Photo: Bill Shaw 1958


ASP means Annual Service Practice: Units from around the US return to RCRC annually and fire three missiles. Curtis Thienes was one of the Red Canyon men assigned to IFC # 4, an ASP site. This is how the ASP system operated:

"I was assigned to the IFC area, Site # 4, as an acquisition radar operator. Our team's duties were to have the site fully operational for the incoming training units every Monday morning, 50 weeks of the year. We would shut down for 2 weeks during the Christmas holidays and perform maintenance on the equipment."

"Regular duties which included operating, regular testing and servicing of three radars, two vans, three gas powered air conditioners, three 200/240 volt 400 cycle portable power generators, a parts/supply building. I also remember having to remove the dust storms (sand) from all the equipment, rake the gravel in the walkways, arrange the rocks along the walkways as well as paint them white."

"We would support 1 1/2 missile Batterys on 6 sites every week. Each Battery would have 3 'live' missiles to prepare, fire and destroy the RCAT targets. An evaluator was assigned to each Battery to record their proficiency and scores. Firing of missiles was always on Wednesdays with 2 rounds during the daytime and 1 round at night."

"The normal workweek on IFC site 4 (which was Set # 211) started on Monday AM, meeting with the AAA Missile Battery. The missiles were prepared by the firing AAA Batteries and this training was part of the evaluation score the launcher crews would receive."

"The launcher crews would arrive one week before the IFC crews. Lucky guys, they got to stay at RCRC for two weeks. Launcher crew were responsible for removing the missiles from shipping canisters and booster from crates, assemble on the rail, install 3 warheads (300 lb. total), install fins and transport by trailer to the Fueling Section, where the liquid fuel tank was filled with red fuming nitric acid. That was where the fellows dressed in rubber safety suits, looking like the men from Mars."

"From there the missiles were transported to a holding area and stored until Monday of the second week. Then the launcher crews would transport them down range, finish prep and testing."

"Our staff would issue the system, tools and test equipment. We would become their support team for this week while they were away from their home station. The Unit would have Monday PM, Tuesday, and Wednesday AM to prepare for launching its three missiles. On Wednesday PM the missile range was open for firing. The Unit fired two rounds in the afternoon and one round on Wednesday evening. Some units had trouble getting their missile off and we would have to stay sometimes all night to support them as they solved the problem. The firing units would have Thursday to complete their firing, training and be ready to return home by the weekend."

"When the ASP Unit completed its mission on Thursday or Friday, they would sign the system back to the permanent party and clear the site, after we inspected it. That's when our staff went to work, completely going over the equipment, testing and putting our blessings on the system for the next Unit on the following Monday morning." Curt Thienes