White Sands Commanders

Major General John Shinkle
6th White Sands Missile Range Commander
01 July 1960 – 11 June 1962

Major General John G. Shinkle, 6th Commander of White Sands Missile Range, was born on 10 March 1912 in Boston. He graduated from West Point in 1933 with a commission in Field Artillery.

His service as an Army officer began at the Presidio of Monterey. After an assignment in Hawaii, Shinkle obtained a detail in the Army Ordnance corps and served with Ordnance until the end of his career. Additional training included the two-year course at the Ordnance School and a year at MIT where he earned a master’s degree.

Shinkle first came to White Sands in January 1951 as the Director of Technical Operations. He served on several joint boards that planned and executed the programs of the three military services testing at White Sands. He is credited with playing a key role in arranging the transfer of US Air Force instrumentation personnel and resources to the newly created White Sand Proving Ground Integrated Range.

Shinkle stayed in the missile business with subsequent assignments as executive officer for the Assistant Chief of Ordnance for Research and Development and as the first commander of the Army Rocket and Guided Missile Agency at Huntsville, Alabama.

Moving back to White Sands as Range Commander in June 1960, Shinkle assumed responsibility for testing such weapons at the Nike Zeus, Hawk, Sergeant and Nike Hercules. His leadership laid the groundwork for expanding the range’s off-range test facilities. His close involvement and guidance were key in preparing White Sands to support the Athena and Pershing test programs with firings from Utah and other areas in New Mexico.

Another of Shinkle’s accomplishments at White Sands was his support in the establishment of the range’s Nuclear Effects Laboratory. He defended the project before the scrutiny of higher headquarters. At one point, approval for a new addition to the facility had been delayed for several months. Shinkle met with officials and the next day the addition was approved.

While at White Sands, Shinkle was noted for his professionalism and involvement in local events. When he left the range in June 1962, Shinkle was given awards for public service by the state of New Mexico and the El Paso Chamber of Commerce.

Shinkle left WSMR for a NATO assignment in Paris, France. He retired from the Army in August 1963 and currently lives in Florida.

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