Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Visiting the Missile Garden

 That's the nickname given to the White Sands Missile Range's museum's outdoor display of the missiles, rockets and associated equipment, drones, and launchers that have been developed/tested at this range.

Last time I'd tried to get into post to take the pictures, the rules still didn't allow me access onto post as I didn't have a military ID card anymore.  Now, as of over a year ago, I now have access to active military posts with my Veterans Health ID card.  So after registering myself and the sammy at the reception center, was allowed access through the Las Cruces Gate.

The weather was overcast, windy and cold.  There was only me and Mariko in the parking lot next to the outdoor display; the actual museum is closed due to Covid-19 I believe.

Don't worry, I'm not posting a picture of every single missile/rocket and launcher on display!  Just some of the stuff I was involved with during my active duty time and some group shots.

Back when I was a Field Artillery Captain at Fort Bragg, NC.  I commanded, C Battery, 3rd Battalion, 27th Field Artillery (MLRS).  Back then, the battery fielded nine MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) tracked vehicles which could accommodate two of the below six packs at a time.

Self-Propelled Launcher Loader

A MLRS Launcher's 12 rockets could, put a ICM (Improved Conventional Munition), basically a hand grenade, in every meter of a 1000 meter grid square.  The Iraqi army would come to know the effect of these munitions as "steel rain" during the Gulf War.

A "six pack", showing one MLRS rocket emerging.

The largest drone I saw, an actual F-4 Phantom which could be
remotely piloted to be used as a target during missile testing.

Years after I left command, the battalion transitioned to wheeled launchers, pictured below, which carried just one six pack of rockets.  Called the HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System), my old battery was used to test and field this system apparently according to Wikipedia.

Pano of the Missile Garden

I left the Missile Garden and the post behind and ventured into the nearby Aguirrez Springs Campground where I'd camped before on previous trips.  Plenty of spots open but as you can see the weather turned bleak:

The east side of the Organ Mountain Desert Peaks
I'm camped on the other side

It started raining then lightly snowing as I made my way back to the other side of the mountains via Saint Augustin Pass.  Mariko, like my Ural Sidecar Rigs, struggled on the uphill portions of the pass but made it up eventually.

Got back to camp and watched it snow for a bit (it didn't stick) then just stayed inside the URRV while the wind howled outside the temperatures hit a high of 44 in the very late afternoon.

The sun broke through after the clouds had pushed on further east, heading towards Texas I think.  The sun was too late to do any warming up though and about an hour later the sun set.  Another cold night I believe, luckily still good with the propane supply.  Nice and toasty as I type this.

Hopefully, the package I've been waiting for from Martha will arrive tomorrow.  If the weather is good, I might drive over to the White Sands National Monument but unsure at this point.  The cold front sweeping the nation right now is playing havoc on most of the country and has made weather forecasting more of a guess than usual!

Pretty sure though, that I'll be headed west towards Arizona by Thursday though.


SonjaM said...

I never had any exposure to military or weaponry of sorts, hence rockets on display... very irritating when you are me.

CCjon said...

Thanks for the explanations of the rocket garden, your expertise makes it more understandable to the non-rocketeer.
West is looking more inviting that East for sure. Maybe next week Texas will look pleasant once more.

redlegsrides said...

The display could be irritating as you mentioned SonjaM, still, history is history and it all must be grasped and understood...the ugly parts (from one's unique perspective) to the pleasing parts. I look at the Missile Garden as a reminder of the lengths man will go to kill from afar.

redlegsrides said...

You're welcome CCjon. The vast distances and lack of BLM land in Texas is also factoring in my decision making process.

Brook Reams said...

Snow at White Sands is a rare event. I was there over the Thanksgiving holiday in 1973 when I was a student at New Mexico State Univ. and it started to snow. It was very disorienting to drive through the dunes with snow coming down ... white on white in the sky and all around you.
Brook (aka ScooterScum)

redlegsrides said...

Hi Brook!, turns out, the snow's moisture caused the white sands to turn, well, sand color....was there today.

RichardM said...

The missiles and rockets are always somewhat interesting. And the RV went up that pass at sub-Ural speeds. I think we were going maybe 30mph on some parts.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks for the feedback RichardM.

Oz said...

I would love to visit the Missile Garden. That looks so cool. I will put that one my visit list.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks for the comments Oz....be aware you have to get past the gate and right now they're restricted to military, retired And VA guys like me.