Major General Alan A. Nord, 15th Commander of White Sands Proving Ground/Missile Range, was born on Aug. 7, 1928 in Faulkton, SD. He received his commission in 1952 following graduation from South Dakota State College with a bachelor's degree in chemistry. He also earned a master's degree in general chemistry as a Rhodes Scholar from Oxford University, England and a master's degree in international affairs from George Washington University.
Nord assumed command of the missile range in July 1980. Shortly after his arrival he established the Community Action Council that continues to bring together members of the command and community to generate community-building activities and resolve their associated problems.
In addition, Nord was the driving force behind an effort to gain funding for the current Youth Activities Center. It was renamed in his honor in 1994. Nord also instituted the DIAL-BOSS telephone hot-line, oversaw the opening of Volunteer Park, the roller skating rink and the Cubby Hole which provides household goods, clothing and other necessities to families of needy, lower-ranked enlisted personnel.
In the area of range missions, Nord was in command when the Space Shuttle Columbia was forced to land at White Sands on March 30, 1982. Afterwards Nord dedicated the site where astronauts Jack Lousma and Gordon Fullerton rejoined their families after the landing as the "Columbia Site."
Other milestones included the fielding of the Patriot missile system, the ground- breaking for the High Energy Laser System Test Facility and the Temperature Test Facility. Also, during Nord's command, the Defense Nuclear Agency established a permanent test facility on the north end of the range.
Nord left White Sands in Sept. 1982 to become commandant of the U.S. Army Chemical School and commander of the U.S. Army Chemical and Military Police Centers at Fort McClellan, Ala. He retired to Colorado Springs in 1985 after 34 years of service.
He died in Oct. 1993.