I was asked recently where the material for my articles comes from. Well, to start with, there is material galore to pick from. I mainly use as references the Wall Street Journal, Tulsa World, New York Times Sunday edition, New Yorker Magazine, Bloomberg and the Journal Record.
Today my reference is the magazine, Chronicles of Oklahoma, published by the Oklahoma Historical Society.
Several years ago, I had the privilege of serving on the OHS board. Here is one of the really fine Oklahoma treasures run by the remarkable Dr. Bob Blackburn. If you want a real treat, drive to Oklahoma City and tour the Oklahoma History Center across from the state capitol.
In the fall edition of the Chronicles, Landry Brewer wrote an article entitled “The Missiles of Oklahoma: Southwest Oklahoma’s role in the American Cold War Nuclear Arsenal, 1960-65.”
The article begins with citing that to counter the Soviet Union’s Cold War Nuclear threat, the United States built intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM’s) capable of reaching Russia.
Oklahoma played “a crucial role in the nation’s Nuclear Arsenal” in the 60s by constructing several missile launch sites near Altus Air Force Base, which housed the Atlas F Missile.
Today, many Americans distrust their government and its officials. In the 1960s, it was the Gulf of Tonkin incident that built up America’s involvement in Vietnam. Nearly seventeen years ago, it was President Bush who said Iraq held weapons of mass destruction as justification for the U.S. invasion. Today, it is senior officials of the FBI who favored a Clinton presidency to fabricate a lie about Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.
In 1957, the launch of Sputnik created the illusion of a missile gap that ultimately won the White House for the Democrats in 1960.
Mr. Brewer quotes, “The Air Force used the missile gap as justification for expanding its strategic arsenal: the missile manufacturers used it to bolster sales; and the Democrats seized upon it as powerful issue for the upcoming 1960 Presidential elections. In 1958, Senator John F. Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) charged that the missile gap was caused by the Eisenhower administration placing fiscal policy ahead of national security.”
This fact, like the others cited, was not true, but was allowed to stand much to the modern detriment to our country.
Mr. Brewer further writes about the missile sites saying that the Atlas F facilities were the most difficult to build. Construction began with an open cut excavation down to a depth of 60 feet, the level of the launch control floor. The overall depth was the equivalent to a 15-story building.
Though the silo was built to house an Atlas missile underground, the top of each silo was flush with the ground surface. The extremely heavy silo doors operated hydraulically and were able to completely seal off the silo. Each silo required over 1,800 tons of reinforced steel and approximately 6,000 cubic yards of high strength concrete.
In 1954, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara announced that the Atlas F missiles would be phased out by 1965. Most of the launch facilities, built at breakneck speed around the country during and intense period or the Cold War, sit empty and unused today. All twelve of the Atlas area missile sites were declared surplus and sold to private owners.
Another political deception at the time was the Cuban missile crisis. President Kennedy waited until October 1962 to tell the American public about what the Russians were doing in Cuba. The president knew about the missiles months before but waited until October to get maximum benefit in the November mid-term elections.