556th SMS Timeline – February 1962 through December 1962
556th SMS Pre-Cuban Missile Time Line Activities
February 1962 – The 556th SMS personnel continues to increase with the addition of 24 officers and 13 airmen. The squadron's Monthly Training Plan 2-62 is developed to keep personnel “beneficially occupied” until all missile sites were ready. Additional telephone operators were hired to accommodate the larger volume of long distance calls being received related to the missile program.
By February 5, 1962, Sites 2,3,4,5,8, and 10 had been accepted from the contractor. Sites 6, 7, 9, and 11 still lacked the final acceptance of the silo, and Site 11 did not yet have a pre-final, final, or beneficial occupancy of any of it's facilities.
The 556th SMS had been initially authorized at 144 officers and 475 airmen when at full strength. These numbers would not change. As of February only 68 officers and 289 airmen were at Plattsburgh Air Force Base. There were 56 officers and 111 airmen who had not arrived due to AWOL's, extended sick leave, TDY or arrest.
March 1962 – During this month, all inspections and acceptance from the contractor is essentially complete, with the exception of Riverview/Sugarbush (Site 11). For all 12 sites 2 quonset huts are requested to be retained in a request to SAC Headquarters at Offutt AFB, Nebraska. 23 more officers and 28 airmen arrive during the month. There are now 91 officers and 317 airmen assigned, with absent officers at 78, and airmen at 133 (AWOL, sick leave, TDY or arrest).
April 1962 – The 556th SMS welcomes its first Atlas F Missile, where it is placed in the MAMS building on Plattsburgh AFB. Local and national media and VIP civilians are given a close up view of the missile, after which they toured 3 missile sites. All missile sites with the exception of Riverview/Sugarbush (Site 11) are accepted by the squadron and the Air Force. Liquid Oxygen and all other Unconventional fuels were graded as to purity and availability, and received a satisfactory rating. The squadron had gained 5 officers and 13 airmen during the month. There were now 96 officers and 330 airmen with 86 officers and 154 airmen absent.
May 1962 – Squadron strength continues to increase with the addition of 20 officers and 20 airmen. Training is in full swing and progressing well with no adverse issues noted. There are now 116 officers and 350 airmen assigned with the absence of 91 officers and 136 airmen.
June 1962 – The 556th SMS personnel strength nears full authorized strength with 16 more officers, and an additional 41 airmen arrive to fill remaining crew and other job description slots. One contractor controlled missile has been received. Construction acceptance for the last site (11) was on May 29, 1962. Full equipage status was planned for November 1962, and was operational in December 1962. Assigned officers stands at 132, with airmen at 391. Those absent include 100 officers and 148 airmen.
July 1962 – During this month additional slippage from scheduled validation process is experienced. 5 additional missiles arrive by air transport, with 2 being processed through the MAMS. The 556th SMS continues to add personnel, but at a slower rate with an additional officer and 45 airmen arriving. Assigned officers stands at 133, with 391 airman added. Absent officers/airmen 97/127.
August 1962 – The squadron's strength is reduced by two officers during this month (reason unknown). Willsboro (Site 4) experiences a water deficiency. The city of Willsboro is responsible for water supply and the problem will be rectified. Of the 144 officers and 476 airmen originally authorized the officer and airmen strength remains relatively the same with exception of reduction of officers. The absent officers/airmen remains the same as July 1962.
August 30, 1962 – The 556th SMS has it's first Propellant Loading Exercise (PLX) which was conducted at Swanton (Site 3). This date stands out, as this would be the earliest date that ANY missile from the squadron would have been capable of launching. By September 30, 1962 10 missiles had been received, which is up 3 from August.
October 8, 1962 – The "start" of the Cuban Missile Crisis - Known as “Black Saturday” is experienced by the 556th SMS and the entire nations nuclear weapons systems. Tensions are now running at their highest between the U.S and the Soviet Union (USSR)
October 22, 1962 – All U.S. Military forces go to DEFCON 2
October 23, 1962 – The Emergency Combat Capabilities Plan went into effect as ordered by SAC Headquarters. By this time only 2 missiles had been turned over to the control of the 556th SMS. They were Swanton, Vt. (Site 3); and Ellenburgh, N.Y., and both were on alert status. The remaining 10 sites were under the control of the Site Activation Task Force (SATF), and also General Dynamics (GDA).
October 24, 1962 – Soviet ships were blockaded by the U.S. Navy while en route to Cuba and were turned back to the Soviet Union with the exception of 1. All U.S. Military forces are placed on DEFCON 2 status.
October 26, 1962 – Alburg (Site 2) was generated to alert and accepted by the Air Force and the 556th SMS. Willsboro (Site 4), also achieved alert status this date.
October 27, 1962 – An Air Force American U-2 Reconnaissance Aircraft is shot down while over Cuba, killing the pilot Major Rudolf Anderson. President Kennedy sends Soviet Premier Khrushchev a letter stating that he will make a statement at the United Nations that the U.S. will not invade Cuba if he will not invade if Khrushchev will remove all missiles from Cuba.
October 28, 1962 – Cuban Crisis “ends”. Harrigan Corners/Brainardsville (Site 10) achieved alert status this date.
October 29, 1962 – Ausable Forks (Site 6), Chazy Lake/Dannemora (Site 9), and Boquet/Lewis (Site 5), all achieve alert status.
October 29, 1962 – On or by this date 8 of the 12 sites had been generated to alert status. They are as follows: Alburg (Site 2), Swanton (Site 3, Willsboro (Site 4), Lewis (Site 5), Ausable Forks (Site 6), Dannemora (Site 9), Brainardsville (Site 10), and Ellenburg (Site 11).
October 31, 1962 – On this date all 12 Atlas F missiles were in the 556th inventory, which is up by 2 from September 1962. As of this date 10 missiles have been installed on their site launchers.
October 1962 – Sometime during the month Mooers Forks/Mooers (Site 12) is designated as an alternate Command Post in case the Plattsburgh AFB Command Post is disabled.
November 3, 1962 – 10 of the 12 556th SMS missile sites are now on alert status. The Air Force and the squadron only owned 3 sites during this month. The additional two sites on alert are: Mooers (Site 12) as of November 2, 1962, and Champlain (Site 1) on November 3, 1962.
November 5, 1962 – The 556th SMS received orders this date to return all sites not accepted by the Air Force/556th SMS to BSD, so that training and checkout tasks could be completed in line with the normal turnover process as it was before the Cuban Crisis.
November 20, 1962 – SAC headquarters lowers alert status to DEFCON 4. By the end of this month, the entire compliment of 13 missiles had arrived at Plattburgh AFB, with 12 installed on site launchers. The 13th was used as a spare. TAD requirements were completed at 6 out of the 12 sites.
December 18 and 19, 1962 – The official “Turn Over” Ceremony was held at the base to officially dedicate the Plattsburgh Missile facilities. This ceremony marked the completion of 2 ½ years of dedicated effort by contractor staff, Army Corp of Engineers, and especially the 556th SMS and it's supporting Plattsburgh AFB unit's personnel. The foregoing had all taken place since the first ground breaking ceremony at the Champlain (Site 1) location on 17 June 1960
Sources: 820th Strategic Aerospace Division Monthly History - February 1962 through December 1962