Don’t Freak

Re “San Diego’s Secret Missile Testing Sites” (Cover Story, April 3). Enjoyed the story. Thanks. I was thinking about exploring this area, but I was afraid I’d come out classified as a toxic waste site. MEK, methyl ethyl ketone, is a common industrial solvent — not a liquid high explosive. MEKP, methyl ethyl ketone peroxide, is. Don’t freak out if you have a product containing MEK (although it is flammable).

Phil Crepeau
via email

Call Homeland Security

My grandson brought me the most recent Reader with the picture of San Diego’s secret missile-testing sites on the front (“San Diego’s Secret Missile Testing Sites,” Cover Story, April 3). He wanted to know why anyone would publish such sensitive information, especially at a time of war on terrorism. I could only tell him that it appears to be a case of irresponsible journalism with total disregard for our country’s safety.

The article and picture was printed for sensationalistic public attraction and is a good example of the theme in Michael Savage’s book The Enemy Within. Some people choose their personal constitutional rights over personal responsibility.

The appearance of this cover picture and article really saddened me. Here we are involved in a religious/ ideological war against terrorism and extremes, and your journalism is aiding the enemy. Step up to the plate and serve your country better with responsible journalism. If the enemy wins, you won’t have the freedom to print freely and express yourself. Don’t you get it!

I’m sure your defense for writing this piece would be something like, “The people have a right to know.” I say, “Tell that to the people that are fighting to preserve such constitutional freedoms.” That logic is just plain stupid thinking during a time of war.

The price of freedom has always cost us dearly, and you should care more than to jeopardize the success of this war with irresponsible publications. You have just provided the everyday crazy and terrorists with a new point of attraction. You have also made protecting our people just that much more difficult. Wake up and get with it!

I’ve enjoyed the Reader until this article but am so angered and turned off by your lack of common sense and propriety that I feel I may not want to read your paper again.

We need to unite to preserve and protect our constitutional freedoms on every front. The enemy would love to destroy us and others like us who have any measure of freedom. It’s beyond me why such evil foreign governmental schemes are spawned. Evil is not rational, and I guess that’s why talking to the enemy doesn’t get us anywhere. They would rather kill us than talk to us. It’s their way or no way, so let’s not help them succeed on any level.

Marilyn Howell
via email

The missile-testing sites were abandoned years ago. — Editor

Not So Secret

I read the April 3 cover headline and following article with amusement (“San Diego’s Secret Missile Testing Sites”). The facilities at Camp Elliott/Sycamore Canyon could hardly have been a “secret” unless ignorance of their existence renders them so. For decades, one of the visual flight entry points for landing at Miramar has been Atlas Mountain.

The sneering and elitist tone of Mr. Gropen’s article expended much ink in pursuit of finding nonexistent nefarious motives for the Sycamore Canyon Test Facility. In doing that, he completely overlooked the contribution the facility played in one of our country’s most worthy efforts: the Mercury spacecraft program, which used Atlas rockets as the lift vehicle for all of the manned flights. He also broadly dismisses the people working there during the years, ignoring the fact that they were frequently and largely composed of the best and brightest aerospace minds of the era as opposed to “earnest techno-drones.” It was a sad disservice to the history of San Diego’s involvement in, and significant contributions to, aerospace in the decades following World War II.

The sites were remote and unadvertised for a sound reason: missile and supporting propulsion-system development is a hazardous business, best accomplished without legions of curious onlookers and with plenty of room should something not go as planned. By and large, the fencing is present to help ensure range sanitation rather than to secure state secrets. Can you imagine the press response to a wayward jogging lawyer being incinerated because he wandered into the exhaust channel of a rocket engine test? Of course, it wouldn’t be said lawyer’s fault, would it?

For those interested, there are several websites dedicated to locations like the Sycamore Test Facility that contain great pictures (current and period) and full descriptions of the activities that took place. A cursory Google search will provide a wealth of information on Sycamore Canyon and other 1960s-era missile development and deployment sites.

John Chapman
San Diego

Cavalryman, Man

Re “Picture Story,” April 3.

The subject of the photo, Jacob Bergman, had to have been a cavalryman rather than a “calvaryman.”

via email

Ounces Missing

Re “Panic at the Micropub” (“City Lights,” March 27).

Bland and Worona are getting screwed at the pub. Most pints run 16 ounces. Cheers!

Michael Rohner
via email

Alastair Bland responds: I suggest you take a tour this weekend of five or six bars while carrying a 32-ounce measuring cup. When they bring your favorite draft beer to the table, transfer it to the measuring cup. See how much they’ve served you. You’ll know you’re at a special pub if you’ve received 14 ounces, but 12 to 13 ounces is more on par with the status quo.

Save Old Skills

I am here on business, and I picked up your recent copy with the cover story “Chivalry Is Not Dead” (March 27).

I am glad to see that there are still those who have a passion for keeping some of our traditions and history alive.

Without these artists, craftsman, and masters of skills from the past, we would only be able to read about these historical skills and professions.

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