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JFK Visits New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range

June 5, 1963 - The Army gave President Kennedy a spectacular demonstration of rocket age weapons today at New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range. The President saw a Hawk missile strike down a low-flying jet and watched an Honest John rocket spread phosphorus smoke over half of the Andres mountain range. The Navy got in on the show just long enough to get a red face. Two of its Talos missiles were fired at a target jet, and both missed — the day’s only mishaps. Another feature was a helicopter-borne Little John battery. It was quickly wheeled into place, and the artillery rocket was fired against a mountain seven miles away. Efficient soldiers assembled a Sergeant, the Army’s newest operational missile, from three sections, while Mr. Kennedy and Vice President Johnson looked on. They got the job done within the prescribed 5 minutes. Demonstrations of the Nike Hercules and the Nike Zeus anti-missile missile concluded the show. The demonstration was staged in 87-degree heat and blistering sun, but President Kennedy refused a sun helmet the Army offered him.


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