Remember the Cold War?


How many of you fellow Johnsonites recall our involvement in the Minuteman Missile silos? We provided the temperature regulation for both the silo’s, where the missiles stood ready, and the underground Launch Control Centers. The inherent explosion proof nature and durability of our pneumatic controls were important qualities for this application.

My JCI tenure doesn’t quite go back to the original construction of these facilities in the 1960’s, but I was very involved in an early 1980’s upgrade (still pneumatic). I’m sure our fellow retiree Doug Decker recalls that period, since he was coordinating that part of our government contracting when I was providing the engineering support. Meetings with rooms full of subcontractors and mountains of paperwork to document everything, led me to understand how the government pays 100+ times more for and item than you or I would. I don’t recall Doug ever “sitting” through a whole meeting.

We took a family trip to the Black Hills this summer, and I-90 passes right by this site dedicated to this Cold War period. Even if you were not involved with providing JCI’s controls for these sites, you may recall the Civil Defense drills in school or the bomb shelters.

These and the tensions of that period are well portrayed in this historic site. You can also tour a Launch Control Center, and look down a missile silo with a missile in place. I was amazed that you can watch the I-90 traffic wiz by within ½ mile, through only a chain link fence, while looking down at what once was a weapon of mass destruction capable of turning a major city into a wasteland! I’ve traveled that road several times while this and other sites were active and never realized how close they were.

Praying we don’t go back to those days.

Gene Strehlow