Welcome back to Oscar-Zero, the Launch Control Facility apart of the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historical Site. Our other location is the November-33 Launch Facility (or LF) missile silo located two miles East of Cooperstown, ND.
At the end of October 2017 the weather here has made a turn for winter. Gusty winds out of the Northwest at 50 mph and some scattered snow showers have turned the horizons around Cooperstown into a gray haze. Much of the crops in the area have been harvested and Oscar Zero rides out the winter storm as it has for over 50 years.
Our blog has been quiet for four years and we thought it proper to note some anniversaries that have occurred in 2017. 20 years ago in July Oscar Zero pulled its last “alert” (a 24-hour tour of duty for two missileers commanding the Oscar flight of 10 Minuteman III ICBMs) while 55 years ago this week saw the tension of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a critical moment of the Cold War. Plans for installing the 321st Strategic Missile Wing’s complex of 150 Minuteman II silos and 15 Launch Control Facilities were on paper then however construction would not begin until March 1964.
60 Years ago this month saw the launch of Sputnik I, the world’s first artificial satellite by a Soviet R-7 rocket. A rocket of this size also could hurl a nuclear warhead across the earth in 30 minutes or less. An event which quickly motivated America’s own missile program.
While Oscar Zero focuses in on North Dakota’s front-line role during the Cold War, we hope to delve this blog into many aspects of the conflict that profoundly effected world history. The historic site represents only one of many hundreds of Cold War installations nationwide from the massive under-mountain air defense installation in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado to a long-forgotten emergency radio transmitter site near Belfield, North Dakota. All had a role in a time of tension that threatened human existence worldwide.
One lesson that tends to be explanatory of the Minuteman missile force was that it quietly sat (and continues to sit) in underground silos specifically to prevent war. Weapons actually deployed with the purpose that they should never be used, but always ready to be called upon if required.
Missile crewpersons, maintenance personnel and security troops among others have braved the winters for over half a century to maintain and command the sites that provide a credible nuclear deterrent. Oscar Zero remains back off highway 45 four miles north of Cooperstown as an artifact of an earlier time and a testament to the men and women who aided in the defense of the United States.