The story of the 17th/868th TMS... Coming in February 2010
The 17th Tactical Missile Squadron, the fourth Matador tactical missile unit, was formed at Orlando also as part of Ninth Air Force, TAC, as the 11th PBS, renamed to 11th Tactical Missile Squadron, prepared to deploy to Sembach, Germany, on July 1, 1956.
Another new tactical missile squadron, the fifth Matador squadron, was also formed as the 11th TMS departed for Germany, the short-lived 19th TMS, activated on June 8, 1956. Even though the squadron was authorized for a strength of between 600 and 700 men and actually assigned a Commander and had a headquarters section, the 19th TMS was inactivated after only 17 days, on June 25, 1956 and all personnel were absorbed by the existing units at Orlando, mainly the 17th TMS.
With the announcement of the deployment of the 17th Tactical Missile Squadron on May 7, 1957, the Communist Chinese government, and specifically Chairman Mao personally, suffered a "staggering" event. (Franz Shurmann - The Logic of World Power: An Inquiry Into The Origins, Currents, and Contradictions of World Politics)
The 17th Tactical Missile Squadron began its last series of training exercises at Cape Canaveral on April 10, 1957, and completed its program by launching four missiles by the middle of May. While the 17th Tactical Missile Squadron lead element deployment actually started arriving in April, a month before the official announcement, the remainder of the unit wasn't fully deployed to Taiwan until November of 1957. The 17th wasn't officially detached from the host 588th Tactical Missile Group, Ninth Air Force, TAC, at Orlando until February 1, 1958.
The 17th TMS at Tainan Air Station was supported by the creation of Detachment 2 of the 6200 Air Base Wing, which was also known as the "Tainan Air Base Group," on October 20, 1957 in preparation for the arrival of the 17th in November from Orlando AFB in Florida. The support group went through renumbering almost as often as the missile squadrons and on August 18, 1958 the unit’s name was changed to the 6214th Air Base Group.
The 17th TMS had already been renumbered to the 868th Tactical Missile Squadron two months earlier in June 1958. The 17th, and later the 868th, were originally assigned their first Quick Strike commitment on May 10, 1959, and stood vigilant alert duty with the ever ready Matadors from 1959 to 1962.
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.
"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 (email@example.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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) SGM USA (Ret.)
"Very good work with great detail."
Col. Charlie Simpson, USAF, Retired
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."
"I have your excellent book on USAF tactical missiles. I actually witnessed the decommissioning of the Maces at Wüscheim back in 1966."
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 (email@example.com)
71st TMS, Steinborn, Germany
"...by the way, I read your book, it was great, thanks for writing it."
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 Fülle 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)