Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Veterans Day Salute to the men and women of Titan II

The Titan II was a remarkable bird. The two-stage rocket, over a hundred feet tall and using storable hypergolic propellants (meaning automatic-igniting - don't try this for you hobby rocket)  was designed as a missile and served 20+ years as a bulwark of cold war deterrence. But it also had two other lives. It was tapped early on the split of a "man-rated" version that carried Gemini spacecraft to orbit. No operational Gemini launch ever failed.  At the end it its career, it was converted into a launcher for DoD satellites - and again, it never failed.

I knew it intimately as a missile crew member, so herewith my Veterans Day salute.


by Matt Bille, formerly Captain, USAF, Titan II Missile Combat Crew Commander

They called them the Titans
Like the giants of old
And giants they were
Standing deadly and cold
They in their silver
And we in our blue
Alongside them we watched
And the enemies knew
We were there

We felt oft-ignored
Without glory we served
We relied on each other
And we stood by our word
In a life without rhythm
Lived by the clocks
Let it never be said
That we failed on the watch

So we passed the long hours
In silence we watched
No silhouettes painted
No gunbelts to notch
No medals or trophies
No break to the night
But the oath-keepers’ vigil
Let others have light

In the core of the Earth
In the armored command
Power undreamed of
In our keys and our hands
They called it a cold war
And cold it was kept
We knew that behind us
The citizens slept
They didn’t think of us
Or they wished us away
But we kept the watch
To give them the day

We still know each other
Hair silver and grey
The Titan’s proud comrades
We are to this day
We know what we did
We know what it was worth
And brothers we are
Until we return to the Earth
No more the sirens
Or the tick of the clocks
Let it read on my tombstone

“He kept the watch.”

No comments: