Ft. Bliss
Air Defense Artillery Museum

El Paso, TX

February 18, 2001

One of the neat attractions in El Paso was Fort Bliss. Originally established to house the Cavalry, for which there is now a replica of the original structure built in the middle of the reservation. This old adobe dwelling was made to look pretty much like the Fort did when it was opened in the late 1800s. On many occasion, costumed docents are present to walk you through, giving you an insight to what life was like during the early years. On this date, the buildings were open but there were no docents. Actually there was no one around at all. This gave the girls a chance to act out a little as they took up acting in the kitchen of the house and store. On the outside, tied to the many hitching posts and rails, were a dozen or so animals suitable for photographing. Cast in plaster, they were most co-operative in their never-ending stance. Across the street was a large building which was a museum dedicated to the art, if you would call it that, of anti-aircraft defense. Now this was something for the old war buff in me, and it was a subject that I had never really seen as a separate entity. The outside was decorated with some of the larger missiles which have been the focal point of air defense in recent years. I selected one such monstrosity to examine. The Spartan missile was a direct growth of the Zeus missile. The ever increasing vulnerability of our defense system against Soviet ICBM's demanded a more powerful version with a longer range capability. Development began in Oct. of '65 and soon the Spartan missile was one of the 5 major components of the completed Safeguard BMD (Ballistic Missile Defense). After deactivation in Feb of '76, the Spartan missiles were removed from their underground silos and placed in storage by the Army. On the inside, I came across what had to be one of the first anti-aircraft guns every used in battle. This was a 40-mm Krupp anti-balloon gun first used in 1870 in the siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War.

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