Date of Graduation

1-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in History (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

History

Advisor

Jeannie Whayne

Committee Member

Patrick Williams

Second Committee Member

Michael Pierce

Third Committee Member

James Gigantino

Keywords

Arkansas, Civilian Safety, Cold War, Environmental Implications, Titan II, Worker Protection

Abstract

During the Cold War, thirty-six sites across Kansas and Arkansas were selected to house Titan II intercontinental missiles. These devices could strike enemy targets 8,000 nautical miles away all while hitting inside an area of one square mile. These technological marvels quickly became an indispensable part of President Kennedy and Defense Secretary McNamara’s ‘flexible defense’ strategy. While many authors have studied the ramifications of these devices on American foreign policy, few have researched the domestic implications of the missiles. This work looks to fill this void by investigating the Titan II missile program in Arkansas and Kansas from its construction in 1962 to its deactivation in 1987. More specifically, the work researches worker protection, civilian safety, and environmental damage to accurately determine the impact of the missile program in these two states. By looking at the program over the entirety of its twenty-five-year lifespan, the work argues that U.S. officials put the American public at increased risk for a variety of reasons. Officials understood the potential consequences of living near a missile silo but refused to properly inform citizens and workers of these hazards. The long-term ramifications of this are still being properly calculated.

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