NIKE AJAX AND HERCULES
ORDNANCE SUPPORT UNIT
SHORT, TALL STORIES
Air Defense Artillery
My nine years with Nike Ordnance Corps
By: Raymond (Ray) Compton
After finishing Nike mechanical school in May of 1957 I was assigned to the 566th Ord. Det. at Redstone. This was a new unit and we trained for deployment which included a trip to Ft. McClelland to qualify on small arms and to Germany, which we did in the fall of 1957. We were first sent to Kaiserlautern and then to Bitburg AFB. We were DS for two sites at Spangdahlem and two at Ramstein. This required driving on ice in winter to support the sites. I left Bitburg and went to McGregor Range Ord Det and was there from 1960 to 1963. This was quite an experience and while I was there I estimate that I saw about 750 Ajax and 500 Hercules missiles fired. I was in the mechanical dep, and I really had a good team. I made SFC E7 while I was there and then put in for Internal Guidance school and went to Redstone again. While I was there I got orders for Korea again, I had been there before (1950) and when I got there it still smelled the same. I was at Camp Ames with the 12th Ord Det. One morning I got up and turned the radio on and heard that JFK had been shot in Dallas. I went to take roll call and informed the troops of what had happened. I spent some time while I was there traveling the super highways to the sites and that turned out sometimes to take all day. I left Korea on an inter theater transfer to the 4th Ord Co in Miesau. One day I was called to the orderly room and was sent to Hq and was told I needed to go to Germersheim Depot because the US Army had turned in all of the Ajax equipment and sold it to a German scrap dealer. They had to de-militarize the equipment because some of the NATO nations still had the Ajax deployed. In doing so they saw red clouds of vapor coming from the missiles, I went there and found the missiles were turned in and had not been decontaminated. We all know about the red fuming nitric acid which is the oxidizer for the missile, if you inhale it you will be dead as a doornail, I then set up the process to decontaminate the missiles and I think I had all the acetic acid and baking soda in Germany. But here is the interesting part, after the missiles were clean the German contractor took hammers and screwdrivers and anything else to tear them apart. I was standing about 10 feet from the German when he knocked off the nose cone and there was a warhead looking at me. I screamed for him to stop and then I cleared the area and found all three warheads with primer cord still attached. The safe arm devices had been removed.
I sent someone for the base commander and he was there in no time at all. I then took the warheads and primer cord out and then instructed someone to call EOD, which they did. Only the laundry man knew how this incident scared me.
I finally retired on August 1,1966 after 20 years and 25 days. I went to work for a charter airline in Ardmore Oklahoma until they moved to Penn. I then came to Dallas/Ft. Worth. I finally retired, retired in 1994.
The Ordnance Corps, which I was in
for the last 9 years of my army career, was most enjoyable. There were a lot of
good men in the units that I served in. I would like to hear from anyone that
was around in BC (before computers).