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Inadvertent Nike Launch in S. Korea

   From: Roger
Subject: stories from Roger R
   Date: 13 April 2023	

I was a launcher crewman with D Battery, 4th Bn, 44th Ada, Camp Huston, Yogu, Korea from about Jan 1967 to about Mar 1968. It was supposed to be only a 13 month tour, but a few of us got extended because of the Pueblo incident.

On 20 Apr 1967 the IFC had been tracking a North Korean Mig. I was on duty when we got a "Battle Stations" (this was nearly an everyday occurrence). I was first to check out my missile so it was selected to fire. After about 20 minutes the Launcher Control Panel Operator was told to stand down, and about that time the missile took off. The booster landed in the Hahn River. The missile, for some reason, did not fail-safe (blow itself up) as intended. Instead, it came apart in the air and fell over many square miles of S. Korea.

I remember only one other crewman; the Launcher Control Panel crewman was Myron W. Goad. Maybe some other readers who were on the crew will read this and add their perspective.

More info from Ed Durffee, CW4 Ret

After reading a comment by a missile man in Korea, D Btry, Yogu Re: Inadvertent launch of a Missile, I would just add this:

At the time of the incident the N. Koreans and the US pilots in the South were constantly challenging the Air Def on the opposite side by making high speed runs directly at the DMZ and turning just before crossing the line. They could tell who was up to par and who wasn't by the response they got and the time it took.

It was on one of these occasions that D-btry, commanded by a Capt Voltz, was hot and called to Battle Stations. At stand down the missile was to be lowered but it took off as described by the young man before and created a real problem. Two things resulted from that incident.

  1. Batteries were brought to only 5 minute status after that
  2. Capt Voltz was referred to as Stray Voltz from that day on.

Capt Voltz and his men were found to not be at fault. BTW, it was not funny at the time.

Followup from Roger Rigney

... 2nd Lt. Voltz ... was probably B.C.O. (Battery Control Operator) on the day this happened. The Battery Commander was Earl B Savage, who commanded this unit from 3 Aug 1966 to 10 June 1967. ...

Added story by Phil Esquibel

Roger, I was the Ops and training NCO. I worked with the 1SG and CPT Savage. I had nine days till rotation, my hold baggage had been shipped and I was counting the days. I was a short timer, so I thought. I had pulled CQ the night before and came off duty. I had just returned from the shower and the house boy was doing his morning chores when suddenly all hell broke loose in the Quonset hut. We heard the explosion, and the place was shaking. The wall lockers fell on us and then moments later here comes SPC Kitchens running from outside to tell us a missile had taken off, and I thought to myself "well, I guess this is it".

Later, the personnel at the admin area were ordered to the arms room to draw our weapons and then later we were briefed and dispersed to the mountainsides to look for parts and pieces. We found some large pieces during the next few days and they were taken to the assembly area, where they were being collected. As I recall they posted a reward to recover the batteries and I remember the excitement at the admin area the day the gate guard called the orderly room to notify us there was a papa-san at the gate claiming to have the batteries, and he did have them, on his ox drawn cart. I was always curious how much that guy received in won.

We had a lot of visitors during the first few days that followed. The 8th army CG flew in and the ROK infantry was nearby and special forces guys. I was told that there were some navy personnel at the site also. I assume that they were to be the ones coordinating diving the Hahn river.