The system, with modifications, lasted from 1954 to 1980. There are still Nike systems today in Korea, and Turkey. There were nuclear missile batteries around every major US City. It was perhaps, one of the best kept secrets of the cold war. There were US operated Nike Sites in the US, Germany, Japan, Korea, Greenland, Greece and Okinawa. Every battalion had about 5 or 6 batteries of 250 people. Every city had one or two battalions. There were about 300 batteries for about 25 years. Every battery had a fire control area that was where the radars were. Each battery had two crews of about 15 men each. (Some batteries were dual batteries and had doubled the amount of radars and men).
The reason I am telling you this is because I worked on these sites for 12 years. Western Electric and Raytheon made these radars. These radars had Klystron tubes and other tubes that were radioactive. When you fired these tubes up, so that you could run these radars, you had between 30,000 and 40,000 volts running through them. They glowed green. They had a safety feature, when a cabinet door was opened, it had a switch on it called an interlock that shut the system down. It was a good idea. It was a safety measure, so that soldiers would not get radiated.
There was a problem. Some of the adjustments were inside the cabinets of the radar vans, so the companies took it on themselves to put in an "interlock override" so that these adjustments could be made. A little ionized radiation couldn't hurt anyone now, could it? Well, as it turned out, thousands of men came down with soft cell cancers like thyroid cancer, saliva gland cancer, throat cancer, brain cancer and all sorts of squamous cell cancer.
When some German soldiers came down with cancer, they sued the German government. The government settled for about 800.000.00 marks. They then sued Raytheon and Western Electric which has been split up into Lucent Technologies, Honeywell, and ITT. The lawsuit was brought in El Paso, Texas, home of Air Defense, Fort Bliss, where most of the soldiers were trained
The command in the US was called The Army Air Defense Command. (ARADCOM). Do you realize just how many men served in ARADCOM in the US from the years 1954 to 1980? Just for fun, there were about 50 cities that had about 5 batteries each. In one year, that was 6000 radar operators in each year. That was just the number in the US. Times that by 36 years, that's 216,000 operators. How many got cancer?
I did. Thank God I found it and had it removed from the floor of my mouth. Hopefully it won't come back. I have no idea what happened to the class-action suit. The law firm that represents this case is Berger & Montague. They will not return my letters or e-mails. To read more about this check out Mother Jones News, Sept 9, 2004, or OCONOLINK, June 2002. Do you have anyone in your family that served with the Army on the Nike Hercules or Hawk systems? Did you? I wish I hadn't.
It's not too hard to figure out why I don't trust the government.