This website is dedicated to the memory of the 810th Radar Squadron, Winston-Salem Air Force Station, the people who served there, and all other US Air Force Radar sites that protected our nation throughout the Cold War.
* Cover Photo Courtesy of Jim Ashurst
Beginning in the 1930s, the US spent billions of dollars building early-warning radar systems — often in the most remote parts of the world. These were intended to detect aerial attacks on the US mainland from the Soviet Union or other hostile forces. Though not exactly in a remote location, 810th Radar Squadron was one of those and I assume a fairly good representative example of these sites.
On the 9th of October, 1956 the 810th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron was ordered to move from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to a new 22 acre site near Winston-Salem, NC. Soon men, material and equipment started flowing into the new site as contractors built the facilities and housing needed to make the 810th operational in its new home. The site opened with an AN/MPS-11 search radar and an AN/FPS-6A height finder radar. Initially the station functioned as a Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) and warning station. As a GCI station, the squadron's role was to guide interceptor aircraft toward unidentified intruders picked up on the unit's radar scopes.
Over the coming years the 810th's equipment was upgraded several times to finally include some of the largest and most sophisticated radar equipment ever conceived, along with then state of the art computers and communications equipment to process the data from the radar sets and feed it back to NORAD. The site was redesignated as 810th Radar Squadron (SAGE) on 1 March 1962.
The 810th began operations as part of the Air Defense Command (ADC.) In 1968, recognizing the increasing role of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that command was redesignated as the Aerospace Defense Command. ADC's mission was to provide air defense of the Continental United States (CONUS).
The 810th was a component of the SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) system. SAGE was a system of large computers and associated networking equipment that coordinated data from many radar sites and processed it to produce a single unified image of the airspace over a wide area. SAGE directed and controlled the NORAD response to a possible Soviet air attack, operating in this role from the late 1950s into the 1980s.
By the late 1980s, most of these radar sites had been made increasingly obsolete by the emergence of satellite communications and other technical advances and weapon system changes. As part of a military budget cutting process at the time the 810th was deactivated in July of 1970.
My own time at the 810th ran from 1965 to October of 1969 when I left the service.
Today little remains of the old 810th. The large AN/FPS-24 tower still stands, though without its impressive 120 foot wide dish antenna and pretty much stripped of all the equipment it once contained. Many of the support buildings and the "new" barracks (built after I left and just before the 810th closed) also remain. The last of the old Quonset hut barracks that were in use during my time there were recently demolished.
The site is now Union Cross Park with various athletic fields and courts. Some of the buildings are used by Addiction Recovery Care Association Inc (ARCA).
*AC&W - Aircraft Control and Warning
Much of the information on this site as well as the names of individuals and the spelling of those names are from my memories. This was all long ago so I may have made some mistakes or missed a few people. I welcome any corrections so I can make this site better over time.
810th Unit Patch
SAGE - Semi-Automatic Ground Environment
Aerospace Defense Command Patch