©2013 - Patrick L. Groleau

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A mid-winter shot of the WSA. Beyond the entry portal, next to the little building just above the red van in the center of the picture, was a world lacking completely concepts such as "constitutional rights" and "presumption of innocence." Very, very few individuals were authorized to cross through the electric and double-fences into the WSA. The winter this photograph was taken saw a total snowfall of over 140" and temperatures that dropped below -30F!  One of the original five "Q" locations, prior to construction this WSA was AEC code named “Easy.” Upon opening it became the “North River Depot,” and was later designated “Caribou Air Force Station.  This WSA is unique in that it was the first facility built from the ground up as a “maximum security storage for the most advanced weapons of mankind.” [Stevens, W.E. and Tyson, P.G.]

wsa

461/462s were the “labor” which did the actual loading of our weapons into bomb bays of planes on alert.  In the winter they worked outdoors under conditions which would drive polar bears to relocate to Florida.  During the summer they bravely battled huge swarms of black flies, tiny devils so blood-sucking vicious even the furry denizens of the forest were driven mad!  Our shop had a break room with a coffee pot, and, of course, our infamous “absolutely not Underwriters approved” hot-dog electrocution device, but, hidden away in their mysterious underground lair, the 461/462 crew had a “lounge” quite possibly unrivaled by any in SAC!   If you’ve ever seen a load team squirm a clip-in of B28s and a loaded SRAM rotary launcher into the confines of a B-52 bomb bay in the middle of an Aroostook county winter night, sky blacker’n coal in the dark, the calibrated meteorologic thermometer indicating -30F, a thirty or forty mile per hour wind incessantly howling as it drove the effective Wind Chill Index past -60F, leaking aircraft hydraulic fluid saturating cold weather parkas and trousers into highly inflammable sponges, all the while Quality Control screaming “there’re eleven instead of ten turns per inch in that safety wire” or “those wheel chocks aren’t painted the proper shade of yellow” ... well, if you haven’t witnessed such take my word for it that the Loaders earned respite in the comfort of their little hide-a-way!  “Loaders” worked hard, played even harder, and, always, I salute them!  

RUSTY KNIGHT

RUSTY KNIGHT

It seems I wasn’t the only person brave/foolish/crazy enough to sneak a camera into the WSA!   Courtesy of “Rusty Knight,” here are two  461/462s either inspecting or doing maintenance on a weapons igloo.  Evidenced by the fact that the snow has been allowed to pile up in front of the steel doors, and that the structure does not seem to have been upgraded to the more modern ADT intrusion detection system, this particular igloo did not hold “special” weapons.  Many of the igloos along the WSA’s “C Row” were used to store small arms ammunition, conventional explosives, and a variety of handling equipment.  The “smoke stack” and “traffic light” of the structure is a clue that it was once used to contain other types of very nasty items ... stuff one wouldn’t want to either inhale or have come into contact with bare skin!

RUSTY KNIGHT

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