Titan ICBM

After ten years of active military service, Casson left active duty Air Force but stayed in the service as a civilian with Martin (later known as The Martin Company, and Martin Murietta, and now as Lockheed Martin).  Instead of solving B-52 and KC-135 problems, he became associated with the most high-tech, lethal, deadliest weapon system in existence at that time, the TITAN I Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), a weapon capable of striking within a short distance of the center of its predetermined target with thermal-nuclear warheads, from a distance of over 6,000 miles. Within a few short years, this system was upgraded to the much improved and more deadly TITAN II.  


During his years working with the Air Force, both on active duty and as a civilian, Casson developed his technical fault isolation skills to an even sharper edge. He gained a reputation for having a computer-like memory as well as a faultless detailed understanding of the flow and properties within those combat aircraft for electricity, fluids, air, energy, and cryogenics, etc., all of which gave Casson the reputation of having a most “uncanny” ability to perform fault isolation trouble-shooting on those high-tech weapon systems, with seemingly lightning speed, and with pinpoint accuracy. 

TITAN II ICBM in a silo.

As was the case when he was on active duty with the Air Force, Casson served in a key position as an Engineering Launch Test Conductor for a missile and underground silo on the TITAN I program at Larsen Air Force Base, near Moses Lake, Washington.  Later, he served as a TITAN II Chief Test Conductor, over 5 such missiles in their silos. After recycling the Titan missiles to replace defective seals, Casson was made responsible for the engineering launch countdown checkout of all 18 TITAN II ICBM’s headquartered in the areas around Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. 


Minuteman and Titan II Missile ICBM Launch.

Norman’s beloved wife Ida knew that Norman’s work was extremely dangerous and lamented that he could lose his life at any time.  One of the most momentous events Norman recalls involving Ida happened on a particular day.  Norman’s test team was going to make a missile come out of the silo.  Somehow a convoy of the engineers’ wives had been discretely arranged to witness this, and they parked a great distance from the launch site.  Norman had no idea Ida was present to see it.  They heard the klaxon horns and they saw the mighty Titan rise, spitting ice everywhere, its mighty engines roaring.  Ida got to witness this.  Norman reflected on this later and considered that it was good she saw it, but on the other hand, he considered her seeing that missile coming out of the silo, spitting ice, hearing the klaxon horns, that this only tended to amplify in her mind the danger that he faced every day.  He regularly reflects that he could not have done his job without her stability and support.  Also, especially during times of transition between projects, Norman recalls with deep gratitude how Ida was always ready to pick up stakes to relocate, never complaining about this difficult aspect of Norman’s career.  

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San Diego Air & Space Museum

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