A tour of Kincaid Park shows Alaska’s vital military history during the Cold War

A tour of Kincaid Park shows Alaska’s vital military history during the Cold War
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 5:07 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - It’s an important part of American history and some Alaskans aren’t fully aware of it. Kincaid Park holds a vital part of Alaska’s Cold War history. It is one of eight sites in Alaska that held Nike Hercules missiles, meant to defend major military installations in Alaska. Three of those sites were constructed around Anchorage: these include Site Bay, Site Point and Site Summit.

As two Cold War veterans explain, this was the last line of defense before enemy forces got to the Lower 48.

“We were actually the last fine line of defense. The first line of defense was the Air Force sending up jets to do their battle in the air,” said Lance Morgan, a launcher and crewman at Site Point and veteran of the Cold War.

On Saturday a tour at Kincaid Park showed various buildings used for potential missile launches and control at Site Point.

“It’s kind of a mystery of, ‘What are these ancient buildings here at Kincaid Park?’ Yeah there’s some historic significance here,” said Tom Namtvedt, the security dog handler at Site Point.

During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in confrontation and raced to develop nuclear weapons.

At the time, the U.S. military thought the Soviet Union might try to gain access through Alaska to attack other parts of America.

“We’re kind of the front line of the Cold War, Russian bombers (were) theoretically going to come over the pole and we’ve got missiles to protect the military installations ... and here there were 40-48 missiles,” Namtvedt said.

“When it got to where they wanted to detonate it, the battery commander would detonate it. Anything within a 75-mile radius was a kill zone,” said Morgan.

In 1955, eight different sites were created in Alaska to install the Nike Hercules missile systems. These were nuclear warheads, the missiles were designed to destroy close formations and long-range bombers.

Although it was a serious military operation, looking back Morgan learned a lot from the experience.

“It was fun out here, really, and everything. Since I was out here more than anywhere else I learned more in the sections and everything with the Nike Hercules missile that I could take onto my next duty assignment” Morgan said.

Site Point guarded Anchorage from 1959 to 1979 and although it had the capability to fire nuclear warheads, it never had to. The site is now a monument to those who served during the Cold War.