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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Oversight of the White House Communications Agency (1996)


     Oversight of the White House Communications Agency  
WHCA Headquarters
Type of Activity
IG audit of Communications Support
Washington DC
Date of Activity
May 16, 1996, June 13 1996
38°53'51.2"N 77°02'20.9"W

When I arrived in WHCA in the mid-1960's, the term "Ranch" was the LBJ Ranch in Texas. Since then, we have had Santa Barbara and Crawford. Nixon was still the king of compounds, had three if you count Key Biscayne, San Clemente, and the other private retreat at Grand Cay, in the Bahamas. The WHCA budget to support Walkers Cay, Grand Bahama Island, and Grand Cay, along with the NASA sub-cable from the Cape to GBI was off the charts.

The large remote Detachments from the days of LBJ, Nixon, Reagan started to become flags for Congressional budget oversight. Those jobs and slots were justified based on disbursement of assets for quick response, and on paper were to eliminate TDY travel when the President went home for weekend! The permanent building leases, alarms, Long Lines, TTY, vehicles, maintenance, all added up and the original planned savings was almost non-existent.

There is little history on the actual budget for the Nixon compound built on Grand Cay with relay sites at Walkers Cay, Grand Bahama Island, and overseas cable head at Cape Canaveral. I would guess we spent more on the Bahamas retreat than actual costs of Key Biscayne. There was also another Coral Reef house owned by Bebe Rebozo in the Card Sound area that had many government "improvements". After Nixon and Key Biscayne and San Clemente, the budgets were under more oversight for future Presidents.

The White House Communications Agency is formally charged with providing telecommunications and other similar services to the President, First Lady, and staff. It has existed since the late 1940's, when it had a trivial budget and a staff of 30 people. Today, the White House Communications Agency has over 900 employees and over a $100 million budget.

The initial attempts to conduct oversight of this 900-person, $100 million-a-year White House-directed agency were made by Congress 2 years ago in 1994. Those attempts were met with repeated  delays  and White House stonewalling. Early last year, after meetings with the White House Counsel's office, GAO, and the Department of Defense IG's office, Congress finally received the approval to have an IG's investigation done going back 5 years.

WHCA has been a deep, dark hole over at the White House into which there has been spending nearly $100 million annually without any executive branch oversight. It  has  also become  a  pot of money devoted to many things-kind of a miscellaneous pot of money-that have nothing to do with telecommunications or the President.

The White House Communications Agency has had a totally unique mission, and the staff who serves there perform their duties exceptionally well and have done so for more than 50 years and for 11 Presidents, both Democrats and Republicans.

The DODIG’s report concluded that WHCA's budgets have gone largely unreviewed. Its annual performance plan has failed to meet DOD standards. Its acquisition planning has violated DOD  regulations and resulted in wasteful purchases.

 Finally, the DODIG concluded that WHCA is providing the White House with services and equipment which are outside way, out­side of the scope of its mission of telecommunications support to the President of the United States.

 Congressional hearings conducted on May 16 and June 13, 1996

Congressional Hearings complete Transcript

 The following individuals testified  


                             ROBERT J. LIEBERMAN, ASSISTANT INSPECTOR GENERAL                               FOR AUDITING, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

                                       COL. JOSEPH J. SIMMONS IV, COMMANDER                                              WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS AGENCY


 Oversight of the White House Communications Agency, was the topic of these particular hearings that grew out of a Department of Defense Inspector General's investigation and the efforts by Congress to have the General Accounting Office investigate the allegations of waste and mismanagement at the White House communications Agency.

In fact, this was only the second  hearing ever on the White House Communications Agency, with the previous hearing being held before the House Defense Appropriations Sub­ committee in 1977. Also, this is the first-ever audit of the agencies 55-year history.

The DOD IG’s audit review primarily focused on FYs 1991 through 1995, but we did examine some documentation  dated  as  far  back  as  1967  and  as  recent as FY 1996.

There were several areas of concern identified and without further correction and White House commitment, the problems will continue:

  •  $577,000 worth of missing equipment will remain unaccounted for.
  • $300,000 software packages will be purchased yet sit unopened.
  • $294,000 will be paid for services never provided.
  • $784,000 in illegal contracts will continue to be let.
  • $4.9 million unusable communications trailers will continue to be purchased.
  • $2.1 million maintenance contracts will continue to be sole sourced to WHCA friends in total violation of Federal contracting law.
  •  services quoted at $35,000 will be billed at $91,000, and those bills will be paid.
  • $14.5 million in outstanding obligations will remain unvalidated.

There is a clear need for reform according to the DOD IG. Operational control of WHCA remains at the White House, and the White House is uncommitted to reform and unwilling to discuss change.

The DOD Inspector General reported on issues beyond those that were noted in their preliminary work. 

For example, the Inspector General reported that WHCA's inventory of short-haul telecommunications equipment and services, such as circuits and maintenance, was neither complete nor accurate because WHCA failed to record some of the equipment and services, terminate the equipment  from  the  inventory, or update costs. The Inspector General's April 1996 report found that WHCA had made little progress in correcting deficiencies identified in its earlier November 1995 report and the inventory remained auditable.

The DOD Inspector General's detailed examination identified $7.8 million in services (audiovisual, news wire, and stenographic services) and the procurement of camera equipment that the Inspector General found were outside of WHCA's mission.

For example, WHCA's Audiovisual Unit provides flags at presidential events, develops, and prints photographs of the President and First Lady, and mounts and frames photographs. WHCA also provides stenographic services for the White House Office of the Press Secretary. WHCA has tried unsuccessfully since 1971 to transfer funding for these services to the White House or the General Services Administration, but the White House has prevented the  transfer.

Also, the White House deploys Department of Defense moneys to fund an elaborate frame shop in the basement of the White House, which frames any staffer's pictures. It funds stenographic services, audiovisual services, photos and emblems, podiums, and other non-telecommunications expenditures. WHCA's activities are undertaken pursuant to a number of laws and regulations.

These activities range from providing communications support, such as nonsecure voice, secure voice, and recorded communications, to other support, including automated data processing and construction of presidential podiums. The IG did not determine the cost of the activities or how they were funded and reported since the White House would not release the necessary documents.

The DOD Inspector General's detailed review disclosed that since 1991, WHCA had provided communications support to the Secret Service on a non-reimbursable basis and failed to report to the Office of the Secretary of Defense all costs for providing communications support to the Secret Service. WHCA had not charged the Secret Service for the support because a 1989 WHCA and Secret Service memorandum of agreement did not clearly delineate reimbursable and non-reimbursable communications support to be provided. As a result, from 1990 to 1995, the Secret Service did not reimburse DOD for annual communications support totaling $4.3 million and Congress was not informed of communications support totaling $3.2 million that WHCA had provided to the Secret Service. Because DOD absorbed costs of support to the Secret Service, the Secret Service's budget was augmented by $4.3 million.

The DOD Inspector General's detailed review disclosed that WHCA expended $4.9 million on a mobile communications system known as the Air Transportable Integrated Communications System (ATICS) that did not meet operational needs. According to the WHCA "Enterprise Architecture Document, February 3, 1995, WHCA had planned to use the mobile communications system to provide telecommunications support on most Presidential trips. WHCA specified that the mobile communications system must fit on C- 141 and C-5 aircraft but did not consider the additional equipment normally carried on the aircraft. As a result, the mobile communications system and all WHCA equipment needed to support the President do not fit on one C-141 air­ craft. In addition, the design of the communications system does not allow WHCA personnel to operate efficiently. Because it was determined that the communications system did not meet all operational needs, WHCA did not exercise contract options to purchase additional communications systems .


 First report: Report No. 96-033, November 1995:

Finding A - About $7.8 million in services and equipment provided to the White House were not within the scope of the White House Communications Agency telecommunications mission as presently defined and should be funded by the Executive Office of the President.

Response: A Memorandum of Agreement between the White House Office of Management and Administration and Assistant Secretary of Defense, Command, Control Communications and Intelligence validated and expanded DISA's functional oversight over the White House Communications Agency to include responsibility for funding managing, contracting, and purchasing of audiovisual, news wire, and stenographic services and camera equipment to the Executive Office of the President. DISA will sample services provided to determine if these services are as provided for in the Memorandum of Agreement.

Finding B - The White House Communications Agency was not reimbursed for permanent support to the Secret Service, as required by law, and understated support costs to Congress by $3.2 million. The Secret Service did not reimburse about $4.3 million for support and, because DoD absorbed support costs, the Secret Service budget was augmented by that amount.

Response: This finding was addressed in a Memorandum of Understanding between the White House Communications Agency and the Secret Service was revised to specify permanent and temporary support provided to the Secret Service and which support is reimbursable or non-reimbursable. DISA will review the support provided to the Secret Service to make sure it agrees with the provisions of the revised Memorandum of Understanding. It should be noted that a change of the DoD Appropriation  Act of 1996 has  changed  all  support  to the Secret Service to be on a non-reimbursable basis.

Finding C - The White House Communications Agency managers did not maintain control over repair parts inventories and contracting officer's representatives did not document maintenance data.

Response: DISA will review the management of maintenance operations and verify that the White House Communications Agency has fully implemented the existing maintenance  management  system,  turned in excess repair  parts, updated  lists of equipment under maintenance contracts, and used vendor service reports to assess the cost-effectiveness of maintenance contracts.

Finding D - The White House Communications Agency lacked accountability for non-expendable property on hand and had excess expendable supplies valued at about $226,000. Property valued at about $577,000 was not accounted for and is at risk for potential waste or loss.

Response: DISA will evaluate the White House Communications Agency's procedures for receiving property and recording it in the property book. DISA will also perform tests necessary to determine if information in the property book is accurate and current.

Finding E - The inventory of base communications equipment and services is neither complete nor accurate. Consequently, the inventory could not be audited, and White House Communications Agency could neither review and revalidate communications requirements nor assess the cost effectiveness of configurations for equipment and services.

Response: DISA will determine if the White House Communications Agency has implemented efficient and effective procedures to conduct a complete ana accurate inventory of short-haul equipment and services and to maintain required inventory records.

Finding F - The White House Communications Agency paid for leased long-haul telecommunications circuits and equipment that were no longer needed.

Response: DISA will ensure that the  White  House  Communications  Agency  terminates unneeded long-haul circuits and equipment and establishes  a  review  and  revalidation program for equipment and services.

Finding G - The White House Communications Agency did not validate bills for long-haul telecommunications equipment and services before verifying that the bills were accurate.

Response: DISA will verify that the White House Communications Agency has established effective bill validation procedures to make sure that payments would not be made for terminated services or services ordered but not installed.

Second Report: Report No. 96-100, April 29, 1996:

Finding A - DISA exercised limited administrative, financial, and operational oversight responsibility for the White House Communications Agency.

Response: This process has been streamlined in the March 1996 Memorandum of Agreement that I signed, specifying the oversight responsibility for the White House Communications Agency. DISA will evaluate procedures established to ensure that DISA provides the required administrative, financial, and operational oversight of the White House Communications Agency.

Finding B - The White House Communications Agency did not comply with contracting and payment procedures and did  not  estab1ish  duties and  responsibilities to ensure the most cost-effective methods of leasing telecommunications equipment and services.

Response: The White House Communications Agency is holding discussions with the Defense Information Technology Contracting Office (DITCO), an  operating unit of DISA (regarding contracting support) and with the Defense Finance Accounting Service - Pensacola (regarding payment functions). Interim procedures have been established with the U.S. Army Information Systems Command to ensure that a for­ mal contract is in place before communications vendors provide telecommunications equipment and services to WHCA. DISA will monitor these actions for proper implementation and later follow-up to see if the actions correct any reported deficiencies. 

Finding C - The White House Communications Agency could not validate outstanding unliquidated obligations totaling $14.1 million for telecommunications equipment and services. Of note, the $14.5 million figure has been reduced to $4.5 million today.

A March  1996 memorandum of agreement between the White House Office of Management and Administration and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, and Communications and Intelligence again assigned these functions and the associated  funding  to WHCA.

The DOD IG’s audit was performed in  two  phases,  with  two  reports,  because  of the volume of audit tests required to review all WHCA activities,  the  lack  of previous coverage, and the need to report initial audit  results in  a  timely  manner.  We had a positive working relationship during the audit with WHCA and the other organizations involved, and the DOD IG obtained access to all information that was requested.


The audit found that WHCA did a superior job in accomplishing its operational mission of supporting the Office of the President. It also found no evidence of theft, or gross malfeasance, and management controls were generally adequate. However, the audit did identify areas that needed improvement and opportunities to cut future operating costs. Some of the problems that were identified, such as duplicate payments, unneeded circuits, and invalid unliquidated obligation balances, are similar to what we have found at many other DoD organizations. WHCA funds the contract for the stenographers, they do not control the stenographers. In addition to developing and  printing  photographic  film,  WHCA  pays for camera equipment used by the White House photographers. We estimated that providing such services and equipment that are not usually considered telecommunications cost the DoD about $7.8 million in FY 1995.


In conclusion, both a comprehensive audit and a more formal, explicit delineation of responsibilities were long overdue for WHCA Although management controls were generally satisfactory, there were deficiencies in several areas that needed attention. More systematic oversight is important in the future to assist WHCA in being as efficient and effective as possible. The DOD IG will work closely with DISA and WHCA to make sure that the problems found in the audit get fixed.

Besides the obvious improvements in procedures for accountability and oversight, the stipulations in the Memorandum of Understanding represent some profound changes and a great opportunity. The previous relationships were somewhat limiting, because of the distinction made between operational support and oversight by all members of the team, including the White House, DoD, DISA, and WHCA. That distinction has changed, with this Administration permitting, for the first time, the DoD Inspector General to perform a thorough review of the operations and administrative functions of WHCA. The reinforced and well-defined relationship between the WHCA and DISA provides an opportunity to optimize the suite of capabilities and services provided to the White House. The Director, DISA, can use the expertise and the capabilities developed to support the President. This will ensure a continuous capability for our National Command Authorities that has served the country well over the last thirty-three years.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Before the White House - Nike Missiles


   Army Air Defense Command (ARADCOM)
Promontory Point site of Nike Radar Fire Control installation
Type of Activity
Nike Missiles
Chicago IL
Date of Activity
April 1962 to May 1995

I finished Basic Training at Ft, Knox in April of 1962 and proceeded to my next assignment at a Nike Missile Region HQ in Arlington Heights IL, a suburb of Chicago. I arrived at the HQ company for in processing on April 30,1962. I spent the weekend on base and on Monday was told that I would be sent to the battalion HQ in Montrose Beach IL. I then filled out paperwork to request a background check for a Secret security clearance. When I finished processing, I was assigned to a Battery, that was located in Jackson Park IL. I finally arrived at my new duty station May 7, 1962. I was assigned to the Integrated Fire Control (IFC) Platoon working on the Radar site at Promontory Point. 

                     Nike Missile Battery C-2-57

Promontory Point
Jackson Park, Chicago

1962 - 1965


The buildings and structures at the Jackson Park facility were organized into three basic parcels: The Housing and Administration buildings, including the mess hall, barracks, and recreation facilities, the Launch Area, and the Battery Control Area. The Launch Area contained the underground missile storage magazines and launch equipment, as well as buildings used for maintenance and testing, The Battery Control Area contained the radar and computer equipment. 

Battery Mess Hall (1962) in Jackson Park at Lake Shore Dr and 63rd St

The Barracks (1962) in Jackson Park at Lake Shore Dr and 63rd St

The U.S. Army leased land from the Park District for a Nike missile base on a Jackson Park meadow, and it took part of Promontory Point for a radar site

Jackson Park Launch Area

Nike Hercules during a readiness drill

A nuclear capable Nike Hercules missile and its crew in action during a readiness drill, at U.S. Army Air Defense Command missile site that existed in Jackson Park until 1971. with the Launcher area in a meadow across from the 63rd St. Beach.

The mission of the Launch Control Trailer and Launch Area was: 

  • Preparing and maintaining the missiles for flight
  • Elevating missiles to surface for launch (If underground magazines,)
  • Selecting which launcher and missile for next launch
  • Erecting and Launching missiles
  • Keeping the missile launching equipment filled with ready missiles during alerts.
  • Launch the missile/booster so the booster falls into the Booster Disposal Area

Launch Control Trailer

The Nike Hercules missile launcher was called the M-36E1 monorail launcher. It often had rack sections attached to it also. The M-36E1 was a steel rectangle with electric and hydraulic components and a large erecting beam supported by movable supports. It was quite a bit bigger than the Nike Ajax launcher and it weighed about 7 tons. There was also a mobile Nike Hercules launcher (M-94) which consisted of an M-36E1 launcher with jack stands, an axle and kingpin section, and a portable blast deflector.

Pit4-Jackson Park Lagoon

Nike Ajax missiles could be launched from a Nike Hercules launcher. There are literally dozens of pictures showing Nike Ajax missiles on Hercules launchers.

Launcher Control Box 

LCT Missile Selection Panel 

LCT Alert Status Panel

There was a mast about 15 feet high in the launcher area, usually attached to the Launch Control Trailer. This had a missile transponder (just like on the missile) so that the Missile Tracking Radar (MTR) could track this for test purposes, instead of requiring an erect missile. Various test instruments were used to verify that the MTR was in fact sending the specified signals such as correct pulse pair separation, test conditions "yaw" and "pitch" g's and burst command. This allowed more precise checking, and of course reduced wear and tear on missiles during the frequent non-alert tests.

 Promontory Point Fire Control Radar Site

                                    Integrated Fire Control radar area located at Promontory Point                                               

The Battery Control Area — often referred to as the Integrated Fire Control (IFC) Area — included all of the necessary radar, computer, and control equipment needed to detect and identify a target, and to launch and guide a missile to intercept that target. In general, the Battery Control Area was located on higher terrain that was relatively level and well-drained. Since this area contained all of the Nike equipment, the location also had to be free of any visual obstructions such as trees, radio towers, power and telephone lines, All of the radar locations were built on 50ft, towers and constructed on Promontory Point. 

The radar towers stood south of the Promontory Point field house on a large tract of land surrounded by a barbed-wire fence. One of the towers reached 150 feet in height, and all of them dwarfed the turret of the fieldhouse. 

The Field House on Promontory Point viewed  from the radar towers 

The   Integrated Fire Control radar area located at Promontory Point Point Field House

The Battery Control Area required a minimum of ten servicemen to operate the entire site and was the focal information and communications point for the battery. Communication cables connected the various elements within the Battery Control Area.

Guard Shack at the entrance to the IFC site

The IFC in the late 60’s

The major structures within the Battery Control Area included:

Battery Control Trailer: The Army originally designed Nike to be a mobile system that would be suitable for use with a field army. As deployed for continental air defense, Nike bases were permanent installations. However, the military still wanted the system to be suitable for field use. As a result, the key pieces of the Nike weapon system's radar, launch, and battery control equipment were in mobile trailers connected through communications cables, but the trailers were placed on concrete slabs.

The battery control trailer was at the heart of the Nike missile system. The Army equipped the trailer so that it would provide the battery control officer all the information required to direct the battery. The trailer contained the battery control console assembly, the acquisition radar cabinet assembly, the computer assembly, an early warning plotting board, an event recorder, and a switchboard cabinet assembly. From this trailer, the battery commander directed the acquisition of targets and the firing of the missiles. The acquisition radar operator and computer operator also were stationed in the battery control trailer.

Battery Control Trailer

The battery commander and acquisition radar operator sat at this console.   

One of 2 cabinets of "operational amplifiers" used in the Nike analog compute

Switchboard cabinet assembly 

 Inside the Battery Control Trailer

Low-Power Acquisition Radar (LOPAR): The LOPAR search radar was composed of the acquisition antenna, receiver, and transmitter. The radar rotated constantly at a predetermined speed. Through the acquisition radar scope, the battery commander (or battery control officer) received a pictorial image of a potential enemy target coming within range of the Nike installation. The battery commander, through electronic interrogation, could determine whether the target was "friend or foe." The acquisition radar was positioned between the target-tracking and missile-tracing radars, although not in exact line with them.

LOBAR acquisition radars

High-Power Acquisition Radar (HIPAR): This radar, which was installed at Nike installations equipped with Hercules missiles, was capable of locating targets at much higher altitudes than the LOPAR system. Since a ballistic missile or high-speed plane may not have been detected until it entered the antenna beam, high-altitude coverage was necessary to give adequate reaction time to allow for an intercept at a safe distance. The HIPAR was often located on a support and tripod structure, often as high as 50 feet. A dome-shaped cover, known as a radome, surrounded the radar and various antennas . There were usually three types of antennas: the main, omni, and auxiliary antennas. The HIPAR Equipment Building: This building was adjacent to the HIPAR, system and housed electronic equipment necessary to operate and maintain the HIPAR radar.

HIBAR acquisition radars 

 Radar Control Trailer: The radar control trailer (often referred to as the central tracking trailer) housed the target radar console assembly, the missile-tracking radar console assembly, the radar power cabinet assembly, the radar range and receiver cabinet assembly, and additional equipment associated with the target and missile-tracking radars.

The target- track console assembly provided the control and displays necessary for the operation of the target-tracking radar. The missile-track console assembly provided the control and displays for the operation of the missile-tracking radar. The battery control trailer and the radar control trailer were positioned back-to- back, with a cinder block structure/workspace between them which allowed easy access to both trailers by operating personnel. The maximum distance between the trailers was 25 feet.

Target-Tracking Radar. The target-tracking radar tracked the enemy aircraft's range, direction (Azimuth), and elevation, and transmitted this data electronically to the computer. The radar was composed of the tracking antenna, receiver, and transmitter. Three operators manned this console, I  was trained on all three positions.

TTR Operators Console

TTR Equipment Cabinet

Missile-Tracking Radar: This radar was similar in appearance and operation to the target-tracking radar. The missile-tracking radar tracked the missile throughout its flight, and continuously sent that information to the Nike installation's computer system. In turn, the computer transmitted steering commands to the missile through the missile-tracking radar to direct the missile toward its predicted intercept point with the target. Continuous commands were sent to the missile to correct for evasive actions by the target. When target and missile converged, the missile was detonated, and the missile-tracking radar automatically transferred to the next missile readied for firing. One operator manned this console. I was also trained on the operation of this console.

MTR Operators Console  

Inside the Radar Control Trailer

Generator Building: The generator building housed diesel-driven generators for power to operate the area during periods when commercial power was not available. Transformers were mounted outside the building for utilization of commercial power. Commercial power, with electrical converters to change 60- cycle power to 400-cycle power, was utilized where available. Power source switching control also was provided at this point.

The Ready Room: The Ready Room was the sites living Quarters, the usual tour of duty was for 24hrs.zWe relaxed playing pool, watching TV, or playing cards. Our meals were brought to us from the Mess Hall in Jackson Park and there were enough bunk beds for a maximum of ten people plus a separate room for the battery commander.

 Radar Collimation Mast Assembly: The radar collimation mast assembly was composed of: the radar test, which had two track-radar frequency band generators; the radar collimation mast, which was usually about 60 feet tall; the target head assembly; and cross arms, for correcting bore-sight. The mast assembly was used for collimating (adjusting the line-of- sight), testing, and adjusting the missile-tracking and target-tracking radars. Typically, the mast assembly was located approximately 600 feet from the missile-tracking radar and the target-tracking radar. Spatially, the mast assembly and the two tracking radars formed a tall triangle.

My Security Clearance finally came through in July 1962 and I was assigned to the batteries Radar site as the Missile Tracking Radar (MTR) operator

Reporting in to Arlington Heights. April 1962

 Enjoying a day off at Promontory Point

The Cuban Missile Crisis, also known as the October Crisis of 1962 or the Missile Scare, was a 13-day (October 16–28, 1962) confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union initiated by Soviet ballistic missile deployment in Cuba. The confrontation is often considered the closest the Cold War came to escalating into a full-scale nuclear war.

 It just happened that my Platoon was on duty on the day that we were placed on an elevated status of readiness. We were all confined to the site for almost three weeks while the  negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union took place.  All of our meals were sent to us from the mess hall and we slept in shifts as the Crisis continued.  After ten days I finally was relieved long enough to return to our barracks in Jackson Park to shower and change into a clean uniform. As soon as I finished, I returned to the Point.

 During the time we were confined the Air Force would run practice bombing runs to see if they could penetrate our defenses and bomb Chicago.  I can honestly say that not one ENEMEY bomber attacked Chicago and dropped a single bomb!

 When all offensive missiles and  light bombers had been withdrawn from Cuba, the blockade was formally ended on November 21, 1962. As a result, in 1963 the Moscow–Washington hotline was established. I would later become familiar with the Hotline.

 Although I would eventually discover when I arrived at the White House Communications Agency (WHCA) that the "red telephone", was never a telephone line, and no red phones were ever used. The first implementation used Teletype equipment, and shifted to fax machines in 1986. Since 2008, the Moscow–Washington hotline has been a secure computer link over which messages are exchanged by a secure form of email.

 On a Friday night in early Nov. 1962 I went to a dance at the USO in downtown Chicago and met my future wife Joanne. After dating for several months, we became engaged and were married on April 6, 1963, the happiest day of my life.

Joanne on April 6, 1963
April 6, 1963 our wedding reception at Luigi’s Restaurant on North Ave in Chicago
The Battery was required to become certified by participating in an annual SNAP (Short Notice Annual Practice) exercise. We fired both Nike Ajax and Nike Hercules missiles, at McGregor Range, NM. All Nike Batteries were re-certified once a year to ensure continuing proficiency and retain confidence that the Battery and the equipment would work properly. I was on the team as a TTR elevation operator in May of 1963, when we headed to Ft. Bliss, Tx. for the Batteries annual SNAP evaluation. After spending a night at Ft. Bliss, we were bussed to McGregor Range TX. The next morning and started running operational tests on the test sight.

 I also had an operator’s license for a duce and a half truck, so I was dispatched with the Launch Officer to pick up and deliver a Nike Hercules missile  to the launching area for preparation for firing during the exercise.

t took about three days to set everything up to be ready to fire at a drone and be graded for our overall performance. When the test concluded we scored high enough to be classified as an Honor Battery. The battery then returned to Ft. Bliss to await transportation to return us to Chicago.

  Entrance to Ft Bliss  

 IFC test site at McGregor range
In October I received orders to serve in Korea for a period of one year, it was a real shock as Joanne was expecting our first child. After several calls to Personnel I was granted a deferment until after delivery. This was a big relief for now!

November 22, 1963 is a date in history that I will never forget, and a date I will always remember where I was.  I was on duty at the IFC and also  Cpl of the Guard when I heard on the news that  President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. Information was so limited nobody knew what to expect would come next. Almost immediately the state of our readiness was elevated, so the Battery  prepared for any hostile action. We had just gone through this a few months before during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The authorities announced the capture of Lee Harvey Oswald the suspected assassin and later that evening after LBJ was sworn into office and safely back in Washington DC we were told that we could stand down. The whole country witnessed Jack Ruby assassinate Lee Harvey Oswald and the state funeral of JFK on TV.

Our first son Donald was born on January 3, 1964 and almost immediately had to start to plan to move. We planned to rent a U-Haul and move Joanne and Don to my parents home in Norwalk Ohio where they could stay when could stay and we were able to store our furniture. I received orders to report to the Overseas Replacement Center in Oakland CA. We left Chicago on February 27,1964 and after a short leave I flew to San Francisco CA.

Our first apartment on the fourth floor (corner)

 Donald John Cross (1964}

When I arrived at the replacement center and started in processing I was informed that because I had less than a year left on my enlistment and that I could not complete tour in Korea, I would be placed on hold until I could be reassigned. I worked in the Orderly Room until I finally received assigning me to a Nike Missile Battalion in Seattle at Ft, Lawton WA. Since I had a week before I was to report in I decided to take a bus through Northern CA., OR., and on to Seattle.

I was then assigned to Battery S-13 in Redmond WA which was a double launch site with twice the missiles of a usual launch facility, was in operation from September 1954 to March 1974. In June 1958 S-13 became Nike Hercules sites. When I arrived, I requested leave to go back to Norwalk and return with My family, I was also assigned Government Quarters at R-27 Nike Village in Redmond I flew back to Norwalk loaded everything we could fit in the back seat and trunk of the car that we just bought. Joanne had never been further west than Chicago so this would quite an experience for the both of us.

 The Battery Control Site was at 95th Avenue NE and 172nd and today is a National Guard facility with the former barracks and administrative buildings in use. The launch site near 95th Avenue and 195th Northeast is now private property.

 Our first car, getting ready to drive to Seattle

After requesting and receiving leave I returned in June with my family and got settled into our new home in government quarters. We really loved the small-town atmosphere of Redmond and the scenic beauty of Seattle. However, as luck would have it, the Battery found out that it would be turned over to the National Guard and everyone would be reassigned buy October of 1964. The Guard started taking over almost immediately training and maintaining the radar equipment leaving us with nothing to do. For the final days we did nothing but play cards all day and then went home.  We had a change of command ceremony the end of September and waited for our individual orders to come down,

Nike Site, Redmond WA (1964)

I finally received orders to return to The same Missile Battalion in Arlington Heights, IL, the same one that I had just left six months ago. Fortunately, in had been promoted and the Government would now relocate my furniture and personal belongings. I also had to arrange a pickup of the furniture that we had stored in Norwalk at my parents house. We packed the car, and Joanne my son Donnie and the family German Shepard loaded in the car and left Ft, Lawton on October 15th heading to Chicago. After spending some leave in Norwalk and ensuring that our furniture was picked up, I reported in for duty at Battalion HQ, at which time I found out that I was returning to the Jackson Park base that I had just left six months ago. We were assigned Government Quarters and began to settle in again!

Government Quarters on E98th St. in Chicago

Don learning to walk with support from Duke

As I recall it was December of 1964, I was approaching my discharge from the Army  in February and I decided to re-enlist to attend Microwave Radio Repair School at Ft Monmouth NJ. I was scheduled to report for training on  April 3, 1965 for 26 weeks of training. Once again, we packed all of our belongings and departed Chicago once again.

TTR Radar being removed

TTR Radar tower as the site is being dismantled
The Battery at Jackson Park remained in service until 1971 when it was decommissioned and razed. Both Jackson Park and the Promontory Point sites were returned to the City of Chicago.

 I reported into Ft. Monmouth and started training, several weeks before I completed training, I was interviewed by members of the White House Communications Agency (WHCA). After submitting to a Polygraph examination and an extensive background investigation I was ultimately selected and was transferred to WHCA in Washington DC. It was November of 1965 when my experiences with WHCA began.