• September 23, 2020
 White Sands Missile Range celebrates 75th Anniversary

(Lf) A photo of the first flag-raising on what was knows at White Sands Proving Ground July 9, 1945. | U.S. Army Photo – (Rt) WSMR Commander Brig. Gen. David Trybula, left, and Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Prosser, right, cut the cake during WSMR’s 75th Anniversary celebration July 9. | U.S. Army Photo by Jose Salazar

White Sands Missile Range celebrates 75th Anniversary

WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. – White Sands Missile Range leaders celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the range during a small ceremony July 9 in front of Headquarters Building 100.

The range was originally established as the White Sands Proving Ground on July 9, 1945. For the past 75 years, thousands of military personnel and civilian employees have made White Sands Missile Range a focal point for scientific and engineering excellence.

During the ceremony, WSMR Commander Brig. Gen. David Trybula welcomed state and local leaders and community members to the event marking 75 years of excellence.

“Thank you for joining us to recognize the 75th anniversary of White Sands Missile Range – the birthplace of America’s missile and space activity.  And thank you for your support over the past 75 years, and for continuing to strengthen our relationship now and into the future in support of national security,” Trybula said.

“We also appreciate the support that this state has given us, having 3,000 square miles and residing in five different New Mexico counties, we continuously work towards a valued partnership. We are grateful to be one of the installations that creates a three part contiguous military space here in the Southwest and are proud of the synergetic work we have been able to accomplish alongside Fort Bliss and Holloman Air Force Base as we simultaneously produce readiness for the Warfighter today and for the future.”

White Sands Missile Range, DoD’s largest, fully-instrumented, open air range, provides America’s Armed Forces, allies, partners, and defense technology innovators with the world’s premier research, development, test, evaluation, experimentation, and training facilities to ensure our nation’s defense readiness.

Unable to attend, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) delivered his remarks via a prerecorded video.

“It’s my honor to recognize all of the patriotic Americans who have contributed to 75 years of accomplishments in history at White Sands Missile Range. On July 9, 1945, the U.S. Army established White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin. Seven days later the detonation of the first atomic bomb at Trinity Site, ushered in the nuclear era. And for three quarters of a century, White Sands has been home to major scientific breakthroughs, critical weapons testing and evaluation, and military technology advances. Today’s White Sands Missile Range is the Department of Defense’s largest fully instrumented open air test range. It continues to offer unrivaled terrain and resources to our armed services, our allies and defense technology partners,” Heinrich said.

“Through my role on the senate armed services committee, I’ve been proud to support White Sands as it stays on the forefront of testing new technologies that will be critical for our defense readiness. In the years ahead White Sands will test emerging technologies like directed energy systems, autonomous and unmanned systems and hypersonic and long range precision fires. I want to extend my sincere appreciation and congratulations to everyone who continues to work hard every single day at White Sands Missile Range to keep all of us safe.”

U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) also delivered his remarks via a prerecorded video.

“I’m glad to join with you to celebrate the 75th anniversary of White Sands Missile Range. For the past 75 years, White Sands has been a focal point for scientific and engineering success. Thanks to the work of our dedicated military and civilian personnel White Sands became the premier testing range for our country’s very first defensive missile systems and White Sands has played a major role in our exploration of space beginning with rocket pioneer Robert Goddard and continuing today in partnership with NASA and commercial space programs. The range has enabled crewed space flight supporting the Apollo mission and all of the Space Shuttle missions. The range also served as a backup shuttle landing location when the Columbia returned to earth in 1982,” Udall said.

“Looking ahead, White Sands will continue to play a pivotal role in this new era of space exploration as a landing location and as a hub for new technologies. It’s my honor to congratulate all of the hard working personnel at White Sands for truly making it a birthplace of America’s missile and space activity.”

Trybula continued the celebration by talking about the history at WSMR.

“We all know that missile and rocket testing began with the V2s in 1945. What is not as well-known is the vast number and types of systems tested at WSMR over the years.  The names are fascinating.  These include many from Greek mythology – Ajax, Athena, Hermes, Nike, – and Roman mythology – Jupiter, Mercury, Saturn,” Trybula said.

“One of the hidden names is the Hound Dog.  The Hound Dog was a missile that was air launched from B52s near Del Rio Texas into WSMR in the early-1960s. It was the pre-cursor to today’s cruise missiles.”

Trybula went on to say that WSMR is also the birthplace of America’s space activity.

“While this is often tied to the early rocket research, it is much more than that.  WSMR was integral to the testing of the Apollo missions, hosted the landing of the space shuttle at the White Sands Space Harbor, and continues to test the Commercial Crew Transport that will ferry astronauts to the international space station and return them to WSMR.  Indeed WSMR was so important to getting a U.S. astronaut on the moon that President Kennedy personally visited to understand the activities ongoing.  WSMR’s tie to space is firmly entrenched with long-standing NASA tenant organizations and now an element of the U.S. Space Force,” he said. “As with missiles, for space, WSMR is testing the future, changing the world.”

Speaking on the importance of the environment at WSMR, Trybula went on to say that throughout the years, WSMR has been a leader in environmental stewardship, understanding the imperative to sustain the environment that is critical to what we do and where we live.

“We are thrilled that the fiscal year 2021 budget request included funding to provide water resiliency for main post with the addition of solar power with battery backup for our wells.  This is great step forward for the future.”

Trybula then focused his attention to the dedicated workforce at WSMR.

“White Sands Missile Range was what it was, and is what it is, and will be what it will be, because of the efforts of the dedicated workforce. Theworkforce, which through the years has consisted of thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Airman, Marines, Civil Servants and Contractors, who have pushed the bounds of science and technology to provide for our nation’s security. Our workforce has and continues to test the future, change the world. Thank you!”

“How many individuals have served as a proud member of the WSMR workforce over the past 75 years? The exact number doesn’t matter, it’s the collective achievement of the group that has made this great installation what it is today, and what it will be in the future. Professionals who did everything from security to accounting, from maintenance to laboratory activities, from engineering to science, and everything in between.”

Trybula then highlighted a few examples of professional employees from across the years.

From 1977 he highlighted Airline Steuwer, a handicapped woman who worked in the engineering department of the Facilities Engineering Directorate. He went on to say that from her wheelchair, she performed her duties as a draftsman doing civil, mechanical, building and road drawings. She came to WSMR in 1970, but being a draftsman wasn’t new to her since she had previous experience working for a defense contractor during WWII. Shortly after the war, she contracted Polio, but she was determined to further develop her career in drafting. When she came to the range, she was supposed to go to the Tech area, but physical barriers in the area made it impossible for her to work there. She soon found her draftsman position within the Facilities Engineering Directorate. Steuwer was the WSMR coordinator for the handicapped and the installation representative to the governor’s committee for the removal of barriers for the physically handicapped. This committee worked with businesses to make buildings and offices accessible to people on crutches, canes and wheelchairs.

From 1985 he highlighted Sgt. Gabriel Galos, an Army radar operator who tracked the first rocket ever fired at White Sands Proving Ground. After the completion of his military service, Galos returned to White Sands in 1953 and embarked on a 24 year career here, first as a physicist, and then in positions in the electro-mechanical laboratory where he established the electro-magnetic radiation effects test program and was responsible for the advancement in the development of radars. At his retirement party in 1977, an associate said “the effects of his work on this range, which he helped to establish, will be apparent and will be beneficial to us and to his country for years to come.” He was inducted into the WSMR hall of fame in 1985.

From 1989 he highlighted Eldon “Huck” Hale, who began his career at the range in 1958 as a telephone cable splicer and over the year worked his way up to be the deputy director of the U.S. Army information system command -White Sands. During his career, Huck was involved in computer automation programs and network management. In a first for WSMR, he centralized the master control for the fiber-optic communication network on the range. The network allowed all 3,000 miles of fiber optics cable at WSMR to be centrally monitored to detect problems and direct repairs.  Huck retired in 1989 having completed 32 years of federal service.

From 2005 he highlighted Joy Arthur. Arthur was born in Manila, Philippines, on Dec. 2, 1935. She earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University in 1956. She began working at WSMR in May 1958, developing instrumentation and was the first woman engineer to work at White Sands. In 1962, she transferred to what is now known as the Army Research Laboratory’s Survivability and Lethality Analysis Directorate, Information Electronic Protection Division.

There, she evolved as a national leader in supporting Army systems to determine their vulnerabilities to electronic warfare countermeasures. Joy innovated techniques to increase the dispersion efficiency of chaff and demonstrated absorbing chaff, environmentally degradable chaff, illuminated chaff, chaff rockets and rounds. She designed, developed and demonstrated jamming technology. This included a missile-borne X-band jammer with a hydrazine-driven power supply. A multi-spectral jammer Joy devised used explosively-detonated inert gases.

Her numerous other projects included determining the vulnerabilities of Army weapons such as the Patriot and MLRS, protecting sensors against frequency-agile laser threats, developing non-lethal weaponry, creating radio-frequency decoys that simulate helicopters, and detecting the unintentional radiated emissions from electronic systems and underground facilities. Joy retired in February 2005 after 46 years of inventive and proactive service to the country.

“To professional employees like Airline Steuwer, Gabriel Galos, Huck Hale and Joy Arthur – thank you!” Trybula said. “To the thousands of members of the workforce who have contributed to WSMR over the years – thank you.”

Speaking to the current workforce, Trybula said “You are truly the essence of WSMR today and you are mine and the Army’s top priority. Your professionalism is appreciated and your knowledge is what gets us through trying times such as these.”

“We hope that our future workforce is listening today and learning from your example. As we continue to work in our communities with outreach endeavors like our internships programs and the Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Science (GEMS), we want to continue to be a part of shaping young people’s minds,” Trybula said. “As our local universities graduate new classes into a world of uncertainty, we hope that WSMR can be a beacon of hope for these young minds – as a place where they can come and be a part of our team.  We want the leaders of tomorrow to start their futures here today.”

“Thank you for your dedication, professionalism and devotion to duty. Each one of you contributed to the 75 years of success here at WSMR and are building upon that foundation for the future.”

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