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This is a scanned and OCR'd version of
"A Gathering of Turkeys 3/01" by Mark Morgan,
one of his famous trip reports. For further information, email Mark

All 20 pages have been scanned. Most photographs are not converted due to technical difficulties (a reproduced Xeroxed grey image is ugly).

*** Please note - scanning and OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is an imperfect art. The source material was a Xerox copy. Charts and line drawings converted well and are included. My OCR software is "state of the art". However italics is not recognized as such, and superscripts are garbaged (if not caught and corrected). Indentations and page formatting are largely lost if not manually restored. This presenter apologizes for any errors - and suggests that the viewer retain a healthy skepticism of this conversion, or obtain a valid copy of the document.

Mark highlighted the Nike sections:

Ellsworth Defense Area
531st AAA Bn
128th AAABn
2/67th Artillery
E-01 Ellsworth AFB
E-20 Ellsworth AFB
E-40 Ellsworth AFB
E-70 Ellsworth AFB

Enjoy :-) Ed Thelen

A Gathering of Turkeys 3/01

MK 05/01

When in the course of human Events it becomes necessary for a group of Cold War nutcases to throw off the bonds of home, hearth and honeys and head out for the far western lands, there can be no better excuse for the mother of all road trips, and this was it: four guys, two vehicles, multiple cameras, at least two GPS receivers, comms gear out the wazoo and bombers, Nike, radar sites and first generation ICBM silos. This was it, folks, the first formal "Gathering of Turkies," in and around the this year's CAMP confab, held in Rapid City (or "Quick City," as brother Rick refers to it).

The participants were yours truly; Scott Murdock USAF(Ret), an ace airfield wonk out of Arlington, TX; MSG Ron Plante, ILANG, 182d Airlift Wing historian and Corps of Engineers historian/cultural resource specialist (although in this case, the "cultural resources" tend to be old military installations, bombing and gunnery ranges and unexploded ordnance ...great job, eh?); and Tim Tyler, the Cold War systems/communications specialist. Yup, we all finally gathered in the Black Hills this year for a royal romp, and a large time was expected by all.

This was our second or third attempt to get together in and around the annual gathering of the CAMP faithful., following misfires at the '99 confab in Omaha and the '00 function in Burlington, VT. We came from several parts of the country; Scott and Tim drove in from Arlington, TX and Detroit respectively, while the Ron-sta and I flew in from Iowa and Seattle. Notably, event though we'd all corresponded by mail, email and the occasional phone call - Ron and I go back some 17 years - this was the first time we'd actually met each other.

As for our working title, "A Gathering of Turkeys," it's a play on that classic (?) old Cold War film of 1963, which heavily featured Buff's and Titan Is. Hollywood filmed "A Gathering of Eagles" at Beale AFB - which stood in as "Carmody AFB" - using the B-52Gs of the 456th Strategic Aerospace Wing and Titan Is of the 851' Strategic Missile Squadron. The cast included steely-eyed-take-names-and-kick-ass Col. Rock Hudson with his beautiful but poor, misunderstanding Brit wife (gee, one wonders if she ever picked up on the colonel winking at the troops?), wise-cracking vice commander Rod Taylor attempting to hold things together, Barry Sullivan sloshing from party to party and Henry Silva and Bob Lansing standing tall as maintenance-types.

BTW, the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patt now uses the "Gathering of Eagles" title for its symposiums, which feature such famous flyers as Bud Anderson, Robin Olds, Tex Hill and Bud Mahurin. Ahhhh...I expect our "symposium" was tad more informal with a tendency towards targets of opportunity, but hey, what a gathering ("Hello, South Dakota State Hospital . . . are you missing any, uh, `guests?"')!

Regrettably, the fifth member of our party - the noted Michael Binder of Dallas, TX - couldn't make it this go-around However, we did pick up another fifth Beatle, MM Nathan Barton, USAR, of Rapid City. He turned out to be another valuable addition to the Turkey team, and a great guy to boot.

Tim, Scott and Ron arrived on Tuesday, 08 May, with the former two managing to cob quick tours of D-1 and D-9, the surviving 44th Missile Wing Minuteman ll facilities (the blackguards!). The particulars of Scott's visit are rather colorful and I'll leave it to him to tell the truth, the whole truth the meantime, I wrapped a short work week on Tuesday about 1900, headed home, packed, and prepared for the movement to the AO.

Wed 09 May 01

Wednesday's flight to RAP marked my third time in the great plains city; the Morgans have been finding ways to get to the Black Hills since 1961 or thereabouts, when 1LT Richard H. Morgan, a navigator with the 98' AREFS at Lincoln AFB, took his young family (mom and kids Mark 7, Rick 5, Chris 3) up to the Mount Rushmore for a few days' vacation. We've still got the home movies of the national monument as well as those remarkable concrete dinosaurs in the park overlooking the city, built by a WPA team in 1936. I'll say one thing for our parents; despite the restrictions of a JO's salary, they still managed to get us out to some pretty neat places over the years. Rick's been back a few times, including a visit in '89, two trips through in 1993 - one a Prowler hop from Whidbey to RCA for some training with the 99`s Tactics & Training Wing - and again in early August 1996. Me, I followed in late August `96 as part my cross-country move from Tunkhannock to Oak Harbor. When I finally paid for and retrieved all 30+ rolls of film from that trip (Across the Great Divide Tour 4/96), I discovered that most of the shots I took in the vicinity of Ellsworth/Rapid City hadn't come out (damn AE1!).

So yes, this was a re-attack, nearly five years after the fact, but what the hell ...My trusty Canon TX was by now long-retired due to lack of parts, and the AE-1's semi-adjustable automatic 35-80 lens had also given up the ghost. Actually, about a year ago the lens literally came apart in my hands; apparently dropping it on the concrete at SF-87L back in '89 had proven terminal. Sooo, I hit the road this time with a 135mm lenses semi-permanently mounted to the 15-year-old AE1 for the medium-range shots,and my new "plastic fantastic" Rebel 2000 came down to being able to afford a $300 camera vice a real $600+ EOS, and if there's any metal in the bloody thing I'11 be surprised, but it takes reasonably good shots. I'm just kind of embarrassed to be seen with it...

Carrie, bless her heart, was willing to run me over to Seattle-Tacoma International on her way to work in Bellevue (just a minor side trip, eh?) and I was willing to hang around SeaTac three hours while waiting for my flight. At the appointed time I boarded United Airlines B727-222 N7253U, marking my first flight in the Boeing three-holer in I don't know how long; these days it's interesting to see three crewmembers working up front.

Despite the six-across seating the flight was reasonably comfortable and right on time we descended into Denver International Airport, aka, DEN (although everyone apparently still refers to it as DIA). According to the airport's web page, it hosts the operations of 22 airlines, but make no mistake: UAL pretty much owns the field, occupying all of terminal B and several other gates to boot. Seeing as the last time I flew into DIA was at old Stapleton Airport in 1979 and I wasn't sure what to expect with the "new" facility, now six years old. Fortunately, despite Denver's early baggage handling problems and other horror stories, my two bags made it to Rapid City okay and the short stay at the terminal was pleasant enough.

As for the flight to Rapid City, well, you know the drill: You're sitting there waiting for the boarding call, and instead you hear "We're experiencing a little difficulty and there might be a slight delay." The difficulty? The maintenance personnel were doing a brake and wheel/tire change on the right side of the BAe- 146 we were scheduled to fly out on (I observed the proceedings) and when the nice lady at the counter said "slight delay" I let out with a "Ha!" but she ignored me. After about an hour we finally switched to another -146 and launched for RAP.

Air Wisconsin (AWAC) - While Air Wisconsin is based out of Appleton, it flies primarily out of UAL's hubs at O'Hare and Denver, serving about 40 cities. The company operates a mix of BAe-146s, Bombardier/Canadair CRJs and Dornier Do.328s. Notably, AWAC was the launch customer for the Brit jet, taking delivery of the first -146-200 on 16 June 1983. It affiliated with United in 1985.

AWAC dates to 1965 and originally provided service between and Chicago, over time operating a mix of Swearingen/Fairchild Metros, Fairchild F-27s and DHC- 7s. By the early 1990s it was in financial trouble; UAL acquired the carrier in 1992 and spun it off to a holding company in 1993. Air Wisconsin is now considered one of the most successful of the regional or feeder airlines, offering service to locations ranging from Los Angeles to Durango, Jackson Hole, Billings, Bismarck and Birmingham.

As an aside, the company's planned acquisition of 150 CRJ CL-65/200LRs has resulted in something of a trade war between Canada and Brazil. The Canadian government agreed to $1.1 billion in low-interest financing for AWAC, bringing howls of protest from Embraer, which is marketing its own regional jet (apparently regional jets are the biggest growth industry in passenger aviation). It should be interesting to see how this plays out, but in the meantime Air Wisconsin is preparing for an October 2001 delivery of its first Bombardier aircraft (gee, and I remember when all Bombardier made was snowmobiles).

The flight was uneventful; the plane was comfortable (I'd seen plenty of PSA and Air Cal -146s while living in Southern California, but had never ridden in one before), and right at 1800 or thereabouts we landed at Rapid City Regional Airport. I walked out to the terminal area and there were Ron and Scott, the latter talking into a radio (one of those new FRS FM transceivers; Scott kept saying, "He's not wearing the VA-42 hat." Apparently they recognized me anyway). We grabbed the bags, headed outside for a meeting with Tim and on the drive into town he gave me a quick rundown on all of the comms monitoring equipment mounted in the dash of his GMC Yukon. I recognized the radar detector ...which left me feeling a tad technically challenged (and here I am, a software tech writer for Boeing). As it turned out, that GMC was the perfect command vehicle for our excursions.

Well, I missed the CAMP department heads meeting (turned out only a couple showed up), so I checked into my shared room at the Hotel Alex Johnson in downtown Rapid City - conveniently, only a couple of blocks from the local rail facilities - registered for the conference and proceeded to have a large time with my buds, including COL Herb Hart, CAMP's honcho for this fais do do.

Thurs 10 May 01

I'll say this for Herb Hart's selection of a hotel; this one's a classic, and is in fact advertised as one of the classic old hotels of the Rocky Mountain Region. The AJ's rooms were a tad small and there were only two elevators, both slow and with a capacity of only of only five people, but otherwise the place was a hoot. The hotel dates to 1928, was named for the vice president of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad and is done in early plains Indian, with emphasis on the Sioux; the lobby resembles a National Park Service lodge.

And we were right smack in the middle of deepest, darkest Rapid City, population of about 60,000, neat old restored (and busy) downtown and grain elevators on the main street, formerly served by the C&NW and Chicago, Milwaukee, St Paul & Pacific (more on both in a bit). The city's located on US 14 and US 16 (and of course, 1-90, which effectively replaced US 16 in this part of the world). Both date to the establishment of the US highway system in 1926

US 14 originally started in Chicago and ran to Whitewood, SD before extending to Yellowstone National Park in 1938; prior to its numbering it was known as the Black and Yellow Trail. As for US 16, it's another vet of the 1926 highway numbering project and originally had two parts: Detroit to Muskegon, MI, ther Milwaukee to Rapid City. In 1936 the Feds pushed the west end to Yellowstone and in 1979 cut the east end to Sioux Falls. The western part of the route was the Custer Battlefield Highway and the section from Rapid City to Keystone is knowr as (surprise!) the Mount Rushmore Road; the highway currently ends at US 14 it Greybull, WY (home of Hawkins & Powers Aviation). Finally, US 85 - the CanArn Highway, stretching from Fortuna, ND to El Paso, TX - passes a few miles west through Spearfish.

If you haven't been to one, CAMP conferences tend to be tightly structured with a mix of history presentations by various members and bus tours of local/regional military history sites. This day the CAMPers were making a "long march" bus run to Fort Laramie with a stop at Fort Robinson, NE, on the return trip. The Turkeys, however, had other plans, starting with a quick run to Ellsworth AFB for the first Cold War stop of the event.

The weather was threatening as we pulled away from the AJ, initially heading northeast. Unfortunately, it never did clear up, but we pressed on sacrifice too great in the pursuit of Cold War history, eh? Fortunately, our first stop was nearby; South Dakota Air & Space Museum director Ron Alley - a retired AP/SP and longtime resident of Ellsworth/Rapid City - had agreed to give us the "personal" tour, rain notwithstanding.

Ron took us all around the base, hitting the old B-36 hanger built specifically for the 28`" SRW's RB-36s; the Minuteman Maintenance and Procedures Trainer (MPT); past Rushmore AFS (definitely drive-by photography) and the old site of the 740`h AC&WS radar facility. We all had a large time and Ron's definitely one of the good guys.

unreproduced image

Ellsworth AFB (RCA) - I provided the full details on Ellsworth last time but, as always, any excuse to depict a historic military airfield is a worthwhile endeavor, eh?

The base went through a lot of conniptions after Desert Storm - as did everything else in DOD - with the Air Force yanking the tankers and sending them to AMC, deactivating SAC and assigning the 28th to ACC and generally activating, rearranging and redesignating the flying units in a confusing fashion. The end result remains the same: the 28th BW is still assigned, once again with two squadrons flying the B-1B Bone. Ron said Ellsworth is pretty quiet now, compared to just a few years ago when the 44th Strategic Missile and 99th Strategic Weapons Wings were onboard and the base population was about 8.000.

I did learn a few more things about the base's history since my last pass through in August 1996, much of which came from Ellsworth's excellent web page ( On 3 January 1990 SAC upgraded the base's 812th Combat Support Group to strategic support wing status, temporarily giving Ellsworth four wings (with the 28th BW, SMW and 99th Strategic Weapons Wing). The 821st became the senior wing at the base, but on 1 September 1991 control reverted to the 28h - at that point it redesignated as a wing - and ten days later the 821st SSW inactivated. In October 1995 the 99th Tactics & Training Wing relocated to Nellis AFB to assume airbase wing duties.

Concerning General Ellsworth - and the multiple renamings of the base - apparently the story goes like this: On 13 January 1948 the Air Force renamed Rapid City AAB as Weaver AFB, for Brig. Gen. Walter Weaver, described as an "Air Force Pioneer," the World War I commander of the Signal Corps and World War II Commanding General of the Southeast Training Center and Technical Training Command. For whatever reason the locals didn't like the new name for "their" base and, on 24 June 1948, the installation was renamed Rapid City AFB (gee, I wonder what Gen. Weaver did to the good people of Rapid City ...perhaps he was related to George Armstrong Custer?).

Ellsworth was a native of Erie, PA and former soldier with the Pennsylvania Guard who subsequently attended Hudson High School and received a commission. During World War II he served as a transport and weather reconnaissance pilot in Alaska, the South Pacific and the CBI; postwar he was chief of the Air Weather Service's Operations and Training Division at Washington, D.C. - Gravelly Point, now Reagan/DC National, I believe - before assuming command of the 308`h WRG at Morrison Field, FL, in October 1946. After moving the group to Fairfield-Suisun AAF he held a tour as DO for Second Air Force at Barksdale before assuming command of the 28th SRW on 15 November 1953.

On 18 March 1953, Ellsworth and the crew of RB-36H 51-13721 - assigned to the 718th SRS - were enroute to North America from Lajes Field. Apparently, due to higher-than-forecast winds and bad weather, the bomber's navigator lost the plot and they hit landfall in Newfoundland well before they expected to, at a lower altitude than planned. Adding to the festivities, the ceiling was about 50-ft and the visibility ranged from zero to one-eighth of a mile, AND two of the jet engines were inoperative. The bomber crashed into a hill on Random Island, about 60 east of Gander, killing all 23 onboard. The Air Force and RCAF mounted rescue operations from Pepperrell AFB but found the classic smoking hole and a lot of wreckage.

This time around the city and state approached the Air Force about a possible renaming of the air force base. On 13 June 1953 President Dwight Eisenhower himself came to the base and presided over the ceremony that bestowed the Ellsworth name. As for the wreckage, according to one of the B-36 pages - at - substantial parts of the Peacemaker are still on top of the mountain.

Ops at Ellsworth continue with the 28th Bomb Wing operating the two squadrons of Bones. Other units assigned are Det 1, USAF Weapons Center (out of Nellis); Det 2, 79th TES; and Det 8, 372"d Training Squadron (out of Sheppard and a component of the 982d Training Group/82"d Training Wing; they provide B-1B munitions, avionics, powerplants, airframes, etc. training).

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As for the wing itself, the mighty 28th goes back to the Aleutians campaign, where it picked up the motto Guardians of the North.

28th Bomb Wing ( /EL) - The 28 activated as a composite group at March Field on 1 February 1940 with the 34th Pursuit and 34th and 37th Bomb Squadrons assigned. It moved to Moffett Field 10 December 1940 and the following February moved to Elmendorf Field for combat in the Aleutians. Upon arrival in Alaska the group gained the 18'x' Pursuit Squadron and subsequently picked up the 11th PS/FS.

The 28th flew combat against the Japanese forces that attacked Dutch Harbor in June 1942 and then flew non-stop missions against the occupied island of Kiska. In March 1943 it moved to Adak, followed by a transfer to Shemya AAF on 26 February 1944. Notably, during its early operations the group's commander was Maj. William O. Eareckson, one of the Air Force's top combat commanders during the Aleutians Campaign and one of the service's specialists in setting up fields in the territory; he later commanded XI Bomber Command and played a major role in the retaking of Attu and Kiska. Due to his "colorful" relations with his superiors, Eareckson never made general; however, the Air Force applied his name to Shemya AFB in April 1993, shortly before its closure.

After ranging up and down the Aleutian chain and participating in attacks on the Kuriles, the 28th BG (C) inactivated at Shemya on 20 October 1945. It returned to duty as a component of Strategic Air Command on 4 August 1946, at Grand Island AAF, NE. From the great plains of Nebraska the 28`x' Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) moved back to Alaska, arriving at Elmendorf on 20 October 1946 with B-29s. It relocated to Rapid City AAF on 3 May 1947, redesignated as a heavy bombardment group in May 1949 and started receiving B-36Bs for training purposes in July.

The 28th redesignated as an SRG on 16 July 1950; meanwhile, the 28th BW(Heavy) organized at Rapid City on 15 August 1947, went away on 12 July 1948, returned to active service on 12 July 1948 (I know, I know, hard to explain why the Air Force does certain things) and became an SRW(H) on 16 July 1950. It gained the 77th, 717th and 718th squadrons when the 28th SRG inactivated on 16 June 1952.

Best I can tell, the 28th's squadrons went through the standard strat recce sequence of RB-36Ds to Es/Fs/Hs; the wing took delivery of the first of 24 RB-36Ds in June 1950 and apparently was the only operator of that particular type. Directly as a result of the arrival of the Peacemakers, the Air Force built a huge hanger front and center on Rapid City's flight line, capable of holding two B-36s; now known as the "Pride" hanger, it was later rebuilt with offices and housed the 44`h Missile Wing. The last RB-36H departed on 29 May 1957 and the first B-52D arrived on 14 June, going to the 77th BS(H).

In February 1960 the 717th and 718th departed, taking their D-model Buffs to Sheppard and Amarillo AFBs and the 4245th and 4128th Strategic Wings, respectively. The 28th AREFS stood up with KC-135As on 1 October 1960, replacing the 928th AREFS which had activated at Ellsworth on 1 February 1959. It was followed - sort of - by the 97th AREFS, which was formally assigned to the wing on 1 July 1962; however, the 97th remained at Malmstrom AFB flying KC-97F/Gs through 15 March 1964, when it inactivated. On 1 December 1962 the 850th SMS came under assignment to the 28h, briefly making the wing one of three (with the 456th SAW at Beale and the 462nd SAW at Larson) to operate both B-52s and Titan Is. The final additions were the 4th ACCS, which activated at Ellsworth as the Western Auxiliary Command Post on 1 April 1970, and the 37th BS, reactivated under the 28th on 1 July 1977.

There've been changes over the years. The B-52Ds gave way to G-models in 1971 and B-52Hs in 1977; the wing participated in both the Chrome Dome 24-hour airborne alert program while later providing most of the initial crews and aircraft to the Arc Light ops in SEA. The last BUFF departed in March 1986 and the B-is started showing up shortly afterwards.

Post Desert Storm the wing went through the Air Force-wide redesignation festivities before returning to the bomb wing title; during that period the 28th Air Refueling Squadron departed, going to the 43rd Ops Group out of Malmstrom in June 1992 before inactivating on 15 May 1994. That left the 37th BS Bengals and the 77th BS War Eagles as the wing's two assigned flying units; the 77th BS inactivated in 31 March 1995, primarily to free up money for Bone upgrades, but it returned on 1 April 1997, giving the wing two "bombing" squadrons again.

Concerning the 37th, after departing the 28th CG on 23 April 1941 it ended up as a light/tactical bomb squadron, eventually flying B-57s and B-66s under assignment to the 17th Bombardment Wing (Tactical) at Hurlburt prior to inactivating on 25 June 1958. As for the 77th, the Air Force never approved their World War II-era Disney-designed patch. it showed a "Little Beaver" Indian shooting a bomb from his bow. When the squadron reactivated it came up with a new emblem - which received the official blessing - depicting an eagle with lightning bolts and missiles clenched in its claws ....yup, ye olde "diving bird of prey" emblem. Sigh.

As for the 46th ACCS, one of their EC-135Cs - No. 61-0262 - is now on display at the museum outside the gate. The squadron drew its lineage from the 0 Air Corps Ferrying Squadron, which activated in April 1942 and redesignated as the 4th Ferrying Squadron in May 1943. It came back as the 4th Liaison Flight/Squadron from October 1949 through March 1954 then again as the 4th ACS/SOS from August 1965 through December 1969, operating AC-47s out of Phan Rang with the 14`h Special Operations Wing. It reactivated as the 4th ACCS at Ellsworth on 1 April 1970 and inactivated on 30 September 1992; the squadron returned as the 4th SOS on 4 May 1995 and currently flies the AC-103U under the 16th Special Operations Wing out of Hurlburt Field.

So the 28th flies on. Startlingly, when you consider what SAC.was like during its hey-day, it's now one of only five bomb wings in the entire Air Force, not counting the two squadrons of ANG B-1Bs in Kansas and Georgia and a single squadron of B-5211s with the AFRES at Barksdale. I have no idea what the future of the B-1B is; I do know the USAF has offered to retire them a couple of times - or transfer them all to the Guard - in order to gain funding for additional B-2s. I don't see that happening now, but hey, you never know; according to the SD director of history - who helped open the conference Wednesday night - the rumors are that if the B-2 goes back into production, the 28th will convert. Reportedly Sen. Tom Daschle has said something to the effect of "Over my dead body."

Former Rushmore AFS is located on the north side of the base; what with an impending ORI, there was no way we were going to get in a for a serious look, but at least we saw it and were able to take photos (cue to the picture of four guys hanging out of the windows firing away with their Canons/Minoltas/etc) ("Uh, guys ...who's driving right now?").
Rushmore AFS - I went a tad more into the history of the AEC/AMC nuke storage depots in 2/01, relying on an article by Lt. Col. George A. Larson in the August 2000 edition of Military History. The focus of his article was on Rushmore AFS, one of 13 special weapon storage and maintenance facilities built between 1946 and 1957, several of which were built at the SAC B-36 bases at Fairchild, Travis, Loring and Westover.

According to the article, Rushmore had two huge Type-A bunkers for nuclear capsule storage; a Type-C structure for nuclear materials inspection and maintenance; 38 bunkers for storage of the Mk.17 bombs carried only by the B-36; and maintenance and assembly buildings. The site also had four Type-VI igloos used for storage of the tritium booster cylinders required by the Mk. 17.

The AEC completed Rushmore AFS in 1952 and AMC assigned the 3081 s` Aviation Depot Group as the operator. Apparently from 1952 through 1962 the installation was officially carried by the Air Force as "South River Depot, Weaver, SD;" needless to say, there was no town of Weaver. The majority of assigned personnel were armed APs, who had to go through a 13-week school at Fort Gordon, GA, to qualify in special weapons security.

Larson mentions that the Air Force and other agencies regularly did security checks at Rushmore and the other nuke depots by having people try to penetrate the perimeter. In one instance, a group from the Colorado National Guard attempted to sneak in through the fences and the 400-yard-wide external security zone; they were met by a hail of M2 Carbine gunfire, ending the "exercise." I assume they modified their approach in subsequent tests.

By the early 1960s the warheads were a lot smaller and were proliferating; in July 1962 Rushmore AFS inactivated and merged into Ellsworth AFB.

The site continues in use as a Weapon Support Area although the majority of the old ops/admin/barracks area outside the WSA proper is gone. Ron Plante also pointed out that, surprisingly, there are only two security fences; apparently most of the SAC/AEC nuke depots had three fences.

A few hundred yards to the southeast of Rushmore is the site of the former Air Defense Command long-range radar facility.
740th Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron - Ellsworth was one of several major military installations around the country which housed an ADC radar squadron; hence, the sites tended to be rather small in comparison to places like Minot and Opheim AFS, which were truly out in the middle of nowhere (what's really scary is this: I actually no people who were stationed at Minot and Opheim!).

Anyway, the 740th AC&WS activated at Rapid City AFB on 1 February 1953 under assignment to the 31s` Air Division out of Fort Snelling, MN; it transferred to the 29th AD (Great Falls AFB) on 16 February 1953 and to the Minot ADS on 1 January 1961 before inactivating on 15 August 1962. Prior to the arrival of the 740`", the COANG's 138 `t' AC&WS (6/512/53) operated the facility.

Initial radars for the site, designated M-97 under the Mobile Radar Program, were an AN/MPS-7 and an AN/ MPS-14, added in 1956. The Dash-7 was replaced in 1959 by an FPS-20A. The 740`h didn't have any gap-filler radars assigned and apparently was closed down in deference to the better- equipped Sundance AFS. The station callsign was "Rollerskate."

What'd we find? Not a blessed thing; the entire site is gone. A few yards to the west is the big, modern headquarter the 28th BW. According to Ron the structure previously housed the 99th SWW/TTW/Wg.

Other than a quick look inside the old B-36 hanger (HUGE; it reminded me of the dirigible hanger at La Lakehurst, albeit wider) and a run through the Minuteman training tube that was it for our quick, wet tour of Ellsworth. We thanked Ron profusely departed the base and started heading west on 1- 90 for our next stop. About 30 minutes later the command vehicle rolled off the freeway into the world famous Harley haven of Sturgis. A short time later we were at our next site.

850th SMS-C - The last time I was here - in August 1996, shortly after my unplanned two-day stay in Philip - I was able to stand at the outside fence and gaze (longingly?) at the SAC gate and silo doors, way off in the distance ...come to think of it, that was all I could manage at any of the three 850th Strategic Missile Squadron Titan I sites (ARRRRGH!).

Ah, but there's strength in numbers, and some times it's a good idea to call ahead. In this case Ron got the number of the site owner - Mr. Ervin Fuehrer of Grafton, NE - and we got advanced permission to jump the fence and go inside ...which we proceeded to do.

The third of Ellsworth's three Titan I silos is located eight miles east of Sturgis, past the small municipal airport and conveniently at the end of Titan Road. We arrived to find a reasonably intact facility with access and utility ports, antenna silos and three missile tubes; we also found one destroyed house trailer and quickly learned that the majority of the site's roads were long gone. And, naturally, it started raining ...big time. Hell of a time to find out the waterproofing on your boots has expired, eh? Still, it was worth it.

As can usually be expected, all three silo doors are down; Scott took a look at the shattered concrete and exposed rebar and decided they'd been dropped into position after the facility inactivated The upper pivot housings and actuators for the doors are gone, which precludes opening them. Not surprisingly, all of the other entryways are covered with concrete, filled in or otherwise blocked. A large prefab steel building is parked between two of the launchers on the northwest side of the installation.

The site was a major hoot, particularly for the two members of our party who had never been on top of a Titan I fac before (Scott and Tim). Ron kept mumbling that we have to get inside one and explore the underground complex of structures and tunnels (seems to me one of the Larson AFB sites out by Moses Lake can be accessed; guess I'd better check on it).

And, as Ron and I walked back to the gate - leaving the two junior members to cavort in the rain - we met with Farmer John, the individual Mr. Fuehrer relies on to keep an eye on the facility. After we explained we had prior permission to visit the site, he seemed satisfied and departed. We climbed back in the command vehicle, attempted to dry off, and headed into Sturgis via a quick run through Fort Meade for a hot meal.

As long as we're on the subject of first-generation ICBMs...

850th Strategic Missile Squadron - As covered in '96, the 850'' saw combat in Yurp as a B-24 outfit with the 490th Bombardment Group, inactivated at Drew Field, FL, on 7 November 1945 and reactivated on 22 June 1960 under assignment to HQ SAC. The squadron formally organized on 1 December under assignment to the 28h Bombardment Wing, transferred to the 44th SMW on 1 January 1962 and inactivated on 25 March 1965. The operational period for the missiles ran about the same, from 1962 to 1965.

The assignment of the 850th made the 44th truly unique among SAC's missile wings: it was the only one to operate both first- and second-generation ICBMs. In any event, the 850'' SMS was the first "stand-alone" Titan 1 squadron to activate and go operational, following the 848th and 8490' SMS's with the 703`d SMW at Lowry AFB and followed by the 8513` SMS at Beale on 1 February 1961.

According to Chuck Hansen's The Swords of Armageddon (CD-Rom. Chucklea Publishing, Sunnyvale, CA;, the 850' suffered one incident involving a missile in June 1962; Hansen doesn't specify which site the event occurred at.

During maintenance Air Force personnel inadvertently disconnected the cable between the missile and the silo and the interstage separation rockets fired, lifting the first stage off the second stage. Needless to say the event caused major damage to the silo and missile, but fortunately none of the workers received an injuries. Doubly fortunate, the Titan was not fitted with a warhead at the time of the incident.

The 850th operated three Titan I sites, located near Wicksville (850-A), Hermosa (850-B) and Sturgis (850-C). To the best of my knowledge, the squadron designator has never returned to operational status.

B-68/SM-68/HGM-25A Titan I - On 2 May 1955 the Air Force directed Western Development Division in El Segundo to start working up a second liquid-fueled ICBM as a hedge toward any problems with the Atlas program. What resulted was a true monster, the 95-foot long, two-stage Martin B-68/SM-68/HGM-25A Titan 1.

The missile weighed 220,000 pounds, had an operational range of 5500 nm and was fitted with either a W-38 or W-39 4 MT warhead. As with the Atlas F, it employed a full inertial guidance system. The first stage used two Aerojet-General LR-87-3 engines while the second stage used a single LR-91-3; all three of the engines ran on a mix of LOx and kerosene. The total cost for the program came to $1.6 billion, with each of the 108 production missiles costing $1.5 million.

And, as with Atlas, the development program proved to be rather stormy with several spectacular accidents. On 6 February 1959 Martin and the Air Force performed their first successful test flight of vehicle A-3 with a powered first stage and dummy second stage. However, test flights on 15 May, 13 July and 14 August terminated with massive explosions. On 22 March 1960 the development team finally achieved an all-up 5000-mile test flight, followed by a 6100mile flight on 24 October, a record for a US ICBM.

Regrettably, the hits just kept on coming. The most spectacular occurred on 3 December 1960; while a launch crew was lowering a fully fueled Titan 1 into the Operational System Test Facility (OSTF) at Vandenberg - following pre-launch tests - the elevator failed, sending the missile to the bottom of the tube. Not surprisingly, one hell of a big explosion resulted. The blast took out the first 60 feet of the silo - it was never repaired, and for all I know the crater still remains at VAFB - but fortunately none of the 25-man crew was seriously injured. The locals were a tad rattled, though... actually, everyone within a couple of hundred miles was rattled.

In May 1961, Vandenberg achieved a silo launch and on 20 January 1962 the first SAC crew fired a bird downrange; the timing was good, as all of the operational silos were almost ready and the squadrons were manned and coming up to speed.

The sites were huge but - due to their design - mostly unseen, with all of the launch, power, maintenance and refueling facilities parked underground The launch crews normally consisted of four members, plus a large number of site support and maintenance personnel. The crew consisted of a Launch Control Officer (LCO), Guidance Control Officer (GCO), Missile Maintenance Technician (MMT) and Ballistic Missile Analysis Technician (BMAT); according to the COL Charlie Simpson of the Association of Air Force Missileers, the LCO was usually the crew commander although sometimes the duties fell on the GCO. A cook and two APs made up the rest of the alert crew.

Depending upon what was going on - such as a heightened DEFCON, ORI, whatever - nearly 80 other people could be found at your typical Titan 1 site. These included the Site Commander - an LTC or MAJ, usually around during duty hours - the Site Maintenance Officer, Site Chief, a job controller/expediter, tool crib operator, power house chief, three pad chiefs, three assistant pad chiefs, multiple missile facility technicians, several plumbers, air conditioning technicians and power production technicians (phew... any wonder why Minuteman was so appealing?).

SAC formally declared the Titan 1 operational and on alert in April 1962. SAC ultimately deployed 54 Titans spread among six squadrons at Larson AFB (568"' SMS), Mountain Home AFB (5691' SMS), Ellsworth, Beale AFB (851" SMS) and Lowry AFB (703rd SMW, 848th/849th SMS; replaced by the 451x` SMW, 724th/725th SMS on 1 July 1961). All of the squadrons pulled their missiles and inactivated in the spring of 1965; the last flight of a Titan 1 from Vandenberg took place on 5 March 1965.

Notably, the missile didn't see post-operational service as a space launch vehicle. It came close, though; on 9 November 1959, Martin and Boeing signed a contract with the government for the development of the Dynasoar space plane. It would've used the SM-68 as its boost vehicle.

Quite a system, if short-lived, and Ron's right: we Turkeys have got to get into one of these sites ...legally. In the meantime, you can read PDF articles on Titan I - including COL Simpson's tales of Titan 1 alert during the Cuban Missile Crisis - at Great stuff?

Hoo-hah, that was fun ...Tim cranked up the heat and we babbled our way back into Sturgis and through lunch. A few minutes later, while westbound on I-90 heading towards the Wyoming border, we discovered the answer to the question, "What do destroyed Minuteman II silos look like five years after their destruction?"
44th SMW K-7 - We were keeping an eye out for the MII sites; I'd told the guys there probably wasn't anything left, but sure enough they're still out there. At K-7, K-8 and K-9 we noted that the fences are still up and all protrusions/antennae/etc are gone, leaving a graded patch of grass.

Later during the conference we talked to Tim Pavek, the Minuteman II Deactivation Program Manager for Ellsworth AFB and one of the leaders heavily involved in the preservation efforts for the two NPS sites, D-01 and D-09. He said the Air Force was keeping the fences up at the former silos until they're sold to local farmers or whoever; the service will also put down a bed of gravel so the missile sites can serve as secure equipment storage for the new owners.

Hard to believe the 44th Strategic Missile Wing's been gone seven years already. In his CD-ROM "book" Chuck Hansen also mentioned an incident involving the wing on 5 December 1964 (Ron Plante provided both excerpts, by the way). This time the site was specified: L-02.

Two airmen arrived at the site to repair the inner zone security system. While performing their checks stray voltage caused one retrorocket below the RV to fire, sending the RV to the bottom of the silo, hitting the missile on the way down (ouch!). While the RV's windscreen and heat shield during the fall came off the arming sequence didn't occur and there was no detonation nor spill of radioactive material. Technicians at the Atomic Energy Commission's Medina Base later determined the accident didn't damage the weapon assembly and high explosives.

Ron also mentioned Project Long Life, the actual firing of a Minuteman II from one of the Ellsworth silos. According to Pavek the missile launched with seven seconds worth of propellant and the silo was refurbished afterwards; hence, the 44th maintained alert with all 150 silos right up to the end of 1991. The actual launch occurred on 1 March 1965 from N-2, north of Newell, and the missile came back to earth about two miles from the LF.

My, this is fun ...once we crossed the border into WY it was a short hop, skip and a jump to 1-90 Exit 185. Upon leaving the freeway, drive one mile west on US 14 over Sundance Creek, turn north on Sundance-Warren Peak Road, and within short order you're at the cantonment area for Sundance AFS.

Sundance AFS (TM-201/Z-201) - While I'm of a mind that all old ADC radar sites are unique, and Lord knows I've been to a passel of them over the last 17 years, but this one was truly one of a kind. Operated by the 731 S` RADS from December 1960 through June 1968, Sundance was the only long- range radar site in Air Defense Command - and the entire USAF, for that matter - with a nuclear power plant. The last site built under the Semi-Mobile Radar Phase 111 Program - and perched at the top of 6600-foot Warren Mountain - Sundance operated three radars: an AN/FPS-6 height-finder, AN/FPS-7C search and AN/FPS-26. height-finder The 731st activated on site on 1 December 1960, doing their admin/support operations in a medium-sized facility down by the freeway and ops/surveillance activities from the peak; the squadron operated no gap- fillers. The initial assignment was to the 29`x' AD at Malmstrom, followed by a transfer to the Minot ADS on 1 January 1961; the Sioux City ADS on 25 June 1963; and the 30th AD at Sioux City on 1 April 1966.

The nuclear power plant was a PM-1 pressurized water reactor, developed jointly by the AEC and the USAF. The partners selected Sundance due to its remoteness (gee, no kidding), its climate and the lack of available commercial power; MartinMarietta built the reactor, which was flown to Ellsworth as components and then trucked to Warren Mountain for assembly. The reactor was activated on 1 November 1962 and turned out about 1000 KW of power; needless to say, the site was extensively monitored and personnel who worked on the plant wore protective suits. In reflection of its unique status ("Hey Carl, what's that glow up on the mountain?"), the squadron patch depicted electrons circling around a radar tower with the motto Primi Novi Generis ("The First Ones of the New Type"). A memorial plaque stands at the site gate.

During the late 1960s ADC's air defense radar network contracted substantially, with several sites in the central portion of the United States inactivating. The 7315` was one of the squadrons so honored, shutting down on 18 June 1968. As with the McGuire AFB BOMARC site - which had a NS warhead meltdown back in 1960 - the reactor area of the Sundance facility remains gated, locked and under government ownership. Testing and monitoring continues; we saw a group of people checking the site while we were up there, lead - as it turned out - by Tim Pavek.

The admin/housing area at the bottom of the grade is now in private hands, in good shape and reasonably intact; the housing area is now named Vista West while Teen Challenge Christian Academy occupies several of the other buildings. Up at the top of the mountain we found the fenced-off area that formerly contained the nuclear plant. Alongside is the old radar/ops facility, cleared to the foundations with the exception of a couple of small buildings with FAA signage and some transmitter towers. Sigh ...great view, though, although it was hard to tell because of the horizontal rain, wind and sleet.

Yeah, well, at least we made it to the top. What did I do in 1996? Yup...drove way off into the outback on US 14 - past the site and ended up getting a single shot of the wrong towers on the wrong peak, some miles to the north. Can't believe I came this close and still missed it but hey, when in doubt, travel with Turkeys, eh?

As is, it was pretty darn nasty by the time we finished our quick survey. We did head over to the adjacent peak for some looking-down-on-the-site photos from the fire observation tower. That idea quickly went by the boards with the first lightning strike... "Uh, guys? I think it's time to depart," which we proceeded to do.

That was pretty much it for the first day festivities; we were all cold, wet and ready for showers and some sort of heat treatment. We got back to the AJ well in advance of the buses - the bus ride from Rapid City to Fort Laramie alone took four hours - and within short order were fired up and ready for that evening's dinner and speechifying.

Damn fine first day.

Fri 11 May 01

Friday AM kicked off at 0800 with three rounds of professional papers on various aspects of military history. If you've never done a CAMP confab before, the council sets up three meeting rooms each with a sequence of speakers. That allows the participants to move between the various presentations; in other words, you can customize your schedule and listen to talks on the subjects you're really interested in.

Hence, the Turkeys gathered in the main ballroom for MAJ Barton's presentation on military installations in the Black Hills region, a segue from the previous night's talk and a good fit with what I was going to be speaking about at 0950. Nathan gave an excellent talk, although an Oglala woman who claimed his comments were racist interrupted him at one point; she also called him a "corporate Indian" (the Bartons are Comanche). He later gave me a little background information on the historic Sioux claims to the Black Hills (turns out the Comanche were there first) and the ongoing activism of some of the tribal members (short version: the Oglala are the trailer park trash of the Lakota Nation; my words, not Barton's).

My session went fine; the other Turkeys were in the front row and I later learned that the gentlemen on the left side was Dr. George W. Bradley III, AFSPACECOM command historian (oh BOY!). Only one person fell asleep during the presentation; he got up and walked out at the end, which indicated to me he was just snoozing and not .... Anyway, I received several positive comments.

Afterwards we loaded up once again and returned to Ellsworth AFB for the next official function: lunch at the EAFB O'Club...except it's not an Officers Club anymore, it's a combined club. Sigh ...when you're a junior officer's kid on a SAC base during the 1950s and 1960s, you spend a lot of time at the O'Club. Sad to see the club system is still in decline.

Anyway, Tim Pavek gave the presentation on the 44th SMW and the preservation of the two Minuteman 11 facilities out near Badlands National Park; the meal was good, the company great and the bar was open (GLUGI). The Turkeys sat together, as per usual (gee, I think the rest of the CAMPers were on to us) and post-lunch we took advantage of the clear skies and warm weather to continue our search for the truth.

Actually, what we found were a couple of Nike sites.

Ellsworth Defense Area - As described last time, the defense stood up during the Korean War with the arrival of the 531'` Anti-Aircraft Artillery Gun Battalion, initially equipped with the 40mms but subsequently converting to the M35 75mm Skysweeper. The battalion redesignated into the missile business in 1957, manned four Ajar batteries and was replaced by the 2/67`'' on I September 1958. Only one of the four missile sites - E-01, north of Ellsworth - converted to Nike Hercules. The defense shut down in August 1961.

The Army Air Defense Command Post was at Ellsworth, probably alongside the 740th AC&WS's radar site on the north side of the base. The AADCP employed an AN/GSG-5 BIRDIE for battery command and control.

531st AAA Bn - The battalion first activated at Fort Bliss on 15 July 1942 as the 531st Coast Artillery Battalion (Antiaircraft)(Automatic Weapons), and redesignated as an antiaircraft artillery automatic weapons battalion (AAAWBn) on 15 May 1943.

The troops departed Boston on 11 February 1944, arriving in England on 23 February for service in Europe with the 30th Old Hickory Infantry Division; during the remainder of World War II the 531st received campaign streamers for Normandy - the 30th ID landed on 10 June as replacements for the battered 29th ID - Northern France, Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe and the Rhineland. The battalion returned to the states on 1 January 1946 and inactivated the following day at Camp Kilmer, NJ.

Called back to active duty on 24 July 1952 at Fort Bliss, TX, the 531st AAABn(AW) subsequently moved to Rapid City/Ellsworth AFB and set up defensive positions with its 40mm guns. The unit later upgraded to 75mm Skysweepers and on 15 June 1957 redesignated as an antiaircraft artillery missile battalion with four Ajax batteries, E-O1, E-20, E-40 and E70. The battalion gave way to the 2nd of the 67th on 1 September 1958 as part of Army Air Defense Command's wholesale RedesignationEx under the Combat Arms Regimental System.

As an aside, the South Dakota Army Guard's 128th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion was assigned as a backup to the 531st and 2/67th from July 1953 through September 1959.

128th AAABn - This unit activated at Fort Bliss on 20 May 1943 as the 128`" Separate Coast Artillery Battalion (Antiaircraft)(Gun), and shipped out for Yurp on 10 April 1944. It participated in many of the same campaigns as the 5315` and inactivated at Camp Kilmer on 30 December 1945. The battalion became the 128`h AAAAWBn (Mobile), was organized and received its federal recognition on 21 July 1953, with headquarters in Rapid City and firing batteries at Spearfish, Belle Fourche, Custer and Deadwood. The 128" redesignated as an AAABn(AW)(Mobile) on 1 October 1953, redesignated again as the 128' AAABn (75mm gun) - which would indicate the 5315`'s weapons went to the Guard battalion - before inactivating on 1 September 1959 through consolidation with the 147`" Artillery. Forty years later, the 147`" Field Artillery Brigade is the primary combat component of the South Dakota Army National Guard. Headquartered in Sioux Falls, it has two MLRS battalions assigned:
   1/147th FA(MLRS)   Sioux Falls      2/147th FA(MLRS)    Watertown
	A/1/147th     Mitchell                A/2/147th    Sisseton
	B/1/147th     Salem	              B/2/147th    Aberdeen
	Det 1         Sioux Falls             C/2/147th    Redfield
	C/1/147th     Yankton                 Det 1        Miller
The SDArNG - the "Coyotes" - still maintains units in Belle Fourche (Det 1, 842nd Eng Co); Spearfish (HQ 842nd Eng Co); and Custer (Det 1, 211th Eng Co). I don't know if the Deadwood armory is still standing, but no units are currently assigned to the town.
As for the ARADCOM Ajax/Hercules operator, its history was a tad brief, as ARADCOM closed out operations at Ellsworth less than three years after standing up the 2nd of the 67th.
2/67th Artillery - The 67th gets my vote for having one of the classier ADA crests or DIs; according to the Army's heraldry information for the ADA regiments, the chevron is taken from the arms of General James Oglethorpe, the founder of the colony of Georgia, while the crescent is from the flag displayed on the fort in South Carolina commanded by Col. William Moultrie during the American Revolution (the site of which, if I remember correctly, later became Fort Moultrie ...go figure).

The regiment draws its lineage to the 21 May 1918 organization of the 67th Artillery (Coast Artillery Corps) at Fort Winfield Scott; the second battalion dates to the 1 July 1940 establishment of B/67thCoast Artillery at Fort Bragg, NC. The unit headed out to the Mediterranean for combat in Tunisia, Naples, Rome, Southern France and on up into Germany; I haven't been able to determine who they served with, but it looks like it was either the 34th Infantry Division or the 15` Armor Division. In any event, the unit redesignated as B/67th Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion on 23 May 44 and inactivated at Camp Shanks, NY, on 25 November 1945.

After reorganization and redesignation, the 2nd Missile Battalion, 67th Artillery replaced the 531st AAAMBn at Ellsworth AFB on 1 September 1958. The unit presided over the conversion of one battery to Nike Hercules in late 1958 and presumably then shut down the three Ajax batteries.

HOWEVER, according to a Rapid City Journal article from the period, the three Ajax batteries went to Red Canyon Range Camp for their Annual Service Practice (ASP) in May 1959 while A/2/67th underwent its Nike Hercules conversion. Therefore, its apparent that E-20, E-40 and E-70 remained in operation at least through late 1959 and didn't inactivate in 1958, as I'd previously thought.

During an earlier ASP in New Mexico the battalion - commanded by LTC Raymond Rounds - scored 10,217 points while shooting down 12 RCATs with 12 Ajaxes; no other battalion in ARADCOM had managed a 100% kill rate. The score gave the 2/67th a sixth-place standing among all Nike Ajax batteries in the US; points were awarded for missile assembly, prefiring procedures, salvo-fire of two missiles, and firing of a single missile using IFC equipment which had been shut off for two hours. The battery commanders were CPTs Robert Van Horn, Norman Glozer, Robert Hurst and Keith Springer. All four Journal articles are at

Despite their success, the 2/67th did cut back to the single Herc battery at E-01 and on 25 August 1961 inactivated. On 13 September 1972 2/67th ADA reactivated at Fort Riley, KS, under assignment to the 1st Infantry Division. The 2/3nd ADA later replaced the unit; currently there are no battalions of the 67th ADA in active service.

Small defense area, short history, lots of units ...I love it! Our first of four Nike stops was on the east side of the base, at E-20. This is where the true indication of Tim's amazing capabilities really began to become apparent; the guy is smooth and master of the spoken word (quite blushing, Tim). Within short order we had full access to both components of the old Ajax installation.
E-20 Ellsworth AFB - It was awe inspiring to see the junior member in action, and the results were immediate: within a couple of minutes we'd been invited to check out the grounds of E-20, courtesy of owners Mr. and Mrs. Steve Gowan (ironically, they have a daughter in the Army; she's an MP at Fort Lewis, of all places). Better yet, we were able to get inside one of the buildings and down into a magazine, probably A Section; it was dark, dank and definitely wet, but it marked the first Nike magazine visit for two of our party.

E-20 was a standard three magazine/12 launcher/36 missile Ajax site, manned by B/531st and B/2/67th through late 1959. It doubled as the battery admin site, with several structures near the road including a mess hall. The old housing is next door; when I came through in '96 the local school district owned the site and the Air Force occupied the housing area; the homes are still in good condition but are boarded up.

I'd rate the site as highly intact, probably one of the better ones I've seen. Mr. Gowan works on cars - particularly Chevys - so the launcher area had a lot of vehicles sitting around in various stages of decay or storage, ranging from a Fiat Ritmo (one of that company's last efforts to sell vehicles in the US; it stiffed) to a '37 Mack cab-over-engine truck, surrounded by numerous '50 Chevys, '39 Dodge pickups and assorted other heavy metal.

According to the owners, they've had the site for four years but now it's for sale. Mr. Gowan said he hadn't received much response locally so I offered to post the specifics on Ed Thelen's page and a few others. If you're interested, he's asking $395,000 - they've made a bunch of improvements to E-20 and it is very well maintained - and can be contacted at

As for the IFC - roughly a mile to the east and up a hill - it's definitely not for sale and is also not in near as good condition. The owners are the same people who sold the land to the Army in the mid-1950s; they bought it back after the site closed and now live in the old ops building, having sold their farm below.

We had a heck of a time determining the radar locations at the site; there are three pads connected by a walkway - one of the pads has a frame building on it - but the ops structure blocks the view of two of the pads of the launch facility. Curious; we assume the only radar that absolutely had to see the battery was the Missile Tracking Radar (MTR). Adding to the mystery, there is a five-foot-tall cinder block structure down the hill, beside the access road. This may have been the location of the MTR, but it's well below the top of the hill.

While we were out skulking about the rolling hills of South Dakota MAJ Barton and the other CAMPers were doing the bus tour of Ellsworth; we'd made arrangements with him to gain access to the Hermosa Titan I site, soooo...having spent almost two hours at E-20, we decided we'd done Nike for the day and had better do something else. The plan was to meet the good major at the hotel at 1600, which left us just enough time to do a quick lap of the aviation museum at the Ellsworth front gate.

South Dakota Air & Space Museum - If you still have a copy of my '96 trip report, you have the complete list of display aircraft at the museum; if not, check out the AeroWeb site at and take a look at their museum pages. I concentrated on re-shots of the following:
A-7D 74-1739 - PT 146' TFS/112th TFG, PAANG, Pittsburgh
B-29A 44-8779 - marked "Legal Eagle II," 28`h BG
B-52D 56-0657 - marked for the 28th BW(H)
EC-135A 61-0262 - "Rollin' Thunder," 40' ACCS/28th BW(H)
F-lO1B 59-0426 - 136`' FIS/107th FIG, NYANG, Niagara Falls
F-1058 57-5839 - HI 466`x' TFS/508th TFG/301st TFW, AFRES, Hill AFB
T-33A 57-0950 - 5`' FIS, Minot AFB
FB-111A 68-0248 - "Free For All"
EB-57B 52-1548 F-84F 43-1302 F-86H 53-1302
...and of course, the Honda "Stealth Bomber," which is looking pretty ragged.

Last time I came through the museum's B-47 - EB-47E 52-0410, formally on display at Pease AFB - was sitting in pieces next to a hanger on the flightline. I asked Ron Alley about it; he said that when the crew removed it from Pease, they cut the wings off about 18-inches from the fuselage in order to prepare it for shipping. Therefore, it's beyond restoration, at least by this museum. He added the plane now serves as a parts source for RB- 47H 53-4296 at the U.S. Air Force Museum; that bird was formerly on display at Schilling and is now under restoration.

The Stratojet's condition is unfortunate, as it was one of two EB-47Es flown by the Navy's Fleet Electronic Warfare Support Group during the late 1970s (some sources list three ex-FEWSG birds; the others are at Pueblo, CO and Dyess AFB). According to the B-47 Association's web page and the page for the Dyess museum, the Navy retired both FEWSG aircraft in December 1977. However, while operating in the Caribbean in USS Nashville in November 1979, we got buzzed by a B-47. Was I hallucinating? The new Air Boss thought so, but I know what I B-47 looks like ...I think. Jeez, I wish I'd had my camera with me...

Finally, Ron told the other Ron that the EC-135 achieved a reputation as a "hanger queen" during its assignment to the 4`b Airborne Command & Control Squadron. In a comment on the AeroWeb page covering the Ellsworth Museum, former 28`x' OMS KC-135A crew chief Eric Olsen (of Everett, of all places) says "Rollin' Thunder" deserved the name; to the best of his knowledge, the aircraft took at least two lightning strikes while flying.

Not a bad museum, and of course, it occupies the former interceptor alert barns for the 54`h FIS. I consider that an outstanding instance of proper "adaptive reuse."
541h Fighter Interceptor Squadron - The assignment of the 54th FIS to Rapid City/Ellsworth alongside the 28th SRW/BW was actually kind of ironic, as the squadron also spent the majority of World War II fighting alongside the 28th in the Aleutians.

The squadron first activated at Hamilton Field on 15 January 1941 as a component of the 55th Pursuit Group, equipped with P-36s, P-40s and P-43s. On 21 May 1941 the Air Force attached the 54th to XI Fighter Command, reequipped it with P-38Es in February 1942 and moved the squadron north via Portland and Paine Field to Elmendorf, arriving on 31 May 1942. On 11 September it formally transferred to the newly activated 343`d Fighter Group -command by Lt. Col. Jack Chennault and into combat it went, working from Elmendorf to Adak, Amchitka, Shemya and finally Attu with sporadic detachments at Fort Randall and Fort Glenn.

The 54h made the combat introduction of the Lightning and managed to record the type's first aerial victories, but it took a while getting there. After the Japanese attacks on Attu and Kiska the squadron dispatched a flight to Umnak (later Cape Field/AFB) for air defense duties; on the way the pilots mistakenly shot up a Soviet freighter operating off Umnak Pass. Despite this rocky start, though, the 54th proved invaluable in the Aleutians Campaign due to the P-38's twin engines and long range; the other three squadrons in the 343A FG - the 11th, 18th and 344th - flew P-39s and P-40s and didn't upgrade to the P-38 until later in the war.

The use of the -38s first paid off on 4 August 1942, when the squadron's Lts. Ken Ambrose and Stan Long caught and shot down two H6K4 Mavis flying boats lurking off Kiska; the event also marked the first combat victories by P-38s in World War II. Later, on 16 February 1943, the 54th relocated to Amchitka and started flying ground attack missions, with a a load of either a single 1000 pound bomb or two 500 pounders. The squadron upgraded to P-38Hs in 1943 and also received F-5s, in preparation for the assaults on Kiska and Attu.

On 22 May 1943, in the last major air action of the Aleutians war, six 54th FS P-38s intercepted 16 G4AM Betties, sending four into the sea while claiming another seven as probables, for the loss of two Lightnings. The 54th finished the war with P-38Ls and ended up notching 15 of Eleventh Air Force's 34 aerial victories in the Aleutians, but at a high cost; by the end of the campaign, only 10 of the original 31 pilots from the squadron were still alive.

The 54th Fighter Squadron inactivated on 21 March 1946 at Fort Lawton, WA, but returned to service six years later as a component of Air Defense Command at Rapid City AFB. The squadron activated on I December 1952 and acquired the F-5 IDs formerly used by the SDANG's 175th FIS, but quickly transitioned to the F-84G (and a few Bs) before settling into the F-86D in 1954. Initially assigned to the 31st Air Division out of Snelling AFS, the 54th FIS transferred to the 29th AD out of Great Falls AFB in February 1953. In late 1957 it upgraded to the J-model Scorpion, but due to problems with the aircraft and some training difficulties (damn back-seaters!) the squadron didn't go back on 24-hour alert until the fall of 1958. However, the 54th bounced back, winning the Hughes Trophy as ADC's outstanding interceptor squadron in 1959. It inactivated on 25 December 1960.

The Air Force returned the 54th designator to service at Elmendorf AFB on 8 May 1987 as an F-15A/B outfit assigned to the 21$` TFW. Now assigned to the 3`d Wing, the squadron is involved in efforts to restore a P-38G 52-13400 for display; the Air Force retrieved the aircraft from Attu in June 1999. Once completed, the Lightning will serve as the centerpiece for the base's McCloud Memorial, in honor of Lt. Gen. David McCloud, Commander, Alaskan Command, who died in the crash of his Yak-54 on 26 July 1998.

By the way, the 54th also changed/updated its emblem when it returned to service; no, it doesn't feature a diving bird of prey. The current patch retains the cheetah of the original emblem but now the cat's shown leaping head-first from the patch (affronte, in heraldry terms). The squadron's motto is Alaska's First Guardians.

Whoops, time to go! Finished getting my photos, we all thanked Ron Alley again, and then headed back to the CAMP CP to meet the buses. Nathan and his family showed up a few minutes later; we loaded the major and his younger son Matthias in the Command Vehicle and hauled south for Hermosa.
850th SMS-B - Once again, it's a great feeling to be able to go up to a site gate, unlock it, and go inside (Nathan had the connections in this case, bless him). And, adding to the moment, it was very sunny and very dry, a nice turn from our earlier experience at the Sturgis Titan I site.

This one's located approximately 5 SSE of the small town of Hermosa and 18 south of Rapid City, on the east side SD 79; just watch for the Missile Site Road sign. Drive back about four miles and there you are. Thus one's in better shape than 850-A, but then again, it was dry and we weren't miserable (we were watching for snakes, though). Again, the majority of the perimeter road was gone and thus one had a large, roughly 100x40 concrete slab on the south side, with similarly-sized foundations alongside. We guessed this was where the Q-Hut support building was formerly located.

More mysterious was another concrete slab, at the northeast corner of the site outboard of two of the silos. This was down a rise a tad and measured about 100x100 and again, we didn't have a clue what it was used for. There was an overgrown earthen ramp that would've provided access from the pad - used for helicopters? Delivery of personnel and parts? - but otherwise didn't have a clue.

unreproduced image

Having taken a bunch of been there/done that photos, it was time to head back to Rapid City. Nathan offered to take us via the scenic route, past Mount Rushmore, and we gladly agreed. The view of the mountain, as always, was magnificent, even with the sun settling behind the monument. We dropped both Bartons off at their house outside of town, and then decided to make one more stab at a Nike site. Something about "Mark's gotta see this..."

By the time we got to the east side of Rapid City it was getting dark, so Tim drove us up the hill to the former IFC location and we got out to take a look around. We ended up doing the IFC Friday night, and the launcher facility Saturday morning.

E-40 Ellsworth AFB - Yup, another standard three-magazine, operational under B/531x` and B/2/67th for probably all of three years before shutdown (I don't even want to go into the expense involved in building these permanent Nike sites). The IFC's on the east side of Radar Hill Road, about 1.5 SSW of Box Elder and I-90. You can't miss it; if you're coming off the interstate, you'll see E-40C from E-40L at the top of the hill.

The control site is apparently owned by South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. The site's reasonably intact. with several buildings and the location of the radars is easy to discern using aerial photographs; a 15-foot satellite dish dominates the facility. About 250 yards southwest, at the lower right corner of the old site, is a junk pile contained within its own hurricane fence ...but this "junk" includes at least four Nike Ajax LOPAR acquisition radars plus their bases(!) ) Why there still up there, no one knows; when the Army closed down a site it usually shipped everything to the appropriate depot. As is, I know a couple of people who want to restore Nike sites elsewhere in the country, and this could give them a good start.

By now it was dark, so we held off on hitting the launch facility until the following morning. The battery buildings and magazines are still there, but all of the admin buildings - still standing in 1996, when the school district used the site as a bus maintenance facility - are all gone, leaving only foundations. As at E-20, the Air Force vacated the adjacent housing area and the homes are boarded up.

The current owner is Mr. Lefler, and he was nice enough to allow us down into one of the magazines (gee, two magazines in one defense area; that's a record). He uses it for parts storage and said he'd like to get the elevator working somewhere down the line. Otherwise, as with E-20, cars and car parts cover the launcher area and surround the remaining structures, a couple of which have been heavily modified.

On the plus side, all of the crew access doors have white Ajax silhouettes with the section assignment (A,B,C). Finding those markings sure made us jump!

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Hard to believe, but Friday night marked the last night for the intact team of Turkeys, as Scott was going to start back about midday on Saturday. Hence, we headed to the former Milwaukee Road freight house on Rapid Street/US 16, a couple of blocks over from the hotel. The place reminded me of Bennigan's, was raucous and seemed to have a more than adequate number of teenagers hooting and hollering around, but the food was good (I had crawdad etouffe, thank you).

Yet another great day, with one more to go.

Sat 12 May 01

Last time around ...Scott was ready to head back to Arlington via the scenic route (which is exactly what I would do in the same position), so we took a poll and decided to knock off the remaining Nike sites before his departure. We hit E-40L first, did the usual note and picture taking and talked at some length with Mr. , then headed around to the north side of the base for a look at E-01.

E-01 Ellsworth AFB - Sad to say, this was our one and only skunk on Nike sites for the confab; both sites were inaccessible, with no means of contacting the owners. Ah well...

First stop was the former launch facility, a little over two miles north of Ellsworth off 221st Street. Echo-Oh-One was the only one of the four sites in the Ellsworth Defense to upgrade to Nike Hercules, between June and October 1958, and remained in operation under A/2/67th through the battalion's inactivation on 25 August 1961. The Army modified all three magazines and 12 launchers for Hercules, in addition installing a HIPAR at the IFC, two miles to the northeast.

Regrettably, while the launch area looked intact - we couldn't get back there to check it out - the majority of the admin buildings and housing are gone, leaving several foundations and not much else. There is a trailer parked on the east side of the admin area, with one very large, very loud dog; Tim knocked on the door, there was no response and we departed, assuming the family was out.

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What with the admin/support buildings located at the launcher, the IFC was rather small, with two buildings still standing. Again, if you look at the photo you can see the line of concrete pads and sidewalk where the radars were perched; from looking at the photo, it would appear a large pad was laid halfway down the line for the HIPAR. Unfortunately, once again it appeared no one was home, so we didn't get to do our by now standard prowl. Rats!

By the way, after hitting E-70 we returned to both components of E-01. Still nobody at the IFC...but at the launcher area, someone had put barbed wire and a tire across the driveway. would appear that the occupants decided not to answer the door the first time we came calling and then made sure we wouldn't come back. Oh well, some people have no appreciation for Cold War history. I do have an older slide, taken in 1992 by Joe Burch- I used it in my presentation, in fact - that shows the entryway to E-01L. There's a wrecked van on its side outside the old gate with, "Guard On Duty - Warning: Bad Dogs - Yes, I Will Shoot - You Have Been Warned."

Okay, so the vaste majority of the people we met in South Dakota were otherwise friendly ...0ur next stop was the fourth and last ARADCOM site of the Rapid City tour, E-70.

E-70 Ellsworth AFB - This one's another easy site to locate, due west of the AFB on West Nike Road/Meade County 2. The first thing you drive past as you head up the hill is the housing area, now closed and boarded up. Continuing up the hill (with a brief stop to allow Tim to let the residents know we weren't a truck full of vandals) takes you first to the IFC, and then the launch area. D/531st and D/2/67th manned the site.

The control area belongs to a church group - has for 19 years - and we were referred to the pastor, an older gentlemen who told us what he knew about the site and wanted to know more. The buildings are intact, although we weren't able to determine the locations for the radars. Curiously, the missile assembly building - a fixture at any battery site - was parked just this side of the gate leading to the launch area. The reverend said it'd been moved at some point in the past.

Now it gets really strange. According to my records - the ones I used to put the three Quick Looks and Rings of Supersonic Steel together - E-70 was an above ground site. Back in '96 1 gazed off in the direction of the battery area, didn't see anything, and pressed on.

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This time, however, four Turkeys got a good look off to the west ...and saw a berm, indicating the Ajax fueling area. The padre opened the gate for us, warned us about snakes, and off we went. We found a NS standard Nike installation, complete with two magazines and mounting brackets for rails and six remote launchers (eight launchers total at the site). WTFO...AND, unlike the other sites, the paved area didn't extend past the front end of the silo doors.

There were also a couple of mystery areas, including some paving to the southwest (former location of the assembly building?). On the drive out, after we stumbled across three rattlers - Scott and Tim did the honors - we noted another area, roughly at the 3 o'clock position from the launcher area; you can barely see it in the photo above. There were four semicircular concrete pads, each backed by multiple mounting posts and bolts. The only explanation we could come up with was this might have earlier served as a gun site, although the pads are awful close for the emplacement of multiple Skysweepers. Ah me, looks like it's time to run another "help!" message on Ed Thelen's web page.

That was it for the day for the four Turkeys, and it was barely 1200...Scott had to get going, so we roared back to the AJ via E-O1C&L (noting the newly-laid barb wire at the latter), helped him load out and sent him on his merry way. As for us three remaining Cold Warriors, well ...we'd debated driving down to check out the long inactive Black Hills Ordnance Depot, southwest of Edgemont (I had an ulterior motive; that would've put me within spitting distance of the ex-CB&Q/current Burlington Northern Santa Fe mainline out of the Powder River coal country). However, after 2.5 days of intense site surveys and late nights, I think we were all pretty much out of it.

Instead, Tim agreed to run me down to the former C&NW roundhouse on the southeast side of Rapid City; in return, I offered a tank a gas, which he accepted. We made the quick rounds, I got my shots, and then we returned to the hotel to arrange our trip notes and rest up for the evening's banquet.

Way back when Rapid City hosted two railroads: the Chicago, Milwaukee, St Paul & Pacific, which came into the city via a line from Sioux Falls and Chamberlain; and the Chicago & Northwestern, which arrived via lines from Pierre and the famous "Cowboy Line" across Northern Nebraska. The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy served the towns of Deadwood and Custer via a branch from their Crawford, NE to Sheridan, WY, mainline, while the Rapid City, Black Hills & Western connected Rapid City with a junction on the CB&Q named Mystic.

Nowadays ops in Rapid City are held by one railroad, the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern, which acquired the old C&NW line from southeastern Minnesota all the way the Colony, WY and south towards Crawford, NE. I'd managed to shoot some DM&E power on my last trip and had hoped to do some more serious train chasing on this excursion, but never managed the time. However, I did have Rick's two previous RAP trip reports, the spring 1998 issue of The Milwaukee Railroader - covering the MILW's ops in South Dakota - and a similar article on C&NW operations from the spring 1997 edition of North West Lines.

C&NW/Rapid City - The Chicago & Northwestern was the first railroad to reach the Missouri River in South Dakota, arriving at Pierre in 1880. The company then pushed west to Rapid City and on to Piedmont, Tilford, Sturgis, Whitewood and Deadwood before stopping in Colony. The lines in the Deadwood/Lead mining area incorporated both standard and narrow gauge operations; another branch extended from Whitewood to Belle Fourche, Fruitdale, Nisland and Newell.

Both major railroads built into the region for the usual reasons: to bring settlers, help develop an agricultural base, and export the food goods. Unfortunately, this part of South Dakota isn't prime growing land (cattle, yes); after the dustbowl of the 1930s, there wasn't much left in the way of food production and both companies started struggling. As with many branch and secondary lines around the country, passenger service eventually ended; the C&NW ran the Dakota 400 into town until about 1953, then shifted to strictly freight service.

Eventually the company's line through Rapid City became important due to the presence of bentonite (a drilling mud) production in the vicinities of Belle Fourche and Colony. By 1983, the C&NW was ready to abandon its line from Winona, MN west to Rapid City in deference to the Cowboy Line, but the ICC blocked the bid. The railroad did successfully sell most of its South Dakota operations in 1986 to LB Foster Company of Pittsburgh, PA; the "main" from Winona to Rapid City ended up in the hands of the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern.

The DM&E still uses the old four-stall brick roundhouse, located on the south side of town near where SD 79 meets St Joseph Street. At the time of our quick visit DM&E GP38-3 No.3833, "City of Aurora" (ex-IC 3059/ICG 3059?KCS 7951) was idling in the small engine facility adjacent to the roundhouse.

At the time of Rick's 1993 visit the C&NW operated out of their yard on the southeast side of town as well as the roundhouse and engine facility; after the UP/C&NW merger in 1996, the DM&E gained the remaining C&NW trackage in town as well as the facilities. The line which once was an outpost for RSDs, GP7s, GP9s and GP35s now sees primarily GP and SD40s. At the moment, the DM&E is trying to get approval to punch through further west into the Powder River coal company, which could turn the railroad into a major regional player (and probably heighten their visibility as acquisition bait). However, even in this pickup truck and red meat part of the country, they're running into environmental opposition (sure, let's just put more trucks on the road!).
MILW/Rapid City - The Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul was second railroad to built into South Dakota, arriving in Chamberlain in 1881. The company reached in Evarts in 1900, making the town a major cattle shipping point; in 1906 the CM&StP abandoned the town and moved across the river to Mobridge, using it as the jumping off point for its Pacific Extension to Puget Sound.

Seventy-four years later, in 1980, the MILW abandoned its lines west of Mobridge; the move affected more than half of South Dakota's total railroad mileage, much to the consternation of the state's government and local farmers and ranchers. In 1981 Governor Bill Janklow dragged the legislature into session and it agreed to purchase most of the company's trackage in the state; the state then leased large portions to the Burlington Northern, in particular the line to Miles City, MT. In March 1982 the MILW abandoned all of its trackage west of Ortonville, MN; the state of South Dakota responded by buying the entire mainline from Ortonville to Miles City.

Along the southern portion of the state, the Dakota Southern operates from Mitchell through Chamberlain to Kadoka; from Kadoka west, the railroad is abandoned and will probably become a trail. The rails are still in place at some points in the vicinity of Rapid City, but other than the two structures remaining downtown, there's not much left to remind people of the Milwaukee Road.

Fortunately, both the passenger and freight depots are preserved and in use as restaurants. I mentioned the freight house earlier; when brother Rick came through in 1993 a business used it for storage, but now it's Sanford's. The pax station is immediately next door and is now La Costa Mexican Restaurant. Externally it's in great shape and I expect the inside is also in good condition.

According to Rick, the Milwaukee Road suspended regular passenger train service to Rapid City during the 1940s and ran a mixed train into the 1950s. After that, nada.

On the way back to the hotel Tim was kind enough to stop while I got a shot of a DM&E train coming off the Pierre line and heading for the yard (thank you Tim!). In the lead were SD40-3s 6071 (ex-CPR 5520, in Soo red) and 6072, "City of Pierre" (ex-CPR 5537).

Later I made a quick walking tour of downtown, getting photos of the Elks Theater (part of the 1911 Elks Building, natch), the two depots and a couple of grain elevators, grabbed a quick burger at Hardees' (hmm...from the logos and the menu it's apparent Carl's Jr. bought them out; there goes another good Southern company) then headed back to the AJ to rest up, clean up and put on my Class As for the evening banquet. That night the CAMP faithful enjoyed a good meal, good company, and a speech by Brig. Gen. Edwin H. Simmons, USMC (Ret), Guadalcanal combat veteran, Korean War Veteran, author (Dog Company Six, released last year by the U.S. Naval Institute), a former president of CAMP and the Director Emeritus of Marine Corps History and Museums. Neat guy (for a general); gave a good talk and everyone had a good time.

Phew ...hate to say it, but it was time to pack and get some sleep. I made a quick visit to the admin room on the ninth floor (absolutely nothing like the ones I'm familiar with, but hey, it's a different crowd), stayed up too late watching the tube, and finally hit the rack about 0030.

Sun 13 May 01

Which proved to be something of a major mistake, as Ron Plante made a courteous and prompt wakeup call at 0520 (followed by Tim's call, about 10 minutes later... "GET OUT OF BED!"). Sigh ...with friends such as these...

Tim dropped us off at RAP about 0630 then headed off on his own adventure, a winding trip back to greater Detroit (actually, he lives in no-kidding- by-God downtown Detroit); Ron and I caught our plane, BAe-146-200A N156TR, he slept most of the way to DEN, and after about a 40 minute layover there I boarded B757-222 N559UA (oh the humanity) the and wedged into my window seat for the relatively short flight back to SEA Mom picked me up at the airport, I drove us home, and the following day took her back to SeaTac for her flight to Crofton, MD and my nephew Bryan's graduation.

Regrets? Overall, I only had a few ...I would've liked to get in more rail action, particularly DM&E freights on the fly or BNSF coal train ops down by Edgewood (this is the point where Ron, Tim and Scott grab their copies of this TR, wave them in the air and yell, "NO! NO! ANYTHING BUT THAT!"). I did manage a fair amount of shots in downtown Rapid City, but it would've been nice to get out and do more motels and the like.

But overall? One hell of a trip, in great company (what's that old Royal Navy saying? "In Gallant Company?" I don't know if we were gallant, but we sure managed to have fun). I'd do it again in a heartbeat, with any and all Turkeys (Michael, you've got to join us next time we do something like this).

Addenda: Homeward Bound

Scott was first to head back to homeplate, departing for Texas on Saturday and saying something about "Schilling AFB," Atlas F and Titan 11. As for Tim, once he dropped the Roninator and me at the airport he started back for Detroit via the Blue Scout Junior sites of eastern Nebraska and the SAC Museum. Scott made it as far as Wisner, SD, the first night; Tim managed to hit Pickstown AFS on his first evening, where he confirmed the casino I visited in August 1996 was the old air force station site.

For the record, Tim checked in Wednesday afternoon saying he'd successfully reached his home high above the Detroit River about 1000L...having put 3709 miles on his GM. Enroute he hit locations like Grand Island AAF, Lincoln AFB WSA, Offutt BF Transmit Annex at Elkhorn, NE, and the Atlas D site at Arlington, NE.

As for Bon Homme Scott, he notched Kearney, Schilling and McConnell AFBs, a mix of Atlas F, Atlas E and Titan II silos, AND successfully located SC-50L, the never operational Nike Hercules site on the south side of Schilling which I wasn't able to find back in 1990.

Now figure out a way to get back to the KS/MO area so I can see all these neat places ....In the meantime, we most definitely have to do this again!

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