Nike Missile Site HM-69

This text is an excerpt from the National Park Service’s “Cold War in South Florida: Historic Resource Study” written by Steve Hach, edited by Jennifer Dickey and made available to the public in October 2004

https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/coldwar/florida.pdf

All photos are by JW Bailly and in the Public Domain

The former Iori Farms location at the Hole in the Donut area was the site of Nike Hercules Missile Site HM- 69.48 Built in 1964 and operational until 1979, this Nike site became the permanent home of Battery A/2/52 ADA—the personnel originally deployed to a point just outside the main entrance to Everglades NP. Approximately 146 U.S. Army soldiers and technicians operated this missile site’s three aboveground launchers and protected south Florida from Cuban air strikes. This former missile site, now the home of the Daniel Beard Research Center and an auxiliary storage area, represents the most substantial Cold War historic resource in the park.

The personnel of A/2/52 deployed “under duress” as U.S. military leaders sought to protect the forces and facilities associated with the military buildup during the Cuban missile crisis. They also faced a different situation than other U.S. Nike units because they had to guard against attacks from Fidel Castro as well as the threat of Soviet bombers. As part of the overall air defense of south Florida, Nike sites like HM- 69 were integrated with HAWK missile sites in order to provide an all- altitude defense capability. This occurred nowhere else within the United States.50 The personnel of the various air defense units in south Florida received a meritorious unit commendation for their efforts from President John F. Kennedy. This award is highly significant because it represents one of the few times the award was presented for a Cold War deterrence mission.

HM-69 was also significant because it used radars and missiles unlike those at any other location in the continental United States (CONUS). HM- 69 had a mobile high- power acquisition radar (HIPAR) in order to fulfill its mission as a fully mobile air defense system. Mobile HIPARs were rare among Nike sites operating in fixed locations. The site also had the Nike version of the Army’s anti- tactical ballistic missile (ATBM). This was one of the earliest weapons systems designed to shoot down incoming missiles. This implies that one of the missions of HM- 69 was to provide a defense against missiles launched from Cuba against south Florida. The ATBM was an important early step in the quest to defend the nation against a ballistic missile attack.

In addition to its highly significant role in the Cold War history of south Florida, Nike site HM- 69— along with the other Nike sites in south Florida—is important because it represents the last group of active Nike sites to operate within the CONUS. The Nike sites of south Florida were still in operation a full five years after all other similar installations were shut down. The former integrated fire control (IFC) area was converted into the Daniel Beard Research Center in the early 1980s, but the former IFC’s main structure is still intact. Florida’s water table precluded the construction of underground magazines like those found at other CONUS missile sites, so aboveground missile storage buildings were constructed. These storage buildings, along with several other launch area structures, such as earthen berms and the missile assembly building are still intact.

This historic resource study exists in two formats. A printed version is available for study at Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, Biscayne National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, the Southeast Regional Office of the National Park Service, and at a variety of other repositories. For more widespread access, this historic resource study also exists in a web- based format through the web site of the National Park Service. Please visit http://www.nps.gov for more information.

This text is an excerpt from the National Park Service’s “Cold War in South Florida: Historic Resource Study” written by Steve Hach, edited by Jennifer Dickey and made available to the public in October 2004

https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/coldwar/florida.pdf

All photos are by JW Bailly and in the Public Domain

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John William Bailly 27 March 2022
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