Photo: Bill Shaw 1958


Although not in C/739, here’s how Robert J. Versaw, (CW4 US Army Retired), remembers ASP trips to Red Canyon:

"Those were very important days for us from the Nike batteries. I was a young radar repairman assigned to Battery B, 605th AAA Msl Bn., Nike Ajax, located at Danvers, Massachusetts. I made two trips to Red Canyon with that unit in the late fifties. The first thing that I remember is when a Nike missile fail-safed at Red Canyon the debris from it sometimes fell back on the launching area. Our Maintenance Chief was a crusty old sergeant and a W.W.II veteran. When our battery fired we were standing outside the radar van waiting to be called if there was trouble. We watched the missile go up and it exploded as a fail-safe. The old sergeant, whom I outweighed by fifty pounds, grabbed me and threw me under the radar van as he ducked under himself. Well, no debris came down near us but I guess it could have."

"The second year we went to Red Canyon in January. At 0500 hrs. on the first morning it was still dark as we arrived at our assigned radar system. It had snowed during the night and the place was covered with a trackless white mantle. The first thing we did after turning on the radars was to calibrate the RF Test Set. This was a receiver-transmitter mounted on a sixty-foot pole about 200 yards from the radars. I left the van to go to it and went out into a dark, snow-covered world. Normally I would look for an obvious trail but the place was covered in white and I could see nothing. Although our operation was timed, I had to tell my Chief, 'We have to wait for daylight to find the R-F Test Set!' We found it at the first hint of light. All the snow was gone by noon."

"I also remember there was a club or cantina near the barracks where we went to drink beer in the evenings and talk over the events of the day. During the evening a donkey came in, making noise and wanting beer. He would take the whole can of beer in one swallow. I don't know how many beers he drank but I have seen him the next morning, standing between the barracks, and he looked like he was hurting."

"One night while the donkey was drinking beer a dog came in and nipped at him. He kicked at the dog, but the dog ducked out of the way and continued to bark and nip at him. This went on for some time during the evening. I never saw the donkey hit the dog and don't know if he ever did."

"After we had fired our missiles and finished our service practice, we were put onto buses and taken to Fort Bliss. From there we went into El Paso where we would get a bed at the YMCA for a dollar a night. This was the old YMCA on San Antonio Street, east of the still present Railroad station. A big hotel replaces it all now. In those days one could have a good time in downtown El Paso." Robert J. Versaw