I love a good ghost story. It's ingrained in my Cajun culture and I suspect that hauntings and ghosts permeate all cultural folklore...and the military is no exception!. If you have had the patience to read through most of this blog's articles, you would have noticed that I had mentioned Malmstrom's A-05 in a couple of those articles. I had only mentioned the site in passing and had only used it's story as a contrast to the various UFO stories surrounding Malmstrom's missile wing. Yet, A-05's story deserves more of an in-depth study. Let's explore this interesting legend's beginnings and see where it stands as of the present. I'll also share some of the legends surrounding other missile wings during the SAC era. All fascinating in their on rights.
Back in the early 1960s, a Camper Security Team was posted on A-05 presumably for a site security issue. Some time during the night one of the security guards reported seeing a strange glowing ball of light enter onto the premise of the LF settling on top of the security fence. The guard woke his partner and both described the ball of light eerily morphing into that of the figure of an Indian maiden. As this version of the story goes, the "maiden" just stands before the security guards smiling and abruptly vanishes. Both guards, scared senseless contact wing security control asking to be relieved immediately and refuse to ever camper the site in the future. This is the version that was told to me while at Vandenberg AFB.
Still another version of the legend as told to me by an EWO instructor during the 1982-1983 time frame had a slightly different twist. In this version, yet again, A-05 was manned by a Camper Team and late at night one of the guards spots the glowing orb and quickly retreats inside of the team's camper waking up his partner. Both guards experience heavy pounding on the outside of the camper walls and roof. During daylight, both guards discovered that the camper's outside walls and roof had numerous heavy indentations, some piercing the camper's metal sheeting. The indentations appear to match that of the blade of a tomahawk. Allegedly, when the camper was brought back to the base, someone produced an actual tomahawk and the blade matched perfectly with the indentations left on the camper's sides and roof.
Throughout the rest of my tour at Malmstrom, I would hear further different versions of the legend ranging from Armed Response Team's (ART) striking A-05 due to an outer zone security alarm violation and finding a bear lying on the launcher closer door and further repetitions of the old man and maiden sightings. If anyone is wondering, during my time at Malmstrom, 1981-1985, there were never any claims of any ghostly activities associated with A-05. Though one person, either maintenance or security cop (difficult to recall exactly) told me that when they were out on the site the "wind blows in only one direction and no birds are heard to be chirping in the surrounding woods." For what this person meant remained a mystery to me for some months until I would eventually pay the site a visit myself. Of the handful of alerts that I had pulled at Alpha's Launch Control Center, A-05 was always "green" lighted indicating strategic alert. I never had a problem with the site, mechanically or security-wise. Her gyros kept spinning happily within its missile guidance system.
How did the legend originate and is it true? Its almost impossible to pinpoint who actually started the story, but if we look at all of the variants as told to me, most if not all of the story centers around a Camper Team that is posted on the site due to issues with the outer zone security system (reset issues). All of the variants take place in the early 1960s, possibly right after Alpha Flight was operationally activated.
Alpha Flight was the very first operational Minuteman squadron. The bulk of the 10 SMS was completed around 1963. Alpha Flight was certainly operational by 1962 as John F. Kennedy hailed the flight as his "Ace in the Hole" during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crises. What is well documented via Bernard Nalty's ICBM histories is the fact that the early LF security systems were notorious for malfunctioning and/or resetting which necessitated the need for a security camper team at numerous sites. As far as the actual events taking place on A-05, its far easier and factual to state that during my 4 years on station, I never heard about anything unusual happening on A-05. This would also include my wife, then a maintenance officer. She has stated that nothing unusual was ever reported to by her maintenance troops nor did she see anything unusual when on the site itself. I suspect that the story originated from a bored camper team that invented the tale with the hopes of pranking future teams who would have had to either perform work or provide security for the LF. Or, maybe one of the guards actually thought he saw something and his imagination got the better of him. Remember, all of the variants of the story happened in the dead of night (no pun intended). Could a bear have actually climbed over the LF perimeter fence and on to the launcher closure door as told in one of the versions of the story? This would have been very plausible as I had seen a bear running across the fields on my way to Lima-01 near Eddies Corner!
Does the legend of A-05 continue to this day? Surprisingly it does, though not as often mentioned as it was back in the 1980s, it does come to light every now and then. On one missile forum a year ago, the group was discussing haunted sites. A current young 10th SMS crew member had posted that "he had heard that A-05 was supposedly haunted." Unfortunately he never went into any details, yet this may be that all of the different story variants are now fading away only to be recalled my "old heads" such me!
Note: In a future article, I'll post stories about other missile wing's "haunted" sites.