The round red, white and blue logo has become a staple at White Sands Missile Range appearing on most publications, visuals, and even on the exterior of office buildings. But where did that logo come from?
The “hands” logo
Just like the name “White Sands Missile Range” was preceded by “White Sands Proving Ground,” the installation’s current logo was also preceded by a different logo.
“It is a picture of two hands and a V-2 rocket taking off out of them,” said Jim Eckles, Public Affairs Factotum and Historian, about the previous logo. “It was used quite a while for briefings.”
Eckles liked the logo and included it on the inside cover page of his book “Pocketful of Rockets,” which details WSMR’s history.
The original was a painting, said Eckles. It had vibrant colors and included “White Sands Proving Ground,” the name of the installation until 1958, on the corner.
A rumor about why the installation gave up that logo says it looked too much like the Allstate Corp. advertisement depicting two hands and the slogan “You’re in good hands with Allstate.”
“It was supposedly too close to Allstate’s advertising,” Eckles said. “I find it hard to believe.”
Austin Vick, who designed the current logo in 1969, remembers some believed the logo was similar to an ad campaign but could not remember the name of it.
Whether or not the rumor is true, however, Vick and his leadership at the time were encouraged to change the logo after briefings to higher headquarters.
“All test ranges had to take budgets up to Washington before the Army Test and Evaluation Command to brief them on projects, needs, and the work load at White Sands,” Vick said. “During the briefing the Air Force had a very nice logo that was on the screen at the beginning of the briefing.”
Vick said WSPG used the “hands” logo which he believes was put together by somebody at the Public Affairs Office. An article about the logo written by Tom Starkweather at the request of the Post Command Sergeant Major in 1985, however, credits Lawrence Porter, a management analyst with the Plans Office, for the design of that logo.
“Birthplace of America’s Missile and Space Activity”
According to Starkweather’s article, the “hands” logo was used during the briefings along with the slogan “Birthplace of America’s Missile and Space Activity.”
“I believe this slogan originated with Gabriel Brillante around 1960 but it could have been William A. Stevens or Lawrence B. Porter, two management analysts who were assigned to the Plans Office at the time, or a joint effort,” Starkweather wrote in the article.
The current logo
Vick, a WSMR Hall of Famer, was one of the pioneers at WSMR and worked for National Range Operations from 1950 to 1984. He attended the higher headquarter briefings twice yearly.
“That triggered me, since I was one of the participants, to draw a logo that describes our mission, who we are, and how we came to be. So I sat down and drew it,” Vick said.
The star at the center of the logo is a point source of light signifying the beginning of America’s missile and space activity. Out of the center star comes out a missile.
“It’s very generic,” Eckles said. “It can be a rocket, missile, or space vehicle. White Sands was prominent in space studies early in the 50s and 60s during the Apollo launch missions.”
On each side of the center star is a cluster of stars; four stars on the left and five stars on the right. Together both clusters represent ’45 or 1945, the year the installation was established.
The two stars separating the phrases “White Sands Missile Range” and “Birthplace of America’s Missile and Space Activity” represent the installation as a two-star command.
The blue background symbolizes the blue skies over the installation.
The red color represents the Ordnance Core of the Army, under which WSMR was formed.
The original design included a gold rope, which is no longer visible on many of the logos, surrounding the outer red circle. This part of the logo was requested by Maj. Gen. Duard Ball, according to Vick.
“The rope outside the red circle showed that we came from the ranchers and that we can rope anything,” Vick said.