Welcome to The Spirit of Oplin and a Story of Days Long Past
1st Atlas ICBM of Dyess Air Force Base pulls through the gate at Oplin Missile Silo - Site # 5  -  May 1, 1962
The 1950 and 60's was the height of the Cold War and I was a naive young man at age 27 when in 1961, I made a career move from the Oil Fields of Texas into the World of Rockets and helped install the Atlas ICBM into the Silos being built around Dyess Air Force Base at Abilene, Texas.

42 years later in September and October of 2003 I was in Texas attending my 50th High School Class Reunion and Homecoming at Lueders High School in Lueders, Texas.

As I always do when home in Texas, I went out to see what the Atlas Missile Sites looked like and to reminisce a little of my youth.

In 1961 and 62, I had worked for General Dynamics Astronautics during the Installation and Checkout of the 12 Atlas F  ICBMs surrounding Dyess Air Force Base and as they were completed and activated I worked at the Lawn, Oplin, Corinth West and Albany Sites.

41 years had now passed since I last walked through the gate at Oplin and much to my pleasant surprise, I discovered the Oplin Missile Site # 5 was privately owned and being lived in by a man named Bruce Townsley.

Of all the sites to be preserved I'm glad Oplin is one because Oplin was what we called the "Lead Site" which meant it was the first site to receive a bird,  i.e. an Atlas F  ICBM  "Intercontinental Ballistic Missile" and the first Operational Atlas F  Missile Silo to be turned over to the Air Force at Dyess Air Force Base  -  Abilene, Texas.

I was the Preventive Maintenance Analyst (PMA) at the Oplin Site and darn proud of it.

What it really meant:...   I was the guy they screamed at when any of the Ground Support Equipment wasn't working.

I should not leave this without saying a word about Bruce Townsley - Bruce spent the greater part of an afternoon allowing me to enter his personal domain to take a nostalgic trip back to "Days Long Past"  -  THANKS Bruce

Over View of an Atlas F Underground Missile Silo
Ray's Memoirs of 1961/62 Ray's Oplin Photos of 2003 Oil Field Bum to Rockets
Spirit of Oplin Crew Members And Top Guns
1960 / 1962 Construction Photographs of all 12 Sites
Site # 1 Site # 2 Site # 3 Site # 4 Site # 5 Site # 6
Site # 7 Site # 8 Site # 9 Site # 10 Site # 11 Site # 12
1962 Dyess AFB Directory GDA Management Team Personal Photographs
Extra Photos of Silos Atlas in Downtown Abilene ICBM Photos at Dyess AFB
Video of Atlas F Silo Test Launch - Vandenberg, AFB
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Copyright © 2010 by E. Ray Smyth