20 February 2014

On a Missile and a Prayer!

20 Feb 2014--I'm trying to get back to "witty" with my titles...haha.  The jury is still out.

Anyway, yesterday we went out to the San Xavier Mission and the Titan II Missile Museum for a change of pace, but before we did I did a little exercise and actually saw these Gambel's Quail in the RV park (the picture is taken from a postcard).  I had never seen them before but, lo and behold, when we were in the gift shop of the Mission they had a postcard of them, so I took a picture of that.  They are quite different from regular quail so I was surprised to see them.  Then in the parking lot of the Missile Museum I saw this Roadrunner...they are so cool when they are moving, I hope to get a video one day.

We started at the Mission, which is on the Tohono O'odham tribe's Reservation here in town.  It was started by a Jesuit priest in the 1680's but completed in 1797 by Franciscans, who run it still today.  I like the "New Spain" acknowledgement of the native's surprise written in the 3rd picture.

The inside has been restored to how it was in the 18th century...pretty ornate.  The 2nd and 3rd pics almost look like a puppet show is about to begin. haha

A wooden carving of St Xavier lies in a crypt.  I didn't see the stuff written in pic #2 or the photo of the 3rd picture when I was near the crypt, or I would have seen if I could lift his head, too.  I am "good of heart", so I can only assume I could lift it.  haha  Notice that on the purple body covering there are lots of things pinned to it...the 4th and 5th pics explain and show some of the things attached to the cloth...a little weird, but who am I to say?

Going from room to room, you can see Cathy in one of the doorways.  Pretty small people back then, huh?  And that is a pic of the Tribe's flag, like our US flag, with each feather representing one of it's districts.

Outside and up a hill from the mission is a Grotto dedicated in 1908 on the 50th anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Mother Mary at Lourdes.  Lots of stuff hanging on the gate, including what almost looks like a pinata...haha (I shouldn't joke about it, I know, but can't help myself!)

From the hill looking down at the Mission and Tuscon, and then me outside a little shopping area owned by the Natives.

So we said a prayer at the Mission that we would survive the radiation exposure at the Titan II Missile site we were going to next, and so far so good today!  We both feel fine...haha

This is what the site looked like (1st pic) in 1962 when they were starting this program, and then (2nd pic) in 1982 when they were deactivating all the Titan II's.  There wasn't a house within 4 miles of the silo originally, while later you can see thousands of homes right on its doorstep.

The most powerful nuclear missile we ever produced, the Titan II was deployed in 3 states; Arkansas, Kansas and Arizona.  Each state had 18 of them, which were usually deployed in groups of 3 in a particular area.

Interesting that in 1950 we not only had Joe McCarthy and the "red scare", but the National Security Council recommended that we build up our military defenses and decrease our social welfare programs.  Incredible that Eisenhower not only warned about the "military/industrial complex", but that we are still having these same arguments today, 64 yrs later.  (Seems like the military won, huh?)

This is the only Titan II missile silo that still exists.  It is still owned by the USAF but is leased to the county here who runs it as a non-profit.  The 1st pic shows the underground entryway and how it is attached to both the silo and the launch control facility.  4 Air Force personnel worked here, in 24 hr shifts, and with the exception of the sleeping quarters, no one could go anywhere in it by themselves. They all had to buddy up to go from one area to the other.  Down we go, with Cathy leading the way.

It took each shift 4 phone calls to gain entry through the stairwells and blast doors to the launch control facility.    Each facility had only one missile, but 3 targets they could be told to hit.  They never knew where their targets were, they just had buttons on the panels labelled 1, 2 and 3.  Here we go.

I know I wouldn't like this job...the whole "24 hrs underground" part would get to me I think.

These missiles only took 58 seconds to launch from the time the key was turned, had no "oops" button to stop them once that was done, could hit their target almost 6000 miles away in 30-35 minutes from launch, and be within a 1 mile diameter of the intended target!!!  WOW!

Hard to get a good picture of the missile from inside, but Cathy just took this picture of it from outside where the silo is open.  That is the actual missile, just defused, of course.

And other than the 4 people in the facility, who was guarding all this power?  There was no permanent security personnel assigned to guard the site from topside.  All we had was a couple Security Policemen riding in a car between the 3 sites in the area, so if there was something detected by the Doppler Radar outside, the people inside the facility would call the cops who would respond, generally, in about 25 minutes to check it out.  And haven't you always wondered where your local weatherman got that Doppler Radar you see on TV everyday?  haha

They have a gift shop here that sells quite a bit of "stuff", including the Geiger counters and dosimeters we used to use when we played war games and simulated a nuclear attack.  I thought that would bring back memories to my military friends.  And don't you love the bumper sticker?  haha

I sneaked back into launch control when no one was looking!  Let me at that button!

Here is the Air Force Cathy and I joined...I hate to call myself the whale, but I know I am not the shark, so...

So that was our day.  Going to one of the "50 wonders of the world" tomorrow, so stay tuned.


  1. To bad you didn't read about lifting the guys head up that was pretty neat. The bomb area was interesting but only 4 people work there. That has got to suck with the hours.

  2. I agree that you are not the shark but... you looked pretty vicious in the control room. I think I would be nervous just going under the ground to see this exhibit so I surely know I could never work there. Scary, scary job.
    I loved the outside of the Mission but the inside was a little too ornate. That said, I like that it was restored to it's original look.

  3. After reading Hallie's comment I wanted to say that I also bet you would lift his head!!!!!

  4. I would have freaked if his head actually lifted!!! haha

  5. This stuff is pretty interesting. These bombs were back in the 50's, so what the hell do we have now????
    Im with Marie, I loved the outside of the Mission, but inside was to busy....

    1. If I told you what we have now Ellen I would have to kill you!!! haha So I will not answer that question! haha

      And I thought the inside of the church was pretty gaudy, too.