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Ricardo Flores: Cold War history in the SCV

Posted: December 7, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 7, 2012 2:00 a.m.

The other day I went to the Old Town Newhall Library and saw an old friend from my past.

Almost 50 years ago, right after high school, I spent three years in the Army standing side by side with the son of this Cold War warrior. I proudly carried his image on my shoulder: the Nike-Ajax missile.

You can see him today behind the Old Town Newhall Library and next to the American Legion Post 507. Although I now look much older, he is still the sleek Cold War warrior.

It is a missile — a Nike-Ajax missile that once stood as part of the Ring of Steel that protected the cities of the United States from a possible Russian nuclear attack.

After World War II, the United States set up a missile defense system around the nation’s strategic cities, including Los Angeles. The rocket was developed and built in Southern California.

The Nike-Ajax was capable of shooting down enemy bombers trying to attack our cities.

Surface-to-air missile sites were set up around the city of Los Angeles in Mt. Gleason/Palmdale, South El Monte, Brea/Puente Hills, Garden Grove, Long Beach Airport/Lakewood, Fort McArthur, Point Vicente (Palos Verdes), Redondo Beach/Torrance, Playa Del Rey/LAX, Newhall, Magic Mountain, Van Nuys/Sepulveda, Chatsworth/Oat Mountain and Canyon Country.

The Nike-Ajax was employed from March 1954-1963 and then replaced with a larger missile defense system, the Nike-Hercules Missile, which continued to be employed until 1974.

The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Treaty with Russia ended the Air Defense Missile System.


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