It was an interesting experience, for me, and after things got under way, I was glad that I had the opportunity to be in on the ground floor of America’s Missile Program. Remember, this all happened in 1954 and they hadn’t shot the first Redstone Rocket, yet. In fact, it was during that summer that the first attempt was made, to launch a Redstone.
The rocket had been sitting on the “Pad”, at Blockhouse 34 for several weeks. At that time there were only four launchers, No.’s,1, 2, 3, and 4, with two Launch facilities, one between Pads 1 and 2 and one between 3 and 4, hence the designation of site 12 and 34.
Any time that there was to be a launch attempt, the Security would run all of the unauthorized personal to a point, at least three miles from the site. My field office was just three miles from the launchers, so when they made their first attempt at a Redstone launch, I had a real good view from the top of one of our Flatbed trucks.
They had evacuated the area several times before, and then after an hour or so they would “scrub the mission” and let us go back to work. However, this time they actually fired it. It slowly rose to, perhaps 300 or 400 feet and then dropped back onto the Pad with the damndest explosion that I have ever seen. In just a few seconds I saw the shock wave approaching, it was knocking the Palmettos flat to the ground, and I am sure that if I had not jumped off the truck, I would have been knocked to the ground, also. They soon had another Redstone on the pad and the next attempt was successful.