Air Force Bases

Titan I at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho

This World War II-era base located in the Snake River Valley of southwestern Idaho came under Strategic Air Command jurisdiction between May 1, 1953, and January 1, 1966. During SAC's reign, Mountain Home hosted three Titan I missile complexes at Bruneau, Oreana, and near Boise.

On February 5, 1960, Colonel Paul H. Symbol of the Walla Walla Corps of Engineers District opened bids in the House of Representatives chamber of the Idaho State Capitol Building at Boise. Of the six bidders, the joint venture of Kaiser-Raymond-Macco-Puget Sound came in with a low winning bid of approximately $28.9 million. Notice to proceed was granted on February 9th.

As the contractors proceeded with site construction, contract oversight was switched in October 1960 from the Walla Walla District to the Titan I Directorate of the Corps of Engineers Ballistic Missile Construction Office (CEBMCO) in Los Angeles as part of a national centralization of missile construction oversight.

The remoteness of the three sites proved challenging to the contractors in recruiting a steady labor force. A shortage of certain skilled craftsmen in the Mountain Home area forced the contractors to authorize overtime and additional benefits to those laborers who were available. There were no strikes. Nine unauthorized walkouts costing 908 man-days of labor over minor issues were insubstantial in contrast to other missile site construction projects. During construction, three workers died; two due to injuries sustained in falls.

Shipping materials from cities such as Seattle and Salt Lake City also drove up costs. An added difficulty was the weather. Temperatures during construction ranged from a high of 109°F to a low of -22°F. The severe winter temperatures forced costly measures to protect concrete placement operations. During the summer, wind-driven silts and sands interfered with progress. High well-water temperatures (up to 128 degrees) and mineralization required that special water treatment and cooling systems be used before the water could be used in the construction process. To get at the water, wells varied in depth from 950 to 3,030 feet.

By May 30, 1962, there were 246 modifications to the prime construction contract. Modifications proved to be the biggest cause for added costs and delays. Some of these modifications required expensive reconstruction and contributed to the final construction tally for the project, which topped $51 million.

Yet despite the problems, the joint venture contractor team completed work before the April 1, 1962 deadline. The activation of the 569th Strategic Missile Squadron on June 1, 1961, marked the last such activation of a Titan I squadron within the Strategic Air Command. This squadron would have a relatively short existence. On May 16, 1964, Defense Secretary McNamara directed an accelerated phaseout of Titan I and Atlas ICBMs. As a result, the 569th would join with two Titan I squadrons at Lowry, to be the last Titan I squadrons to undergo inactivation in June 1965.

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