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Camp Cooke and Vandenberg Air Force Base, 1941 – 1966

  • Author(s): Jeffrey E. Geiger
  • Condition: New
  • Cover: Paperback
  • Listed: October 18, 2017 2:21 pm
  • Expires: 310 days, 10 hours
Book Cover Scan (smaller)


I am the author of this book and can tell you that the launch vehicle and facility history covers the period 1958 – 2014. Please read on.

During World War II and the Korean War, thousands of soldiers trained at Camp Cooke and later participated in some of the bloodiest battles. As evidence of this carnage, six Congressional Medal of Honor recipients came from Camp Cooke. More than 400 separate Army units trained at Cooke during WW2. They included the 5th, 6th, 11th, 13th, and 20th Armored Divisions, the 86th and 97th Infantry Divisions, and the 2nd Filipino Infantry Regiment. Charles Schulz, creator and cartoonist behind “Peanuts,” the popular comic strip that expanded into TV, books and other merchandise served with the 20th Armored Division in Europe and at Camp Cooke.

To help relieve soldiers of the monotony of military training, Camp Cooke hosted numerous USO camp shows featuring many of Hollywood’s headlining entertainers as well as many other luminaries from radio and stage, and the sports world.

The transition from Army camp to Air Force base began in 1957 and culminated a year later with the renaming of the installation Vandenberg Air Force Base. It has since become America’s only space and missile base. America’s first spy satellite program, known as Corona, was conducted from Vandenberg. The intelligence data collected from these missions dispelled the myth of a “missile gap” with the Soviet Union. At the height of the Cold War America’s first ICBM missile equipped with a nuclear warhead was based at Vandenberg. We can be reasonably sure these missiles had a significant effect in helping to curb the ambitions of Russian’s political leaders.

Topping the list of important visitors to the base was President John F. Kennedy who witnessed the launch of an Atlas missile. And, as part of an unprecedented trip to the United States, Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev passed through the base on a train in 1959. Read about his surprising reaction as his train passed within view of Atlas ICBMs with nuclear warheads standing on alert.

The book is also filled with many little-known accounts including how the communities of Santa Maria and Lompoc supported the Army camp, the exposure of 1,000 Camp Cooke soldiers to above-ground atomic bomb detonations in the Nevada desert (more than a decade before the controversial exposure of American soldiers to Agent Orange in Vietnam), missile accidents at Vandenberg, and the tragic death of a young airman in a missile training exercise.

Included in the book are biographies of Generals Cooke and Vandenberg, a list of nearly every Army unit that trained at Cooke, and a historical summary of every launch facility at Vandenberg and the missile types flown from these facilities beginning with the first ones in 1958 to 2014.

This book is the definitive history of Camp Cooke and Vandenberg AFB. Written by the former chief historian at Vandenberg with more than 30 years of experience at the base, it is the inside story of the installation that has never been told anywhere else. The narrative is enriched by more than 100 rare and previously unpublished images.

284pp. Softcover (6 x 9)
102 photos, 5 maps, 7 appendices, notes, bibliography, and index.
Publisher: McFarland & Company. www.mcfarlandpub.com

AUTHOR’S PRICE TO YOU: $36.00 – Postage free and autographed by the author upon request.
Publisher’s Price: $39.95

To order a copy of my book please contact me at this ad — Jeffrey Geiger. You may also write to me by looking up my book on AMAZON.com and finding me under “MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR,” just above the book reviews.

Listing ID: 98359e7a99f8051b

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