As the 1950's dawned, the newly formed North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, was tested with the Korean War. Communist forces under the direction Kim Il-sung invaded South Korea, allegedly under the advisement of the Joseph Stalin. The war was a brutal fight, ending in 1953 with over thirty three thousand United States deaths. Tensions between the USSR and US continued, and by the 1960's, Cuba was a player in the field. The Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 nearly brought the world into an all out nuclear war. A failed coup attempt to oust communist Cuban leader Fidel Castro at the Bay of Pigs resulted in the positioning of nuclear-armed missiles by Russia on the Cuban mainland; well within striking distance of the Untied States. A tense stand off brought a nuclear war closer than it ever had, or has, been and was resolved diplomatically.
All the tensions, provocations and fear of war mobilized the United States into readiness mode. The armed forces, particularly the Air Force, prepared for the anticipated event of war by bolstering air defenses on land and in space. Intercontinental ballistic missiles could strike targets thousands of miles away by the push of a button, so early warning systems were designed to better protect us. Powerful radar systems and a series of transmitters were strategically built nationwide, providing a web of protection against nuclear strikes. In the meantime, everyday citizens of all ages were taught to 'duck and cover' and participated in drills in their homes, workplaces and schools. No one appeared safe from the nuclear threat; large cities, military facilities and small town America was in harm's way. Part of this readiness mode brought the Cold War right into Bath County.
|A deployed mobile AN/TPS-1D radar system|
|Owingsville Air Force Station, 1957|
|The 809th Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron's tactical site|
|From the 58th ADD 1957 Yearbook|
The Cold War effectively ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the USSR consolidating, but threats till loom on a smaller scale. Today, the 809th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron command and tactical stations are unrecognizable as places that once helped insure National security by watching our skies. The garrison site is now home to the Kentucky Department of Transportation garage and the Powers Branch site is now privately owned land.
|On this hill was the 809th |
Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron's radar site. Located on Powers Branch Road, off KY 36 West.
|Owingsville Air Force Station command site, September 2014 (courtesy of Google Map)|
It is highly unlikely that Bath County will ever host another gap-filler radar station for the United States Air Force. Changes in technology and global security has made these small stations obsolete, but for a short time, Owingsville was an integral part of our nation's defense.
The 58th Air Division archives