US Army Nike AA Missile Base
Bristol, Rhode Island

Stories and anecdotes submitted by the crew

(Webmaster note:  Not a picture of the actual cannon but a close resemblance.)

The Great Cannon Caper by Glenn Meigel

Danver's Nike Site Cannon Caper.

As best I recollect, this incident took place early in my command sometime in 1972. I had come up with this "brilliant idea" to create some competition between the "sister" batteries (clarification below). Around this time, we had some type of conference on Mess Hall procedures at Ft. Devens, MA, and I was required to send our top mess personnel. (Months before I had visited Danvers so I knew about the small cannon being in front of the Orderly Room; this one could be lifted by a single person.) I could see that the mess conference would give my party an alibi to stay overnight at Danvers and steal their cannon. My Mess Sergeant, SFC Bob Warner, and Mess Officer, 1LT Ray Miller, set off to execute the plan. After the conference, they went off the path home to Bristol, and gave Danvers the flimsy excuse that the conference ended so late that they didn't want to make the drive back and would like to stay overnight at their site; whatever B/S they came up with, I knew it would fly because Ray Miller could talk an Eskimo into buying ice cubes. They snuck out at 0-dark-thirty the next morning with cannon, and we had it secured in our Supply Room by start of business.

Then the phone calls began from Danvers—Battery Commander, First Sergeant, others. We stuck to our plan of action to play completely ignorant. This went on for most of the day, even when the Danvers 1SG threatened to get the State Highway Patrol involved. We all held our ground, until…late afternoon, I got a call from the 24th ADA Group Commander, COL William R. D. Jones, who made me stand at the position of attention on the phone and dictated to me what corrective action I would take. Obviously, the cannon went back to Danvers the next morning. (I heard rumor later that the Group Sergeant Major [Ryan?] got wind of what was going on and immediately blurted it to the Group Commander.) So, Group showed no tolerance for these types of initiatives. To this day, I swear that the intent of this whole thing was simply to promote some competitive fun between sister batteries and instill some enthusiasm, morale, and esprit de corps in my own battery. In any event, Jones' reaction to this incident sucked the life out of any attempt at any other such venture in the future.


At the time, the Battalion HQ for Bristol and Danvers (active sister batteries) had been deactivated, so we came directly under 24th ADA Group in Coventry, RI. Lincoln and Hull, MA were National Guard sites with their own Battalion HQ and, as a state asset, followed Guard procedures and regulations in the S-1 (personnel & administration) and S-4 (logistics, supply, maintenance) areas, responsible to Coventry for S-2 (intelligence & security) and S-3 (operations, plans, training) matters, with their Battalion to buffer them. So, in essence, Group with a full compliment of staff officer Majors spent a lot of its time commanding our two active batteries.

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Next 3 stories by Stephen Girouard

The sheep had their very own designation. They also were a disaster as they were SUPPOSED to eat the grass in the back of the orderly room and keep it short. BUT what they did was eat the grass to the roots and made mudslides in the back common.

During the radar upgrade we had, SSG Scanlon (the 1SGT was his father) got together with the crane operator and had them put an empty crate over CW2 Lynch's green Toyota. Someone must have finally let him know because he came out and let them know he wanted his car uncovered. THEN... Scanlon had a bunch of us enlisted men roll the car down and around to the back of the orderly room (which wasn't easy because the steering wheel locked and we had to lift it slightly to turn it). So when he came out from having a cup of coffee and they lifted the crate and his car was gone.


As the final close down was happening, more and more personnel were being shipped out and so we got short of MPs at the launching area. As I was the armorer at the time, I got shifted (which happened so often it kept me from being promoted) to acting MP. I was at my room on the hill and SP4 Messeder, who was the PLL clerk (as well as running the PX) and was usually exempt from guard duty, was then pulling his first night as SOG on the hill when we got a call from SSG Carlson down at the Security Office. It seems a helicopter was flying near the missile which was "restricted airspace". Somehow they got the copter's attention (a rumor I heard was they shot off a warning round) and it ended up landing in the college parking lot. This "angry" gets out and storms up to the gate and pulls and rattles it yelling to the guard. "Let me in! Let me in! I'm Senator Pell and I want in!"
*Lucky we didn't shoot down our poor senator.* The guard on duty checked the entry list and he wasn't on it so we refused him entry. The next day at morning assemble we all got a "well done" for following regulations. :)

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More from Rick Eldridge
     (including the "crated car caper")

We did a "System Exchange" in '73. The Army decided that the systems needed to be overhauled about every 5 years or so, and the easiest was was to remover the "old" system and replace it with an overhauled system. At that time we received the latest modification called SAMCAP. The biggest changes were ferrite switches in the TRR vs. a waveguide switch, lots of problems with these and they were a pain in the a.. to change. We received a coaxial magnetron in the LOPAR and the track radars I think. The exchange team came from Letterkenny Army Depot, and they were a group. The team lead was a gentleman named Howard Wagaman. One of the track radar techs knew more jokes and had more stories, and kept us all in stitches for the weeks they there there. We always learned short cuts to troubleshooting problems from these guys as they were the experts.


I can tell you a funny story that happened during the exchange. Paul Lynch drove a small Datsun or similar import and always parked in the Admin area near the orderly room. Well the LOPAR Antenna was shipped in a huge wooden crate. The crate has a very sturdy base and the "top" of the crate was bolted to the bottom. To remove the Antenna we needed to remove the bolts and lift off the top of the box. To do this you need a crane and lots of room. We used the admin area parking lot for the uncrating operation. You know the area is relatively small so we had to move all the cars parked in front of the admin area. We convinced everyone to move their own car except Paul, he was too busy. So we told him we would move his car. We hid his little car in the fire control area and set the LOPAR box top over the space where his car had been parked. As I recall this was a Friday that we unpacked the LOPAR, and the crane operator was leaving early. Some time in the afternoon Paul Lynch needed to go somewhere and was looking for his car. We told him that since he was too busy to move his car and since we were needing to unpack the LOPAR, and we had no room in th unpacking area, we had to put the box over his car. At first he thought it was cute, then when the crane operator left, Paul started to get nervous, then angry, then panic set in. He was running around yelling at everyone, I think he even yelled at Glenn to "order" us to move the box off of his car. We were laughing our back sides off, and at about 5pm, someone drove his car down from the fire control area and parked it next the to the box, left the keys in it and waited for Paul to find it. I don't think I have ever heard move foul language in my life. After he realized what we had done, he started to laugh as well, and congratulated us all on a first class practical joke.

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