History of the 1st Guided Missile Brigade

Red Canyon Range Battalion

Red Canyon is an old historical western name. The Red Canyon Sheep Company grazed in this range in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. The history of Red Canyon Range Camp began in the summer of 1953 when various personnel of the 1st Guided Missile Group were sent to the site, 20 miles west of Carrizozo, New Mexico for the purpose of building a camp from which the Nike Ajax missile could be fired. The work continued until 28 October 1953 when the first missile was fired. Red Canyon Range Camp was named by Colonel Daniel A. O’Conner, who was the first Camp Commander, and who is presently Brigadier General O’Connor, Assistant Commandant, U.S. Air Defense School, Fort Bliss, Texas.

Red Canyon is located at the northeast corner of White Sands Proving Ground, 20 miles west of Carrizozo, New Mexico.

The mission of Red Canyon Range Camp from 28 October 1953 to January 1955 was the support of Nike Package Battalions who fired here before leaving for their permanent sites. All continental Nike Ajax Battalions, except three, fired at Red Canyon prior to moving to on-site locations.

In January 1955, Red Canyon was provided with a new mission: the support of Annual Service Practice firing. The 495th AAA Missile Battalion fired the first practice and was followed in February 1955 by the on-site 36th Battalion. For one year, the 495th Missile Battalion maintained two operational Nike systems for use by AARADCOM Battalions. In January 1956, four new systems were added to Red Canyon Range Camp. On 20 July 1956, the new Annual Service Practice Support Platoon, Range Operations Battery, Red Canyon Range Battalion took over complete operation of Annual Service Practice firing. In January 1957, two more systems were added to the four already in existence due to the increase in Nike Battalions on site.

On 1 March, 1957, Red Canyon Range Battalion was transferred from 1st Guided Missile Group to 2nd Guided Missile Group.

In the spring of 1957, with the opening of McGregor Missile Range, the Package Battalions no longer came to Red Canyon Range Camp to fire. The present mission of Red Canyon Ran Camp is support of continental Nile Ajax Battalions who return to Red Canyon Range Camp for Annual Service Practice.

Lt. Col. John J. McCarthy is presently the commanding officer of Red Canyon Range Battalion and commander of Red Canyon Range Camp.

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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