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Retired transporter-erector to become static display

A transporter erector is added to the static display at Warren's front gate recently.

A transporter erector is added to the static display at Warren's front gate recently.

F.E. Warren AFB -- A retired transporter erector, used since the Cold War, became Warren's newest static display on Sept. 14 just outside of Gate 1.

The transporter erector has been around for more than 40 years with just under 30 years of service to the 90th Maintenance Group. The display at the front gate will be temporary, however, as the permanent site will not be ready until sometime in the spring or early summer.

The contribution of this particular transporter erector, as well as the many like it which served with distinction throughout the hot days of the Cold War is immeasurable. Without the TE, the 90th Space Wing could not have successfully accomplished the all important deterrent mission of the Minuteman weapon system, said Col. Liston Mobley, 90th Maintenance Group commander.

With a very unique "cab-under" design, this version of the transporter erector was brought into service in the early 1960s to emplace and remove the original Minuteman I missiles assigned to Warren. Beginning in 1973, the transporter erector underwent minor modifications to transition to the newer Minuteman III missile being deployed here. Commonly known as the "old TE," its container is 65 feet long, 10 feet wide, 13 feet tall, and has around 8,030 cubic feet of interior space available to work with. It weighs approximately 24,700 pounds when empty and around 107,150 pounds loaded and originally cost just under $700,000. In late 1989, the old transporter erector was retired as the new and improved one came onboard to not only take its place but to continue the lasting legacy set by the original.

Today, only a few maintainers are still around who actually worked with the old transporter erector. One of those maintainers is Master Sgt. Brett Ragsdale who spent more than two years working with this transporter erector in the late 1980s.

Sergeant Ragsdale said that while driving the old Transporter erector it "was so loud that you had to wear ear plugs and ear muffs just to protect your hearing."

Sergeant Ragsdale said he remembered the whopping top speeds the old transporter erector would attain, "traveling at about 45 mph empty and maybe 25 to 30 mph with a missile onboard. For the far sites, we would have to get to work by 0200 and depart base by 0300 so we could arrive on site at about the time daylight appeared."

This particular transporter erector probably moved close to 75 missiles during its storied career a testament not only to its enduring engineering but also to the many maintainers and transportation troops who kept this piece of vital equipment up and running throughout the decades. Even though the old transporter erector was the workhorse of the 60s and 70s, by the late 1980s it was an aging vehicle that needed to be replaced, said Colonel Mobley.