Thanksgiving in the Heartland

Copyright © 1999-2010, Scott D. Murdock
17 May 2010 - Added additional photos, upgraded existing photos.

Wednesday, 24 Nov 1999

We drove from Arlington, Texas, to Offutt AFB, Nebraska.  Along the way, we stopped at Forbes AF Missile Site #9, 4 miles north of Holton, Kansas.  It is now Jackson Heights School, Home of the Cobras.  As you drive up the access road to the school, the spray pond to your left is the first clue to an ICBM heritage.  Then, as you ease to the left of the first school building -- voila, one each Atlas E coffin launcher.  It is just behind and adjacent to the school building.  Further ahead, in a parking area, is the communications silo.  A brick wall with a roll-up garage door and a personnel door has replaced the vertical launcher access door.  It appeared as though the command center was underneath the school building.  The flame pit has been obliterated, but much of the hardware immediately surrounding the launcher is intact, inside a fence.  A pitched roof covers the horizontal launcher door.

We stayed in billeting on Offutt AFB, my first ever visit to this base.  Our suite faced STRATCOM headquarters, so we had a view of the Trident and Minuteman missiles on the front lawn of the HQ building.  Nothing against jointness, but I suspect Curtis LeMay would roll over in his grave if he knew a Navy sentry was guarding the gate at Offutt AFB! 

The largest building on Offutt is the former Air Force Plant #1.  During W.W.II, this was known as Government Owned Assembly Plant #1, or simply as the Martin Bomber Plant.  In the late 1940s, the facility was used for industrial reserve storage.

Thursday, 25 Nov 1999

After feasting on turkey, why watch football on TV when you can look for the local Nike missile site?  So we headed for highway 92 east of Council Bluffs to see OF-10.  The Integrated Fire Control (IFC) site, OF-10C, is south of the road, at 41-13-52, 95-42-34.  Now occupied by the Loess Hills Education Service Unit, it was gated and locked.  We couldn't identify much from outside the fence, except one short antenna tower (perhaps the MTR?).  There seems to be quite a bit of new construction. 

A short distance to the east, also on the south side of highway 92, sits the launcher site, OF-10L.  It also was gated and locked, and due to the terrain not much at all was visible.  We could see the inner security gate, and one or two other buildings.  This was an aboveground launcher site, with 12 Nike Hercules missiles on their launchers in a series of earthen berms.  Location is 41-13-52, 95-42-14.

Friday, 26 Nov 1999

The first event of the day was a visit to the SAC Museum, located halfway between Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska.  (Note the Blue Scout Jr. rocket in the photo -- the early ERCS platform.)  Nice place, I recommend it.  Most of the aircraft still show the ravages of outside display on Offutt AFB, but the museum is undertaking a restoration program.

Since we were in the neighborhood, we headed to another SAC artifact: Offutt AF Missile Site #1, near Mead, Nebraska.  The signs were a bit confusing, and it was hard to tell if the missile complex was Army National Guard or Nebraska University property.  As I was pondering the signage, a gentleman drove out of the missile base in a pickup truck.   I asked him about the property, and he said it was owned by the university and leased by his company for ranching and storage.  He welcomed us to look around, so we did.  Making a counterclockwise loop, I first paused at a building with a round ring on the roof -- I don't know its purpose.  Then we stopped at Launcher #3, my first Atlas D launcher!  Not much here except concrete walls. The inside was interesting to explore.  The launcher exhaust duct opened into an earthen, grassed flame pit.  Continuing along, we passed launcher #2 and launcher #1.  Then we passed a couple of small storage buildings and finally the Launch Operations Building. This Atlas site is just east of numerous W.W.II era ammunition bunkers on the grounds of the former Nebraska Ordnance Plant.

Motoring back into Omaha, we found the former Fort Omaha on the west side of highway 75, at 41-18-38, 95-57-18.  Conveniently marked, it is now the Fort Omaha Campus of Metropolitan College.  It probably looks very much like it did in W.W.I when it was an Air Service Balloon School, with brick buildings surrounding the parade ground.  

Continuing north, we located the former Omaha AFS.  It's on the west side of North 72nd Street, at 41-21-37, 96-01-30.  The search radar is still operated by the FAA.  Most of the vintage buildings remain, occupied by a variety of organizations and businesses.  The family housing units appeared to be occupied. 

Saturday, 27 Nov 1999

Marked only as "U.S. Govt Property," this appears to be a standard USAF Ground Wave Emergency Network (GWEN) relay node site.  The official designation was Glenwood Communications Site GWEN 850.  It is listed as Glenwood/Pacific Junction in the Nov 1988 Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (courtesy of Mark Foster's web site).  The site has a 299' tower, another shorter tower, and a pair of equipment shelters and an eggbeater antenna in a small fenced compound.

Sunday, 28 Nov 1999

Traffic was light as far south as Tulsa, and then it turned ugly.  Lots of construction bottlenecks mixed with holiday traffic made it a bit unpleasant, but we made it home in 12 hours.