Sunday, January 24, 2010
On Hatteberg's People, in the Wichita area we remember the Titan Two Missile Silos that circled our city. Gone now, but they were a key part of the nation's defense system in the cold war.
But even before those Titan Two's, were the lesser known Atlas F ballistic missiles that were housed in smaller communities in north central-Kansas. McPherson resident Jay Bremyer knows all about them.
"This is a wonderful 'breadbasket' -- wheat ground."
Jay Bremyer walks where once guards with automatic weapons stood.
"What we have here is the highest point, a rolling little knoll."
On Jay's property near McPherson, remnants of the cold war lie beneath the Kansas countryside.
"This is the top of the silo and we're actually standing on the 'lid' that could be opened by hydraulics."
In the 1950's this was the reality. An Atlas missile poised for war -- and for much of that decade buried unseen on what is now Jay Bremyer's land in McPherson County.
"It is not a dead piece of the past. It is still something that is part of our lives, this missile site is. It's completely exciting to be able to walk 'in' an artifact of the cold war. It is a 'museum' piece in effect, that is right here hidden under the surface in south-central Kansas as opposed to reading a book or watching a video about it."
Missile silo's like these operated all around the Salina area. Schilling Air Force Base in Salina was home to that Atlas Missile Wing.
"Actually, even though I grew up eight miles from here in McPherson, I was not really too conscience of the fact that it was here."
"I've never known quite what to think of it, the first time we came out, we came down here having no idea what we were going to find. I think we had one flashlight for the three of us and it was very dangerous in retrospect."
"It's not the kind of thing we can show to people but through what you're doing, people can get a sense that we all lived in central Kansas surrounded by what are twelve abandoned missile site installations."
Now deep underground, the command center is just a decaying rusty shell.
"This housed a nuclear bomb, thankfully it was never used. It would have been a nightmare. It would have been the end of the world."
These Atlas missiles carried a nuclear bomb equal to at least 12 Hiroshima's.
In one old picture Jay found in his research, you can see the missile that was believed to be in this silo being trucked along old highway 81 near McPherson.
Topside, the earth is slowly reclaiming this cold war relic. Jay loves the historic part, but is against ever using a missile in anger.
"I'm totally opposed to it. I don't think getting even with Russia at that time would have made the world a better place. The best hope for humanity is that someone would survive."