90 female missileers, B-52 aircrews make US Air Force history

  • Published
  • By Airman Collin Schmidt
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

For the first time since its inception, the U.S. Air Force will have the capability to break historic ground by fielding all women missile and aircrews to complete the mission of keeping America’s citizens safe and our nation’s enemies at bay.

In honor of Women’s History Month, 90 female missileers based out of Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, and Malmstrom AFB, Montana, will complete a 24-hour alert. In addition, B-52 Stratofortress aircrews from Minot and Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, will participate by fielding all-female flight crews.

“The fact that we can look across our pre-departure briefing room and see a woman sitting in every seat, for every combat crew going out on nuclear alert, is in itself significant,” said Col. Tom Wilcox, 341st Missile Wing commander. “Not because Team Malmstrom is fielding an all-women alert force, but because we have enough women filling combat leadership roles to take alert for the entire wing.

“It wasn’t always this way, and we have further to go, but the Air Force has made great strides to build a force representative of the nation we serve,” he continued.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women make up 50.8 percent of the nation’s population. Currently, women make up 19 percent of the Air Force, the highest of any service.

“To carry on the legacy of women in the Air Force is very special to me,” said 1st Lt. Elizabeth Guidara, 12th Missile Squadron combat crew deputy director. “Not being afraid to take risks and taking ahold of those opportunities that present themselves are two things that I’ve learned to live by throughout my career.”

During their assignment, the missileers will maintain a 24-hour alert shift to sustain an active alert status of our nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile force. Two missileers will be on alert in each of the 45 missile alert facilities across Air Force Global Strike Command and control up to 450 ICBMs as part of the nation’s nuclear deterrence.

The B-52 crews are comprised of two pilots, a weapons officer and an electronic warfare officer. They will be responsible for flying the B-52 in all-weather conditions anywhere in the world and, if needed, deliver almost any weapon in the U.S. inventory to its target.

Because of the diversity of the missileer and B-52 crew populations, for the very first time both missions will simultaneously be able to be comprised of all female crew members while operating within normal scheduling parameters.

“The goal of this day is to highlight all the women who worked hard to make a difference in public service and government jobs in the past,” said Col. Stacy Huser, 91st Operations Group commander at Minot AFB. “We’re honoring those women who have worked to gain opportunities and disavow stereotypes when they began their careers.

“This day is our tribute to them, as well as to inspire future generations of women to work in public service,” she continued.