Re: Missile covers along the lake
Date: January 26, 2009 12:50PM
My father commanded the Orland Park Nike Missile Site during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was born a month later. I have no memory of living there (on the site) for obvious reasons, but I did get to visit it when I was 15. However, it has only come to my attention in the past couple weeks that the Nike Hercules Missiles there, and at every other Nike Site, carried nuclear warheads up to 30 kilotons each...more than twice what was dropped on Hiroshima.
Nike Missiles were designed as a last line of defense against incoming enemy aircraft carrying nuclear bombs. They had a 90 mile range, and shot off fast as a bullet, 28 miles in 30 seconds. Once the rocket booster was dropped it became a guided missile meant to destroy any enemy aircraft and their payload before they could be detonated. The nuclear warhead insured complete destruction. Had even one of these been fired and detonated for any reason, the fallout, depending on the weather patterns, would have killed a quarter of the population of 4 states within a few months time. As bas as that sounds, it was still better than one of their bombs making a direct impact. The Nike Hercules program was outdated pretty swiftly with the advent of ICBM's a few years later.
At the time I visited, 1978 or thereabouts, the site, at least the officers quarters, were occupied by Park Rangers of some sort. I never saw the silos.