Firstly, I remember when out in the silo, I would from time to time see something out of the corner of my eye, which when I looked was nothing out of the ordinary. I know some people will put that down to paying too much attention to the stories about the site, but that's the only site I ever noticed that at, even compared to the other site where a death had occurred, 373-5, which was pretty much like every other site; no reputation, and nothing unusual happening.
The second happened late one afternoon when I accompanied the crew chief out to the silo while he completed some task he needed to do before he could head back to the base that day. Seems to me we had to go down to level 3, or it may have been level 4. It was a long time ago, and my memory is not clear on what level exactly we went down to, only that it was below level 2 but not more than a couple of levels.
All the maintenance people had already finished their tasks and left the silo before we went out (which makes me now think he may have wanted to doublecheck their work) . Anyway, he had accomplished whatever he needed to do/check on, and we had boarded the silo elevator to return to level 2. When we got there, I raised the wire mesh internal gate, and was just opening the bi-parting doors when the elevator call bell started ringing. I remember being very annoyed that the crew commander hadn't let me know that someone else had come out to the silo after we had left the control center (something very uncharacteristic for him to do) so I plugged in the WTMN headset and called the Control Center to see who else was out there in the hole. The crew commander answered, and after hearing my question about who else was in the silo, told me there was no one else out there except us. Now I'm wondering wtf was going on, so after discussing my intentions with the crew commander, I tell the crew chief there's no one else out there but us, and we're going to find out what's going on.
Of course, as all this is happening, the elevator call bell continues to ring. We get back on the elevator, close the doors, and the elevator goes down to level 8. We get out, walk around the launch duct, open the launch duct access door and check out the deflector, open each of the floor hatches to check out the silo sumps, and of course find absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.
The ride back up to level 2 and on through to the control center is uneventful, as was the rest of that alert. Of course the rest of the crew wanted me to fill them in on what was going on. All I could tell them was what had happened, I had no other explanation to offer.
Before anybody suggests the crew chief was pulling a joke on me, I was the one driving the elevator, standing on that side of the elevator where the elevator control panel was. He never had the chance to push another level's button without it being obvious to me what was going on. And I never considered him to be the jokester type.
As best as I can recall, this was early fall of 1972" Former Titan II crew member "Sherwood" as posted on themissileforums.com
THE SENTINEL-RECORD Wednesday, August 11, 1965, By Al SchayI suspect that most of my readers have never heard of the accident at Searcy. With exception of a few individuals, Searcy has receded from the Air Force's memory. For those few who still remember...
SEARCY, Ark. (AP) - Air force investigators swarmed the scorched launch tube of a Titan 11 missile complex Tuesday to find the cause of an explosion and fire that killed 53 civilians in the "gun barrel" of America's mightiest ballistic missile. The tragedy was the first in the history of the Titan system, which includes 54 complexes that have been fully operational since December 1963. Read more at techbastard.com
"... He told me he was MCCC on duty the day of the fire. He saw smoke coming up one side of the long cableway, with clear air going down the other side. In about '74, I got an MFT (name escapes me, and he's not in either of my two crew pix) on my crew who told he was there, in casual status, and was detailed to help carry out the bodies and clean up after the fire. Said he saw an ear stuck to the emergency ladder, and finger scratches in the sooty silo walls."
"I also worked relief in the site that burned in 1965 killing 53 people. There were some who refused to work 373-4 because they thought it was haunted. It did have a morning mist that was waist high. The gravel would settle after you walked across it and sounded a bit like someone was following you across the compound to the entrance. They never got the soot off the walls in most of the silo or the long passage from the blast door to the silo."
"During an evaluation in the simulator two years later they threw a "fire in the diesel engine area" at the crew that was on duty. The commander almost lost it. I don't think he ever fully recovered." Former Titan II crew member
Searcy, Arkansas provides a good example for my theory detailing the passing on of personal experiences by missile crew members. The above statements by the former Titan II crew members were posted in a forum back in 2010 and 45 years has elapsed since the incident's occurrence. The memories still appear "fresh" for it was a life-changing event for those that were actually on alert and those that assisted in the recovery operations back on August 9, 1965.
Was complex 373-4 haunted? As far as ghosts are concerned, I really can't say with any degree of certainty, but Searcy does haunt those who lost love ones and members of the military that were there.
Addendum 3/26/2012: I've added a follow-on based on contact with one of the individuals that was quoted in this post. Sherwood, on-line moniker, contacted me via themissileforums.com with the following:
"I see you used my 373-4 story on your blog. Not annoyed, just surprised to see it show up elsewhere. I found it while searching for Titan II pictures, something I repeat from time to time.
Follow-on: On our next alert out at the site, I opened up and inspected the silo elevator control relay cabinet. I wanted to see if there was anything there that could explain the previous alert's experience.
I didn't see anything at all out of the ordinary there. It was clean, with no evidence of any sooting. I didn't really expect to see anything, because all switches and cabinets in the silo were explosion proof, but I wanted to rule that possibility out.
The other thing that happened (though not to me personally) was that the other two members on the crew reported the WireTypeMaintenanceNet call signal went off in the wee hours when my half of the crew was sleeping. Whether that was before or after the elevator incident I don't really remember.
There was not a WTMN headset station in the bedroom of the Titan II control center. I think there was one on that level by the site pressurized water tank, but you'd have to open the bedroom door to access it, and I'm a very light sleeper so I know that scenario doesn't fly. We were all business on that crew - no jokers, totally unlike a crew I was on later."
Thanks Sherwood for the follow-on story. Should you recall other experiences, please let me know.