The Missile Defense Site at Vandenberg took on a new name at a ceremony today...
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.—Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz, Vice Commander, Air Force Space Command, greets Nancy Reagan, former first lady, and Pete Wilson, former California governor before a dedication ceremony held at the 76th Helicopter Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
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VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.—The Missile Defense Site at Vandenberg took on a new name at a ceremony today in the 76th Flight Test Squadron Hangar in which a bust of President Ronald W. Reagan was unveiled.
Former First Lady Nancy Reagan, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, Senator Ted Stevens from Alaska, former California Governor Pete Wilson, Air Force Space Command Vice Commander Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz, Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Trey Obering and a host of distinguished guests looked on as the site was named the Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site in honor of the 40th President of the United States, who championed the need for missile defense.
“President Reagan simply would not accept U.S. vulnerability to nuclear or ballistic missile attack,” General Obering said. “And so he called upon the scientific community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace, to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete.’”
A recurring theme through all the speeches was the lasting legacy of President Reagan to our national defense.
“We are here today to celebrate the remarkable achievement of Ronald Reagan who will be remembered and revered for many things, but if you ask him, I think he would tell you his greatest achievement was to safeguard the freedom and safeguard the people of the United States,” Senator Stevens said.
“President Reagan defended freedom and liberty not only while serving as president but in the legacy he left behind,” said Secretary England. “America is fortunate that the legacy of President Reagan lives on in President Bush’s resolve to protect America’s freedom.”
General Klotz spoke of the contributions of the AFSPC team as an integral part of the nation’s missile defense. He mentioned an array of capabilities that support missile defense including uninterrupted space-based early warning, launch ranges, communications, navigation and timing capabilities.
“Those of us who have spent time in the intercontinental ballistic missile business hold President Reagan in especially high regard,” General Klotz said. “His leadership at the height of the Cold War was the turning point toward achieving victory in that titanic struggle for peace and freedom. President Reagan was the driving force behind the deployment of the Peacekeeper missile in the 1980s…The mission of the Peacekeeper and the vision of President Reagan (were) achieved without ever firing a shot in anger.”
Several hundred people in attendance clapped as a blue velvet covering fell away to reveal a large bronze bust of President Reagan.
The Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site consists of a complex that includes four silos currently housing two interceptor missiles that, when activated, are part of the overall ballistic missile defense system. The two other silos will be used for operationally realistic testing, but can also hold operational interceptors if required. The current missile defense system also includes early warning satellites, powerful ground- and sea-based radars and an integrated command, control, battle management element to detect the launch of a hostile missile, track its flight and provide the necessary targeting information to the interceptor to destroy the target missile high in space using only the direct collision of the interceptor with the target warhead, or “hit to kill” technology.
“Today, our nation has a limited, but real defensive capability against short, medium and long-range ballistic missiles,” General Obering said. “That reality is borne out by the long-term interceptors in the silos here and in Alaska, the Aegis ships with their sea-based interceptors, the powerful radars which we have brought online, and the professionally trained and certified crews manning the command and control consoles in Alaska, Hawaii, Colorado and Nebraska.”
“This was an exciting day at Vandenberg and we were thrilled to host the former first lady and other distinguished guests,” said Col. Jack Weinstein, 30th Space Wing commander. “Missile defense is an important national mission and hosting that mission here only further underscores the importance of Vandenberg Air Force Base. A lot of hard work went in to planning this event by a lot of people and the results spoke for themselves.”
The ceremony ended with a broadcast of President Reagan’s own words from a speech given March 23, 1983. The words also appear on the plaque under the bust.
“Wouldn’t it be better to save lives than avenge them?" the president asked. "Are we not capable of demonstrating our peaceful intentions by applying all of our abilities and our ingenuity to achieving a truly lasting stability? I think we are indeed. Indeed, we must.”