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White Sands Pioneer Group


The White Sands Pioneer Group (WSPG) was once a vibrant, nonprofit association of past and some current employees(civilian, military, contractor, family members) of White Sands Missile Range or White Sands Proving Ground. The organization's purpose was to recognize and preserve the pioneering efforts and significant achievements in science and national defense made by personnel at White Sands.

Initially, those who worked at White Sands while it was the "proving ground" did not pay dues.  Those that started after 1958, were asked to pay a small amount in annual dues. At the height of the organization, it put out monthly newsletters with input from members and there were almost monthly meetings with guest speakers. The group created a number of White Sands-related souvenirs such as belt buckles, jackets, pins, pens, etc. that sold at meetings and special events. Special events included a number of reunions. This became known as the "Tom Starkweather years" as he was the group's president and driving force then.

By 2000 interest in the group was dwindling with fewer and fewer people interested in running the organization and/or participating in any activities. The "pioneers" were getting older and the newer employees at the missile range didn't seem to have the same esprit de corps about the place. Eventually the Pioneer Group newsletter was merged with the White Sands Historical Foundation's newsletter and it was renamed Hands Across History. Financial support disappeared and eventually the Historical Foundation picked up the newsletter's production costs.

The White Sands Pioneer Group essentially does not exist anymore except in name.  There are no officers and no dues collected. However, the White Sands Historical Foundation continues to mail out the quarterly Hands Across History to all the Pioneer Group members that still wish to keep up with the history of White Sands. Some still contribute their stories to the newsletter which make interesting reading. 

Hands Across History newsletters in PDF format are available on this website.  Use this link.

If you are interested in the pioneering history of White Sands Missile Range, please consider joining the White Sands Missile Range Historical Foundation.  The goals are much the same.

This will take you to one of the last Pioneer Group newsletters.

October 2001 Newsletter