March at D Battery in Glen Lake, Indiana. 1LT Digison went to the 79th Battalion where he took over D Battery.
HHB and C Battery, 78th Battalion, moved from their temporary quarters on the south end of Ft. Sheridan to the north wing of Building 142 on Patton Rd. The move began on 18 February and was completed two days later with the three floors and basement utilized. On 12 March, D Battery moved from Ft. Sheridan to C8O at Arlington Heights. The other battery at this dual site was A/86. Plans called for D/78 to be re-designated to B/86 at a later date. 1LT Selmer E. Moeller became A/79 commander on 5 March.
The biggest occurrence in Chicago between the military and the civilian populace took place over the entire year. Though this had presented itself previously and has never entirely resolved itself, 1956 was a big year. COL Folk turned the 45th Brigade over to BG Peter Schmick on 26 February just as the "pot began to boil". This issue was the adverse publicity toward the Army, more specifically, the ARAACOM sites, gun and missile, along the lakefront, mainly the Burnham-Jackson Park area.
"Choice park lands have been ceded to the Army 12 NIKE and radar installation… public lands are used whenever possible to save money. Whose money is being saved? Not Chicagoans', since we pay doubly for these installations--in federal income tax and in city taxes apportioned to the Park District… Is there no better way to provide for our defense than by usurping park lands, which this city desperately needs… In Belmont Harbor… eight acres… In Jackson, not only has the original acreage been taken but… 200 trees are being cut down… We urge again the consideration of building offshore installations…" /E. W. Donohue, Chairman, Board of Directors, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference/
"Southtown and the entire Southside has lost the lake front for recreational purposes between Jackson and Grant Parks… Built approximately a quarter of a century ago from sand sucked from the bottom of the lake,… named… (for) Daniel Burnham whose plan for beautifying Chicago drew the admiration of civic leaders throughout the world… When current projects are completed, they(drivers) will see… the ugly looking buildings and equipment taking form… These shanties (corrugated steel barracks) have transformed the shore line at 44th St. from an attractive park area to one that resembles a slum." /Southtown Economist 29 February 1956/
"Ald. Leon M. Despres has fired a blast at the Army’s NIKE anti-aircraft installations on the lake front .... Despres complained that the bases are shutting off large stretches of Lake Michigan to Chicagoans. He also charged that the NIKE guided missile defense against potential bombers is obsolete ...." /Chicago Tribune 7 March 1956/
"Sweeping stretches of Chicago’s once-dazzling front yard are going to pot. The Army is one of the responsible villains. It's a bum rap. Neglect--but not by the military--has left the lakefront… looking… like a partly cleared slum…" /Chicago American 7 March 1956/
"LTC Williain H. Arnold, 5th Army Commander, told a special park board meeting Monday that the Army has let contracts for landscaping all lake front Nike sites." /Chicago Daily News 20 March 1956/
So went the beginning of 1956. Alderman Despres (5th Ward) and the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference for the South end and Alderman Jack I. Sperling (50th Ward) for the North led the public effort into attempting to oust the Army along the lake front. However, the real fight started in August. In 1951 the Army leased the first four sites, Lincoln Park, Loyola Park, Calumet Park, and Belmont Harbor, for $1 per year apiece. The term of the agreement was to run out on 27 August. The park board extended the time for an additional 30 days. This was more than just a squabble for the military occupation of a few acres on the Chicago lakefront. It was a test of a national law--that the government has the power to condemn land whenever necessary under its right of eminent domain. But to try to appease the public resentment, public hearings were conducted in which the Army, Chicago Park Commissioners and interested persons were encouraged to participate.
On 7 August the Chicago Park District, headed by James P. Gately, refused to automatically renew the 5 year leases. A public hearing was set for 10 A.M. 24 August at the Park District Administration Building. The Park District admitted that the Army could initiate condemnation proceedings and probably retain the land for $1. Therefore a new approach was advanced, The Army should leave but if they would not move, they should at least pay for the occupation of the land.
Look for more of the 45th Brigade History in the next issues!!
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