With the massive buildup of US forces in Vietnam in 1965 came, in December of that year, a Department of the Army move to pull one of the HAWK units out of Florida for service in Vietnam and transfer the other HAWK battalion to CONARC for support of contingency operations. This prospect reached a point where the 6/65, in December 1966, took full inventory of its limited mobility assets and submitted requisitions for the missing balance of field army Table of Organization and Equipment requirements. ARADCOM objected. Pointing out that these HAWK units were the only units available to CINCNORAD that are capable of defending Key West against low-altitude attack. The loss of these battalions will reduce or eliminate the capability of CINCNORAD to carry out his mission of low-altitude defense of southeast U.S. It was recommended to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that HAWK units other than those located in Florida be utilized for re-deployment to Vietnam. This was the solution that ultimately prevailed, as it was the 6/56 went to Long Binh and the 6/71 went to Cam Ranh Bay in 1968 rather than the 6/65 or the 8/15.
Heat, humidity, salt air- these tropical tourist delights - produced seerious problems for the air-conditioning equipment and the missiles of the HAWK system, as well as radomes and the AN/TSO-51 FDS. A chronic and complex problem was presented by the vulnerability of the HAWK missile to moisture contamination and corrosion, a problem intensified by the close proximity of the missiles to salt water. This problem was attacked by changing changing desiccant, adding desiccant, coating parts with rust-resisting solutions, taping missile openings and seams, and various other methods, none of which was successful. Periodic purging of the guidance package with nitrogen by July 1963 emerged as a helpful maintenance practice., but the problem remained throughout the following year, during which such local modifications as rubber "O" rings and clear-lacquer sealeres, suggested by the Raython manufacturer, were applied. In 1965 a complete exchange of missiles for reconfigured models, which featured adequate sealing, greatly alleviated the corrosion problem. Specal procedures, such as 150-watt hot closet dehumidifier, were still necessary as the unending struggle against corrosion continued in 1968. The Raytheon Company's somewhat porous radome also posed problems for the Florida HAWK units. At Key West the ever-helpful Navy in 1964 recoated these fiberglass bubbles, effectively eliminating the problem. Here, as in other problem areas of maintenance in Key West, there was no substitue for the most obvious preventive measure ...hard work!
On October 18, 1962 the prepositioning of forces to reduce reaction time in the event of action against Cuba continued. A reinforced infantry battalion from the Pacific Command's 5th MED was ordered transferred to the operational control of CINCLANT and a light antiaircraft-missile battalion (HAWK) was ordered to Guantanamo to augment forces there.
Virtually the only fly in the ointment of the excellent relations with the Navy which prevailed at Key West before and after the PCS of the 6/65 to ARADCOM was a seemingly minor matter of uniform regulations. Until 1966 Army personnel were permitted to enter and leave the naval base while dressed in fatigues, but in that year they were required to be in Class "A" uniform when leaving the base. For married NCOs in particular, many of whom lived off base, this posed a resultant requirement to change clothes as many as six or seven times a day, a requirement made doubly irksome by their feeling that fatigues were apparently equated by Naval authority to Navy dungarees, hardly the sartorial equal, in their eyes, of starched and tailored Army fatigues. In 1968 ruling to the effect that fatigues could be worn in transit during exercises and recalls eased, if not entirely eliminated, the problems.
Given the absence of a major Army installation in Florida and the distance of over 500 airline miles between the Florida ADA units and Ft Stewart, the nearest big Army post in Georgia, the permanent assignment of these units to ARADCOM probably would have been impossible without the support provided by other services, specifically the Air Force and the Navy. With a variety of goods and services ranging from petroleum to dog food and religious to veterinary services, the hosts of these ADA units met, with varying degrees of hospitality, many of the multitudinous needs common to all modern military units. Not surprisingly, the Air Force authorities at Homestead AFB were somewhat less warm in their welcome to their new ARADCOM defenders than were those of the Navy at Key West.
Originally designed to accommodate a single SAC bomber wing, the base by 1963 was home not only for the 19th Bombardment Wing but also for units of the TAC, the Air Force Air Defense Command, the Army Security Agency, and now two ADA missile battalions, the HHB of the 13th Group and TUSALOG. In view of this congestion and resultant strain on limited resources, USAF authorities at the base understandably regarded the conclusion of an inter-service support agreement as a complex matter.
At Key West, the Navy's support of the 6/65 was as prompt as it was unstinting. Virtually upon arrival of the HAWK battalion in Florida, an interservice agreement was concluded, effective October 24, 1962, which involved the provisions by the Navy of supplies and services with an estimated monthly value of $22,500. The debt which 6/65 owed the Navy for their support was best expressed by Lt Gen Charles B. Duff when on the eve of his retirement in 1966, he conveyed to Rear Admiral Thomas Christopher, his deep appreciation for the Navy's support of the 6/65 at Key West; "The assistance and unstinting support rendered by you and your command have, contributed immeasurably to the success of the 65th Artillery in meeting its mission requirements as a member of the North American Air Defense Command. The cooperation of your staff and its willingness to assist at all times was the prime mover for establishing and maintaining the outstanding, friendly inter-service relationships that are now enjoyed at Key West. On behalf of the United States Army Air Defense Command and the 65th Artillery. I extend to you our sincere and heartfelt appreciation." The sincerity of this tribute was patently beyond doubt, for the ADA defense of Florida was a problem which in all likelihood could never have been solved what was truly joint effort.
The HAWK batteries were "restationed" to Ft. Bliss, Texas. The Army made this move "to maximize overall Army readiness, fiscal efficiency and optimum utilization of manpower"
According to the official press release dated March 30, 1979; "the missile brigade is being removed from South Florida because a squadron of F-15 jet fighters is being assigned to Homestead AFB which can assume the Army's missile functions. Army sources stressed that the I-HAWK is not an obsolete weapon, that it was just modernized in February 1978."
Was 6/65 a"static" system or a "mobile" system? The answer is YES! After a conference of representatives from Department of the Army, CONARC, NORAD and ARADCOM as well as the four units involved in March 1963 it was determined that the maintenance of a dual field army and CONUS air defense capability, while not impossible, would be both unrealistic and impractical. Department of the Army thereafter eliminated this tentative dual-capability requirement, but it was not until November 1967 that the last of the units mobility gear was actually turned in.
According to the former head of security of the NAS, the Navy stationed a MP/SP unit at the two sites that were not on secure Navy property- Bravo and Charlie. The mission was to maintain the sites for the Army's possible future use. When manpower demands for active military personnel changed, the site security was contracted out to civilian "rent-a-cop" services. When it became apparent that the Army was not going to return to the sites, the security was eliminated. (See each Battery description at KW Defenses for the status of the property today)
The building (Norad Control Center) that was the heart of the Air Defense of Key West, is now remodeled into office space. Interesting note, the raised roof was put in to accommodate the large plexiglass plotting board, it now is able to accommodate a two story office.
Did you know TV and movie actor Doug Sheehan, was stationed at Charlie Battery in the 70s?
|SGT Doug Sheehan on TCA duty at Charlie Battery 1970|
|Doug Sheehan (right) with Doug Christion returning from scuba outing 1970|
Did you know that the 32nd ADA was formed in Key West?
Organized in 1918 at Key West Barracks, Florida as the Thirty-second Artillery Brigade, Coast Artillery Corps. The five arrowheads simulating missiles allude to the air defense mission of the brigade and their placement, three and two, indicates the unit's numerical designation.