Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Titan II (part 4 of 3?)

I thought I'd finished my reminiscences about the Titan II ICBM and space launch vehicle, but I realized I left out Rocky Raccoon.  No, not the Beatles song, but the long-suffering mascot of Titan II ICBM Complex 373-5, Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas.
When I came on crew in 1982, Strategic Air Command regulations somehow were read as allowing stashes of adult magazines while forbidding mascots, posters, or anything that detracted from the utilitatian green and gray.  This was a nuclear missile complex, not a dorm... but rules were bent a bit.  The magazine stashes disappeared as more women appeared on crew and the higher-ups came around to the viewpoint that they were inappropriate, but Rocky stayed.
Rockey was a stuffed raccoon who looked like he'd been run over by a missile transporter. His begraggled appearance was the result of being constantly stuffed behind panels and consoles, only to be allowed out and restored to his perch on the missile monitoring consoles after visitors had left.  Rocky was of course occasionally noticed by visitors, but crews got away with it for a long time. My crew received a Standboard (Standards and Evulation) crew writeup once that included the directive, "Remove Raccoon." This, of course, was ignored.
No one was sure how many years Rocky had been out there. We credited him unofficially with 3,000 24-hour alerts, but that was just a guess. 
Finally, it had to end.  A man I considered a friend (until then) came out pulling duty with an instructor crew, and Rocky went into the trash. My wife made up a little cardboard headstone.  That didn't last long either.  Farewell, Rocky. For a raccon, you were a great crewdog.

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