Nike Hercules Site WA-10

    During the 1950s and 60's the Strategic Air Command was vital to America's defense and even the U.S. Army was drafted into protecting SAC sites.  Most SAC bases had a Fighter Interceptor Squadron as a tenant to protect the base from air attack, or at least a detachment standing alert.  Some bases also had batteries of Nike Hercules nearby.  One of those was Walker AFB that had two installations nearby: WA-50 about fifteen mile south near Hagerman, NM and WA-10 about twelve miles east.  Remnants of both still exist with WA-10 remaining fairly intact.  Both were in operation for only about two months, being activated on 20 April, 1960 and inactivated on 25 June, 1960.  "Why the short life?" one might ask and as to the answer I can not be sure.  One possible reason is that bombers became less of a threat and ICBMs became a greater threat.  While the Herc had been tested as a missile interceptor it was never used as such in operation.  It is a question that as of yet does not have an answer.  I did receive an email from Ronald D. Wilson that is worth sharing:

    "I was transferred to the HQ for the nike group in May of 1960.  Soon

after arrival we were told that the unit wouldn't go operation and we
then waited orders for our next duty station. I was transferred to Omaha NE."

    "We were told that the reason for the change was that Nike units were to
protect citizen populations not military operations.  I had previous
served in Seattle WA."

    That might very well be the best answer I will ever find as to why the short longevity.

    I visited the WA-10 site in March, 2009 and here are a few photos to show the current state of the facility.

    What was once the Integrated Fire Control area was used  for a number of years by the New Mexico Army National Guard for training.  The area is fairly desolate now and quite vandalized.

Upon a return visit in July, 2010 I found that all remaining buildings had been removed.

    The launcher area is about a quarter of a mile east of the IFC area.  While there is still a fence line in place the gates are long thrown open.  The guard shack has succumbed to the elements and vandalism.  The first intact building inside the compound was probably occupied by a security detail.

    From descriptions of the area I believe this is the missile assembly building.  If anyone knows better please feel free to correct that.  Whatever this building was it does not appear that it was equipped with any sort of overhead crane.

    Red footprints for soldiers to use for formation are painted on the concrete in front of the warhead building.  Though faint they are still visible. 

    What I believe is the warhead assembly building is located behind berms about a hundred yards in back of the warhead building.  This building was equipped with an overhead hoist in is remarkable shape given the time involved, though part of the hoist has migrated into the launch are.

The warhead assembly area is surrounded by tall berms that at least would have directed any blast upwards.

WA-10 Ready building

    Between the warhead building and the assembly area is a Ready Building.  There also appear to be kennels attached though there is a dedicated kennel area beyond the Missile Assembly Building.

    From the warhead building the crew bunkers are visible built into the berms separating launch area.  There is also a considerable amount of debris including the carcasses of old transformers.

    Much of the fence around the limited area are still in place though there are holes cut in major sections.  A good number of light poles still have fixtures.

    The crew bunkers are built into the side of the berm facing the other buildings.  Though many electrical fixtures are gone there is a surprising number of removable items still there.  Things such as doors, ladders and in one bunker even a desk.  The steel ladder in the fourth photo leads up to a hatch in the top of the berm.  That hatch is the flat steel plate in the fifth photo.  The final photo shows the wooden steps  that lead to a small paved area on the top of the berm.  The steps are on both sides of the berm.

    The guard shack by the entrance of the launcher area had burned down just like the one at the main gate and from all appearances that had been a recent blaze.  In any case the gate was wide open.

    There are three launcher sections with two bays each and two launchers per bay, giving a total of twelve launchers.  There is no evidence of underground magazines (or above ground for that matter), leading one to wonder where any reloads were kept.  Speculation on my part is that these missiles were intended to carry W31 nuclear warheads, thus providing a great deal of firepower without any need for reloads.   The now empty launcher sections provide a great shooting range.

    The concrete pads inside the launcher sections show evidence of the removal of the launchers that do appear to have been emplaced.  The large steel plate was most likely to direct the exhaust plume away from the concrete.

A visit to the WA-50 site

    The WA-50 site is not nearly as well "preserved " as the WA-10 site.  The former IFC is now the Roswell Correctional Center.  The launcher area is south of that about a mile.  The entire facility is built on the abandoned Roswell Army Airfield Auxiliary Field #3.  The IFC building appear to be gone.  The ready rooms, missile assembly building and all other stryctures are gone and the warhead assembly building appears to have simply been blown up.  The following photos were taken  during July, 2010.  I will leave out any commentary for the moment.


MIM-14 Nike Hercules

    These photos of MIM-14 Mike Hercules missiles at Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range illustrate the type that would have been emplaced at WA-10.

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Clifford Bossie

Page created 04-03-09

Updated 08-04-10