Important Announcement

We would like to thank our loyal fellow members of the Nike Historical Society for your continued support over the years. We will be closing the Society, including the store, as of March 31, 2024. We have acquired a large repository of Nike technical information. The web site will continue to be available. It has been our pleasure to keep the legacy of the Nike missile's contribution of the successful conclusion to the Cold War.

the Board of Directors
Nike Historical Society


Nike Security

Security on a Nike Missile Site was very tight, especially at the Launcher Area. Personnel who worked in the Launcher Area, Service and Assembly Area, and the Integrated Fire Control all had security clearances ranging from Secret to Top Secret. The use of the phrase, "The need to know" U.S. Army restricted area warning sign posted on Nike site fencingwas widely used and the level of system knowledge and operations was controlled. For example, the Launcher Area personnel and the Integrated Fire Control personnel had separate barracks and were strongly encouraged not to socialize with each other or even sit at the same table in the mess hall. It even went further than that. Lets say you worked in the HIPAR building. You were allowed to go into the Corridor Building, but were not to go into either the Battery Control, or Radar Control Vans that were connected to the building, yet the van crews could go into the HIPAR building. Launcher personnel could not go into the Warhead Assembly building or the Launcher Control Trailer. It went into more detail then this, but you can see how "The need to know" was controlled. There were access rosters at every guard station and if your name was not on the roster you didn't go in unless you were escorted, or didn't go in at all! For example, there was a captain who recently was promoted to major. On the access roster at the Exclusion Area Gate he was still listed as a captain. The major received a broken arm and other bodily damage when he attempted to walk by the M.P. at the gate.

P.F.C. Thimas M. Wright checks a car and driver at the entrance to the Nike-Hercules Integrated Fire Control Area near Cambria.
Above photo courtesy of NPS GGNRA Ezio Nurisio Nike Collection

Security was always being tested and sometimes individuals received a wake up call on what was meant by the word "security". There was a time when an attractive women drove up and stopped in front of the main gate to the Integrated Fire Control. The guard walked up to the gate and inquired what she was stopped there for. In the brief conversation that ensued the attractive woman asked the guard if she could take his picture. The guard consented. She had the guard unlock the gate, walk outside, and took his picture. After another brief conversation, she drove off. About 30 minutes later the guard was called in front of the Battery Commander. The Battery Commander showed the guard the photo he recently posed for, but that really wasn't the topping on the cake. It was what the guard was standing next to: the restricted area sign that stated no photographs, etc.!

Then there was the time when a civilian employee of the U.S. Army drove up to the Admin. Area gate and told the M.P. that he had some fire extinguishers replacements for A-pit. He was allowed to enter. He then drove up to the Launcher Area gate and informed the M.P. on duty there about the fire extinguishers. The M.P. checked the access roster and found that the civilian's name was on it. He then signed the civilian in, issued him an access badge and allowed him to enter. The civilian then drove up to the Exclusion Area gate. He informed the M.P. manning the gate that he had fire extinguishers for A-pit. The M.P. on duty recognized the civilian employee and knew he was on the Exclusion Area's access roster, but also was aware that he required an escort. The M.P. called for an escort then proceeded to sign the civilian employee in and issued him the proper badge. When the escort came to the Exclusion Area gate, the M.P. let the civilian worker in. Under escort, the civilian employee removed two fire extinguishers from his truck and went down into A-pit where he replaced two old extinguishers with the two new ones. He then came back upstairs, got into his truck and exited the Exclusion Area, the Launcher Area, and the Admin. Area, and then drove away. A short time later a Group security team paid a visit to the battery. They met with the Battery Commander, who accompanied the team to the Exclusion Area. Once in the Exclusion Area the team descended A-pit stairs, along with the Battery Commander. Once in A-pit team members walked directly to the two new fire extinguishers. The extinguishers were removed from their hangers and the Battery Commander was asked to look at them closely, which he did. Once he was satisfied, he stated, "they look like normal extinguishers". The head of the Security Team turned each extinguisher upside down. On the bottom of each extinguisher there was small piece of paper taped to it. The piece of paper had four words written on it. "This is a bomb." Even though the M.P.s at both the Launcher Area and Exclusion area verified that the civilian's name was on the access roster, signed him in, and issued the proper badges, they failed to completely search the civilian's vehicle.

Do you have some security stories to tell? If so send them to the Webmaster, and I'll post them.

Top Secret cover sheet

Security Tale

I am Ken Lautzenheiser and was a comm. Officer from '63 through '65 at B-1-60, Site C-32, Porter, Ind. The CO actually gave me a furlough and it was the first time I got away from the Btry since getting there. I handled TS and all the other documents and we received a one-page replacement in one of the manuals the day I left. I replaced it and secured it according to current SOP. The next day, BN wrote a new SOP requiring all documents to be destroyed the day of receipt.

The CO called me to get my ass back to the Btry and destroy the document according to the new SOP – There was no assistant and he couldn’t do it. The call came about 6:00 PM and I had to be in his office before 7:00AM the next morning. I was there in dress uniform and my security NCO and I took care of the business of document destruction. The exciting part of the story is that I received the call in Monteagle, TN where my mother lived, 540 miles away.

No problem, though.; I was young and ate chicken shit by the bucketful. Hopefully I kept a good attitude.

Good training for life.

Confidential cover sheet

Security Tale

I was a young PFC assigned to NIKE C Battery 2nd Battalion, 517th ARTY at Detroit Metro Airport. When I arrived the battery commander was away on TDY and I had never seen him although his picture was on the wall of the mess hall. One morning as I was standing guard at the launch area, a small sports car pulled up with an officer at the wheel. I waved him in and shortly afterward went back to the IFC area for breakfast chow. As soon as we arrived I was summoned to the first sergeant's office. Trembling with fear, I reported. Why, he wanted to know, did I wave a car into the launch area without requesting identification of an officer whom I had never seen. I grasped at the first thing that came to mind. I had seen his picture on the mess hall wall and recognized him as the absentee battery commander. The first sergeant dismissed me gruffly. I went to breakfast certain that I was in deep shit. In the middle of breakfast the first sergeant called the mess hall to attention and related the fact that a launch area guard had waved the newly returned captain in without requiring his identification. Then he went on to praise me as being alert and perceptive in recognizing the captain from his picture! I sat down to the best meal I had ever eaten in the army.

Gary Clark, former Nike Site GMIEER

I was a Military Police Dog Handler in the late 1960's. I was assigned to C battery in Pacific Mo. I eventualy became the Security Sgt. One day, this CWO forgot my dog was a sentry dog and walked right up to us to pet him. My dog bit his hand so deep he had to get stitches. From then on, he always called the Guard Shack to make sure the dog was put away before he came up to the launcher area.

I dug up a purple heart and gave him a letter stating how much my dog enjoyed his hand!

I have many stories like that....

Paul Braun
Lt. retired CCSD

Secret cover sheet

I was a young 2LT -- Launcher Platoon Leader at a Nike site in Herminie, PA -- Battery B 3rd Battalion 1st Artillery from 1968 -70. I was also the Battery Security Officer.

Story #1

A very good friend of mine had applied to the FBI and listed me as a reference. One day two FBI agents showed up at the Launcher Control Area gate. Of course they were not on the access roster but showed the guard on duty there FBI identification. They insisted since they were Federal agents they should be let in. He correctly refused and ordered them to leave. They then mentioned my name and that they needed to see me. The guard contacted me and I went to the gate. I complemented the guard on duty and went out to talk to them. They still wanted to come onto the site to talk to me in my office. I told them no and I escorted them to my off site house where they interviewed me. It went well. My friend was accepted into the FBI. He had a 34 year career as an agent and was the agent in charge of a liaison team that coordinated all of the investigations in Florida after 9-11.

Story #2

I was escorting a Major around the Launching Area during -- I think it was a NAICP test. When we approached the Exclusion Area guard shack he asked me to give the guard the duress code. I said I can categorically vouch that everyone knows the duress code and will take appropriate action. He said I want you to give the code. I reluctantly complied. The guard without hesitation threw the Major to the ground and cocked his weapon and put it directly on his temple. I had to physically pull him off and explain it was only a test and that there was no threat. It took some convincing but the guard backed off. I don't think the Major ever did that again.

All the best !!

M.P. behind closed gate at entrance to Nike launch site

As an M.P., I was assigned to a Security unit at B-4-44 in South Korea 1966-1967. It was a Sunday, I was working the main gate at the Admin.area, when a ROK jeep pulled up to the gate with a ROK driver, and a ROK Army General. The ROK General spoke very fluent English, and explained to me that he was educated in the U.S., he needed fuel and chow for himself and his driver. I explained to him that I could not allow him on the Compound, but I would call the BOQ, and let the Batt. Commander talk with him. The ROK General became belligerent and nasty. He claimed to be in the area contacting Korean families who had casualties in Vietnam. Batt.Commander arrived with 5 gal.can of fuel,and a bag of sandwiches from the mess hall for the 2 ROKs. Bottom line, security was very strict on our Battery. I was and still am very proud of our troops in Korea.

Bob Hopkins
Eaton Ohio