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Always ready: Mighty Ninety missileers

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jason Wiese
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
This is the second of a four-part series depicting the everyday life at a missile alert facility.

Maintaining constant vigilance and readiness, missileers are at the tip of nuclear surety's spear.

"We provide nuclear deterrence for the U.S. and its allies every day," said 2nd Lt. Kyle Todd, 319th Missile Squadron deputy missile combat crew commander. "What makes it worth it is knowing a large section of the world is looking to us for protection. Honestly, that's how anyone in the U.S. military should feel."

The missileers of the 90th Missile Wing, with the help of support Airmen, tackle one of the most important missions in the U.S. military.

While manning launch control centers, some of the responsibilities of missileers are remaining alert for communications from the President of the U.S., monitoring potential security threats and responding to other communications.

Missileers take three tests a month to ensure they are knowledgeable enough to complete daily tasks while on duty, said 1st Lt. Daniel Cook, 319th MS missile combat crew commander.

In order to perform well, missileers must know all regulations applicable to their job, Todd said.

"There are about 2,000 pages of material they're responsible for," said Lt. Col. Catherine Barrington, 319th MS commander. "They have to know them inside and out. We expect perfection all the time."

Because they have much to remember and much to do while on duty, missileers rely heavily on the Airmen -- missile chefs, facility managers, security forces and maintenance Airmen -- who support them, Cook explained.

For instance, missileers spend the majority of their shifts deep underground. In order to eat, missile chefs call down to get food orders from the missileers. After preparing the meals, the chef brings the food down to the crew.

"Without them, we wouldn't have a fully capable mission," he said.

Spending days away from loved ones, without being able to communicate with them, can weigh down on missileers, Todd said.

"I value time with my wife more," he said. "If I come back on a Sunday and get half a day with her, I definitely make the most of it."

Camaraderie exists among people involved in the nuclear deterrence mission. Being part of such an important mission brings the few people who work with ICBMs together into a tight-knit community, Cook said.

"Some missileers wanted to be pilots, some wanted to be missileers," he said. "Whether you plan it or not, it brings everyone together."

Even people who have long since ceased working with ICBMs are still in this unofficial club.

"I went to a friend's wedding in mess dress," Todd said. "Someone who was a maintainer on a Minuteman III 30 years ago recognized my missile badge and came to me and started talking. He was one of the more friendly people there, and I feel like I made a friend."

Taking part in a mission like that of the Mighty Ninety, and being part of an elite group makes every day worth coming into work, Todd said.

"I get to take part in what I think is the most important mission for the U.S.," he said.