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My Trip To A Missile Silo

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posted on Mar, 22 2005 @ 01:41 PM
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I am publishing this information because I do not deem it as "classified." The cold war has long since ended, and as it was a "planned" tour by the USAF, I do not believe it will compromise any essential information. I recently remembered this, and asked my father if it was accurate (yes), and could I share what I saw (yes).

As a young child (8 or 9), I was allowed to attend a rare opportunity for families of "Missileers" to tour a missileer silo. My father was a key-turner during the beginning of his career. It was a morale-lifter for troops to show their families their jobs, and missileers rarely had the opportunity to even speak of what they did. So, a tour was planned solely for families. I'm willing to bet that it was also because the wives always complained about not knowing where their husbands were thirty days at a stretch. Grin.

It was amazing.

We were taken by non-descript buses to a missile site. The ride was long (as a child, everything takes forever), and extended far into farm country here in North Dakota.

By all outward appearances, it looked like an ordinary farm. A tidy gravel road encircled the inside of the fences. The fences, also non-descript, were able to detect movement from rabbits (a huge pain in the rear for the SP's, who were required to identify and document every breach). We entered the "farmhouse," where a middle-aged couple actually "lived" in (!!!!), and exchanged pleasantries with them. Looking back, it doesn't seem logical that the man and woman would be civilians. The interior was decorated as a home would be, but it was missing a few things....knick knacks, mail, newspapers, etc. It was very clean and tidy, and I remember being told that the couple was "paid" to live there. I was not told if they were civilians.

We were led to a locked "closet." The couple had the key to open it. I believe they had it ready for the tour. Once the closet was open, we were led down a short, dim hallway to a door with a line-badge swiper (kinda like today's credit card swipers). A numeric code was also required for entrance. It wasn't modern by today's standards, but I suppose it was state-of-the-art at the time. It wasn't digital. The buttons jutted out like pay-phone buttons.

Once the door was open, we were led into a large cage. We were informed that it was an elevator and to be ready for a long ride. Another pain in the rear for the missileers, they said. It wasn't time-consuming solely because of the distance beneath the ground, but I think now that it was also for security reasons (in case there was a breach, the missileers would have time to execute a plan and communicate the breach to higher powers). I also believe why it was a cage, because once we reached the quarters, it had to be unlocked by personnel from outside of the cage. All personnel were required to wear a side-arm, though the holsters were empty for obvious reasons.

So, should someone have identified the silo location, penetrated the motion-sensored fence, made it pass the SP's (less than a minute response time), made it to the farmhouse, acquired the closet key from the couple living in the house, known which closet led to the elevator, had a coded line badge, known the numeric passcode to the payphone device, entered the elevator cage, endured the several-minute ride down without interference, they would have been in a locked cage with pistols pointing at them once the elevator reached the bottom.

(note to self: Hey, that's a pretty good idear)

We were pretty much shown the living quarters, which resembled a submarine. The crew acted like brothers. The only technology we got to see was a series of large consoles, about thirty feet wide, with blank computer screens. Lots of manual switches and buttons. We were shown the "key" mechanism for launching the missiles. It takes two men simultaneously to launch a missile on command. My father was one of these men. He explained that his job was to basically live there, maintain the hardware and software, and wait for a "the call."
l
He gravely explained that there were two "back-up" men in case one of the two could not turn the key. I did not understand it at the time, but I realize now the psychological turmoil that passed through their minds during exercises. Because of this, psychiatric evaluations were necessary two times a year. All medications, should one man become sick, had to be authorized by a flight surgeon. If any medication affected the brain (e.g. painkillers) the man was removed from his duties until approved by a flight surgeon.

Later in life, I was told that the pistols they carried were not only for protection from intruders, they were protection from each other. I will never grasp why (perhaps you might?), but it was explained to me that the pressure placed on these men was unsurmountable. They were not the decision-makers... they were the messengers. If "the phone" (I wasn't shown what "the phone" was) rang, they had no authorization nor time to ask "Why?" or "Are you sure?"

Looking back, I realize it was a situation I would not have been able to handle. These guys never saw sunlight..they could watch tv and occasionally call home...but they were in a war-time scenario the entire time they were there. Though they were not on the front-lines, they had the power of a single turn-key to ruin humanity. And it wasn't their decision. They trusted each other with their lives...what if one man decided to try to save humanity by shooting the key-turners?

So many what if's....

I was also told (and this has already been documented) that there were two instances that my father had to stand with the key in place.

So..... that's my account of my Silo tour. As a child, it was boring. I would love to have seen it again.

Dot.




posted on Mar, 22 2005 @ 01:57 PM
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yeh it would have been cool i would have loved to see all that equipment and #
it would have been great to be in an actual nuclear missile lauch silo/platform holy sheeeeaat

even better i wonder how anyone would get a job their hmmmm interesting



posted on Mar, 22 2005 @ 02:37 PM
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Originally posted by elmojones3000
even better i wonder how anyone would get a job their hmmmm interesting


He has a Master's Degree in Aeronautical Enginerering, which was paid for entirely by the Air Force. When he joined, he simply had a Bachelor's in English. LOL. The military has programmes for earning additional degrees, particularly if it pertains to..well.. the military itself. So he moved up the ranks pretty quickly by figuring out that attending classes on-base would help him get the job he dreamed of.

Which he eventually did many years later.

Please note... I am not intentionally endorsing the miliitary...it is not the sole way to acquire an awesome job. Education is the key. So be cool and stay in school.

Grin.
Dot.



posted on Mar, 22 2005 @ 03:49 PM
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Many decomisioned, flooded, abandoned, damaged, and perfectly good silos are for sale; either to be used as bomb shelters, or converted into upscale residences. You can buy silos, also storage bunkers, fallout shelters, and even command and control centers.

The prices vary, you can get a single silo for under 50k usually, a command center operational for a quarter million, a command center flooded for under 50k, and multiple silo configurations for under a 100k.

The coolest ones are the partially flooded command bunkers in the US. They're huge, in many cases a quarter million square feet or more. They often have hermetically sealed communication quarters which survived the flooding, fully stocked with about half a dozen communication devices, computers, back up devices, secure phone and electric lines, and many other nifty goodies like surveillance monitors and lots of flashing lights.


Some are partially flooded, some are completely flooded on many levels, and partially flooded on others. Most of these big complexes are situated under a farm house. The smaller ones, and the silo configurations are usually distinguished by a utility shed surrounded by chain link fences.

The smaller silo tubes make excellent three tier loft style apartment conversions, and the multiple silo tubes make a living space approximate to a townhouse or brownstone in the city. The obvious benefits are protection from the elements, and subteranean utility connections in most cases.

There are a ton of small underground bunkers in Scotland and England. These can be had for a few thousand pounds, and are large enough to accomodate a family for several weeks. Some are much bigger, but most of the ones put up for sale by the government in recent years were quite tiny, intended for brief periods of occupation. Most of them are in the countryside, fairly innacessible from major cities. I don't know how many have been sold, but demand was not that high on them.

The ones in the states on the other hand were getting bought up and remodeled in rapid fire fashion, but investors mostly ignored the flooded ones, which were also the least expensive to purchase.

In many cases the flooded bunkers were actually flooded intentionally, pumped full of water to prevent vagrants from setting up shop when there were no active duty personell maintaining the facilities. Most of them are water tight, meaning the water is just sitting in there stagnating, and can easily be pumped out. Easily is a relative term, mind you.

I have a plan to buy up several of the super size facilties, dredge them and refinish them, and offer exclusive membership to the fallout shelters, time share style. A yearly pass would guarantee like one week stay a year, and unlimited 'disaster time' over that period. A life time membership would include 2 weeks a year use, and unlimited 'disaster time' usage. So basically, if you were a member of the club you would always have a place to go if your house burned down, or the seas rose, or Rainier erupts or whatever.

And if that plan doesn't fly, I'm just going to turn them into free use shelters, and publcize the locations so anybody without a place to hunker down if things get hectic, has a place to go. These things are HUGE in many cases, and for 30k, you can't beat that with a stick.



posted on Mar, 22 2005 @ 03:57 PM
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Acouple of years ago I worked on a project to remidiate some minor environmental issues (ie asbestos, lead based paint, old underground storage tanks etc) at a couple of former Nike sites. THese were all around most of the major American cities.

Most of them are already in private hands having been sold off as surplus years ago.

There is even on in Portage Indiana that theya re trying to preserve as a historic site

www.geocities.com...



posted on Mar, 22 2005 @ 04:10 PM
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Yeah they are quite unsafe in many ways. There's a lot of renovation to be done, paticularly in the hazardous materials field, like asbestos and lead as you said. Another really big problem is the aging nature of the structures, some are ancient! More than 50 years old in some cases. There are some really nice ones to be had if you're wealthy, since many have already been rehabbed and sold, or are on the market.

I don't have a million bucks, so I'm lookin' to break out the heavy dredger.



posted on Mar, 22 2005 @ 04:33 PM
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Originally posted by dotgov101
He gravely explained that there were two "back-up" men in case one of the two could not turn the key...

...Later in life, I was told that the pistols they carried were not only for protection from intruders, they were protection from each other. I will never grasp why (perhaps you might?)...


My brother worked a silo for a time during his USAF days.
If I'm to understand correctly, the two "back-up" men served another purpose: to ensure that the first two executed their job. If one of them refuses to turn the key, he would be immediately relieved of duty and brigged till courtmartial. If he wasn't cooperative... well, that's where the pistols came into play.

Having watched a lot of 24, I can see why all of them had a sidearm. Infiltrate a base with enough sleepers, and they could overpower the rest if no weapons were involved. At least one man would have a chance against the rest if he had a gun. Of course, it also works the other way around.

Regardless, great post. Thank you for sharing. You get one of my "Way Ups"




posted on Mar, 22 2005 @ 04:49 PM
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thelibra
As I understand it the sidearm is not just for use against sleepers/intruders. The men were in many cases confined underground for long stretches at a time, some key-men were considered at risk for a psychotic break under pressure. The screening was good and all, but just like astronauts, that sort of pressure (no pun intended) and that sort of isolation can be very unhealthy. The mind is more susceptible to stress fractures when it's denied natural sunlight and normal surroundings. Submarine crews know all about this.

The options were limited, either take all the guns away and put the facility at risk, or, give out lots of sidearms to limit the risk of one of the 'privilged' gun holders from putting the whole facility at risk. I think it's the only option, right?



posted on Mar, 22 2005 @ 05:16 PM
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This may help .
www.nuclearwinter.com...



posted on Mar, 22 2005 @ 05:20 PM
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Cool link. That's neat that they kept one intact with the missle, but I personally would love to see most of these faciilities converted into housing.

I do like the historical value of this. Imagine if you lived in one next door to a museum, you could take your kid to go see the museum, and explain to them the irony that what are now houses, used to house weapons. But then society wised up and decided to give houses to people instead of weapons. Good lesson.




posted on Mar, 22 2005 @ 05:33 PM
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Originally posted by thelibra
Regardless, great post. Thank you for sharing. You get one of my "Way Ups"


Thank you. Grin. I thought it might be a nice fact to throw out. I've been told that the USAF ensures the highest morale as opposed to other branches of the military (not trying to start a debate, though). I thought it was pretty neat showing the families where and why the fathers were where they were.

I remember Dad was so proud showing off the specs.

These "family days" have had their shortcomings. I was told about how a C-130 nearly crashed during a "bring the wife to work" day. A few officers had their wives on the flight, and were showing off the cockpit. Distractions occurred within the cockpit (no details as to what these distractions were), and that was the finis of Family Day for any type of hazardous military exercises for the USAF.

Grin. I would have paid to have been a fly on the wall for that.

Dot.



posted on Mar, 22 2005 @ 06:10 PM
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Originally posted by WyrdeOne
thelibra
As I understand it the sidearm is not just for use against sleepers/intruders. The men were in many cases confined underground for long stretches at a time, some key-men were considered at risk for a psychotic break under pressure. The screening was good and all, but just like astronauts, that sort of pressure (no pun intended) and that sort of isolation can be very unhealthy. The mind is more susceptible to stress fractures when it's denied natural sunlight and normal surroundings. Submarine crews know all about this.


In a round-a-bout way, that was how it was explained to me later in years by my father. The ventilation system was substandard, and the air had the quality of the cabin of a commercial jet. There were no trips "up top." No fresh air and no smoke breaks. Each person had a 12-hour watch. Recreation was limited to television, chess, cards, and talking. The crew knew each other better than their own wives. There was limited space to move about (as the pics in Hank's links show), and exercise consisted of stretching and short walks with their workplace as their scenery. They had to stretch often, as most of their time was spent sitting at the console or laying in their bunks. I remember my father would come home and take 3-hour baths...there were no bathtubs, and his muscles would spasm following a stint.

Yes, the guns were for each other. They didn't state this at "Family Day," I was told of this later. Not only were they deprived of fresh air, sunshine, space, and stimuli, most had expertise in the effects of a nuclear detonation. I remember seeing VHS movies (while Dad was taking a class) of nuclear detonations. He would have to play them over and over...

They were literally sitting on a WMD before the phrase became a household term. They had no control over whether or not to launch it. They would never be told why they should, and were definitely not told as to why they should NOT. It's much easier for Uncle Sam to make a phone call than it is to be responsible for pushing the red button (euphemism).

Add up all these facets of their careers, you have to figure that at least ONE person out of the couple hundred waiting for The Call, would crack. Deadly orders had to be followed, and deadly force would have been needed to administer these orders.

I didn't wish to add this to my initial post, as I did not wish to portray my father as a brute, but as the topic has changed slightly I will reveal it:

I asked him once what he would have done had his partner not counted down to one (they counted backwards from three). He told me he would have had no choice but to immediately relieve him of his task. The next man in command would have taken over. Had his partner resisted, my father literally said, "There would have been no choice but to shoot him, pointe blank."

He wasn't a brute...that was part of his training. Gruesome, yes, but even those who are huddled at desks and consoles are soldiers. We tend to forget this, particularly with the US occupation of the Middle East.

Dot.



posted on Mar, 22 2005 @ 07:32 PM
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I know because I worked in the silos. Shame on you for posting this crap.



posted on Mar, 22 2005 @ 08:06 PM
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Originally posted by Softwareman1
I know because I worked in the silos. Shame on you for posting this crap.


Sigh. Perhaps you could state why you feel dotgov101’s post is based on inaccuracies? And perhaps also point to things that you found correct? A much better use of a post, IMHO.

And personally, I’ve enjoyed this thread. I haven’t come across anything much like it on ATS, and have been a little bored with all the regular news on ATS. Not that the regular news has been boring..just that most of the new things on ATS lately have been mainstream news.

dotgov101, I’m glad you posted this. And I’d like to point out various people, including yourself, have made good points about:

Why a silo house is a cool idea – History is important. One good way to teach our children what we should and shouldn’t be doing.

People in isolation - Why indeed do they need to take various steps to protect themselves and each other? After reading about Antarctica for 3 weeks straight this year, I learned a lot about what happens to people when you don’t have the things you take for granted, over the long term. It’s not a pretty picture.

Odd Procedures - Procedures that appear “gruesome” might be there for reasons people won’t be able to understand unless they were “in” that situation. I’ve strived to stay away from assuming anything, and prefer to give a concept a fair chance.

Including dotgov101’s post. Thanks again for posting a bit of fresh air into ATS.


-VW



posted on Mar, 23 2005 @ 04:25 AM
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Originally posted by Softwareman1
I know because I worked in the silos. Shame on you for posting this crap.


This is NOT A STORY, nor IS IT CRAP.

My father was a misileer for almost ten years, based out of Grand Forks AFB, ND. He started his posting as a First Lieutenant, and was constantly TDY to Omaha, Nebraska in addition to his duties as misileer. Following that, he flew with the "Looking Glass" EC-135 while a Captain. He will not tell me what he did there, but I remember wishing that he was on the AWACS instead (thought the disc on top of the plane was neat) I cannot go on from there with his following job descriptions, because A) It would be against his wishes, and B) His job descriptions were not told to me.

Geeze, if one were to concoct a story, wouldn't it be something a bit more "glamorous?" Like the OSI (if you even know what the OSI are), or how about saying he worked at AREA 51 like the real fiction in this forum? Furthermore, I was ten years old at the time. I also collaborated what I remembered with him, and believe you me, he is not the type of person to start spewing off BS. He was ansy about my writing this to begin with. Everything I wrote was true.

Unless you can say you know who he is, and you've worked with him in that same exact location, your claim that my post is CRAP is in itself CRAP. I stand by my post, and defend what I have seen with my own two eyes, and also defend my father's career.

You're discrediting a retired, high-ranking and decorated man who slaved his way to where he is today, most of which was during the Cold War. Should you have said this to his face, he would have smiled at you and walked off.

Which is what I will do right now.
Dot.



posted on Mar, 23 2005 @ 06:12 AM
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Originally posted by dotgov101

Originally posted by Softwareman1
I know because I worked in the silos. Shame on you for posting this crap.


This is NOT A STORY, nor IS IT CRAP.


I can add my own defense to this as well.

While I have never personally gotten to visit a silo, this matches closely enough with what my brother described of his time in one. My money is on Dotgov101 on this one.



posted on Mar, 23 2005 @ 08:27 AM
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I've never visited a silo that was manned and operating, so to speak, so I don't know about the procedures first hand, but I have seen quite a few silos empty.

What's your basis for disagreement? I don't suppose we'll hear it, you're probably off to troll somewhere else.

www.missilebases.com...

www.siloworld.com...

www.cronaca.com...

There are just a few links, they show some interesting properties, and give a little background information on operations, history or use, and locations. Enjoy!



posted on Mar, 23 2005 @ 12:53 PM
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Originally posted by WyrdeOne
Cool link. That's neat that they kept one intact with the missle, but I personally would love to see most of these faciilities converted into housing.


I am sure you have heard of this before, but there was an Atlas missile silo converted into a (quite expensive) home, complete with paved runway. silohome.com...
And there are of course many other silohomes/empty silos out there, but this one sticks out in my mind. www.missilebases.com...

And dotgov101,
That was a good post(s).

[edit on 3-23-2005 by Sarcasimo]



posted on Mar, 23 2005 @ 05:02 PM
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Thank you for believing me. I would not have written so much about a two-decade-old visit to a missile silo had it been false. This has been on my mind all day at work (it really, really bugged me), and I just wish to point out a few things.

Fabricated stories do run rampant here. The problem with discussing military installations is that there is a fine line between what one can and cannot say. I gave as many details as I could remember...even told my brother this morning about my post being flamed. He was floored, as he'd been there, also.

I mean... come on... it was Family Day. I'm sure it had been planned well in advance. The computer monitors had been turned off, we were bused there, and were shown very little of the comp-trol centre. They made the presentation rather humorous and light-hearted.

As a military brat, I was able to see my father at his workpost THREE TIMES during his entire career, the remaining two I will not write about (permission denied from him).

He isn't a "let's talk about the ol'days' type of man. Quite the contrary. He almost had a heart attack when I mentioned several locations I've learned about through ATS. He wondered how all of us were able to share such information, and told me to "be careful!" Grin.

He is happily retired...and a different man than he was back then. Though he doesn't regret the service he has performed for our country, he says he could never do it again.

All silos are different. Perhaps those who served in other silos saw and experienced different things.

I would love to purchase one, not for the architecture nor the inpenetrability, but for the irony. I find it interesting how the government has de-commisioned them and given us the opportunity (have we the money) to buy what was once Really Above Top Secret. This rarely occurs with government facilities. Granted, they aren't in top-notch shape, but it's still remarkable.

Thank you once more.
Dot.



posted on Mar, 23 2005 @ 06:58 PM
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Grand Forks AFB used to have the 321st Strategic Missle Wing which comprised the WS-133B. WS stands for Weapon System and 133B stands for the Minuteman III. A wing was comprised of 150 missle silos (LF-Launch Facility) and had 15 Launch Control Facilities, LCF. Each LCF had primary responsibility for 10 silos. It also had verification responsiblity for an additional 10 silos. The Launch Facility was unmanned. The Launch Control Facilty was manned with launch crews, security police and cooks. It also had sleeping facilities for crews that were working at the launch facilities that needed to stay overnight to continue their work the next day. You can only work 16 hours when dealing with nuclear weapons. The reason certian people carried side arms was to protect the Top Secret information in their possesion. Top Secret information required two man control. Each person had to carry a side arm as well.

Anyone can arrange a tour of a training LCF at the Air Force base that supports a missile wing. It is very interesting to see. Visitors are not allowed at real facilities because the nuclear weapon is present there. In addition ladders and such are not good for civilians to have to climb on. The training site has stairs for the tours.

By the way Missile Men have more thrust.



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