Nike Veteran Oral History Excerpts

When I got to the site in 1966, my Alfa Romero had engine problems (co-driver had missed a shift in Georgia and over-revved it and broke piston rings) so finding transportation to get to Miami to find parts to fix it was one of the first things on my mind. Bummed a few rides before finding out about the "battery" car.

It did not run too well and was mostly empty on gas. First project was to get it running better. Complete tune-up. New plugs, points, condenser, distributor cap, rotor, and even replacing the sparkplug wires (that glowed in the dark when it was damp – which was most of the time). First oil change in a long time – replaced the BLACK MUD ! (at least it had oil)

Changing the "empty gas tank" took a longer time. New guide line was for the last person using it to fill it up before heading out to the site. That did not always work, but became better than "running on fumes" hoping that you would just make it into town to put "some" gas in it just enough to get you to were you wanted to go and back to the site.

"WHITE COMMODE" name – That came from the practice of not littering – ESPECIALLY in the Everglades National Park !! Did not want to upset the Park Rangers any more than we normally did. Every bit of trash (hamburger wrappers – cans) were thrown in the back seat area. Normally only got cleaned out when the pile became too high for rear seat passengers to have a place to put their feet.

-Ted Swanson

SP-5 IFC Radar Maintenance Chief

A/2/52 (HM-69) 1966-68


One of the things that one of us had to do every day was get in a 500 gallon tanker, or it was a regular five-ton truck with a 500 gallon tank hooked on the back, took it to the fire station in Homestead and filled it up at the hydrant in front of the fire station there, brought it back out, and that was the water that we cooked with, it’s the water that we took our showers with, it’s the water that we shaved with.

... this was during the days when there was still segregation going on even though it was illegal. We slept together, we took showers together, we ate together, we defended our country together. But when we got on that bus in our civilian clothes, the bus first stopped on Lucy Street so the Black guys could get off. And then the rest of us continued to our side of town, and we socialized with the White families. At 11:00 sharp, the bus would show back up in front of Breeding’s Drug Store on Krome Avenue, and the White guys would get on it. Then we would get back on the bus, go down to Lucy Street, pick up the Black guys. Then we would go back and live together. And I could never understand that. But that’s the way it was. And fortunately, it’s not that way today.

Charles Carter

B Battery 1962 - 1965

Spec 4 Radar Technician

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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40001 State Road 9336
Homestead, FL 33034


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