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Missileer gets call from SECDEF

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jason Wiese
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
On Thanksgiving, Defense Secretary Ash Carter called several U.S. service members taking part in operations around the world to wish them a happy Thanksgiving. One of them happened to be a missile operator from the Mighty Ninety.

Second Lt. Robert Mort, 321st Missile Squadron deputy missile combat crew commander, got the call during changeover when Mort and his crew commander relieved the team on duty at a missile alert facility.

"I thought it was pretty cool getting the call, especially being a second lieutenant right out of Vandenberg," the Decatur, Alabama, native said with a voice lacking most of the Alabama accent.

After graduating from Auburn University with a degree in civil engineering, Mort attended technical training at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, where all missileers are trained before going to one of the Air Force's three missile wings: the 90th, 901st and 341st Missile Wings at F.E. Warren, Minot and Malmstrom Air Force Base respectively.

As a relatively new Airman here, Mort had questions about the military to ask the leader of the Department of Defense.

"We got to ask questions that are way above our pay grade," he said.

Carter did his best to answer the questions to the extent he was able, Mort said.

Lieutenant Col. Johnny Galbert, 321st MS commander, said the call shows what high-echelon leadership thinks about the nuclear deterrence mission performed by the 90th MW.

"It's a thankless job sometimes," Galbert said. "The fact that the Secretary of Defense took the time to call one of our guys pulling an alert just shows the mission is that important and the leadership at the highest levels of national security is thinking about our guys day-in and day-out."

People throughout the nuclear deterrence mission take pride in the 24/7 nature of what they do, he said.

"Nuclear deterrence is a mission where you don't get an opportunity to take a break," he said. "You need to always be able to perform that mission.  You're always sending the message to not only your allies, but your enemies, that 'Hey, we can do this mission any day at any time.'"

Mort said he did not have a problem with pulling an alert on Thanksgiving because he understands the importance of the mission he performs.

Mort was a great candidate to receive the call, Galbert said.

"He's done a great job pulling alerts, he's involved in the squadron and a good officer and squadron-mate," he said.