C Battery, 2nd of the 51st Artillery was located North of San Rafael, California, on Lucus Valley Road, East. At the end of the road was the Battery Barracks and Launch area. The Launch area had 3 magazines consisting of 6 Nike Hercules Missiles each, of which only one in each magazine was high explosive? Of course I was IFC (Integrated Fire Control) Radar operator, ABAR, (Alternate Battery Acquisiton Radar) ECCM and I didn't have a need to know. The life on the hill, as we called it, was 24 on and 24 off, no sleep while on duty. The IFC stood on the mountain top East of the city of San Rafael. The radar bubbles use to glow at night from the lighting on the inside, and they could be seen from Highway 101 going North. Our team reported to the hill around 0830, exchanged notes with the outgoing team, then began what was called 6 hour checks. These checks required us to routine all of the Radar Equipment, mine being the ABAR. We used oscilloscopes to adjust all the pots in the Transmit and Receive cabinets, reviewed all of the "fixes" on our PPI scope, routined the antenna and fired up the ABAR console. These checks took about an hour to complete. Once all checked out we usually ran practice tracks for about 2 hours. Now figure this out: we began this at 0900, did it again at 1500 hrs, than again at 2100, and finally at 0300. That equates to 3 hours in the morning, afternoon, evening and early morning. In between all of this fun we stood two 4 hour guard duties, then the rest of the time we did maintainence. NO SLEEP. We did have bunks on the hill but nobody knew what they were there for since none of us used them. The average age on the hill was about 18 1/2 and the Battery Control Officer was about 24. All in all we were very good at what we did. How did we know how good we were? War Games of course. The war games usually went on for about 3 days, if you were lucky you only spent 3 days awake instead of 4 unless if you were the crew that was going to be relieved that morning. War Games involved the Air Force, Navy and anything else that was willing to try their luck trying to get into our defense, no one was successful, go figure, we were 18+ years old, sleep deprived, and well trained. The best part of this experience is that the Russians knew we were good and only harassed us now and then. As far as I'm concerned we were the best and, all of the Nike soldiers were on top of their game, from the IFC to the missile pushers, we all had a mission, and we all knew how to achieve it.
I was reviewing your list of Nike Site dangers and stumbled upon liver and onions as one of the dangers. Was this intended to gain a chuckle from your sites’ viewers, or is this a code word for something much more serious?
Dave, there is no secret about Liver and Onions, as a matter of fact I loved eating the meal whenever it was served in the mess hall. To be part of the Nike system during the 60’s you had to have volunteered to take an additional year on your enlistment, that would be 4 years. Once you did the enlistment you were given a series of tests to determine your, for lack of better words, best qualifications. It is a measurement the army uses to place soldiers in jobs, and in the Nike system that meant either being a Launch crew member or an IFC crew member (radar). I was fortunate to have scored high and was selected to serve in the IFC and was given the ABAR job (Alternate Battery Acquisition Radar). With that all being said, you had to score very high on the tests to even qualify for the Nike system, if you volunteered and did not score high you were assigned to jobs like supply and motor pool etc, which was also a very important part of the entire mission. All in all the overall scores were higher than the base line to be in the regular army, the reason for the high qualifications is we were responsible for the secrets and deployment of nuclear weapons. So now you know that we were dealing with a lot of responsible soldiers all in one place and the most common place we all got together was in the mess hall... now the danger of Liver and Onions!!!!! There are not a whole lot of people whom I have met that will even be in the same room when they are cooking the stuff!!! To my joy, when I went through the mess line I asked all of my liver haters to get it put on their plate and give it me at the table. I usually traded something on my plate or my dessert just so they had something to eat. You just could not believe how distressed all of these “intellectuals” got when they didn’t get their normal diet of either chicken or steak!!! So when you hear about the dangers of liver and onions, you can surmise the defense of the country was at stake due to a lot of upset, hungry Nike missile soldiers... LOL. “If it flies it dies” There may be other stories about the dangers of liver and onions that I don’t know about, but this is my take and I’m standing to it!!! Again, LOL. Al