Decommissioned Launch Facilities of the 44th Strategic Missile Wing

An unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test Sep. 23, 2014, at Vandenberg Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Joe Davila)

The 44th Strategic Missile Wing was decommissioned on July 4, 1994. 

All of the Launch Facilities (LF) except one were decommissioned. All equipment was removed and the site was filled in. All of the Launch Control Facilities (LCF) were decommissioned except one.  

The exceptions were Delta LCF and  Delta 09 LF. Both of those sites have been preserved as part of the Minuteman Missile National Historical Site

On a recent trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota I noticed two fenced areas and quickly realized they had the configuration to be an LF.  The fencing was in place but there was nothing visible above ground and there was no signage on the fence. 

On the return trip I kept an eye out for those two sites, stopped, and took some pictures. 

Based on looking at a map of the 44th SMW, I think the two sites I observed were Oscar 09 and November 02. I did not observe November 03 which was just a few miles further south.

Those sites were part of the 68th Strategic Missile Squadron (68SMS). 

The southernmost of the two sites I observed, which I think is November 02, did not have any signs and was on private property, so I did not leave the road.  View from the road:

Close up of the gate:

South side of the LF, with the raised dirt area showing where the silo cover would have been:

The northernmost of the two sites, which I think is Oscar 09, with a view from the road. Notice the signature straight dirt road from the main road to the site. 

When visiting the site, I noticed a sign on the fence which granted permission to walk onto site. Very cool!

That gives official permission to be on the site. Gonna’ be fun!

View from center of site looking northwest:

Looking northeast:

Looking southeast:

Um, notice those stacked white boxes? Those aren’t left over Air Force stuff.

Looking southwest.

Ah, yeah, those are beehives.

I knew what those were from the road. Soon as I walked on to the site, i heard a low frequency, constant, fairly loud buzz. Yeah, there were thousands of bees flying around, spreading out for miles in every direction pollinating crops.

Much as I wanted to walk over to the area where the silo used to be located, I concluded discretion was the better part of not getting stung several dozen times.

Next time to the Black Hills, I’ll walk the whole site.

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