Titan I at Lowry AFB, Colorado
Founded in the 1930s as a branch of the Air Corps Technical Training School, Lowry continued to train airmen and serve the nation in various other capacities for over 60 years. Lowry was unique in that it remained an Air Training Command base during the timespan when 18 Titan I missile silos, situated in 6 complexes, ringed the area.
On June 7, 1951, Lowry's 3415th Technical Training Wing formed a Guided Missiles Department. It taught courses in guidance, control, and propulsion for such systems as Matador, Falcon, Rascal, Snark, and Navaho. By 1962, the Department of Missile Training was providing the Air Force with over 1,000 trained missile specialists per year.
On March 13, 1958, the Air Force Ballistic Committee approved the selection of Lowry to be the first Titan I ICBM base. No doubt the close proximity of the Martin Company Titan missile production plant influenced the site selection. Construction of launchers and support facilities began on May 1, 1959. Deployment of the missiles entailed a 3 x 3 configuration, meaning that each of the three complexes had three silos grouped in close proximity to a manned launch control facility,
The Omaha District of the Army Corps of Engineers contracted a joint venture led by Morrison-Knudsen of Boise, Idaho, to construct the silos. A 144-day steel strike in 1959 caused delays and forced Morrison-Knudsen to resort to winter concreting. Despite this problem and others caused by constant design modifications, Morrison-Knudsen completed the project on time with the lowest construction costs of any ICBM base in the country at the time. Fairly smooth management-labor relations contributed to the success.
The project also maintained the best safety record in the missile construction program up until that time. Use of a safety net was credited with saving many lives. Three workers did die during the project, although one of these deaths was the result of a motor vehicle accident that occurred off site.
As construction proceeded, the activation of the 848th SMS on February 1, 1960, marked the first stand-up of a Titan I Squadron. Construction on all nine silos at the three launch complexes for the former 848th, redesignated the 724th, was completed by August 4, 1961. On April 18,1962, Headquarters SAC declared the 724th SMS operational, and 2 days later the first Titan Is went on alert status. A month later, the sister 725th SMS (initially designated the 849th SMS) declared it had placed all nine of its Titan Is on alert status, which marked a SAC first. Both the 724th and 725th Strategic Missile Squadrons formed components of the Lowry-headquartered 451st Strategic Missile Wing.
On November 19, 1964, Defense Secretary McNamara announced the phase-out of remaining first-generation Atlas and Titan I missiles by the end of June 1965. This objective was met; on June 25, 1965, the 724th SMS and 725th SMS were inactivated. SAC removed the last missile from Lowry on April 14, 1965.
Although the strategic missiles were gone, missile training remained a vital component of Lowry's mission. In 1972, the 3415th Technical School became the USAF School of Applied Aerospace Sciences with missile training continuing within the Department of Aerospace Munitions Training. In 1978, this department would be redesignated the 3460th Training Group.
In 1980, Lowry Technical Training Center acquired a B-52D from Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, and stabilized another B-52 on base for use in training crews to load Air Launched Cruise Missiles (ALCMs) and Short Range Air Missiles (SRAMs). Although Chanute AFB, Illinois, served as the primary training center for the Peacekeeper ICBM, Lowry supported training for this strategic missile by providing maintenance and repair training for the Peacekeepers' reentry vehicle at a state-of-the-art facility opened in 1985.
Lowry AFB was deactivated in 1994 as a result of a Base Realignment and Closure Act.
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