Newspaper Articles

Pomeroy's Community Room Has Nike Demonstration (Bristol Daily Courier - May, 1956)
Bristol Twp. NIKE Base Invites Public (Bristol Daily Courier - Wednesday May, 16 1956)
Bristol Nike Base To Hold Open House (Bristol Daily Courier - May 1957)
Nike Base Steps Foward To Aid Soap Box Derby (Bristol Courier and Levittown Times - May, 24 1957)
Bristol NIKE Base Plans Guided Tours (Bristol Daily Courier - May, 1959)
Switch In Bristol: Nike Base Going To National Guard (Bristol Daily Courier - Friday, April 29, 1960)
Twp. Nike Base Is 'Alive' Around The Clock (Courier Times - Saturday, August 4, 1962)
Missile Base Eyed As Prison Site (Courier Times - Thursday, September 16, 1976)
Cold War History, Close to Home (Levittown, Leader - #12 Saturday, October 1, 2011)


Richard (Dick) Leckbee (D506) recalls. I arrived in Bristol, PA and served at the IFC Control area from August 1956 to August 1957. I was to take over the supply room. I realized right away that I wanted to learn the radar. I spoke with Commander 1st Lt. Robert Harcarik and he saw my interest was genuine. He changed my MOS and for the next 11 months I was operating azimuth, range and elevation in the control vans – remembering that Sgt. Walters was my mentor.

I recall the 5 minute, 10 minute and 30 minute stand-by duty roster. You might be playing cards, checkers, shooting pool or writing letters home, etc. in the dayroom when the alarm sounded for a drill – you didn’t walk, you ran to the control van and assumed your station immediately. There were always guys not on duty who would drive to Hoagie Joe’s on Rt. 13 in Bristol for cheese steak and meatball sandwiches or pizza for those who couldn’t leave the base.

We usually had K-P duty on Friday night or Saturday morning (mop and wax floors in the barracks, latrine and dayroom, straighten foot and wall lockers). Everybody present was involved. Along with that, we did most all of the post maintenance, including painting the TTR and MTR tower jackets and buildings, washed windows and mowed the lawn. The buildings and grounds were kept in pristine condition and our lawns looked like a golf course.

Sgt. Doby, one of our cooks, always made sure that everyone ate well, but you had to report for meals at the given times if you wanted to eat. The only exceptions were if you were on a drill. The mess hall was always spic and span.

Commander Harcarik was an officer that everyone liked. He was firm and respected but believed in regulations and getting all jobs done. He was a friend to all the troops. If you wanted a few days leave, and it was important enough, he usually ok’d it.

In 1981 the road was still open from Ford Road. I drove back and took several pictures of the towers and buildings that were still there. In October 2012, while on vacation with my wife, my nephew and I visited the site. While looking across and through the brush and undergrowth I was able to place in my mind where I used to park my car, the location of the radar towers and all of the buildings, including the guard shack at the gate, all of which are now gone. The only traces are the electric pole at the gate, some poles in the compound and the paved roads in and around the radar and where the buildings stood. As I walked up and down the road I took time to reminisce and recall the memorable times and friendships I had there. Of my 3 years active duty, the 11 months spent here were the best and are the most often recalled.

MOST MEMORABLE – In September 1956, we sponsored a dance in the mess hall on a Friday night and we invited girls from Ft. Dix, NJ and from the Bristol USO. The hall was packed. I left my chair for a few minutes and when I returned I found this pretty, brown-eyed little gal in my seat. I saw that she was with another girl – tapped her shoulder and the rest of the night the three of us were sharing two chairs. Three children and 55 years later, Olive and I are still loving each other. Thank you Bristol and thank you Grand Old Nike Base.

I would like very much to communicate with anyone who was there during the same time as me. Please contact me at 630-377-9172 Home or 630-742-9301 Cell; 325 S. 13 Street, St. Charles, IL 60174-2506, email

Your brother veteran -Dick
Milt Shefter (D/506th) recalls, "I was assigned to the Philadelphia Air Defense Command and Battery D at Bristol, PA right from Nike school at Ft. Bliss, Texas. I spend most of my time in the missile tracking area, preparing crews for the test firings at Red Canyon (White Sands, NM) firing range. One anecdote: When I first arrived and had to sign for the base equipment (as Supply Officer) I signed for an inventory of 22 Ajax missiles. Just before a General inspection by the Battalion Commander, I did a physical inventory and found I was missing a missile. On a 2nd Lt.'s pay, it would have taken me a few lifetimes to pay it off! I immediately started looking for missing records, assuming it might have been sent back to Ordinance. Nothing. After two sleepless nights, I realized the crew has dis-assembled a missile and put all the parts into spare parts inventory. All I needed to find was a tail piece with a serial number on it. When I did, I gathered the missile crew and gave them the six hours before inspection (overnight) to re-assemble it. They did it and we passed inspection. More importantly, I didn't have to account for an embarrassing missing missile.

"Only married ones were allowed to live off base. Others were required to live on-base, in the enlisted men's barracks other Bachelor Officers Quarters. At one time I was the only "single" officer and I basically filled in for the married officers as Officer on Duty when they had domestic issues and needed to be home. I also allowed them to leave whenever I returned to the base so they didn't have to stay overnight. Both the Captain and Lt. Steinman really appreciated that

"We ran constant exercises, mostly in the middle of the night. We'd get our original plots of "incoming aircraft from Alaska or New Foundland. One night, I noted the plot was not an advance (like over Boston or Canada) but was basically over Philadelphia. I requested a verification and when I got it, the observer asked "what's the problem?" I answered that the aircraft position was overhead. He asked "So what? I said "What am I supposed to do?" He answered: "Duck?"

"Warrington was Battalion Hdq. We got the Hercules at Bristol. Typical Army fashion, the A- frame supporting the Hercules was too high to fit into our Missile Assembly (repair) building. Our engineering Sgt. wasn't cleared to go inside, so when a generator went down, he had to give instructions from outside the fence. The guard dogs were really to keep our unauthorized soldiers from getting in, and they were so vicious, they had to be entered into the walkway/dog run on opposite sides of the area otherwise they'd go after each other. When the dogs were shipped to us, they arrived without handlers (who took vacation/leave) on the way to Bristol. The supply Sgt. had to feed them by pushing metal plates of food into their cages. They were NOT pet-like.

"Just one more so I don't bore you. Another bachelor officer had two dogs that became our mascots. They were brindle Great Danes. They were also natural hunters. Now remember, we were supposedly a fenced and secured 44 acre missile site. A neighboring farmer kept calling and complaining that he was losing chickens to some dogs and claimed they were our guard dogs. On one call, as the Duty Officer, I explained that our guard dogs were trained German Shepherds and were kept locked up or in a perimeter fenced area. During that conversation, I suddenly looked down and saw one of our pet mascot Great Danes stride across the driveway with a chicken in his mouth He didn't kill it, just carried it around as if it was a toy. What's worse is that we never found out where in the entire fence line the Great Danes were getting in and out!

"During the huge snowstorm of '58, the local Bristol hospital lost power and had some patients on lung machines. Cpl. George Nadeau and I took an army truck with a plow, opened the entrance to the hospital and then hooked up an emergency generator. George was the real hero as the plow blade struck some bricks in the driveway and sheared off. We wired it back on, returned to the base and he welded the bolt back on, then we returned to the hospital to complete hooking up the generator. We returned several times to keep adding fuel to the generator until the hospital got its own power back on."
Bob Harcarik (D/506th) recalls, "Actually, being on the Nike sites (Warminster, Bristol and back to Warminster) was one of the best tours I had in the Army. I was the Battery Commander at Bristol from Aug 56 to Jul 57. Happened to be the Senior Lieutenant in the Battalion. When a new Capt arrived he got the Bristol site and back to Warminster I went as the Exec Officer for a dual site.

"One of the things I enjoyed was talking to various civil groups and explaining the role of the site. Lots of good times and met a bunch of fine folks. One episode does come to mind. Was talking to a group of student nurses, can't remember the hospital. Thought all went real well. After the dissertation and questions and answers found out that I had scared the devil out of some of them. Guess I got a little to carried away.

"Off time was spent in a variety of ways, just like today. Sleeping, chasing girls, barhopping, site seeing. Dependent on the alert status we were on determined whether you could leave the site or not. 5 minute status meant you had to be ready to fire a missile within 5 minutes. So crews stayed on site. 10 minute, you had better be near by. 30 minute - same thing. Stand down - after normal duty hours free to go unless assigned guard duty, etc.

"First of all, we tried to be good citizens and not do anything to draw unfavorable attention. I think we were pretty successful there. Being an old farm boy from Illinois, late fall of 56, I noticed a field of corn adjacent to our launch area had not been picked. Inquiry revealed it belonged to a family just up the road from the launch area. My platoon seargent knew the folks and said that on occasion they had borrowed some of their equipment to help maintain the area (grass & weed cutting, another story). I suggested that he contact her and offer to pick the corn for them. Several of he men in the launch area were also farm boys. They accepted and 4 days later, their corn was picked and cribbed. They threw one hell of party for the troops that participated. We were also invited to march in parades. The Roslyn VFW treated us like royalty.

"Was [also] looking at your web site and pictures and brought to mind how close on of our radars were to the turnpike. This in turn brought to mind a gentleman from the CIA spent three weeks on the site trying to figure out how to protect the radars, i.e., someone sitting on the turnpike with a high powered rifle and a couple of rounds into the radar, particularly the rear of the dish where the magnetron was and poof. Its blind. Can't track anything. His conclusion was sand bags, 3' thick to the top of the dish. As I told him that would probably stop bullets but he just put blinders on the radar. Never did come up with an answer."
Both IFC Platoon Leader LT1 Nick DiBello (B/2/166th) and SP5 Dominic Zinnie (B/2/166th) shared an amusing story about a young guy at the base who was more interested in doing what he wanted to do rather than what he was supposed to do (something I'm sure most of us can relate to in one way or another.) A guard was required to make hourly patrols around the base to ensure its security, and in the process, key in a watchclock at various checkpoints. One night, the guard took the time to collect every checkpoint key (these keys were chained and nailed to poles around the base, mind you) and brought them back to the orderly room. Instead of actually making his rounds, he simply took the keys and, on the hour, keyed the watchclock with all of them. The one thing he didn't think of was the fact that the task that should have taken quite a while, took him literally seconds, and it was all recorded on the cardboard disc in the clock. Naturally, when Lt. DiBello looked at the disc, Mr. Lazy was busted. He was given three days of unpaid leave.
According to Launcher Section Chief Tony Lorino (B/2/166th), the higher the rank you are in the service... the less work you do (generally speaking,) but this was not the case on the Nike Missile Base. He was in charge of missile assembly, fueling, arming, setup, and all of the training that went along with it. He was always busy with something. Tony also made reference to an unwritten law on Nike sites -- inspectors from headquarters should never razzle the assembly chief because they simply have too much to do. Well, one inspector must have been unaware of the law because he broke it without regard.

On one of the many inspections from the upper ranks from headquarters, Lorino was asked to warhead a missile. So, one of the guys called out the bolts from the instructions and Lorino tightened them one by one. Unfortunately, the inspector stopped him and complained about over-torquing. He said, "Undo it, and do it again." Lorino obliged. And again, the inspector complained. "Undo it, and do it again." Well, after 10 times or so, Lorino had enough and said, "Look, you should just give up and go out to dinner or something. I train the men on this base, and if you think I, the trainer, can't do this... just forget about it." So, Lorino cames up with an idea -- he "breaks his leg" and he passes off the duties to a young guy under his command. The young guy is reluctant but realizes he has to take the reigns and do it.

Well, after that ordeal, the base captain was reviewing the inspection report and questions Lorino about what happened. Lorino's answer, made perefect sense. "What would you rather see on the report? Lorino creates a real world scenario of what could happen when the alarm came... or... Lorino beats the living daylights out of the inspector?"
Website created by Chris Milewski to preserve the history of PH-15.