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U.S. Air Force
Tactical Missiles 1949-1969
The Pioneers
Book Available Now

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MATS Patch

Tactical Missile School

4504th Missile Training Wing

Orlando Air Force Base, Florida

City of Orlando seal
4504th TMW

Graduation Certificate

Welcome Booklet

Welcome Letter

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U.S. Air Force Tactical Missiles

Now Available On Line at
Amazon.com and Lulu.com!

By the Editors of this Website!

Beyond the Web Page... The only book devoted exclusively to the Matador and Mace Tactical Missiles. The book reveals the story from the initial idea that became the first U.S. pilotless bomber, through the politically troubled development of the ever evolving deployment methods of the Matador and Mace Tactical Missiles. It covers the Units, Groups, Squadrons and Wing that fielded the missiles. From the United States test sites, Europe, Asia and North Africa nothing is omitted. All phases of the application of these two missiles by the U.S. Air Force (and West German Luftwaffe) are included, from the first tentative launches of the XSSM-A-1 Matador in January 1949, to the tense alert duty of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the final launch of a MQM13A in May of 1977. The maintenance, logistics and launch, the men, equipment and tactics are all there.

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"Bob, George, I finished your book 2 days after I received it. Couldn't put it down. It was incredible reading and incredibly detailed information."

Kent Washburn (KWASH55@aol.com) Mace B, Kadena, Okinawa

"George and Bob. I want you both to know how much I enjoyed reading and how much I admire and appreciate what you have accomplished in developing and publishing "The Pioneers". It is truly an outstanding piece of work, reflecting the time and effort required to produce it, but is also a formidable contribution to our military history. I mentioned in some earlier correspondence that I was a little disappointed in the relatively small amount of information regarding the Operating Location/Guidance Sites but you largely made up for it with this magnificent book."

Dale Lake (daleflake@yahoo.com) 601st Tactical Control Squadron, 38th TMW, Hamm, Germany

"I just finished your book, The Pioneers, et al. Please accept my "job well done!" Not only is it informative, but it's very readable. I'd also like to complement you on how well you footnoted it. You have shown that a scholarly work can be both instructive and enjoyable."

Michael Roof (lavinaschnur@hotmail.com) SGM USA (Ret.)

USAF Tactical Missiles - Book Cover

ISBN 978-0-557-00029-6

"Very good work with great detail."

Col. Charlie Simpson, USAF, Retired
Executive Director
Association of Air Force Missileers

"George, the book arrived on Tuesday while I was off to France. Of course, I quickly read the chapter about Germany's quiet step into the realm of nuclear armament. You know, this is still a widely ignored fact over here...
...For me it is fascinating to see what the picture really was in the 1950s and 1960s as opposed to what the official communication of the time wanted people to believe. A fascinating book shedding some light on the early days of tactical nuclear missiles as well as the political background that even today is still largely hidden behind the propaganda of the time. Can't wait to read the rest of it."

Burkhard Domke
Harsefeld, Germany

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"U.S. Tactical Missiles 1949-1969 The Pioneers"

"I have your excellent book on USAF tactical missiles. I actually witnessed the decommissioning of the Maces at Wüscheim back in 1966."

Paul Offen
Talitha, Tye Common Road
Essex CM12 9PX

"I just wanted to drop you a line and tell you how much I enjoyed the book that you and Bob wrote. The history was of particluar interest to me and my brother who was a history Professor at the University of Wisconsin. He also thought the book was well written, and he now knows what his little brother, (me), did while in Germany for three years."

George Joseph Snyder (gjsnyder@lanset.com)
71st TMS, Steinborn, Germany

"...by the way, I read your book, it was great, thanks for writing it."

Hack Hunton (hack@sstelco.com) Mace B, Kadena, Okinawa

US Air Force Tactical Missiles ©2008 - George Mindling and Robert Bolton

Inspired by the 38th TMW Website, George Mindling and Robert Bolton co-authored US Air Force Tactical Missiles 1949 - 1969: The Pioneers ©2008, the story of America's first operational missiles, from the Matador to the Mace, from Taiwan, Korea, and Okinawa to Germany, including Lowry, Orlando, Holloman, Santa Rosa Island at Eglin, and even Camp Happiness!

Dieses Buch ist ein Muss für alle, die im Rahmen ihres Dienstes bei der U.S. Air Force mit den frühen Marschflugkörpern zu tun hatten, aber auch für deutsche Militärarchäologen, die in der Eifel, im Hunsrück oder im Pfälzer Wald schon über rätselhafte Hinterlassenschaften gestolpert sind. Nach mehr als 40 Jahren wird endlich eine Fälle von Fakten, Informationen und Geschichten zu den zwischen 1954 und 1969 in Deutschland stationierten, mit Automwaffen ausgerüsteten amerikanischen Matador und Mace auf den Tisch gelegt. Ausführlich und lebendig erzählen George Mindling und Bob Bolton von den jungen Missilemen, die im März 1954 erstmals in Bitburg ankamen - noch ganz grün im Gesicht, weil auf dem Atlantik schwerer Sturm geherrscht hatte. Von den T-33-Flugzeugen, die aus übungsgründen so taten, als wären sie Matador-Flugkörper, über die Startstellungen hinweg in Richtung deutsch-deutsche Grenze donnerten und sich von der Gegenseite nur nicht erwischen lassen durften. Oder von der Kuba-Krise, als die US Air Force Europe auf DEFCON 3 ging und an die Mechaniker in Bitburg Munition für ihre Karabiner ausgegeben wurde.

Augenzeugen sagen dazu: "Wir hätten die Vögel auf jeden Fall innerhalb von 15 Minuten in der Luft haben müssen!" Es ist lebendige Militärgeschichte, die nun nicht der Vergessenheit anheimfällt, sondern jedermann zugänglich wird - auch für die ortsansässige Bevölkerung, die heute endlich erfährt, was sich damals in ihrer Nachbarschaft zugetragen hat. Den beiden Autoren gebührt der Dank.

Klaus Stark   (klaus_stark@t-online.de)
Berlin, Germany

This book is not only a must for all those who served in the U.S. Air Force with the early cruise missiles, but also for German military archeologists who have been puzzling over relics stumbled across in the Eifel, the Hunsrück and the Palatinate Forests. After more than 40 years, we finally have a wealth of facts, information and stories, from 1954 to 1969, of the nuclear equipped American Matador and Mace missiles stationed in Germany placed on the table.

With detailed and vivid descriptions, George Mindling and Bob Bolton talk about the young Missilemen who arrived for the first time in March, 1954, in Bitburg - still green in the face, having prevailed the Atlantic crossing in major storm. Of the T-33 aircraft which practiced as if they Matador missiles launched in the direction of German-German border, or from the Cuban missile crisis, when the U.S. Air Force Europe went on DEFCON 3 and was issued ammunition to the mechanics in Bitburg for their rifles. Eyewitnesses say: "We would have to have the birds in the air in any event within 15 minutes!"

It is vital military history that is prey to oblivion, but is now accessible to everyone - even for the local population, which today finally learns what happened at that time in their neighborhood.

The two authors deserve thanks for saving the history.

Klaus Stark,
Berlin, Germany

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"U.S. Tactical Missiles 1949-1969 The Pioneers"
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TM-76AMissile School

TM-76A Mace missiles with the TAC insignia on the vertical stabilizer, 4504th Missile Training Wing, 9th Air Force, Tactical Air Command, at the TAC Combat Missile School, Orlando AFB, FL. The majority of the Matador and Mace missiles were either PACAF (Korea, Taiwan, or Okinawa) or USAFE (Germany).

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"I joined the crew at Orlando AFB in the late winter of 1960-1961. I was transferred from the class for the TM76 A when the training was suspended indefinitely because the first launch sight in Germany was sinking before it was completed. A few of us were moved into the existing TM76 B class half way through the “hands on” phase of training. The few of us that transferred had a crash course 8-10 hours a day for months to catch up to where everyone else was. We were exempt from all other responsibilities (KP, etc) until graduation."

"Crew #1 attended the USAF acceptance test shot for the TM76 B in the spring of 1961 at Cape Canaveral. The interesting part of that experience was the cables flew out the exhaust tube, upon launch, and caused the Air Police guards a “run for their money” experience. Since then a 90 degree elbow was added to the exhaust to avoid further adrenalin rushes from the APs."

John Bordne (jcbordne@hotmail.com)

map of Orlando AFB

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Take a Virtual Tour of Pads 21 and 22!

Take a virtual tour of the Cape and the Mace Launch Pads 21 and 22 at Rob Svirskas great page.

Mace B leaves the launch pad at Cape Canaveral

A "B" Bird heads south down range from Cape Canaveral launch pad 21.

USAF Photo courtesy of Dennis Cralley,sr. (dcralleysr@cox.net)

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Camp Happiness at the Cape!

Check Out Les Smith's Photos of the famed Camp Happiness Detachment 2 at the Cape!

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The Back Gate

Unimposing, set in the beauty of Florida's Live Oaks and Spanish Moss on Corrine Drive, is the Main Gate to Orlando Air Force Base...

...and home for six months of Combat Crew Training.

Photos courtesy of Frank Roales (flroales@avenuebroadband.com)

OAFB Barracks
Map to Orlando AFB
Killroy was here

TM-76a at Armed Forces Day Parade

A TM-76A being set up for Armed Forces Day Parade, Orlando Air Base, FL. Location and date not known.

Photo courtesy of Lee Garwig (leegarwig@verizon.net)

I wanted to comment on the photo on your website in the article "A TM-76A being set up for Armed Forces Day Parade, Orlando Air Base, FL. Location and date not known. Photo courtesy of Lee Garwig (leegarwig@verizon.net)." In the background of the photo, behind the missile, I can tell that the building is the strip center on Corrine Drive near the corner of Corrine Drive and Winter Park Road in Orlando. It would have been just outside the Air Force Base (which was later the Orlando Navy base). I live a block away from where the photo was taken, so I recognized it. Corrine Drive, according to a woman who grew up nearby, was widened because of the Cuban missile crisis in the 60's so missiles would be able to be transported to the base at the west end of Corrine Drive.

Carol Beeler

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"I was stationed at Orlando AFB from 1956 to 1959 assigned as an Air Policeman assigned to the 4504th TAC Missle Wing. As such, I both guarded the missle areas as well as provided escort services to Signal Hill (near the base) for training and to Cape Canaveral for launch/testing. I would appreciate any links to other information regarding this unit and personnel."

Thank you!!

John Clements, MSGT, USAF, Retired (john0939@gonowpc.com)

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OAFB  Patch

The HQ Building

The 4504th Headquarters building in 1999, long after the TAC Missile school was gone.

Photos courtesy of Frank Roales (flroales@avenuebroadband.com)

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Take a look at
Official USAF Art Work of the
TAC Missile School at Orlando Air Force Base

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At Orlando AFB

A TM-76B is loaded on a transporter/launcher at the TAC Missile School in Orlando Air Force Base.

Photo by Garld and Janice Edwards (geje@comcast.net)

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Matador at Orlando

A photograph of a TM-61C Matador mounted on the ASTRAL (ASsembly, TRansport And Launch) launcher that was scheduled to replace the two vehicles required for the operational missiles, the separate transporter and the launcher. The ASTRAL was never made operational due to the introduction of the TM-76A and the MM-1

Photo at Orlando AFB courtesy of
CW Lewis, TEMS - TAC Missileers Honor Roll, 2009

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"I was stationed at Orlando AFB in the late 50's. I worked in the Commercial Transportation Office and was assigned the task of processing all of thetransportation paper work for the missile squadron movement to Germany. Iworked several hours overtime completing the applications for personalhousehold goods and dependent travel. As a result of my work and not being a member of the missile squadron, the missile squadron commander invited me to join the squadron during a launch at Cape Canaveral."

"While we were waiting for the launch of what I think was a Mace Missile, thecount was placed on hold because what I think was a Titan was being launchedthat day from Cape Canaveral. Most of us were sitting on top of a bunkerwhen the Titan launched, and if the Titan had exploded it would probablyhave taken us all out."

"When the Mace was launched an F-100 chase plane came over our heads about50' off the deck. Not knowing the chase plane was in the area you can guesswhat some of us almost did in our pants when he came over us."

"I was a young airman then, and I was really impressed with the opportunityto witness this historical event. I think this occurred in 1958 or 1959, andI was wondering if you have information you can share with me. Photographerswere present at the launch and I was wondering where I could obtain somecopies."

F.D.P (programs@bellsouth.net)

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Headed for Hahn

Graduates headed for Hahn Air Base.
From left, Dave Maas, Ron Lysik, Elias Ruiz,and Steve Glazer.
Orlando Air Force Base, Easter Weekend, 1964.

Graduates headed for Germany

Graduates headed for Bitburg Air Base.
From left, Dennis Robbins, Jim Cagle, and Ted Ebbinga, November 1961.

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Opinions and views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Department of the Air Force.

All Contributions remain the property of the original owners
All Contributions used with Permission

Web Page Design and Development by
George Mindling - Port Charlotte, Florida

©George Mindling - 2003-2006 All Rights Reserved