Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Last Missile in Missouri Turned off for Good `Cold War's over . . . It's Time to Move On'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Last Missile in Missouri Turned off for Good `Cold War's over . . . It's Time to Move On'

Article excerpt

The world took a small step away from nuclear war Thursday when Missouri's last Minuteman missile was hoisted from its silo and the power to its launching facility was turned off.

The 60-foot-tall missile, the last of 150 to be removed from silos throughout western Missouri, is headed for Ogden, Utah, to be disassembled and stored. The process of destroying the silos has already begun. It's all part of complying with weapons reduction treaty with Russia.

"The Cold War's over and it's time to move on," said Chief Master Sgt. Dave Clark, who's maintained missiles for the Air Force for 22 years. Moving on is just what Clark will do. He's headed to Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota to work on Minuteman III missiles.

Shutting down the missile silo, Juliett 3, means the Air Force has removed the last Minuteman II from its arsenal. The United States has hundreds of Minuteman III missiles in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota.

Still, the closing of the Missouri site was significant enough to draw Admiral Hank Chiles, commander of Strategic Air Command, the agency responsible for all U.S. nuclear forces. In his pocket, Chiles carries a push-button device that the Russians manufactured to launch their own intercontinental ballistic missiles. One of his Russian counterparts gave it to Chiles as a gift.

"The world should see this as a victory," Chiles said. "The superpowers have resolved differences without war. The superpowers are really trying to make a new world together."

But, Chiles observed, it's still an "unstable world."

"America's military capability will still be important," he said.

As Chiles spoke, officers in blue jumpsuits stood in a gray drizzle. They watched as camouflaged enlisted men slowly ratcheted up the missile into a specially built cocoon that was then lowered onto a flatbed truck. The process took about 90 minutes, three times longer than it would have taken a launched missile to reach a target 5,000 miles away. …

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