Bill Bowe, a former President of The Cliff Dwellers and Executive Vice President of Encyclopaedia Britannica, begins with a lighthearted look at a subject he’s been following since the 1950’s. Though hard to believe today, Nike missiles with nuclear warheads were once ready to be launched from 22 sites around Chicago, including Belmont Harbor and Jackson Park on the lakefront. These nuclear-tipped Nike missiles were part of a nation-wide system of Army sites built at the time to defend against an attack by the Soviet Union’s long range nuclear bombers.
He also discusses Nike’s successor, the ill-fated Safeguard Anti-Ballistic Missile System. Bill worked on Safeguard counterespionage and counter sabotage issues while in the Army in the late 1960’s. Bill also touches on Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” of the 1980’s, the end of the Cold War in the 1990’s, and the missile and satellite threats emerging after the turn of the 21st Century. He reviews how these current missile and satellite threats have pushed the envelope of strategic war planning and brought about the creation of the new Space Force and Space Command.
Finally, Bill closes with a few thoughts about how the Doomsday Clock may be ticking between now and 2045, when a full century since Hiroshima will have passed.
Bill illustrates his At The Cliff Dwellers talk with unusual photos taken by him and others at the then clandestine ICBM missile research sites at Johnston and Kwajalein Atolls in the Pacific. He also includes pictures and graphics showing the strange nature of the near-space war theater.