History of the 1st Guided Missile Brigade

1st Guided Missile Battalion (SAM)

Nike – the Army’s first supersonic, Anti-Aircraft Guided Missile designed to intercept and destroy the enemy target regardless of evasive action- is the first guided missile system to defend American cities against aerial attack. It is fitting, then, that the Nike be the missile allocated to the 1st Guided Missile Battalion (SAM), a highly diversified and unusual organization which has contributed greatly to the fame of Nike.

In the beginning, October 1945, as the 1st AAA GM Battalion, the mission of the unit was to support and assist the Ordnance Department at White Sands Proving Ground and the Navy Department at Point Magu, California, in the conducting of missile tests which would be of interest to Army ground forces. However, on 4 June 1957, the unit was redesignated as the 1st Guided Missile Battalion, Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM). Thus, was born the organization which would become responsible for the coordinated planning necessary for activating, equipping, and training tactical guided missile units.

From time to time, the 1st Guided Missile Battalion (SAM) was required to furnish experimental detachments to testing areas throughout the United States. Camp Davis North Carolina, Fort Miles. Delaware, Inyokern, California and Point Magu, California were just a few of the many places visited by 1st GM Battalion personnel. Attending classes and observing operations with the Lark, Corporal, and confiscated V-2s, Battalion personnel were able to obtain the maximum training and experience in radar operation, missile assembly and testing, fuel handling, launching, and range instrumentation and produce.

Personnel conduct fueling operations on a Nike I in preparation for flight. WSMR photo.

The end product of this multifarious training and experience from 1947 to 1953 was incorporated into a plan by which the 1st GM Battalion could train skilled crews to defend American towns against aerial attack, and today, the Battalion serves as a training base for Nike units stationed both in the United States and abroad. Expert technical training is given to troop trained specialists and to surface-to-air missile packages so that they may perform their complex jobs accurately and swiftly. To date, 33 package units have been trained, and individuals who make up these crews are constantly returning for additional information and training in new tactical concepts and weapons. Nike units trained here stand guard over the skies from Loring AFB, Maine to Los Angeles, California. Wherever large American industrial centers and heavily populated areas are located, 1st GM Battalion trained crews can be found on guard 24 hours of every day of every year.

The forerunner of all Army guided missile units, including the present-day 1st Guided Missile Group, 1st GM Battalion has embodied a saying which lives with the unit and the men; “Primus est Primus” – “First is First.” Working along these lines, the Battalion has been traditionally first to implement new theories and techniques, such as: the offset method of firing (azimuth); high altitude shoot (elevation offset); recording missile velocities on tape; and fuel filtering devices now utilized at Red Canyon Range Camp. 1st Battalion furnished the first all-soldier crew ever to fire a missile in the United States in the winter of 1947, and fired the first Nike Ajax at Red Canyon in September of 1953. Under the leadership of Lt. Col. Bernard I. Greenberg, the 1st Guided Missile Battalion (SAM) will continue to make great strides in the preparation of efficient Nike Ajax and Hercules crews for the defense of America and free nations the world over.

8 thoughts on “History of the 1st Guided Missile Brigade

  1. Wonderful article and I enjoyed learning about this unit. I have the same pin that belonged to one of my mothers brothers but it isn’t yellow it is red or burgundy colored. Would this be from another battalion? Any information would be appreciated.

  2. This is a wonderful one and ai enjoyed reading about this battalion. I have the same pin but it is t yellow. It is red or almost burgundy colored. It belonged to one of my mothers 3 brothers but I don’t know where they served or anything about their military careers. Any information or assistance about the pin would be appreciated.

  3. My father served in the 1st AAA Guided Missile Bn. Started out as a machinist and ended up as personnel sgt major before being discharged in ‘46. I’ve been wondering about the graphic with the red and yellow v-2 that appears on the title page of each chapter. Is it an official insignia of the unit?

    1. Good Morning, thank you for your comment! The logo depicted is not an official insignia recognized by the US Army Institute of Heraldry. However, it was used as the unit’s unofficial logo and appeared on several unit history documents from the late-1940s into the 1950s that we have in the museum archives.

      1. Thanks so much! I plan to be at the range for a NASA sounding rocket launch in August. I’d like to learn whatever I can about the early history when my father was there.

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