Photo: Ron Pickinpaugh Oct.1953

Ron Pickinpaugh and his 5-ton truck

In October, 1953, Ron and members of his Package Crew were helping to build a small town for an eventual permanent population of more than 500 men. Living conditions were very harsh, with no running water, horrible outhouses, terrible washboard roads, snakes, scorpions and spiders. C-Rations were the order of the day until the mess hall was built. They lived in 10 man squad tents which had roll up flaps on the sides. The flaps didn't stop the rain, snow or dust from blowing in. Canvas cots and a single kerosene pot bellied stove were the only features in each tent. The tents were freezing cold in winter, unbearably hot in summer, and always reeked of musty canvas. Sheets of plywood laid directly onto the desert formed a floor. The incessant wind kept everything covered with a coating of powdered caliche dust. The men bathed in 55-gallon drums or went to Carrizozo and paid for a nice warm shower and a decent meal.

This was not what any of the Package members had expected when they were selected to attend the prestigious Guided Missile School at Ft. Bliss, 165 miles to the south of RCRC.