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The Missileers

In the early 1950s, the Cold War was in danger of becoming hot. American military leaders were afraid of an attack by enemy bombers. The Air Force looked for suitable sites for new air bases, and the city of Minot, North Dakota convinced the Air Force that Minot was the perfect site. In 1955 ground was broken for the new base.

In 2009, the Air Force Global Strike Command was established in Barksdale, Louisiana. It assumed responsibility for all nuclear-capable assets, including the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot and the 91st Missile Wing, also based at Minot.

The missile wing is part of the Intercontinental ballistic missile force that’s ready to launch 24 hours a day from underground bunkers. The teams tasked with missile duty are called missileers.

The aircrews of the bomb wing, flying B-52s, consist of two pilots, a weapons officer, and an electronic warfare officer. They are trained to fly in all weather conditions anywhere in the world.

On this date in 2016, acknowledging Women’s History Month, ninety women serving with the Air Force made history. For the first time, three intercontinental ballistic missile wings were staffed entirely by women. Based in North Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana, crews of two women each staffed forty-five missile alert facilities at the three bases.

In addition, B-52 aircrews from Air Force Bases in Barksdale, Louisiana and Minot also fielded all-female flight crews. At the same time, women from Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska conducted a test mission above the three bases.

Over the last sixteen years, the number of female officers in nuclear and missions operations increased from just over 15 percent to over 20 percent.

Colonel Stacy Huser, Commander of the 91st Missile Wing, said, “We honored those women who have worked to gain opportunities and disavow stereotypes when they began their careers. This day was our tribute to them, as well as to inspire future generations of women to work in public service.”

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher

Sources:

Air Force Global Strike Command Air Forces Strategic Air. “History Made in Honor of Women’s History Month.” https://www.afgsc.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/702117/history-made-in-honor-of-womens-history-month/  Accessed 2/20/19.

Minot Air Force Base. “Minot Air Force Base History.” https://www.minot.af.mil/About-Us/History/  Accessed 2/20/2019.

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