Inside Manzano

The Life of a Nuclear Special Weapons Storage Site


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About the Book

In the late 1940s, the U.S. Department of Defense established a nuclear weapons depository in the Manzano Mountains of New Mexico. For more than 20 years, Manzano Base served as a maintenance and storage site for some of the most destructive weapons ever created. Operated by the U.S. Air Force, the facility was small and obscure, with highly restricted access. Its covert mission fostered a sense of mystery, leaving the public to speculate about what really went on there. The site was decommissioned in 1992 yet its rich history continues to influence America’s nuclear weapons program.

This book tells the story of Manzano and the personnel who served there. Firsthand accounts recall their experiences of nuclear weapons accidents, aircraft crashes, UFO/UAF sightings and a radiation demonstration called “tickling the tiger’s tail.”

About the Author(s)

Charles E. Cabler served with the USAF 1962–1968, stationed at the 3800 Air Base Wing, Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, Alabama; the 1094 Air Police Squadron Manzano Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico; and the Air Force Reserve, Denver, Colorado. He served during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War, earning the National Defense Medal with Ribbon. He is a member of the American Legion Post 11 in Florence, Alabama and the USAF Police Alumni Association, and a volunteer adviser for the American Corporate Partners Organization, providing career guidance to military personnel as they transition into civilian life. He lives in Florence, Alabama.

Bibliographic Details

Charles E. Cabler

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 211
Bibliographic Info: 45 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8887-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4694-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
Part I.
The Historical Development of Manzano
1. La Villa de Alburquerque, New Mexico 6
2. Manzano Weapons Storage Site 12
3. Sandia Base (Abbreviated History) 21
4. Kirtland Air Force Base (Abbreviated History) 27
Part II.
Manzano Begins, Code Name “Water Supply”
5. Site Able Construction 34
6. 8460th Special Weapons Group 39
Part III.
The Administrative Area
7. Access to Manzano Base 44
8. The Administrative Area 46
Part IV.
The Restricted “Q” Area
9. “Q” Area Access 54
10. Nuclear Weapons Stored at Manzano 57
11. Nuclear Weapon Storage Structures 66
12. The Weapon Maintenance Plants 74
13. The Birdcage for Pit Storage 87
Part V.
Base Security
14. DoD Nuclear Weapon Storage Area Security Program 92
15. Security Squadrons Responsible for Manzano 95
16. The Perimeter Fences 103
17. Storage Structure Security System 107
18. Central Security Control and ADT Monitoring 110
19. Patrolling the “Q” Area 114
20. Nuclear Weapon Convoy Duty 122
Part VI.
Miscellaneous Manzano Information
21. Aircraft Crashes at Manzano 134
22. Wildlife and Varmints on the Mountain 143
23. Manzano’s Aerial Phenomena 146
24. Abandoned in Place 152
25. Kirtland Underground Munitions Maintenance and Storage Complex 162
26. The 377th Security Forces Squadron 167
27. Manzano Today 172
Epilogue 177
Appendix A. Aerial View of Manzano Base (Kirtland AFB) 180
Appendix B. Wall Map Displayed in the ADT Monitoring Room 182
Appendix C. Abbreviated Chronological History of Manzano 183
Appendix D. Manzano Base Commanders 188
Appendix E. Department of the Air Force Letter 189
Appendix F. Frequently Used Abbreviations and Acronyms 190
Chapter Notes 192
Bibliography 198
Index 199