Arlington Heights History

Contributed by Mickey Horndasch, Museum Curator, Arlington Heights Historical Museum

Mickey writes;

Hi Everyone,

Here is a bunch of information our volunteers found. Some of it repeats, but all together it gives a pretty good summary of the site's history. However, could not find which towers specifically were owned by the Army & Air Force. Use whatever you want.

Mickey Horndasch
Museum Curator
Arlington Heights Historical Museum

Webmaster Note: This information is shown "as is" from the source with very minor editing. rb
Author Unknown, Date Unknown
Source: The Arlington Heights Historical Society's Clipping Files (possibly compiled from village board minutes)

May 1942.
Attorney A. F. Wild received a request from the Navy this week for the immediate land clearance of the 360 acres southwest of Arlington Heights that will be used as an auxiliary air training station field by the Glenview Station. It is the Navy's plan that work of removing fences, and seeding of the land will start Monday in order that it is ready for training purposes this summer.

The land involved totals 360 acres. 70 acres are owned by H.W. Moehling and the remainder by Wm. and Herman Behn. Negotiations for either purchase or lease are still in progress.

The Navy Air Station occupied 93.97 acres. The Army now has 44.38 acres for their Missile Master Complex and a restrictive easement on 16.65 acres making a total of 61.03. This easement restricts the growing of high plantings such as corn which might interfere with operations on the base.

Author Unknown, Date Unknown
Source: The Arlington Heights Historical Society's Clipping Files (possibly compiled from village board minutes)

May 1942.
Word has been received that the Navy has revised their original plans and will be satisfied with an airport area adjoining Arl. Hts. of 360 acres lying east of Wilke Road and South of Central Road. While the training airport will not be as large as originally planned, housing will be provided for a ground crew of 100 to 150 men.

May 1946.
Arl. Hts. Chamber of Commerce bids for the naval auxiliary air field here. When the Navy releases the field, Arl. Hts. will have first chance to annex the airport as an outright gift from the government.

May 4, 1945.
A prison camp branch for German war prisoners will be opened at Arlington field, southwest of Arlington Heights, Friday with some 75 men expected to be stationd there for duty at the Glenview Naval Air Station.

January 1943.
Plan for erection of an airplane hangar and barracks at Arlington Airport immediately.

Source: Arlington Heights Herald
Friday, May 4, 1945
Opening of a branch German prisoner of war camp Friday at Arlington Field, southwest of Arlington Heights, was announced by Colonel George H. Cushman, Fort Sheridan post commander. Lieutenant Colonel E. R. Schuelke, commander of the base prisoner of war camp at Fort Sheridan, said that the 75 prisoners of war quartered at Arlington Field would be assigned to work at the United States Naval Air Station at Glenview.

Captain Joseph M. Carson, USN, commanding officer at Glenview, says that prisoner of war labor will be used to augment navy personnel in the accomplishment of the work done at his base. Specifically, he says that the task will include the operation of mess halls, heavy labor and grounds maintenance.

Captain Austin P. Reid. 6316 15th Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota, will be the commanding officer of the branch prisoner of war camp at Arlington Field.

Author Unknown, Date Unknown
Source: The Arlington Heights Historical Society's Clipping Files

At the onset of World War II new developments in the technique and art of warfare created the need for antiaircraft units. The effectiveness of the airplane as a weapon had increased to such an extent that a tremendous expansion of antiaircraft artillery was necessary. On 26 April 1942, this unit was created as an element of the Army of the United States and designated as the 45th Coast Artillery Brigade (Antiaircraft). It was formally activated on 1 June 1942, at Camp Stewart, Georgia.

It trained and participated in the usual exercises and maneuvers until it was sent to the Italian Theater of Operations. While in Italy it was redesignated the 45th AAA Brigade, and earned three campaign streamers for its colors - Rome-Arno; Naples-Foggia and the Northern Appennies Campaigns. All air opposition in the area being neutralized, the unit was inactivated 13 February 1945 and its personnel distributed among the many infantry divisions in the Italian Theater of Operations.

From February 1945 until May 1952, the designation "Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 45th AAA Brigade" was only a line in a troop designation report on file in Washington, D.C. By 1952, events and the world situation had reached a point where the air defense of vital continental cities became necessary and once again many AAA units were needed quickly.

On May 14, 1952, the Brigade Headquarters was reconstituted, transferred from the Army of the United States to the Regular Army, and assigned to the Chicago-Gary Defense Area. The unit was reactivated in the Museum of Science and Industry at Chicago, Illinois, on 28 July 1952. To provide better control, the 45th AAA Brigade moved from Chicago to Fort Sheridan in November, 1953, and part of the Brigade - the 22nd AAA Group at Fort Sheridan -moved into the old Brigade area in Chicago.

As the AAA command continued to enlarge and convert to newer weapons, additional reorganization was necessary. On July 1, 1954, the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 5th Regional Army Antiaircraft Command (ARADCOM), assumed all duties of the 45th AAA Brigade, which tool over command of the Chicago-Gary Defense complex. This action formally took place on 20 October 1955 when the 45th AAA Brigade was relieved from assignments to the Army Air Defense Command (ARADCOM) and reassigned to 5th Region ARADCOM. Shortly thereafter on 15 July 1956, the Brigade moved back to its former location in the Museum of Science and Industry of Chicago and the unit of the Brigade then in the Museum was moved to a South Chicago location.

A permanent home was selected and built to accommodate the unit and operational equipment at Arlington Heights, Illinois. On 19 August l957, the unit made a permanent change of station movement and is now in full operation at this new site.

During World War II, the site at Arlington Heights was used as a training base for Naval aviators, and was later leased as a private airport and trailer camp. The Army took over the location in 1955, and it became operational as a NIKE-AJAX guided missile site in June 1955.

The 45th Artillery Brigade (Air Defense) is responsible for the Air Defense of the Chicago-Milwaukee area. Its principal weapon is the NIKE-Hercules guided missile.

The 45th Artillery Brigade (Air Defense) is composed of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 45th Artillery Brigade (Air Defense), located at Arlington Heights, Illinois, presently commanded by Colonel Truman F. Cook; the 1st Missile Battalion, 60th Artillery, Gary, Indiana, with four NIKE-Hercules fire units, commanded by Lt. Colonel Oliver D. Street III; and the 3rd Missile Battalion, 59th Artillery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with three NIKE-Hercules fire units, commanded by Lt. Colonel Frederick K. Alderson. The 3rd of the 59th is the most recent addition to the 45th Brigade and with its annexation on 1 August 1964 the name was changed from Chicago-Gary Defense to Chicago-Milwaukee Defense. The 6th Missile Battalion, 3rd Artillery, was recently phased out and its two firing batteries taken over by 3/59 and 1/60.

In addition to the two Active Army Battalions, the 45th Artillery Brigade has operational control of the 1st Missile Battalion, 202nd Artillery, Illinois ARNG, with four NIKE-Hercu1es units. In December of 1959, the Illinois National Guard assumed control over four AJAX sites fomer1y part of the 22nd Artillery Group. The sites were located at Worth, Illinois; Wolf Lake, Illinois (dual site); and Napervi1le, Illinois. This was the beginning of the program to place all AJAX sites under the control of the National Guard and leave the Regular Army entirely with Hercules batteries. The next National Guard changeover occurred in the later part of 1960 when four batteries in the 16th Group were turned over to the National Guard. This resulted in the phase-out of the 1st Battalion, 517th Artillery, which has become the 1st Battalion, 202nd Artillery (NG). The National Guard acquired two NIKE-Hercu1es sites at Homewood and Addison in August of 1963. They most recently incorporated Northfie1d and Lemont into their system, the changeover being made in April 1964.

The 45th Brigade also assumed operational control over one unit of the Wisconsin National Guard; a NIKE-Hercules site located in Waukesha and manned by personnel of the 2nd Missile Battalion, 126th Artillery, on 1 August 1964. Nike sites in the Chicago-Milwaukee area extend as far north as Brown Deer, Wisconsin, to the west as far as Addison, Illinois, south to Munster, Indiana, and to the east as far as Porter, Indiana.

The first operational NIKE-Ajax guided missile site was opened in August 1954, at Libertyvi11e, Illinois. The NIKE-Hercu1es was deployed in the defense on 29 August 1958, beginning with Battery A, 485th Missile Battalion, located at Montrose Avenue and Lake Shore Drive, which is now Battery C, 3rd Missile Battalion, 59th Artillery. At present there are twelve NIKE-Hercules fire units under the tactical control of the 45th Artillery Brigade. The 45th Artillery Brigade Army Air Defense Command (AADCP) is equipped with Missile Master, an electronic system used specifically for controlling and coordinating the use of Nike Air Defense Missile Batteries.

Missile Master replaced the old (AADCP) and Tipsy Radar Sites, which began to deactivate during the summer of 1960. Construction of the Missile Master was begun at Site C-80 in Arlington Heights during the latter part of 1959, but it was not until the Fall of 1960 that it became fully operational. The official dedication ceremonies took place on October 28, 1960.

Nike Site Has History as 'Embattled' Land
By Keith Meyerhoff, Prospect High School
Source: The Day
Thursday, September 14, 1967

The Arlington Heights Army Air Defense Site has had a colorful past. Federal ownership began in 1942 when the private airport there was converted into an auxiliary field for Glenview Naval Air Station. Barracks were constructed, and part of the land became a German prisoner of war camp.

In 1946, it was learn that the land was about to be declared surplus. Village officials found a perfect chance to provide the city with an airport until a series of disagreements that year lost the land for Arlington Heights, and it was awarded to a private company.

Later, the Navy changed its mind and wanted the land back. They had to go to court to get it. Today, the Nike site, now controlled by the Army, still might be declared surplus and Arlington Heights again has its eye on it.

Nike Base By Margot Stimely
Source: The Arlington Heights Historical Society's Dunton Post
February 1996

In May of 1942 the entire country was involved in an all-out effort to win the war. The Navy requested the immediate clearance of the 360 acres east of Wilke Road and south of Central for an auxiliary air training field for use during the coming summer. The construction of an airplane hanger and housing for a ground crew of 100 to 150 men began in January, 1943.

In May, 1945, the air base became a camp for 75 German prisoners. The men were assigned to work at the Glenview Naval Air Station, assisting in the operation of the mess halls and doing heavy labor, including grounds maintenance. Stories (unconfirmed) are told about these prisoners being allowed to go into town, where they got along well with the many local residents who spoke German.

When the Navy prepared to release the air field in 1946, the Arlington Heights chamber of commerce bid for the annexation of the land as an outright gift from the government. Instead, the Army took over the property for a Nike missile defense base.

June, 1961. The Army Nike Base on Central Road was manned by an estimated 1000 soldiers of the 45th Artillery Brigade air Defense.

January, 1972, Half of the remaining 183 men stationed at the base were moved to Fort Sheridan and five buildings were evacuated. For several years The Arlington Heights Park District had been attempting to acquire the 137 acre property, for a regional park. The plans included a golf course, picnicking and hiking areas and a storm retention area that would provide for boating and fishing. Now, the possibility of carrying out the plans seemed within reach.

Then, in August of 1972, the Senate passed a bill authorizing construction of 350 Naval housing units; 165 of these units were to be on the Arlington Heights Nike property in spite of the fact that it was fifteen miles from the Glenview Naval Station. In the face of strong opposition, the plan was abandoned and the village was able to annex 133 acres toward the realization of a master plan that envisioned expansion of the village as far south as the Northwest tollway.

February, 1974. Additional acres of Nike Base were declared surplus by the military. The General Services Administration offered land to various Federal, State and local Government departments, including the Arlington Heights Park District which already had 13 acres. The Village hoped to acquire the entire 140 acre site and develop it into a golf course and flood control area.

The golf course, built on 103 acres of the Nike site, given by the US Army to the park district, opened in May, 1979; the clubhouse and restaurant opened at about the same time. A training center and maintenance building was constructed on the remainder for an Army Reserve Unit of 600 men.

August, 1980. Children retrieving golf balls and fishing in the lakes were becoming a problem. The ponds were deep and the banks were steep. Parents thought their children should not be denied because their taxes had been used for the facility. By the fifth season of operation, the golf course revenues were $419,899 but the restaurant was losing money. The clubhouse, which includes the restaurant, clubhouse area, snack bar, pro shop and a cart storage area cost $600,000 twice as much as originally projected.

Arlington based units of 12th "Special Forces" Group (Airborne) were deactivated under Defense Department reorganization in August, 1994. The base continues to house three other military units still stationed there. "Special Forces" known as Green Berets are assigned to foreign internal defense missions, guerrilla operations and personnel recovery.