el forko grande

For general discussion with your fellow Minuteman III crewdogs, maintainers and cops. Currently based at Minot AFB, ND, Malmstrom AFB, MT, and F. E. Warren AFB, WY. Formerly based at Grand Forks AFB, ND. Operational from 17 Apr 1970 to present. Share your stories and meet up with an old friend.

el forko grande

Postby hockey85 on Wed Aug 30, 2006 5:07 am

i'm currently living in grand forks. anyone have any interesting stories while stationed here?
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Postby SAC Killer on Sat May 05, 2007 2:08 am

I was stationed there in the early '80s. One of the Wing/CCs was the late Col. Frank Horton. His idea of relaxing was to close the door to his office, pig out on junk food and Pink Floyd until 2200, and write a host of action items for the staff to find in the morning. Once at Commander's Call, he came out swinging a baseball bat. This was waaayyyy before "The Untouchables." I don't remember the point he was making, but I do remember the bat.

At another Commander's Call, he ducked down under the podium and came back up wearing a Conehead hat a-la the Coneheads from Saturday Night Live: "Conehead the Barbarian." Which leads to his other idea:"The Warrior of the North."

The senior staff all got shaken down for funding. They ordered a suit of armor and a sword from a guy who made historically accurate armor for a living. They made it big: to fit it, you had to be over 6 feet tall. And then they had auditions to find troops to wear it at wing functions. Sort of like Tommy Trojan, but without the horse.

I have often wondered if the Warrior of the North survived Frank, because the senior staff sort of laughed at it. Actually they laughed at it a lot. And I wonder where that suit of armor and the sword ended up.
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Re: el forko grande

Postby jhnbollinger on Wed Jun 13, 2007 2:25 am

I was assigned to the 321 CES, 80 to 83, In May of 1983, We responded to L-13, For an LF lockout. Our forced entry took 19 hours to complete, Jackhammering through 5000 psi concrete laced with 2" diameter rebar and a 1" steel plate on the launcher door. We started about 6 pm and worked through the night, our only glitch was the lima cook would not prepare box lunches for us, After a call to our commander resolved the problem. However when we went to lima-0 the next day for RON, we were not welcome so we returned to base.
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Re: el forko grande

Postby SAC Killer on Wed Jun 13, 2007 1:16 pm

Wasn't really a site lockout, but one night we had a site go on batteries. I don't recall which site it was. The maintenance team couldn't get the LEB blast door open. They got it opened a few inches, and it stuck there, neither completely open nor closed. I was OIC of the site maintenance branch then, which oversaw periodic maintenance, the field maintenance teams (they did the HVAC and diesel), pneudraulics, and corrosion control. So I took one of the FMT NCOs, we grabbed a couple of chain hoists, and piled into a truck.

So we left the maintenance team topside and the NCO & I went down to see what was what. Sure enough, that door was stuck tight. Would not budge either direction. So we hooked a come-along (with roller chain, maybe a 1 ton capacity) to the door, and across the shaft to the ladder rungs leading down to the sump. Those rungs were the only thing available to use as an anchor. We ratcheted the come-along till it was really tight & the door wouldn't budge. Okay, time for the heavy gear. We went back topside and got a 5-ton chain hoist. Connected it the same way. Tightened it till the chain was quivering. We were getting pretty scared of a broken chain; likely would have put us both in the hospital. So we attached a rope to the hoist chain, and climbed up to the landing halfway up the shaft. From there we thought we would at least have time to duck if the hoist broke.

Pulled on the rope. Click! went the ratchet. Pulled again. Click! You could practically hear the chain singing, the hoist was so tight. We could see the sump ladder rung starting to bend. We're thinking, what's gonna happen? Will the hoist explode? Will the ladder rung break? Will the door come open? Will the site shut down? (We really, REALLY didn't want that to happen; too much "help" from higher up.)

Click! Click! Click! We're starting to think, this isn't gonna work and we might end up injured or dead if the hoist goes kaflooey. And we started trying to figure out how to relieve the tension on the hoist without getting hurt. And then the door swings open, nice and quiet as you please, as if we had just tugged the handle gently. The blowers had plenty of time to build up an overpressure so it took us a while to get the door closed again, and anyway we wanted to work the hinge a bit to make sure it didn't stick again. Swing the door closed; air builds up & starts to whistle; door blows back open. We did this maybe a dozen times before we equalized the pressure and could get the door latched.

Gathered the gear, went back topside, told the team to fix the diesel. How they glared! We decided they weren't too pleased that an officer & an NCO were able to open the door when they couldn't.
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Re: el forko grande

Postby SAC Killer on Wed Jun 13, 2007 1:29 pm

Okay, and now I have to tell a story about the third launcher door (the launcher closure) and the time we had one of THOSE that would not open. Records showed that the closure had not been opened in three years. The closure sits on four wheels that are on rails. It locks from underneath with a huge pin, maybe 8 inches diameter, that must be lowered to unlock the closure. The pin and the actuator mechanism live in a big steel box we called the "bathtub" that is suspended from the top of the launcher, about 10 feet above the upper level deck. And sure enough, we needed to do a can change and the door would not unlock.

For some unknown reason, fixing the lock was a depot job. So we had to wait for a guy to fly out from Hill AFB. This was an interesting procedure and half the wing maintenance leadership was out at the site, including me.

The depot guy was mostly giving directions. We had a team connect a five ton chain hoist to the actuator. And started pulling on the chain. It got pretty tight and then the pin let go with an incredibly loud BANG! as it hit the bottom stops. And it rained, literally rained, chunks of rust down on us. A LOT of rust.
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Re: el forko grande

Postby hockey85 on Wed Jun 13, 2007 7:01 pm

If the missile needed to have been launched, would the launcher closure ever opened with the squibs with all that rust?
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Re: el forko grande

Postby SAC Killer on Wed Jun 13, 2007 7:20 pm

Methinks it would have. They put breakaway fences on all the sites after a test in which the closure went shooting out of the LF perimeter and into the field, taking the fence with it, and dragging the fence on the opposite side over the launch tube. Also that was an unusually hard closure to open. Most of the time, it was lower the pin, install the pipe pusher, put a couple of pennies on the rails, and roll the closure open. No muss no fuss.
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Re: el forko grande

Postby jhnbollinger on Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:56 pm

I hope the fences would have broke away, The fence fabric was attched to the post with an aluminum clip. So with the wind blowing all the time, along with the harsh winters. Our fence repair program called for 14 gauge wire to be wrapped around the post, I belive with no less than 8 or 10 wire wraps around each post. Also the frost line was pushing the fence post out of the ground, Concrete and all. Our solution was to add more rock and dirt to the site, During spring erosion control. John
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Re: el forko grande

Postby ornurse362 on Thu Jun 14, 2007 1:27 pm

SAC Killer:

I am having the most difficult time figuring out who you are. You were the OIC of the SMB in the 1980 timeframe, correct? That means I had to have worked for you ..... are you Ernie?

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Re: el forko grande

Postby SAC Killer on Fri Jun 15, 2007 8:54 pm

Regarding the breakaway fences, early on (late 60s?) they did the closure test. Upon seeing the result they modified the fences so the portion that is hit by the closure is physically separate from the rest of the fence. On that side of the perimeter, if I recall correctly there are two pairs of fence posts close together that mark the breakaway portion. So only that section of the fence goes down, with the rest remaining untouched until (1) the missile plume destroys it (unlikely), or (2) an incoming vaporizes it (hopefully also unlikely).
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Re: el forko grande

Postby Warrior Of the North on Thu Mar 06, 2008 6:55 pm

I wore that funny suit of armor for the '86 & '87 missile comp's. I was invited to minot for host-fest (dont remember which yr) by Col. Vandillen, was that a hoot! GF had some kind of horn that was made up also called a lur (looked something like it should have capped a whiskey still) to go with the suit, I rode around in the back of a datson pick up for '86 msl comp with Chief Rogers running a siren with a pair of jumper cables and a requisitioned set of DEU batts, in '87 we upgraded to short bus painted black that the Chiefs drove out (if i remember right we red "x" a container truck to commandeer the siren :shock: ) I stood thru the sun roof that was installed on a big wooden box, I thought I was going to short out a couple traffic lights when we drove around vandy-land, as for the suit of armor I hear it was turned over to the 319th when the 321st stood down.

I sorta got the job in '86 because the guy supposed to wear it hurt his back, (I'm 6'7"), Chief Rogers asked me if I would like to go to California, there was some discussion as to what I was to do, the reset is history. 8)
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Re: el forko grande

Postby D Preidis on Sun Mar 23, 2008 7:18 pm

hockey85 wrote:If the missile needed to have been launched, would the launcher closure ever opened with the squibs with all that rust?

I can't remember if there were three or four Ballistic Gas Generators, BGG's, on the opening mechanism. Only one is needed to open the door in normal conditions.

Rust would be no problem as the door was designed to open with up to eight or ten feet of rubble on top.

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Re: el forko grande

Postby SAC Killer on Sun Mar 23, 2008 10:39 pm

D Preidis wrote:
hockey85 wrote:If the missile needed to have been launched, would the launcher closure ever opened with the squibs with all that rust?

I can't remember if there were three or four Ballistic Gas Generators, BGG's, on the opening mechanism. Only one is needed to open the door in normal conditions.

Rust would be no problem as the door was designed to open with up to eight or ten feet of rubble on top.

Doug


Well, and I didn't say so up above, but most of the rust was not associated with the pin or the closure. It mostly was on the bathtub & surrounding structure. Wouldn't want to bet on a successful launch with 10 feet of rubble on top though.
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Re: el forko grande

Postby 3901smes on Tue Mar 25, 2008 1:59 am

There were four BGG's on MMIII and PK LFs and two on MMII LF's.I don't think a door would open with ten foot n top because there would be 14 foot in front of the door. Plus if it the door did open, the debris bins would not catch enough to protect the missile from falling rocks. However when the Ist stage ignited it would blow the dirt and door far away when it hit the bottom of the door.
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Re: el forko grande

Postby hockey85 on Tue Mar 25, 2008 4:24 am

On one of the DVD's I got from the AAFM website there is footage of a HEST (High Explosive Simulation Test) for a Wing VI LF. I'm not sure where the test took place, but there was a pretty big explosion near the LF and quite a bit of debris on the Launcher Enclosure door and it still opened (not 10 feet of debris on top though). There was also footage of inside the Launch Tube of the missile boucing around on the shock ring during the nearby explosion. Then when the door opened you could see debris falling around the missile. Pretty interesting stuff. Anyone know where this was filmed? I doubt they had an explosion that big in a north dakota farmer's field.

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