PARIS TWP.: Where some see controversy or even fear, Jim Thompson sees prosperity and opportunity with each missile.
Sitting outside his Rootstown home, Thompson, didn't hesitate to lend his support to a domestic ground-based interceptor missile site proposed for the nearby Camp Ravenna Joint Training Center.
His reasoning is simple.
"We need jobs here," the 67-year-old retiree said.
Earlier this month, military officials said the Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center is among five locations being considered for an anti-ballistic missile launch site. Formerly known as the Ravenna Arsenal, the 21,000-acre site in eastern Portage County is under control of the Ohio Army National Guard.
The prospects of a defense missile site rising up inside the military base are far off. First, military officials and Congress need to agree that such a project is needed and worthy of multi-billion dollar investment.
For now, there is no timetable for a decision, let alone construction.
But what would happen if, as Thompson and others wish, this "Star Wars" defense system comes to life down the road? What would we see? Who will build it? Who will work there?
And finally, what will be housed there inside those silos?
For answers, one need only look at the nation's two existing ballistic missile defense system sites at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
These missile facilities, under the auspices of the Military Defense Agency, a branch of the U.S. Department of Defense, were built, expanded and armed at a cost of billions of dollars, all to fend off attack from countries such as Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
The idea of defending against a missile attack dates back to the 1940s. But it wasn't until President Ronald Reagan in 1983 unveiled his so-called "Star Wars" strategic defense initiative that space-based missile defense systems became part of the American lexicon.
Americans watched from their living room years later as American Patriot missiles, designed to intercept medium-range ballistic missiles, were used - without much success - during the Gulf War. Afterward, the missile defense system only grew.
In July 2004, the first ground-based missile interceptor was installed at Fort Greely, Alaska. Five months later, the first underground silo became operational in Vandenberg.
If a third missile site is built, MDA is likely to follow the design of their two existing sites.
The infrastructure is hardly classified military secrets.
Essentially, the new site would have a yet-untold number of underground silos armed with missiles that can be launched in the event of a foreign attack.
The missiles are supposed to target, track and intercept enemy projectiles above the Earth's atmosphere, well before reaching U.S. soil.
"Supposed to," is the operative phrase in the defense system debate. Opponents of the system say it's costly and the missiles are largely unreliable. Supporters say the defense missiles can be an effective tool against attacks.
Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the MDA, said any future missile sites would likely imitate the designs already in service and include underground silos and missiles to defend the East Coast.
"You have to assume for sure it's going to consist of underground silos," Lehner said.
The interceptor missiles are about 54 feet long, about 4 feet in diameter and weigh about 25 tons a piece. Each costs about $50 million.
The missiles are stored and launched from the steel and concrete silos. Fort Greely holds 34 silos in two missile fields contained over 800 acres. Plans call for six more to bring the total to 40. Vandenberg has four.
The missiles do not contain any explosives or nuclear war heads. They are fuel powered, but the silos are equipped to be a shield or container in the event of a fire.
Before any silos are dug, environmental impact studies would be conducted. Construction plans would include security fencing and several buildings. Fort Greely, for example, has a visitor control area, radar facilities, a power plant and, naturally, a launch control center.
"That's basically it. It's pretty austere," Lehner said.
According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the MDA has spent about $90 billion on missile defense systems since 2002. Plans call for another $8 billion to be spent per year through 2017.
Lehner said the missile defense sites employ military, government and civilian workers. Construction, he said, would likely be performed by local and out-of-town contract workers.
He cautioned, however, that any decision to build, if it even comes, is a ways off.
"No one's even done an artist concept," he said.
That's OK with Thompson. His family came to Northeast Ohio in the late '50s and early '60s, when manufacturing jobs were plentiful. He worked one of those jobs for 35 years before retiring.
Too many people he knows have lost their jobs in recent years, he said. Any boost, especially one that goes toward defending America, can only help the area's economy.
"I think it's great that it might come here," he said. "It will help Ravenna and the rest of the area. Some people are afraid of the unknown. But I know the United States has the best defense system in the world. Some people don't seem to know that."