SMDC History: Safeguard honors Lt. Gen. Stanley R. Mickelsen

By Sharon Watkins Lang, USASMDC/ARSTRAT Command HistorianSeptember 30, 2015

SMDC History: Safeguard honors Lt. Gen. Stanley R. Mickelsen
Approximately 150 guests representing leadership from across the nation, the Safeguard community, local officials and dignitaries, as well as the news media, gather at the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard complex dedication. The complex encompassed six... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

The naming process for the Safeguard sites began as early as July 1971. As the Army Air Defense Command, or ARADCOM, would assume responsibility for the sites after the equipment readiness date in October 1974, they were granted the opportunity to select the names.

Given the cost and nature of the Safeguard facility, ARADCOM officials elevated the memorialization approval process from the adjutant general to Gen. Creighton Abrams, chief of staff of the Army.

Therefore, Department of the Army General Orders 21 issued June 21, 1974 officially designated the Safeguard tactical facilities as the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex, effective Oct. 1, 1974.

In ceremonies on Oct. 1, the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex, the first new military installation since World War II, marked the equipment readiness date for the missile defense site and officially dedicated the facility in honor of Lt. Gen. Stanley R. Mickelsen.

Mickelsen's career in the U.S. Army spanned 40 years -- from 1917 and World War I and the Coast Artillery Corps to 1957 and the Cold War -- at which time he served as the ARADCOM commander.

Throughout his career, Mickelsen was a pioneer and leader in guided missile systems.

He was also an early advocate of the Nike-Zeus, the first anti-missile missile system and predecessor to the Safeguard's Spartan long-range interceptor.

Mickelsen continued his support in his retirement observing the need for missile defense stating that, "in this atomic age, no nation can survive to fight a global war unless it protects itself from the rain of enemy atomic bombs."

Inclement weather moved the event indoors to the community center theater at the Missile Site Radar, or MSR, facility, near Nekoma, North Dakota, but did not impact attendance.

Included among the distinguished guests were Mickelsen's three daughters Helen, Patricia and Ruth, as well as M.M. Irvine, Mickelsen's sister.

The morning event began with music by the Fort Carson Army Band and an invocation by Chaplain (Capt.) Gaylord Gunhus. After an introductory speech by Brig. Gen. Robert Mullens, commander of the U.S. Army Safeguard Command, the Mickelsen family unveiled a bronze plaque.

Following the unveiling ceremony, Maj. Gen. George Mayo Jr., Ballistic Missile Defense deputy program manager, addressed the attendees and formally announced that the Safeguard System had achieved equipment readiness date.

Mayo commended the team -- military and civilian workers as well as the North Dakota hosts -- all of whom had contributed to the initiative through the 15 years of research and development for their "extraordinary achievement" to establish this complex.

Following a short history of the ballistic missile defense program, he noted that each advancement was a step toward peace and the ability to defend the nation. Mayo concluded his remarks observing, "as we officially name this site, the Stanley R. Mickelsen Complex, a strong step we hope, toward peace throughout the world."

After the ceremony, invitees adjourned to the Sprint Officers Club for a buffet luncheon and concluded with a tour of the Mickelsen complex at both the MSR and the Perimeter Acquisition Radar sites.

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