Air Force Bases

Nike Missile San Francisco Defense Area

By the late 1950s a dozen Nike sites ringed the bay area:
(SF-08)San Pablo Ridge
(SF-59) Fort Funston/Mt. San Bruno
(SF-09) San Pablo Ridge/Berkeley (double site)
(SF-87) Fort Cronkhite/Sausalito
(SF-25) Rocky Ridge
(SF-88) Fort Barry/Sausalito
(SF-311 Lake Chabot/Castro Valley
(SF-89) Fort Winfield Scott
(SF-37) Coyote Hills/Newark
(SF-91) Angel Island
(SF-51) Milagra/Pacifica
(SF-93) San Rafael.

In addition, during 1955 and 1956, temporary Nike Ajax sites were placed at Benicia and Parks AFB. Headquarters facilities were located at the Presidio, Fort Winfield Scott, and Fort Baker.

Responsibility for the acquisition of land and the installation of Nike batteries plus support facilities in the San Francisco region fell to the Corps of Engineers San Francisco District. The missiles often replaced gun batteries that had been quickly constructed around the Golden Gate vicinity in the early 1950s. Fort Baker became the home of the Western Army Antiaircraft Command in July 1951. By 1958, this organization evolved into the 6th Region, U.S. Army Air Defense Command. Since the Corps took advantage of abandoned coastal fortifications to site the missiles, before construction commenced on underground magazines, many of the old forts received temporary aboveground launchers.

San Francisco's defenders included both Regular Army and National Guard units. Site SF-88 received the first Nike Hercules Battery in 1959. Other sites that were upgraded to host the new missile included sites SF-31, SF-51, SF-87, and SF-93. Target designation functions were handled from a "Missile Master" facility located at Mill Valley AFS. With the deactivation of Nike Ajax sites, a "Missile Mentor" system took over the command and control duties.

Sites SF-87 at Fort Cronkhite/Sausalito and SF-93 at San Rafael were deactivated in 1971. Three years later, the U.S. Army Air Defense Command deactivated the remaining three missile batteries at SF-31, SF-51, and SF-88.

When the Army abandoned the launch area of SF-88 at Fort Barry in 1974, the National Park Service assumed custody of the site, incorporating it into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Through the efforts of various volunteer groups, as of 1995, this is the only Nike site in the country that has been preserved and is open for public viewing.