Sunday, March 10, 2013

Rising to the Cold War Challenge

We worked round the clock during the Cuban Missile Crisis
by José Z.

In 1962, I was hired in San Antonio, Texas, as a planner for Lockheed in Sunnyvale, California. Lockheed was the prime contractor to build the Polaris, a submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) that was developed by the Navy. 

The job offer was for $3.50 an hour, a dollar an hour more than I was making! As an electronics planner, I worked with engineers, buyers and manufacturing and quality personnel. We worked seven days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day, for months during the Cold War and Cuban Missile Crisis.

Polaris-launched SLBMs would become the third part of the nuclear triad the United States built during the Cold War—the Polaris, the B-52 manned bomber and the Minuteman, and Titan land-based Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs.)

I later transferred to procurement quality assurance and participated in testing of the missile at a 5,000-acre missile test facility near Santa Cruz, California, in the mountains high above the valley. I later worked at Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank. I was one of several planners loaned by Lockheed to Rockwell International to resurrect the B-1 Bomber in 1983. I was then hired by Rockwell, where I continued my Aerospace career until my retirement in 2006.

We rose to challenges of the Cold War.