Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Where Have You Been? Part Two

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site somewhere out on the prairie of South Dakota, just off I-80

The very next day after my flight home from the Land of Surf and Palms, Beloved and I packed up our car and drove to South Dakota. 

I would give the state a cute pseudonym like I did for my earlier travels, but with this post I'm promoting a National Park attraction you might want to visit, so nuthin' but the truth, okay?

Back in the days when Beloved and I were still newlyweds and he was a handsome Second Lieutenant (I love a man in a uniform!!), Uncle Sam sent him to his first assignment just east of the Black Hills and north of the Badlands.  

8-ton steel and concrete blast door at the underground entrance to one of the launch control facilities

The job was both interesting and dull. After a summers-worth of training at an Air Force base in Southern California, Beloved spent four years in this underground place, ready to launch Minuteman missiles toward the enemy if his Commander-in-Chief ordered it.  

Thankfully, my guy and his co-workers never had to launch a missile, so after they completed the usual check list-type work, he was able to study and earn two masters degrees while sitting 30 feet underground.

post card of the many the launch control centers in our nation's upper western states
I need to tell you that I'm not divulging any national secrets as I post these pictures.  Back in the Cold War Era, I got to see none of this. Beloved would come home from his "alerts" (time spent out in the field several times a month) and I had to just visualize with my imagination what he was talking about. But now this is open for public view and it's an important part of our nation's history.

Beloved points to the very chair he occupied as a deputy

It was a genuine thrill for both of us to go on this free tour that is now sponsored by the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.  Our tour guide was also a former missile launch officer from the years we were there, so he and my husband had a great time trading stories. He even offered him a volunteer job as a tour guide, but Beloved had to turn it down due to the 8-hour driving commute from our current home.

a Minuteman Missile is positioned under the roof structure out on the South Dakota prairie

At the end of the guided tour, we drove a few miles farther into the wide open prairie to where one of the [now disabled] Minuteman Missiles still rests in its underground silo.  

post card of the missile silo
I was struck with the thought of how much this location looks like something from the movies -- just driving by I would never know the gravity of the equipment positioned underneath that greenhouse-looking thing!

post card of a Minuteman Missile in its silo
I took my own version of this picture, but the post card has no glare and just shows it off better. But believe-you-me, it's pretty dramatic to be nearly nose-to-nose with a weapon of this magnitude.

The one thing that I carried away with me as we completed this tour was the awesomeness of the job entrusted to my young husband while I was in town with our babies, hanging pictures and sewing pretties for our home.

If you would like to visit the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, click on this link:

It is located on Interstate 80, east of Rapid City, South Dakota, east of Wall Drug, and north of Badlands National Park -- all interesting places to visit.

1 comment:

  1. My husband and I drove through quite a bit of the Black Hills area of South Dakota a few years ago, after a visit to Mt. Rushmore, and we fell in love with the beauty of this area. The Badlands were so interesting as well as Needles Highway through the hills.

    Here is my blog post about it:http://millefiorifavoriti.blogspot.com/2009/09/minuteman-missile-national-historic.html

    We saw this exact silo location but were not able to go on a tour of a launch control facility at the time as sadly none were scheduled during our visit. I can only imagine how your husband felt shouldering so much responsibility! I'm so glad our country never had to deploy one of these missiles --I'm sure NYC and DC would not be on the map right now if we did!

    I'm so behind and still catching up from my times away--I'm sure it is the same with you, Barbara! I'm loving all the rain but would like a couple of sunny days in between--lol!