|Minuteman II Missile Returns to South Dakota |
Minuteman II Missile Returns to South Dakota
By Tech. Sgt. D.E. Manuszewski Jr., 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs.
Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota -- (ACCNS) -- South Dakota welcomed back an old friend June 14 as 27 missile maintainers from F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo., placed an inactive Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile into a silo that has lain dormant since the 44th Missile Wing was deactivated here in 1994.
Airman 1st Class Dave Bauman of the missile maintenance team member climbs down the 30-foot access hatch to the silo's missile maintenance access area.
Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. D.E. Manuszewski Jr.
The missile was "entombed" by the crew from F. E. Warren at the Delta 0-9 site near the town of Wall as part of a joint Air Force and National Parks Service initiative to create the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. It’s designed to honor the Americans who fought and won the Cold War from bunkers deep within the soil of America’s heartland.
"Whether or not you agreed with America’s nuclear deterrence policy, no one can deny the impact the Cold War has had on the lives of Americans for the last 50 years," said Tim Pavek, the Minuteman II Deactivation Program manager with the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron. "These missiles were on alert for 30 years and helped preserve the freedom and peace we enjoy today."
In their heyday, 152 Minuteman IIs were waiting in the ground throughout South Dakota. In 1994, there were none, and now there’s one.
"It was exciting to be a part of this event," said Airman 1st Class Michael Glass, a missile maintenance team member with F.E. Warren’s 90th Logistics Support Squadron. "I’m proud to be a part of the history of this site. This is cool."
The 90-ton silo door opens as missile maintenance team members wait to prepare the silo for an inactive Minuteman II missile. The silo and its launch-control facility will be turned over to the National Park Service; the Minuteman National Historic Site should open in 2004. The plan calls for the door to remain half-open and the silo to be covered with glass so spectators can see the lighted-up missile below.
Air Force photo by Tim Pavek
The missilemen arrived at Ellsworth June 11 and quickly began preparing for the arrival of the mock Minuteman II from Hill AFB, Utah.
When the missile arrived the people from F.E. Warren broke up into teams as some prepared the missile to travel to the site and others prepared the site for the missile’s final resting place.
"I’m glad I could be part of this," said Staff Sgt. Kevin Jones, the missile maintenance team chief who worked with the Minuteman II while assigned to Ellsworth’s 44th MW.
The Park Service and the Air Force will prepare the site during the next several months for a ceremony in November when the site and the Delta 0-1 launch-control facility will be turned over to the Park Service.
Park Service officials said they anticipate the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site will open to the public in 2004.