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Eldorado AFS, Texas

The tallest structure in Schleicher County, Texas, kept watch for invading enemy missiles and aircraft. The 10-story PAVE PAWS radar soared above 10 other buildings at Eldorado AFS, Texas. Manning the radar were members of Air Force Space Command's 8th Missile Warning Squadron. The site was one of four PAVE PAWS stations in the United States and is located 40 miles south of San Angelo and Goodfellow AFB, Texas. Air Force and Canadian Forces members along with Raytheon Support Services Company employees operate and maintain the radar. The high level of cooperation between the blue suiters and the contractors helped the squadron earn a 1990 Commander-in-Chief's Installation Excellence Award.

A spider and its web dominate the 8th's unit emblem. An explanation of that emblem could aptly describe the unit's mission. The octagon surrounding the spider's web represents one of two PAVE PAWS radar faces which generate tracking beams represented by the web. The web's angling, 70 and 130 degrees, displays the coverage of the beams which reach out over the southwestern United States and beyond. Two missiles and a satellite trapped in the web represent the unit's mission of detecting ballistic missile attacks and tracking space objects. The "They Shall Not Pass" site became operational in May 1987 in the land of longhorns, barbecues and oil drilling.

The town of Eldorado, seven miles south of the site, relies on agriculture and petroleum production as primary sources of income. The AFSPACECOM site's tiny neighbor isn't exactly a hub of activity for 8th MWS workers. According to a 1980 census, Eldorado has only 2,300 people, who may be outnumbered by the local livestock-goats, sheep and cows. The town has one police station, a fire station and a grocery store. The site itself stands virtually alone amidst the Texas cactus and mesquite.

The local people have a lot of respect for the military. Members of the 8th MWS continue to develop interaction with the Eldorado citizens. Squadron officials work closely with the town's residents through a program called the Eldorado Commander's Group. Consisting of key site workers and community leaders, the group meets for discussions quarterly. An example of the community link is the teaming up of squadron firefighters with local volunteers to control range fires which are common during the summer.

The town is host to the annual World Championship Cowboy Campfire Cookoff and Roping Contest. During the yearly event, judges select the best food, best coffee, the top fiddler and the most authentic chuckwagon. A more energetic part of the contest includes the Junior Goat Roping Competition, where youngsters go for the title of "Numero Uno Goat Roper in the World." The PAVE PAWS rustlers, led by Raytheon employee Steve Latta, took second place in 1989's chuckwagon event.

8th MWS residents spent a lot of time in the much larger city of San Angelo. The city has more than 80,000 people and is host to Goodfellow AFB, where many Eldorado site workers live. San Angelo has numerous quality churches, social activities and educational opportunities, including junior colleges and San Angelo State University, a four-year college highly respected for its nursing program.

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