U.S. Army Air Defense Command Key West Defenses

Awarded the Army Meritorious Unit Citation by President John F. Kennedy

6th Bn (HAWK) 65th Arty (ADA)
(10/62 - 9/72)
1st Bn (HAWK) 65th Arty (ADA)
(9/72 - 6/79)

The 6th Battalion (HAWK),65th Artillery, a unit of the joint STRIKE Command which had been stationed at Fort Meade since August 1962, received orders for a temporary change of station to Key West on October 20, 1962, two days before President Kennedy's quarantine challenge to Khrushchev; but owing largely to poor performance by the rail carrier, the movement (continued by road from Homesteade AFB to Key West) was not completed until October 26, 1962. The unit's missiles arrived shortly thereafter, and by October 29, 1962 the battalion's Army Air Defense Command Post (AADCP) and four firing batteries were operational and ready for action in defense of Key West.

Aerial view of Key West with locations of HAWK defenses on Smathers Beach

Battalion headquarters, with supporting Signal and Ordnance detachments, occupied a termite-infested premises in the Casa Marina Hotel, a venerable Victorian pile long past its prime. Leased from the Teamster's Union (then headed by James Hoffa) in 1962, the cost to the Army came to some $62,762.76 per year until January 1966, when the completion of permanent facilities for the 6/65 permitted termination of the lease by the Army.

Photos by Allen Dunn of life at the Casa Marina

In true island style, the locals took it all in stride, walking along the sea wall as the missiles stood ready to fire.

The Russians backed down and removed their missiles from Cuba. The Army decided to leave the HAWK missiles in Key West, and began moving them to semi permanent locations around the islands. Before they were moved into permanent sites, the line batteries of the 6/65 lived under the vintage canvas of World War II tents donated by a compassionate Navy host whose stock of such un-nautical items was as limited as it was fortuitous. Battery B, in a tactical position six inches above sea level at Smathers Beach, on occasion was flooded by extremely high tides. See Original Charlie Battery for pictures of those sites.

News photos of HAWK missiles arriving in Key West

Military Memorial located in Mallory Square.

HAWK Missile salute is included in the tribute. One small error in the description, "Army troops set up six HAWK missile antiaircraft batteries" Wasn't there only 4 firing batteries?

Bravo Battery as seen in the 1987 movie "RUSSKIES"

Final locations of HAWK missile sites in the Keys

Closer detail of HAWK sites on Key West

Closer detail of HAWK sites on Boca Chica & Geiger Key

Click on one of the batteries below for pictures and information