In selecting sites for its missile batteries the Army faced a problem: it seemed the public was in favor of Air Defense as long as a Missile Battery was not deployed next door. To accommodate local concerns and cut land acquisition costs, the Army Corps of Engineers reduced the acreage needed by placing the missiles within underground magazines,
The Army located batteries on existing military lands wherever possible, but often condemnation suits had to be filed against property owners to acquire needed properties,
Once the Army obtained the land and permission to build, aesthetics became a consideration.
Nike facilities were designed with habitability and outward appearance in mind. The one-story cinderblock sloped-roof structures looked much like many of the school buildings being erected in communities. Shrubbery enhanced facility appearance.
As part of its public relations effort, the Army Air Defense Command (ARADCOM) sponsored “fact-finding” trips for local VIPs to observe training at Fort Bliss, Texas and missile firings at McGregor Range, NM.
Under “Operation Understanding,” the Army asked hundreds of community leaders for a public show of support. To alleviate concerns about potential danger, the Army assured the public that the missile sites were as safe as local gas stations. Over the years, tens of thousands visited Nike Batteries during open houses and Boy Scouts often stayed overnight in the Site's barracks.
Missile Site personnel, some 100 of them, added to a community consumer base and they became involved in community activities, such as Red Cross Blood Drives, Community parades and served as Color Guards for many events.
Starting with the realignment of a Battery in the Los Angeles area on September 14, 1958, the National Guard responsibility grew until eventually it took over all Nike Sites. A sense of community “ownership” of a local Battery especially prevailed when the National Guard assumed responsibility of a Site. The assumption of Missile Batteries by the National Guard represented an unprecedented experiment; for the first time, a key component of the Nation’s Defense had been turned over to America’s Citizen Soldiers who manned the Batteries around the clock and departed annually to Ft. Bliss and McGregor Range for short notice annual missile firing practice (SNAP). Expertise was vitally important to the Nike Mission and to that end Guardsmen were sent to Ft. Bliss in an ongoing manner for schooling, some courses lasting as long as forty-eight weeks.
On July 8, 1955 the Army announced it would be purchasing land in Ansonia for Missile sites. On December 10, 1955 the U.S. Army made land purchases of 81.9 acres in Ansonia and Woodbridge for a Nike Installation. " In the end there was the Fire Control area (IFC) for radars and computers on 119 1/2 Ford Street and the Launcher Control area (LCA) for missiles on Osborne Lane. For the Nike Ajax and later Hercules systems to function properly there had to be a minimum of 1,000 yard separation between areas. The Ansonia Site was designated (Bridgeport) BR-04. Missiles on the site were Nike Ajax and in 1958 Hercules.
On July 11, 1956 the missile launcher elevators arrived and by August 17 IFC construction was in the advanced stage. However, the LCA work slowed due to rock ledge. At that time a 12' fence surrounded the areas.
On February 25, 1957 4.5 acres, a part of the Ansonia Airport was taken by the government for Military Capehart family housing off Ford Street. These homes were completed and the military families moved in on February 19, 1958.
On March 25, 1957 US Army 967th Air Defense Battalion personnel began to arrive. On April 11, 1957 Ansonia Mayor Doyle was invited to Ft. Bliss to witness missile firings at McGregor Range NM and on April 30, Mayor Doyle officially welcomed Battery B 741st AA BN.
On July 26, 1957 the Ansonia Fire Department pumped 6,000 gallons of water to the Nike Site because their supply was running low due to the draught. By November 6, the total gallons pumped to the Ford Street site was 301,700. The water company extended lines to the LCA.
On February 13, 1958 officials informed that Nike Ajax Missiles would soon be replaced with Nike Hercules (Nuclear) Missiles.
On May 21, 1958 a plane crashed atop a military Capehart home. The pilot was slightly injured and luckily the occupants were away at the time. The first responder was Mayor Doyle who climbed to the roof and turned off the plane's still running engine. On July 29 a fire destroyed a house owned by the Army on Ford Street just across from the Capehart housing.
On April 28, 1958 Mayor Doyle suggested to the Army that the Nike Site be named after Joseph C. Hines of Ansonia who was killed in Europe during WW II in 1945. The Army agreed and this was done on July 4, 1958.
May 30, 1958 Nike Ajax personnel towed an unarmed Ajax Missile in the Memorial Day parade attend by over 300 citizens. Battery personnel marched in the parade as they did following year.
Battery B 3rd Missile BN 56th Arty hosted an event on September 29, 1959 with over 200 in attendance. when they unveiled a Nike Hercules Missile. The Site was fully stocked with Hercules Missiles by January 20, 1960.
Ansonia, Veterans Day November 11, 1959, a granite veterans memorial was unveiled by two Gold Star mothers with Nike men serving as Honor Guards.
On January 14, 1960 four guard dogs and their handlers reported to the Site for duty in the LCA.
On August 25 the Commanding Officer, LTG Robert Wood, USAADCOM visited the Ansonia Nike Battery.
On December 16, the Army announced that Nike Sites in Shelton, West Haven, Fairfield. Plainville and Manchester will be decommissioned in 1961 and that Avon, Portland, Westport and Milford would be taken over by the Army National Guard as a full time mission. Most of the aforesaid Sites would be decommissioned from 1963 when National Guard Technicians would eventually take over all Nike Hercules Sites.
In 1962 the Battery was called to full Battle Stations for the "Cuban Missile Crisis" manning their stations around the clock until the crisis ended.
In 1963 National Guard technicians arrived at BR-04 to retrain on Hercules equipment under the guidance of personnel of Battery B, 967 AA BN until January 1964. Then the Ansonia site was in the capable hands of D Battery 1st BN 192D Arty US Army National Guard. The 192D was ordered to SNAP on 15 September.
On April 24, 1965 the unit was called to Short Notice Annual Practice (SNAP) at Ft. Bliss & McGregor Range and on October 24 the Site was brought to Battle Stations during the Great NE Blackout. Generators powered the site which was ready to engage Soviet bombers. The unit went to SNAP's on April 24 and October 22, 1965, 13 February, 1966, February 11, 1967, April 7, 1968, June 23, 1968 and April 13, 1969.
On February 8,1966 SSG Eric Muth received a Letter of Commendation from his former Ft. Bliss Commander, a first, perhaps only for his unit. His NG Commander CPT Edward McPadden sent a cross endorsement on 28 February, but did not as is customary put him in for a medal. In 2005 Muth's former class leader applied for an ARCOM based on Muth's service at Ft. Bliss. The ARCOM was bestowed based on the records and evidence submitted. In part the citation stated "reflects great credit upon the National Guard."
In 1969 D Battery scored 96.9% on its Command Maintenance Inspection. Major Davis, CMI Team Chief, recommended the unit for a Certificate of Proficiency.
In June 1971 the Ansonia Nike Hercules Site was decommissioned and a portion of the IFC area turned over to the U.S. Forest Service. The closing brought to an end one aspect of the Cold War. The threat of Soviet bombers equipped with nuclear weapons had ended and the era of intercontinental missiles and anti-missile missiles had begun in earnest.
U.S. Government property at the Ansonia site was delivered and turned in to various locations, some picked up. Some property disappeared perhaps illegally taken as memento's. The 1957 bronze dedication plaque was removed by a Warrant Officer in 1971 and he gave it to another in Niantic during a 2002 Nike Reunion where it was on display. Two attendees are pictured with a plaque in the background. The Ansonia plaque "disappeared" again at that meeting. There is a list of attendees (eleven of them deceased) and forty two living. The missing Milford plaque, also dedicated in 1957, was also removed by the same Warrant Officer in 1963. It has been recovered and in possession of the City of Milford which set it on a boulder along with another plaque dedicated in October 2013. The basic wording on the original Milford dedication plaque is likely substantially the same as the missing Ansonia plaque.
"The Milford Battery Site named to honor those citizens of Milford who served their country in defense of freedom .......... By the citizens of Milford Connecticut"