BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
Editor’s Note: This article is the first in a series highlighting the Air Force Global Strike Command Outstanding Airmen of the Year.
Air Force Global Strike Command recently named its Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2019, recognizing the top enlisted members across the command.
Senior Airman Elizabeth Mayhew, a keys and cryptological controller with the 341st Security Support Squadron at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, won the Airman of the Year category.
“Being an OAY winner is really an amazing accomplishment! I am so blessed with amazing friends, family and leaders who have helped me achieve this level of recognition,” she said. “They have made so many incredible sacrifices and supported me throughout all the trying times. This recognition really shows that putting in the hard work and having perseverance makes all the difference.”
Mayhew, who hails from Williamsburg, Virginia, joined the Air Force in January of 2017. As a member of one of three Keys and Cryptological Control Centers in the Air Force, her job is to deny access to nuclear weapons and nuclear weapon systems from any unauthorized personnel by positively identifying members of the wing who require access and what level of access they are allowed.
“My job as a KCCC controller requires me to validate and process dispatch forms for all 150 nuclear launch facilities and 15 missile alert facilities,” Mayhew said. “This entails verifying the members access to nuclear weapons, security clearance, escort privileges and Personal Reliability Program status. It is within my job to identify discrepancies to prevent unauthorized access to those areas.”
By completing these dispatches, Malmstrom’s KCCC protects $402 million in nuclear assets. An essential part of how Mayhew’s team tracks and records this is done through their dispatching process.
“Previously, our office operated on seven-day dispatches requiring controllers to be checking dispatches continuously for the same individuals every week. In an effort to maximize our efficiency, our office transitioned to a 30 day dispatch,” she said. “This has shown a great decrease in the number of discrepancies found when checking dispatches for missile wing personnel.”
In addition to renovating the dispatch process, the KCCC is responsible for three different accounts that are subject to inspection semiannually. As one of the largest COMSEC accounts in the 341st Missile Wing, Mayhew said they have received zero discrepancies during those inspections.
“Furthermore, we manage $1.47 million in LRS material used daily by the members dispatching to the missile field,” Mayhew said. “As a controlled area program monitor, I have to maintain records of personnel who require access to our offices, maintain security requirements and the training conducted initially and annually for a 13-man section.”
The KCCC prevents those without a need from having access to the nation’s most vital weapon system, Mayhew said, but while she takes pride in that, her favorite part of the job is the people she gets to work with.
“My favorite thing about my job is the ability to work with multiple agencies across the 341 Missile Wing at Malmstrom,” Mayhew added. “My job gives me the privilege to work with all ranks and AFSCs. As a KCCC controller, I get to make many connections with individuals I otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to meet and therefore has given me the benefit of a bigger network.”
While codes and crypto are the backbone of her job, Mayhew said her proudest moments come through teaching resiliency as a Master Resiliency Trainer who also trains Resilience Training Assistants.
“The MRT/RTA program has gotten me through some of my toughest moments in my career, so being able to continue to practice and teach resiliency to the new Airmen entering the Air Force and coming to Montana is something I’m most proud of,” she said. “The resiliency program has also helped expand my involvement in community relations throughout the wing and our local area. Being a part of Malmstrom’s resiliency team is crucial to keeping our airman mission ready and fit to fight.”