Island 1961, part of the Marshal Islands, located at the southern end of
the Kwajalein, Atoll. It is also at the far western end of the U.S. Navy's
Pacific Missile Range (PMR), and Home to the U.S. Army's Nike-Zeus Anti-Ballistic
Missile (ABM) test facility.
Later versions were known as, Nike X, and Sentinel; and presently, part
The island consisted
of the technical area to the left; two runways; fuel storage area on the
lagoon side and housing area to the right.
Years ago Today
NMD Non-Muzzleloader Defense
AP_ Connecticut: This guy Colt is
claiming he has an idea for a "Repeating Gun."
He says that instead of muzzle loading
one shot at a time, he envisions a weapon that will hold several "bullets,"
and simply by squeezing the trigger repeatedly, he will be able to better
"It will NEVER work!"
"What if it misfires?"
"The way I understand it: It will
be limited to only five or six shots."
"What if lots of the enemy attack
him at once? He wont be able to shoot all of them."
"Besides it not being technically
feasible, I understand it will cost $10,000 to develop, that’s more than
1% of the Army’s budget".
Many of our top scientists are against
it; they say it will only lead to more tomahawks and bows & arrows.
2KW SSB, Telrex 6 element Tri-bander at 120 feet & the Pacific
Ocean as a ground plane.
Running a phone patch
back to the States in the U.S. Army's "Ham
Shack," KX6DB (K X Six Dirty Bird / Dog Biscuit)
located on the second floor of the JTO Building on Kwajalein Island in
the Marshal Islands, home of the Nike Zeus/Nike-X, Sentinel, ABM at the
western end of the Pacific Missile Range. I was a civilian employee of
Western Electric/Bell Labs.
Hamming there in KX6 land
was great fun, but it ruined it for me when I got back to the states--nobody
wanted to talk to little old me; I was often tempted to use my KX6AY call.
also operated a similar setup in the
"Ham Shack," KX6BU (King Xray Six Brown Underwear)
a 12' x 12' block house located in the Coconut Grove
the ocean side of Kwaj. See Fred, KX6DA, below.
want to Recognize a good friend, J. Frazer Lyon of Cheraw, SC, W4EOZ.
He ran thousands of phone patches for us folks in these "Faraway Places."
KX6AY, from the comfort of my room
operated a Collins KWM-2, 180 Watts PEP, with a Mosley Tri band beam on
the roof of the Reef BOQ.
My call on Kwaj was KX6AY,
Xray Six Always Yaking). I was known for talking more than listening;
in fact there was a rumor that my receiver had been broken for three days
before I realized it.
Fred Browning W1HLP
"I was the first WE man on Kwaj , with my family 1959. I set up that
room in the JTO bldg. It was like Christmas when I opened all those Collins
boxes. I also was instrumental in the demolition of the old KX6AF
building and station and the consrtuction of the new 12 x 12 block building
(long and interesting story , the walls are filled with empty beer cans
emptied by the PMZ labor guys who did it for free--beer)."
The Zeus Acquisition
Radar (ZAR) was so powerful that it used seperate
transmitting and receiving antenna.
Another Shot of ZAR
85 foot in diameter Receiving antenna with it's 600 foot, in diameter,
ground plane. Background: ZAR Transmitting
antenna enclosed by a 90 foot high, 660 foot in diameter, stainless steel
"Beam Forming Fence." And, in between is the
ZAR Power plant.
The Sprint Missile's exit velocity was so fast that its skin glowed
in the daytime.
A heavily "airbrushed" photo of an early
Borrowed, Great Photo
Another View of the Technical Area & "downtown" Kwaj.
Dependent Housing, including
trailers residing on a newly dredged -up addition to the island.
My 3rd floor corner
room in the Reef BOQ, across from the Yokwe Yok (I had a Mosley Tribander
Beam on the roof, KX6AY)
Click map to see Larger
Map of the Kwajalein Atoll
A "borrowed" Montage
The Yokwe Yok Movie Theater
The Yokwe Yok Lounge
"Macy's of the Pacific"
Department Store, Post Office, Barber Shop_1 each
& Babe Surveillance Location
Part of a letter from me describing my stay on Kwaj:
"...I was there in the early sixties (1961 - 1963), and
as an electronics technician, I earned--in today's dollars--the equivalent
of >$302k/year (2013).
I was 25 and single; worked for Bell Labs/Western Electric
and had a GS rating equivalent to Major. I lived in the BOQ and took
meals in the Navy officers mess (not a pretty sight--we often snuck in
the CPO mess). If I had been married and accompanied by my family
we would have lived in dependent's quarters.
I mention this because I was privy to sections of the
social strata that some were not. The things that went on there at that
time were pretty WILD--even by today's standards. If you were married and
had your family with you, you could join one of the several "key clubs"
there. Also, there was "organized" illegal gambling, drugs, smuggling,
and other ways of getting your ass in a sling. There were several suspicious
deaths (murders--gambling, etc.).
I knew several engineers single and married that were
asked to leave before their tours were finished, due to their heavy dependency
on alcohol--which was cheaper than Coke Cola!
In 18 months, there were three different island doctors--all
of which left under a cloud... --Three great tales to tell there
The dependent kids were, for the most part, "unsupervised,"
they kept the island security pretty busy.
During my tour, the population grew to more than
The justice on the Island was "Navy Justice," e.g., if
someone walked up behind me and hit me in the head with a two by four,
the Navy's solution was to hold no hearing, but declare both parties at
fault and ship both off the island.
A positive side was the money: one could amass a good
sized nest-egg fast!
Even though, after eighteen months, I couldn't wait to
get the "Hell Off," I have fond memories: it was truly a life altering
Beavers on Kwajalein
One of my jobs was to work on Linden Flight Service's
two de Havilland Beavers' com radios and nav aids.
I had the habit of demanding that the pilot take me up
to check the quality of the repairs. One day after a missile shot, with
the doors off of the pontoon Beaver, a co-worker and myself took just such
a ride. I think the pilot had had enough of my crap, so as we taxied out
and started our takeoff roll he opened the throttle, and pushed the aileron
wheel over into my lap and held it there with his knee, and shouted, "here
you fly the plane." I had never flown a plane in my life; the only thing
close was that I had been a Link Trainer instructor in the USAF, which
I always mentioned two or three times around the pilot.
When I protested that I couldn't fly, he shouted back,
"yea you can, you use to 'fly' in the Air Force, you told me so!"
My buddy who was in the "jump seat" in the rear, couldn't
hear what was being said for all the noise, and assumed that I could indeed
fly, so he set back to enjoy the ride.
Meanwhile, about halfway down the runway we were rolling
at about 85 knots, I realized he was serious; he shouted, "take off, take
off!" As we started to run out of runway, I looked at the flight instruments
and praying, I pulled back on the aileron wheel and started climbing out
at about ~300 fpm, I flew it as if I were flying my old Link Trainer (C-47)
in IFR conditions--never once looking out the front windshields.
At about a 100 or so feet I did look out the wind shields
and realized we had a crosswind (~25 kts) that was pushing us toward the
tower where all I could see was what looked like an upraised fist as I
rolled it away from the tower.
We continued to climb to altitude ~5,000 feet where we
got a radio call that there was an overdue boat out there somewhere and
would we keep an eye out for it. So we flew around for what seemed like
an eternity. All the time I was waiting and watching for the pilot to loosen
his grip on the aileron wheel stalk so I could push it back into his lap--where
it belonged, and scotch it with my knee; I sure as Hell didn't want to
try and land that thing--especially with a cross wind!
Finally he directed me to the approach end of the island--right
over the shark pit--to line up for final approach, at this point I was
begging for him to take the wheel, but he kept saying "you can do it!"
As we entered the approach pattern he backed off on the throttle and as
we started to descend he took the wheel and landed the plane, I was so
grateful I could have hugged his neck.
Later back at the JTO building I told my buddy what had
actually happened--that I could not fly and had never flown until that
day, when he finally understood what I was saying and finally believed
me, he turned white and ran into the latrine where proceeded to "loose
his lunch." Meanwhile I went back to the BOQ and took a shower and changed
The ZAR Fire
About half way through my tour on Kwajalein we had the
excitement of a fire in the antenna of a very powerful radar, the Zeus
Acquisition Radar (ZAR). This radar was so powerful (30MW peak) that it
used separate antennas, one for transmitting and one for receiving, which
were about a thousand feet apart.
The transmitting antenna consisted of three separate antennas,
each 80 feet long by 10 feet high, arranged like a three cornered hat.
Shortly after the fire there were people in baskets suspended
from cranes, inspecting the ninety foot high, 660 feet in diameter, stainless
steel beam-forming fence, that completely encircled the transmitting antenna
and building, for bullet holes.
Meanwhile, to find out what had happened, Bell Telephone
Laboratories (BTL) in Whippany, NJ, over a weekend, sent out a C-130 full
of antenna engineers.
Several of us from our lab were sent to assist. I was
given the responsibility for designing and conducting the tests on the
antenna material--copper strips in fiberglass. That test consisted of measuring
the resistance (heating) of copper strips embedded in fiberglass which
made up the "lens" of the antenna.
This is all done in the presents of the island's fire
department, the same department that was called when the first fire occurred.
First, with all personnel sequestered within the safety
of the shielded transmitter building, the transmitter was turned on for
a few minutes--without the antenna rotating. This allows the antenna to
heat up, if it's going to. Then it's turned off, the shielded door beneath
the antenna is quickly flung open and we run out, remove the shield protecting
the Wheatstone bridge connected to the copper strips, and made our measurements.
To make these measurements the operator must "play" the
bridge like a musical instrument, if the sensitivity buttons were not pushed
in the right sequence, the test would fail and the entire process would
have be repeated.
I think the wisest thing we did out there was to request
that we "choreograph" the steps, and rehearse it--many, many, dry runs!
It went off like clockwork, there were no mistakes--we
got good data.
That weekend was an adrenaline pumping 36 hours with everybody--and
the fire department, in attendance.