The Day Warren New Hampshire Went Ballistic

Sitting on the village green in the town of Warren New Hampshire, is a Redstone ballistic missile.  This unusual landmark became the town’s most memorable object in 1971, when Henry “Ted” Asselin, along with equipment assistance provided by Irving MacDonald and Lew Brown managed to move it from Redstone Arsenal, Alabama to Warren, New Hampshire.

–There are many stories floating around regarding the origin of this missile.  One story states that Alan Shepard of Derry, New Hampshire rode into space aboard one of these rockets.  Not exactly,  but Redstone missiles WERE used as booster rockets for Shepard’s historic trip.

–Despite the hype stating so, this missile is not the only one located outside of an official military base, as a public landmark.  A similar missile sat outside the National Atomic Museum [now called the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History]  in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The missile may no longer be located here making Warren, New Hampshire missile even more unique.

–Although the town of Warren should also be proud of its native son, former Governor Norris Cotton, he apparently has nothing to do with the missile being brought to Warner.

–And of course, the latest rumor regarding the missile being a tribute to Sharon “Christa” McAuliffe… impossible since the missile arrived in town in 1971, easily fifteen years before Christa’s tragic death.

Posted at the site of Warren New Hampshire’s missile is a plaque which states: “The Redstone missile came to Warren on April 21, 1971. Native son Henry “Ted” Asselin with permission of the US Defense Support Agency, and the selectmen of Warren, brought the missile to Warren from Huntsville Alabama with the help of Irving MacDonald of Dorchester, on a 77 foot truck and trailer provided by Lew Brown of Holderness.   The eight ton missile is secured in a eight foot deep foundation with five huge steel I-beams set in cement.  A crane transferred the missile onto the upright beams.  The missile was dedicated on Old Home Day, July 4th, 1971, by New Hampshire Governor Walter Peterson before a crowd.  For more information visit the Warren Historical Museum.” [The missile is conveniently placed next door to the Warren Historical Museum].

A brochure created to explain the presence of the missile states,
WHY HERE IN WARREN–In 1970 while stationed with the army at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, I noticed a number of Redstones lying in a field. I found that they were not obsolete and were surplus.  The Redstone that is now in Warren had been stripped of its engine, guidance control package, etc., and had been used for display purposes.  I thought of the children who were far removed from the American space program, except for television, and that seeing the real thing might interest some child in science or the space program, and the fact that Astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr. was originally from New Hampshire–why not take one to New Hampshire!

Checking with U.S. Army at Redstone Arsenal, I was informed that they would release the Redstone for display purposes in a town. The Army indicated that they would bear no costs for preparing or transporting the system.  I then decided that if the Town of Warren did accept the Redstone that I would bear the costs of getting it to Warren.

In 1971 the Town of Warren voted in the affirmative. After many starts and stops, Irving MacDonald of Dorchester NH as driver and I began the trek south with a semi-tractor and a 60 foot trailer loaned to us by Lew Brown of Wentworth and Holderness NH. Arriving at Redstone Arsenal, the Post Engineers, after receiving a cashier’s check, loaded the Redstone onto our trailer, with my past fellow employees just shaking their heads.

We immediately began the 1300 mile trip north.  After a stiff fine in Ohio for not having a permit, and while passing through other states for which we had no permit, taking the wrong route into New Hampshire and missing our escort, breaking down on Main Street in Concord, the Capital, and having it towed to the New Hampshire State House, the Redstone finally arrived in Warren in April of 1971.  It should be noted that the welcoming committee in Warren had a false start. When informed that the Redstone was approaching Wentworth, they jumped into vehicles and raced south. They soon discovered that the Redstone sighting was a local septic tank pumper from Wentworth. I knew at that point, that I had indeed been correct in bringing the American space program a little closer to Warren.

With the efforts of many volunteers and local organizers giving their time and funds, the Redstone was finally ended and dedicated by then Governor Walter Peterson, in July of 1971.

And so, the mystery of why Warren New Hampshire went ballistic, appears to be solved.  For those of you who object to the presence of this missile, I say… if we forget the past, then we are bound to repeat it.

Janice

Photographs of Mercury Redstone Missile in Warren NH

History of the Redstone Missile System– (PDF)

Wikipedia, Redstone Rocket

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2 Responses to The Day Warren New Hampshire Went Ballistic

  1. patrick asselin says:

    my father was the last of a breed of men i fear we shall never see again,Patrick Asselin

  2. Pingback: Redstone Ballistic Missile, Warren NH | Cow Hampshire

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