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Bob Gamboa

Western Electric

Guestbook Entry

From Bob Gamboa, 4 July 2010, Las Cruces, NM

I arrived with my family in February of 1971. I was one of the first dozen or so guys to be transferred there. We came directly from Kwajalein with only tennis shoes and shorts for clothing; from temperatures in the 80's to below zero. Of course, it did not take us long to buy out the local garment store for more appropriate clothing.

We did not even have a car, so the first order of business was to go Grand Forks, turn in our rental vehicle and buy a car. Then it needed to be outfitted with a headbolt heater......something I had never heard of.... Ha!

The first WECO team, under direction of Bill Clark, was responsible for inspecting any and all aspects of the construction that affected the Bell Labs/Western Electric equipment required for the operation of the MSR and PAR radar and computer systems. We were a thorn in the sides of the Corps of Engineers because our responsibilities were to re-inspect everything that they had already inspected. In other words, we QC'ed the QC'ers.....or re-inspected what they had already inspected. The Corps had never had this kind of oversight before and they did not like it. This group existed until both complexes were completed.

We then moved on to the next phase and a new group under Vic Gates. Our jobs were to monitor the implementation of all the services of the sub-contractor, Pan American Support Services. Pam Am had the contract and we worked with them on the start-up services that the contract called for. If services were needed that were not called for in the contract, we originated changes to the contract to insure they got paid for their labor.

I was in Langdon/Nekoma from the time they began digging the hole for the underground floors of the MSR until we shut off the power and ended the project. It took five years for both complexes to become fully operational. Within a two to three month period, we were terminating the project due to the SALT talks with the Russians. When we were given the word, the Data Processing Team began shutting down the Data Processing System (all Computers). Next came the Transmitter (directed by Ves Fulp). The building became very quiet. Those of us that were in and around the Data Processing Center (Control Room) just sat there in quiet dismay. The project had ended after many years of development.

It all started in 1946 with the development of the Nike Ajax System at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. Next came the Nike Hercules, Nike Zeus, Nike-X, Sentinel, and finally the Safeguard System. Most of us had been on this project for 15 to 20 years or more. I began my career at White Sands Missile Range in 1961, next to Whippany, NJ; Kwajalein/Meck Island; and then to North Dakota.

When the project ended, we were offered jobs within the Bell System or could take voluntary lay-offs. The Bell System jobs were at Telephone Companies or Telephone Research locations. None of us knew anything about the Telephone Company except how to use one. I took a voluntary lay-off and went back to Las Cruces, NM. I had another great career after that, but that is for another time.