NPS Minuteman Missile
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  • 18. At the Gate

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    At the Gate

    Getting through the gate was not just a matter of driving up and asking to be let in. The sign at eye level alerted visitors that “Use of Deadly Force Is Authorized.” 

    Everyone accessing the site–even those recognized–had to be authenticated before entering the compound as a precaution against sabotage or attack. This emphasis on security was included even in routine activities. One facility manager, serving at Delta- 01, once read his code backwards to the combat crew. Realizing his mistake, the crew asked if he was sure this was the way he wanted to state the codes. Unfortunately, the facility manager did not understand their hint, and was forced to return to Ellsworth Air Force Base to reverify his codes before accessing Delta-01.

    After verification, the Flight Security Controller would electronically open the gate lock. Incoming personnel would immediately report to the Security Control Center to verify their identity. Facility managers were also responsible for meeting any individual that entered the property, including everyone from branch chiefs, maintenance crews, and local law enforcement to family members and local ranchers. All visitors needed approval to visit a site, including family members. The family of those serving alerts were allowed at the launch control facility on occasion, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

    During the Cold War, visitors such as yourselves happening across Delta-01 would not have received a warm welcome. When encountering unauthorized visitors, the standard procedure was for security forces  to “jack up” suspects against a fence or wall and check their identification.