Camp Hero/Montauk Air
Force Station
Camp Hero (AKA Fort Hero or the Montauk Air Force Base) was a military base at Montauk Point
on the eastern tip of Long Island, New York.  It was decommissioned in the 1980's and is now owned
by The New York State Department of Parks as Camp Hero State Park.  The park offers a beach,
fishing, hiking, a bridle path, biking, and cross-country skiing.

Early History
The eastern tip of Long Island has always had strategic significance, even in the days of the
American Revolution.  When the Montauk Lighthouse was first authorized in 1792, part of its
mission was to keep a lookout for British ships sailing for New York or Boston, and as such was the
first military installation at Montauk.

Montauk itself, with its remoteness and prime location midway between two major American cities,
was always considered a prime location for a possible invasion.  During World War I, the Army
stationed reconnaissance dirigibles, an airplane, troops and Coast Guard personnel at Montauk.

Based on its history and location, it was not surprising that the government established Fort Hero in
1929 on the point just south of the lighthouse.  The fort was named after Major General Andrew
Hero, Jr., who was the Army's Chief of Coast Artillery between 1926 and 1930.  He died in 1942.  In
World War II, with German U-boats threatening the East Coast and Long Island, Montauk was again
considered a likely invasion point.  The US Army upgraded Fort Hero, and renamed it Camp Hero in
1942.  The navy also aquired land in the area, including Fort Pond Bay and Montauk Manor.  They
built docks, seaplane hangers, barracks, and other buildings in teh area.  There was also a huge
torpedo test facility.  The whole facility, with U.S. Army, Navy and Coast Guard constituents, was
officially known as the "US Military Reservation", but the locals just called it "Camp Hero."  Camp
Hero itself swelled to 278 acres, and included four obsolete 16-inch naval rifles, originally intended
battleships, installed as expedient coastal artillery pieces in concrete bunkers.  The coastal gun
emplacements were camoflaged with netting and foliage.  A large "Fire Control Center" was built
next to teh lighthouse to direct the artillery and Anti-Aircraft warfare.  Other armaments included
quadruple fifty caliber Machine Gun for low altitude defense, up to large 90mm and 120mm
artillery.  The camp was a self-contained town with recreational facilities, barracks and its own
power plant.  Camp Hero was also used as a training facility and a target range, with guns being fired
at offshore targets.  To protect it from enemy bombers and the prying eyes of Nazi spies in fishing
boats, the entire base was built to look like a typical New England fishing village.  Concrete bunkers
had windows painted on them and ornamental roofs with fake dormers.  The gymnasium was made to
look like a church with a faux steeple.  When World War II ended, the base was temporarily shut
down and was used as a training facility by the Army Reserves.  The naval facilities were largely

Cold War
In the 1950's, the Cold War was on and the big concern was Soviet long-range bombers armed with
nuclear weapons, so the Army gave over the western portion of the military reservation to the 773rd
Aircraft Control and Warning (AC&W) Squadron.  There job was plane spotting and aircraft
identification.  During this time the military reservation was run jointly by the Army and the Air
Force, with the Air Force in the western portion and the Army in the eastern portion.  In 1952, the
773rd was transferred to the 26th Air Division and operated as the Air Defense Direction Center.  
Several different types of additional surveillance and height finder radars were deployed at the base,
the first radar units having been installed in 1948.  In November 1957, the Army colsed the Camp
Hero portion of the military reservation as Soviet long-distance bombers could fly well above
ground-based artillery.  The Air Force continued using the western half of the facility for radar
surveillance.  The Eastern portion of the site was donated to the state of New York, but it remained
unused because of its close proximity to a high-security facility.  In 1958 a SAGE (Semi Automatic
Ground Environment) radar system was installed at what was now known as the Montauk Air Force
Station and the facility was merged into the national air defense network, SAGE.  The equipment
included a huge AN/FPS-35 radar antenna, built by Sperry.  The reflector was 126 feet long and 38
feet tall, weighing 40 tons, and was supposedly only the second ever built.  It was able to detect
airborne objects at distances of well over 200 miles.  It also used "frequency diversity" technology
making it resistant to electronic countermeasures.  The site was run by the Air Force, but Sperry
personnel ran and maintained the actual radar equipment.  Radar data collected at the site was sent
to the SAGE Direction Center located at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey.  The SAGE system
was so powerful that it disrupted local TV and radio broadcasts, and had to be shut down several
times and re-calibrated.  The problems were later resolved.  The Montauk facility was state of the art
and many new systems were developed or tested there including magnetic memory for storage, light
pens, keyboards, WAN's (Wide Area Networks) and modular circuit packaging.  It was also a major
part of teh NORAD defense system, so security was very tight.  The unit was renamed the 773rd
Radar Squadron (SAGE) in 1963.  In 1978 the Air Force submitted a proposal to the Carter
Administartaion to close the base, as the technology was largely obsolete due to satellite technology.  
It was determained to keep it operational until the new facility at Riverhead, New York was
operational.  The Air Force officially shut down its radar opperations on July 1st 1980 after a new
radar system opperated by the FAA was made opperational in Riverhead, NY that could handle
civilian and air defense requirments, making the SAGE system redundant.  Considering its size,
removing the huge antenna was problematic at best so it was "Abandoned in place" with its
controlling motors and electrontics removed, allowing it to move with the wind to prevent it from
being torn off of its base in a storm.  A GATR (Ground Air Transmitter Reciever) facility remained in
service to direct military aircraft operating within the region.  This system was deactivated and
removed in 1984.  Riverhead now controls all air traffic in the area.

Post-Military Usage
In 1984 the G.S.A. (General Services Administration) attempted to sell the entire facility to real
estate developers.  Local environmental activists protested, claiming that the site had many unique
ecosystems and animal habitats.  The remaining portions of the military reservation at Montauk were
decommissioned and most of the facility, including Camp Hero, was donated to the National Park
Service, which turned it over to the New York State Department of Parks.  Portions not deemed
environmentally sensitive were sold off.  In 1992, Preston Nichols and Peter Moon wrote a book
called "The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time" in which they alleged that secret experiments
were carried out at the Camp Hero site.  The book proved quite popular with conspiracy theorists,
and spawned several sequels.  The site, now called Camp Hero State Park, was opened to the public
on September 18, 2002.  There are plans in the works for a museum and an interpretive center that
will focus on World War II and Cold War history.   

Despite rumors to the contrary, No traces of any secret underground facilities have been found.

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