SITE NY-56 Sandy Hook, New Jersey
My favorite place in NYHarbor is Sandy Hook and the Atlantic Highlands, especially at this time of year, when the prickly pears sprout their big purple olive-like buds, the sumac turns firey red, pokeweed branches droop with heavy, ink-filled berries, and maybe monarchs pass through. Part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, the National Park Service tends and preserves wonderfully the pockets of wilderness.
This healing place of beauty is also where the presence of defense is felt. Monuments of the American Revolution, relics of the Civil War, crumbling forts, battery ranges and our USCG base stationed there tell of its military importance. But the most fascinating is site NY-56: where missiles were nearly launched 52 years ago this time.
Length: 27 ft
Weight: 5000 lbs
Range: 75 miles
Altitude: above 150,000 ft
Housed in underground silos, the missiles would be ready to launch off racks to intercept long-range bombers. Barracks still stand where men were housed, men who would maintain and train here. During the tour, one man in the back, who was very quiet and moved slowly suddenly burst out with emotion, “We were never allowed here when I was here, never!” He said no more, but among us that day was one who had served, one who lived through it all. This base was closed in 1974.
In this WWII paratrooper tribute blog are the writings and comments of a recent generation that grew up with incredible fear of being incinerated at school or in their sleep; one commentator found a great handout courtesy of the Canadian government here: a “How to Pack to Survive a Nuclear Attack” brochure. Thank you, GCOX.