Photo: Herman Hartley 1958


Early in 1958 the chapel was well under construction, despite the harsh winter weather. No money was authorized for the building so everything had to be scrounged. A donation of one dollar was asked of every man in the camp to buy the roof shingles. The senior NCOs of the camp organized their best scroungers and sent them all over the area for materials. Joe (The Pirate) Perry liberated some large I Beams from White Sands Proving Ground. Others "found" huge quantities of cement, lumber and nails. The walls were made of stone quarried by the men from a red rock mesa near the camp. First Sergeant Nale called other military installations and talked them into donating materials. The main frame of the chapel was made of railroad track welded together and embedded in the 80 foot long concrete foundation. The building was practically indestructible. Lt. Colonel John McCarthy, Red Canyon Range Battalion Commander, wanted bells hung in the belfry but no suitable bells could be scrounged. Joe Perry and other Ordnance troops went to Booster Alley where the Nike boosters fell back to earth after launch and cut the nozzles from three of the embedded boosters. When clappers were installed they had a very pleasant tone. The intense heat during launch had tempered the nozzles, giving them good resonance. One of the nozzles is seen here as it is hoisted into the belfry. Notice the crane boom. It was not long enough to handle the belfry and steeple work, so Master Sergeant William Sidell of the Corps of Engineers had his men lash a telephone pole to the boom as an extension. The Corps of Engineers men were in a real paradise at RCRC as they constantly got to do the innovative type work they loved.