Minot – An EMTer’s Chronicle

For general discussion with your fellow Minuteman III crewdogs, maintainers and cops. Currently based at Minot AFB, ND, Malmstrom AFB, MT, and F. E. Warren AFB, WY. Formerly based at Grand Forks AFB, ND. Operational from 17 Apr 1970 to present. Share your stories and meet up with an old friend.

Minot – An EMTer’s Chronicle

Postby SSgt Tom on Thu Nov 13, 2008 10:58 pm

Hello to the board! You’ll have to bear with these old buzzard transmissions, as it is my only opportunity at posterity. Although these first postings are not loaded with technical acronyms, I think readers will find the peripheral history associated with my Minuteman tour of duty interesting.

Part I – Basic Training and Technical School

I enlisted with my twin brother during the period when there was a birth date based lottery for the draft. Vietnam was in full swing and I had dropped out of Drexel University and so lost my student deferment. We had a low lottery number, so as sure as could be, we would be drafted into the Army if we did nothing else. I visited the Navy recruiter but would have had to enlist for 6 years to get a decent job there as I recall. Well I was not looking to make it a career, just fulfill my obligation to my country and get out. A ham radio friend of mine enlisted in the A.F. out of high school a year before me. I told myself that this would be good experience and that it would be far behind me someday.

I already was an Amateur radio operator (WA3KLR) and my hobby was electronics, had the FCC Amateur and Commercial licenses and knew Morse code. So I asked for the Electronics field; that was all you could guarantee – a job in the one of 4 fields of your choice (Mechanical, Administrative, General, or Electronics). Remember the M-A-G-E test results? I wanted to work on radios and hoped to see the world. This is what my high school ham friend got but I was put into the Minuteman system, not one of my choices of jobs listed. We called this the Air Force System of Reverse Logic. Those other guys that were in my basic training squadron from coal towns in Pennsylvania and didn’t know a thing about radio or electronics, they were the ones that got my dream assignment.

Never giving the holiday season a thought, we enlisted on November 17th 1970, to stay ahead of Uncle Sam. We spent Thanksgiving and Christmas in basic training. Those holidays were off days, but sort of another day of the week otherwise.

My brother wanted to do mechanics work, but on that day in basic training, there were no Mechanical field jobs. So he applied for the Air Cargo Specialist job. He eventually wound up loading C-130s and spent a year at an airbase in Thailand living in a tent and had a pet monkey there. He also learned how to pack ‘chutes and prepare vehicles for air drop. Stateside, he was stationed at Langley AFB, Virginia with many days at the beach. I was able to visit down there twice.

So I was to become a Missile Systems Analyst Specialist 316X0G, whatever that was. As you all know we went on to Chanute and then later I got the lucky draw of Minot.

The Electronics Principles classes (lasting 4 months) were basic electronics education and I would say in my opinion, catered to the eventuality of radio and radar maintenance.
During the period I was at Chanute from January 1971 to the end of August 1971 our base was crawling with (hopefully) South Vietnamese, Iraqi and Iranian military students also. I say this because there was a report while I was there that a North Vietnamese troop managed to get through the school. There was one Vietnamese fellow in my Electronics Principles class, Loi LeTung. Half of my class was later bound for the Minuteman school and the other half, as I recall, for Autopilot maintenance. Loi was in the autopilot group. He had an 8 year enlistment to get the U.S. training deal. The Vietnamese first spent about a year at Lackland learning English, I was told. His English wasn’t too good and I never knew what scores he got, but I had the impression that no matter what, these guys were never held back. I often wonder what happened to him.

The Vietnamese stuck to themselves, perhaps by orders. I never had any dealings with the Iraqi or Iranian guys at all. Again they stuck to themselves. All of these foreign allies were housed at the far end of the base where the Permanent Party was, as I recall. But you ran into them at the chow hall and post office areas.

The funny thing about the Iranians and Iraqis was that they reminded me of actors in the old Sea Hunt TV series, starring Lloyd Bridges as Mike Nelson. Mike was an ex-Navy frogman and some of the episodes were sort of covert missions that took place along the coastline of a non-descript Central American country. There was always a liaison officer from the area along in Mike’s boat as I recall. It was humorous to see guys running around our base that looked just like those characters in Sea Hunt; bushy mustaches, dark skin, khaki shirts with epaulets, sun glasses, and metal insignia all over the shirts. And finally I found out that these guys were enlisted, what a laugh!

My class size in the later Missile training was about 8 as I recall. I think everyone in the class had some amount of college. At least 2 guys had B.S. degrees, one in E.E. and one in Business (Jon H. from Binghamton NY). This was common at the time again due to the Vietnam War, the people graduating from college lost their deferments and not surprisingly, the Officer slots were already filled up. So they enlisted in the A.F. as their next best option.

Later in their enlistments, some of these fellows with degrees were asked if they now wanted to become officers. Most declined as like me were not interested in a military career and the 4 year clock had already ticked away 2 years. One guy with us at Minot EMT shop did take them up on the offer; Dexter G. He disappeared for a while (90 day wonder school) and returned later with Lieutenant stripes on his fatigues!

One day at the Missile school the commander of the school came to see our class and to congratulate us that our class at the Chanute Technical School had one of the highest class averages ever to come through. That was nice. I got a kick out of the Colonel because he resembled William F. Buckley!

We were trained on the Modernized configuration sites, so 2 of us (Wayne K. of Minnesota and myself) went to Minot, the E.E. (Dave S.) to Whiteman, some to Ellsworth, perhaps one to Grand Forks, as I recall. The dream assignment for a 316XX was Vandenberg though. One or two fellows, not in my class, but in school with us at the time did get stationed at Vandyland.

In that summer of 1971 at Chanute, we had race riots on the base. It was hard for me to believe it was happening here but it did. Some of the action occurred right outside my barracks windows. Quite a bit of extra security personnel were brought to the base and patrolled in combat gear – steel helmets and with M-16’s over the shoulders. This was a sign of the times in the U.S. in general. As I recall, they left after a month.

* Added December 21, 2013 :

My Chanute barracks switch-aroo:

To the best of my recollection, when I first arrived in January 1971, I was put in the old “hospital” barracks, this is where the 316’s were. These structures were single-story WWII buildings, all interconnected by enclosed passageways. I was told that they were slated for demolition. It seems to me that I was only there a few weeks or so (and they were cold) and then we moved to the two-story WWII barracks where I spent most of my time at Chanute. I did observe the demolition of the hospital barracks soon afterwards.

There were at least three, maybe four buildings enclosing a large grass area. Our squadron also housed vehicle maintenance students besides the missile maintenance students. I don’t remember where the airmen’s club was in relation to the squadron.

After another few months, we were moved to one of the modern cinderblock 3-story dorms, similar to what I later encountered for the Minot MIMS barracks. It seems like we were there for a few months into warm weather because I remember marginal air conditioning. There was a recreation room in the basement (of our dorm or a neighboring dorm) and supplies were stored down there also. Someone apparently set a fire there and unfortunately a base fireman died in the fire when his airpack ran out of air in the smoke-filled basement and didn’t find his way out. Everyone was interviewed by the OSI.

Then once again we moved back to the same WWII two-story barracks. Why the switch, I don’t know. I was back in the same building, and on the second floor like before. During my first stint in those barracks my roommate and I built balsawood and tissue paper planes. During my second stint in those barracks I built a Heathkit HW-101 vacuum tube Amateur radio HF SSB transceiver. The summer 1971 riots occurred during my second stint in these barracks.
Last edited by SSgt Tom on Sun Dec 22, 2013 1:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Minot – An EMTer’s Chronicle

Postby SSgt Tom on Thu Nov 13, 2008 10:59 pm

Part II – Why Not Minot?

So I was at Minot MIMS EMT shop from September 1971 to November 1974. When I got to the 91st MIMS, the NCOIC of the EMT shop (Sandy B.) said to me that I could have my choice of CTT or EMT. Well even though CTT would be an easier job, I chose EMT because I enlisted for electronics and didn’t want to wind up looking through a theodolite and playing targeting tapes. Can you understand this?

At that time at Minot, the additional on-site training by TTB (Jim N. and Mike B.) was done at Oscar 6, the closest site to the base. Later the training was moved to Oscar 7, I think to even out the wear and tear.

Right after graduating from the TTB training, I was offered the opportunity to go on the next missile test to Vandenberg. Two MMIII missiles were pulled from Strat Alert and shipped to Vandenberg. There had been many of these test firings of “soaked” missiles from Minot and this was the last of the program from our base, about May 1972. A large contingency of maintenance people were shipped out on a KC-135 along with their tools for this. We spent 6 or 7 weeks there and saw and/or heard many missile launches, both day and night. The big old liquid propellant Atlas and Titan missiles were the most spectacular with their lower acceleration and greater noise. We were able to meet the fellows we knew from tech school that got stationed at Vandyland. All went well with our launches. Do you know what pucky is?

I also got to do some sightseeing with my EMT Team Chief (Al D. from Tennessee). He drove his orange pickup truck out there from Minot so I was lucky to have a set of wheels. The base is very big and unlike Minot where everything was in easy walking distance; you were just about SOL at Vandenberg without a vehicle. We went through San Francisco and up to Sacramento to see a former EMT troop who had gotten out recently. Other G.I.s were attracted to the Tijuana scene. When we drove back onto Vandenberg, the base entrance always had Vietnam War protestors there, something that did not occur at the entrance to Minot AFB.

When I was first out in the field, maintenance dispatches were allowed to be 18 hours long and we were on the go the whole time. I remember almost falling asleep at the wheel of our sorry beat strata blue International Harvester 5 ton van just about 1 mile north from the base gate. Wouldn’t that have been embarrassing to have a van rolled over in the ditch near the base entrance? This is the only time in my life that I almost fell asleep at the wheel and I was 21 years old at the time. Not too long after this the maximum dispatch time was cut down to 16 hours.

This was the peak of the cold war and the maintenance went 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I can remember having to do stupid nut and bolt maintenance topside on the LFs in the middle of the night at -30 F. Near the end of my enlistment, the situation appeared to ease up and evolve towards a normal 5 day daytime schedule.

As I recall we worked about 3 ½ - 4 days and then 1 - 1/2 to 2 days off. The first day of scheduled maintenance started at 6 a.m., the second day at 12 noon and the third day at 6 p.m. which carried over into day 4. You had to have 12 hours of crew rest between shifts. We pulled standby shifts which (I don’t remember for sure) but were in place of the third shift or possibly in addition to the third shift. The worst scenario though was to be called out just before the tail end of your 12 hours of standby. This could be a 5 a.m. start on day 4, thereby greatly reducing the off time before the next cycle started again.

I think that I only had to remain-over-night (RON) once or twice at the LCFs in all of my dispatches. One of the fellows in our EMT shop was a big sports fan and took a little TV on his dispatches (Joel W.). He RON’ed on most of his dispatches I think.

One time in the winter I went on a two EMT team dispatch with Joel. Joel was at the wheel of our sorry beat strata blue International Harvester 5 ton van. We had just left the base and were headed south on Route 83. The road was icy. Other base personnel were right behind us in their personal cars. For some reason we had to brake and Joel just laid on the brakes solid. The van pulled a perfect 360 degree spin. As we were spinning around I could see the cars behind us going into the ditch on both sides. After we came to a stop, in perfect alignment with the road, I switched with Joel and I drove the sorry beat strata blue International Harvester 5 ton van the rest of the dispatch.

I obtained a TCC map of the whole wing and put it on my barracks room wall when I started dispatching and I would make a check mark next to the site(s) I was at when I returned to my room. According to the map, I visited all but one LCF and most but not all of the LFs. Excluding the training LFs O-6 and O-7, I was at some LFs up to 5 and 6 times.

On UFO’s – Nothing to report here really while I was at Minot to the disappointment of some. One MMT team came back from a dispatch one time saying they saw something. From the descriptions I got from them “green light low on the horizon”, I have always chalked it off as a pole transformer on fire.

About a year ago I found on the web for the first time the account of *Ellsworth and Al Spodnik, which appears on this website. This was quite a surprise for me as I knew Al at Minot. Al was in Job Control when I started going to the field in 1972. Later Al became a Supervisor/Scheduler in our EMT shop. I did feel at the time that there was something unsaid about Al’s past, but was not a big deal at the time. I never heard of the UFO incident at all from anyone. Obviously this was a well-kept secret at the time. So this explains the intuition I had. Al was a very nice guy and completely in control of his faculties. I have fond memories of him in our shop.

One colorful character on the base was grouchy Col. Graves, the senior strategic commander over the missile, fighter and bomber wings. When I was there, we were at the peak of the cold war and pressure must have been relentless on the commanders. This trickled all the way down to the squadron commanders; all on the rag, all the time. I remember one Commander’s Call at the base theater, at the end Col. Graves yelled “I want everyone here to get a haircut” and then stormed off the stage. It was humorous to me and at the time thinking about the fair percentage of women present. I was always amazed at the preoccupation with haircuts throughout my time at Minot. Later, if I recall correctly, the missile wing commander, Col. Matson? took over from Graves. Graves may have been promoted to General and transferred out. Col. Matson? was more mellow. All of these guys were necessarily glued to a big walkie-talkie.

Duty Deaths – While at Minot, two F-106 Delta Darts practicing interceptions flew in to each other and as I recall one pilot was killed and the other was able to eject and survive.

A UH1F helicopter crashed killing all 6 on board while on a security guard shuttle sortie as I recall.

Murder – About one day before I was discharged in November 1974 an airman was found murdered off base. I think the killing was attributed to be drug-related. I never learned any more on the outcome of this.

In another incident, one MMT troop lost (or “lost”) his .38 revolver and not long afterwards word came back that the pistol had been used in a murder in New York City, as I recall.

The MHT Incident -
I think that the most famous incident within the missile wing while I was there was at Juliet 5 or 11? In an attempt to shortcut the time and procedures of installing a missile in the silo, an MHT team wound up lowering the missile at about a 60 degree angle and it wound up sitting on the half-opened launcher closure door. The winch unspooled, jammed and they were stuck with their pants down good time.

I was out in the field at the time and was diverted by Job Control to this site to investigate an ECS alarm that had appeared there. My teammate Mark G. and I arrived and saw the surprising Transporter-Erector sight and reveled in the fact that we were seeing an incident where the crap would really hit the fan, it wasn’t our fault, in the coming days half of 15th Air Force would visit there, yet it just happened, no one else was there yet, and we would be able to drive away from there soon.

We found that one of the ECS air lines passing though the equipment deck had been sheared off, another casualty of the slam-bam maintenance being done that day. Then we got the hell out of there. I don’t remember any of the outcomes to those fellows.

Just before I got out in November 1974, I participated in shutting down LFs that then were overhauled as part of a new program called COMMAND DATA BUFFER.

During our stay at Minot a group of us in EMT hunted occasionally. I have fond memories of this. I don’t think that there was too much of this activity by base personnel. We knew the northern area of the state better than the native NoDaks did, I think.
Last edited by SSgt Tom on Mon Nov 17, 2008 7:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Minot – An EMTer’s Chronicle

Postby SSgt Tom on Thu Nov 13, 2008 11:00 pm

Part III - Retrospect

The time in grades for promotion were decreased just before I went in. My first NCOIC was astounded that we had line numbers for buck sergeant not long after arriving at Minot from tech school. This was now an automatic time in-grade promotion like A1C. So we came through at an optimum time. I was Staff Sergeant for the last 6 months or so before getting out. I remember watching 16 mm. training films in the Electronics Principles classes at Chanute and the enlisted instructors in the films had gray hair and had 2 stripes! We asked our instructor about this at the time, so promotion was slow in the brown shoe days.

I returned to Minot in February 1979 as I recall, 4 years after I got out, to view the total eclipse of the sun from there. I was picked up at Minot International Airport by Steve S. a CTT troop and former tech school classmate I knew there yet, visited 91MIMS and also ran into several others I knew that were still there (Roger S.). My last EMT NCOIC (Karl-Heinz M.) had retired and became an employee of one of the system contractors and he was working there just down the hall from our old shop.

I have one souvenir of the LFs – an old site sign. All of the LFs had a newer series of metal signs with the site number. The previous generation of signs was ½” plywood, 12” x 18”, yellow characters on strata blue background. I realized that these were remaining on only a few sites and I decided that I would liberate one of these for posterity if I spotted one again. The one I have has quite a few aged .22 holes in it as most of these signs did.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been out for 34 years now! It was very good experience. Actually the contrast of the professionalism, high accountability and completely set up accounting systems has made the rest of my civilian career aggravating at times. I wonder if any of you have experienced this.

I keep in contact with just a few of the EMT guys. Mark G. of Ohio and I both being Amateur radio operators (hams) have always been friends since meeting. I just visited his home a few months ago. I email John O. of Chicago occasionally. One fellow I would like to locate is Carey Hendrix who was from Chicago. He was a clerk on the Wing side. We had some good times together since Carey had a car and I didn’t. The last I had contact with him he was able to transfer off of “The Knot” as he called it and was stationed in the Pacific area in 1975.
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Re: Minot – An EMTer’s Chronicle

Postby SSgt Tom on Fri Nov 14, 2008 9:11 pm

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the 91st Strategic Missile Wing

Yes, we did pick up people on 3 occasions. Don’t tell anyone.

1. One nice warm summer day on dispatch returning towards Minot from the west on Route 52 or perhaps Route 2 we spotted a nice young brunette standing by the road. We were in a sorry beat strata blue International Harvester 5 ton van and pulled over to talk to her. I can’t remember if we were headed to another site or to base. We agreed to give her a ride farther east as long as it was on the same route. At this point she must have given the high sign, because her traveling companion, a much less attractive obese girl came up from hiding in the ditch. So obviously they had their technique down pat by this time. They were college girls hitchhiking across the U.S. by themselves while school was out. This made me cringe a little then, imagine having your daughters try this today.

Well they climbed in our van and they smelled pretty ripe. We dropped them off in a while and I don’t remember if at that time they realized they had forgotten some things. A couple days later we mentioned this to another team in our shop and they also while traveling west had picked up the girls after we let them off and returned them to where we had picked them up. So they did retrieve the rest of their gear.

2. One winter night we were headed to a site, we were quite a ways out in the middle of nowhere in the western flights and passed a pickup truck parked off of the edge of the road. Well it was about 1 a.m. and it was about – 20 F or lower and I had some vibes. I got to thinking that another vehicle may not come by here all night. I told my teammate to stop the vehicle and back up to that pickup truck. I stepped out of the truck and looked inside. Well was I surprised to see that there was indeed a fellow curled up on the seat. You’d think that someone in this predicament would have a signal or be on the look out for a passing car. It turned out that the Indian man’s truck had died while he was returning home after visiting a home on the reservation nearby. So we took him back to the home on the reservation he left from, waking up the occupants, and then we went on our way. I do wonder if this guy would have not survived the night, but it certainly would have been very uncomfortable for him to say the least as he was not dressed for the cold temperatures and did not have the candles, blanket or other gear that the citizens are asked to have in their vehicles that time of year.

3. Yet another very cold night about 1 a.m. and probably – 20 F or so and here is a snowmobileer out in the middle of nowhere, in the southern flights I think. We stopped and found out that his snowmobile had quit and he was quite a few miles from home. It doesn’t seem sensible to be out by yourself at night at these temperatures far from home, but NoDaks did these sorts of things. I remembered at the time hearing of a snowmobileer that decapitated himself by running into a phone pole guy wire. Anyhow this guy was dressed in a full-body insulated snow suit. Our sorry beat strata blue International Harvester 5 ton van was packed full of personnel so we offered to give him a ride but he would have to ride outside on the running board. He said this was fine and that he had a friend that lived down the road a mile or so and with him clinging to the right-hand mirror we drove him on to a farm property, dropped him off and went on our way.
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Re: Minot – An EMTer’s Chronicle

Postby Goes2Fast on Sat Nov 15, 2008 1:20 am

SSgt Tom wrote:Part III - Retrospect

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been out for 34 years now! It was very good experience. Actually the contrast of the professionalism, high accountability and completely set up accounting systems has made the rest of my civilian career aggravating at times. I wonder if any of you have experienced this.


SSgt Tom, I enlisted in 76, was commissioned in 84 and retired in 97. Through that time I know that the many NCOs and officers I worked with shaped my life through exactly what you said...professionalism and accountability. While the military is made up of a cross section of our populace, my experience for the past 11 years has been that the people I work with in the civilian world can't hold a candle to the men and women I had the pleasure of serving with in the Air Force. When I do come across an individual who seems to have their head screwed on straight, it's amazing how often I find out that they spent some part of their life in the military. I suppose you could say it's because we're drawn to those who are most like ourselves, but if that means I'm drawn to people who have a sense of duty and a commitment to their country, then that's o.k. It's good to hear that you still reflect favorably on your experience after 34 years.
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Re: Minot – An EMTer’s Chronicle

Postby PointSalJim on Sat Nov 15, 2008 5:13 am

SSgt Tom wrote:All went well with our launches. Do you know what pucky is?
Tom, thanks for the interesting narrative. Having spent my entire tour at Vandenberg, I’m well familiar with pucky, although I didn’t deal with it much, not being on the refurb team. In my days, if I recall, there were two kinds, white pucky and grey pucky. Some guys used the white pucky to patch their car mufflers. It worked wonders.
This was the peak of the cold war and the maintenance went 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I can remember having to do stupid nut and bolt maintenance topside on the LFs in the middle of the night at -30 F.
I didn’t always count my blessings being at Vandenberg at the time, but avoiding this was sure one of them. Another was being able to sit at an LF watching the waves roll in to shore while my teammate went below and did a G&C Coupler test on his own. One weekend some of us drove down to South Vandenberg, up to the top of Tranquillion Peak just for the view.
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Re: Minot – An EMTer’s Chronicle

Postby D Preidis on Sat Nov 15, 2008 6:20 pm

Goes2Fast wrote:...I enlisted in 76, was commissioned in 84 and retired in 97....

I did the same thing in the exact same years!

Started my enlisted as a BMAT on Titan II crew in 1976 and then went on crew in Minuteman at Grand Forks after my comission in 1984.

The people I am still closest to and would rather have with me in a pinch are my Air Force friends and co-workers from back then. There was tremendous pressures on everyone fighting the Cold War and while we may not be in small unit combat the responsibilities were huge.

I gave tours to quite a few high ranking people from around the world and many of them said they did not have the mental strength to handle the job we had underground with our ability to vaporize cities.
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Re: Minot – An EMTer’s Chronicle

Postby Goes2Fast on Sat Nov 15, 2008 8:58 pm

D Preidis wrote:
Goes2Fast wrote:...I enlisted in 76, was commissioned in 84 and retired in 97....


I gave tours to quite a few high ranking people from around the world and many of them said they did not have the mental strength to handle the job we had underground with our ability to vaporize cities.


I wish I had paid a little more attention to who some of those we gave tours to were (just for posterity). I remember a Russian senior officer came out in probably '88 or so. It was a pretty big deal as we didn't routinely allow Russians in the LCC. No idea who he was though. I also remember there were lots of political figures who would drop in as I pulled many of my alerts at Oscar and it was only about a half hour off base. It became very routine to us, but without exception visitors were somewhat impressed with the overall complexity and responsibility of the missile force.
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Re: Minot – An EMTer’s Chronicle

Postby SSgt Tom on Sat Nov 22, 2008 5:56 pm

EMT Dispatch That Was Absolutely Terrible

Since maintenance went around the clock, the odds were when you returned from dispatch it was likely a supervisor would not be in the shop. So one time in EMT the supervisors started a book for us to informally report problems in. The book was a large hard-bound ruled journal.

One dispatch of mine had a lot of bad luck so when I returned to our shop I wrote it up in the Problem Book, mostly for kicks, as it is just prose. This took 3 ½ hours to write. Just by luck about a year later I walked into the shop one day when the book was being thrown into the trashcan. I retrieved the book and sliced out those 3 sheets (again for posterity).

This saga starts on Wednesday June 6, 1973.
Note: “reefer” – a refrigeration specialist from another shop in our MIMS squadron.

Here is the transcription of those hand-written pages from 35 years ago:

Trip 6-36 0500 Standby team
A-06 CH. 23 and 24 (This is VRSA alarms for equipment rack air temp. out of tolerance and high humidity.)

I guess I got off base o.k. but all I could get from the reefer shop was a thermometer. TSgt. C. was highly co-operative. (for CH 23,24 dispatch – great!). I picked up a clamp-on ammeter and Johnson kit from VECB. So with this s**t and my screwdriver, crescent wrench, rag, pencil and clipboard (a maintenance troop can fix anything with this stuff) Trip 6-36 leaves for adventures at A-06 soon to unfold here before you.

We arrived at A-06 o.k. and found ECS running with 80 degree F brine temps. Penetrated site, but was a long time before I had a chance to install SCS key because I was so busy troubleshooting brine chiller over phone with reefers and Job Control. When I got downstairs finally and measured rack air temps they were in high 80’s. Reason for loss of normal ECS was blown safety valve on receiver tank (complete loss of Freon). So with this discovery, I informed Job of part needed at approximately 1200 (local 6 Jun), I think. (NOTE TIME)

Job contacted TEAD. They said we should pull power supply group shutdown, leave MG running and turn off battery charger. Done.

With part ordered we ask for reefer assistance because this job requires complete Freon charge with pump-down procedures; vacuum pump, Freon, nitrogen, etc. requested. A few hours later a chopper arrives with Sgt. D. and A1C M. (reefers) and their refrigeration kit (choppered from L-01 job). So now 4 of us sit on our hands; you can’t go one step farther without new safety valve to seal off refrigerant system. Several hours later Sgt. Jeff W. and the Kid Campbell (1100 standby team from my shop) arrive (early evening) with Freon, nitrogen, and vacuum pump. Sgt. D. and A1C M. look over equipment. Sgt. D. says “Hey, we need a vacuum gauge, Freon drum adapter, and THE NEW SAFETY VALVE”! Still can’t do a g**damn thing. Poor reefers have been with us 6 hours now. Again we call the shop for equipment.

“Job where the hell is my safety valve”, I ask nine ****ing hours after it is ordered. SSgt. L. has really no idea where my new part is. It is at this point that I begin to wonder if my dispatch is real.

I am now running out of time line (0615 show). Incidentally, Sgt W., who had dropped off equipment to us, was on his way to B-09 to troubleshoot Coupler fault. His visit was two-fold; code changes were going on, so start-up gear was scarce. Job told me to give W. my start-up gear so he could troubleshoot B-09. Fine; my site is completely powered down so I won’t need start-up gear since ECS recharge takes 10 hours and we haven’t got part yet.

Job now realizes I might RON. A daring attempt is now made by Job Control to save me. Since capsule has lost status from (this) site (no IZ-OZ monitoring capability), site will have to be campered before I can leave. About this same time, Sgt. Dennis C. and Sgt. Larry L. (another team from my shop) are preparing to come to my rescue, I guess. It is now a race between New England Dennis and the camper to see if I can get relieved in time to get home. Needless to say, they didn’t make it. I didn’t even have enough time to get myself to A-01.

Dennis C. arrives with no (safety) valve, no gauge, and no drum adapter. “What the hell’s a drum adapter?” Dennis and Larry will chauffer us to A-01. We begin to get ready to RON. I brief Job on status of site. I have spent over 12 hours on site; my reefers have been here approximately 9 hours. We haven’t done a damn thing.

Capsule asks me if I want food. He calls cook. The cook is under the impression that only foil packs will be served to maintenance personnel at midnight chow. Anyway, oven is not functioning properly so we can’t have foil packs. However, he can make us each a grilled cheese sandwich. This will cost us 65 cents, he says. The capsule and I bargain him up to 2 each. I reluctantly agree to the situation.

But then the idea occurred, why not try B-01? We called B-01 and the cook said there is a letter that states maintenance troops are not to be fed foil packs at midnight chow, but are to be given standard eggs, etc. midnight chow (breakfast) and in any case midnight chow is 30 cents. This means cook at A-01 can make breakfast for us since it doesn’t require oven. Capsule and I straighten out cook at A-01. Job Control was in on this (crap) too.

So, now we leave A-06 for A-01. Sgt. Dennis C. and Sgt. Larry L. jockey us to LCF. Where Dennis and Larry went after that and what they did I don’t know. But EMT has a fair taxi service going (foreshadow). Arrive A-01, call Job and TCC. It’s just before midnight (18 hours on timeline).

Next day – Thursday 7 Jun 1973:
Everything went o.k. at LCF. Had a bowl of corn flakes to work the day on. (Our crew rest put us up between breakfast and lunch.) I had one hell of a headache which had been growing since the night before. No doubt due to trying to figure out what was going on. Sgt B. and ??? S. (another EMT team, 0500 standby) arrive at A-01 about the time we are due to depart for A-06. Sgt. B. is (tick)ed off because Job thought I RON’ed at B-01 and sent him almost all of the way to B-01 before they correctly diverted him to A-01. Sgt B. brought 2 safety valves, no vacuum gauge, and no drum adapter. “What’s a drum adapter?” he asks.

The reefer calls his shop to get a reliable man on the situation (Cecil G.). Cecil comes in on his own time and gets vacuum gauge and drum adapter to chopper pad. Twenty-four hours after isolation of bad safety valve I get new part (cheer). Bad news (boo). It looks like we may RON again; I am 1100 standby team for this day and the1700 standby team is already committed. 2300 standby team wouldn’t be able to save us in time. (The ECS task about to be performed is supposed to take all day).

So, doomed before we leave the LCF. SSgt. E. of Job Control concludes that we have only ourselves to save us. (He’s on the ball.) Huddle. We will compress (pun) the pump-down procedures for Freon charging (off the record of course). Hike.

After we get to A-06, chopper arrives with gauge and drum adapter. (2nd chopper run to A-06.) Chopper leaves, goes about a quarter mile, turns around, and charges back at the site and pulls an extremely tight circle over head. No V.C. could shoot him down. (Very impressive show.) Anyway, we proceed with our work. Remember my headache? Well now it has built up to the point where I am nauseous and vomit. Now I know what it is like to have a period. Hours later ECS is running. I put the racks back on. Job asks me to do start-up. You idiots! You gave my start-up gear to Sgt. W. the day before. Remember?

Chopper flight #3 brings out start-up gear. Don’t worry; this is the last chopper flight. A few hours later start-up is complete, ECS adjustments are complete and it looks like we will make it back to base tonight. Ten hours on this day’s timeline. A-06 back on alert, no faults (green-time…yeah). Reefers and us climb into van and depart A-06 for base (cheer).

We had noticed periods of roughness in engine idle during the day, which reminds me my headache was killing me. So I couldn’t eat foil packs the LCF sent out to us. (I threw up my cake foil pack.) We got about 4 miles west of A-01 on (Rt.) 52 when engine lost power. Called back to A-01. FSC said he would call out Mobile Maintenance. “Well where are they coming from?” I asked. “A-01” he said. “Far out” I said. Mobile Maintenance couldn’t find anything wrong with van. Mobile Maintenance said he would follow us for a few miles. The van ran fine, so Mobile Maintenance turned around.

A few miles further up the road the van did the same thing. We pulled over and discovered the louvers weren’t opening on the front of the van. Temp. gauge indicated a hi temp., but not abnormally hi temp. for vans. Apparently, blocked off radiator was affecting performance of this engine. So reefer Sgt. D. says this problem has happened before. “We blocked open the louvers” he reminisced. “Get a piece of wood or something”. Without provocation, our guard, who shall remain anonymous, produced a 12 ounce Pepsi can, shoved it into the louver system and promptly punctured our radiator core. As reality spewed out onto the North Dakotan highway, things began to look dim. I sat down and cried (not really). My head was still killing me.

There we were in Voltaire with about 12 hours on our timeline, broken down. I called Job and choppers were all busy, parts runners in Kilo or Lima flight (no help). I said “get someone out here. I’m not RON’ing again tonight! Get someone off duty from our shop if you have to”, I demanded. Al S. (one of our shop supervisors) found Sgt. F. who drove his own car out to us (a hand for Sgt. F. please, hand for Al S. too). This just about wraps it up. I signed out with about 14 hours on my timeline.

I would like to thank these people who made my dispatch possible; in particular my teammate Mark G., Reefers Hugh D. and A1C M., guard, security type (1) each, Job Control, Alpha capsule, Alpha flight manager and cook, EMT Sgts. Jeff W., Dennis C.#1, Dennis C.#2, Larry L., Sgt, B., and Sgt. S. and myself.

The list is endless. Please excuse (for) anyone I have missed. You know, I used to be proud to admit that in my experiences of almost a year and a half in the field I had only RON’ed twice. Well, this was one of the most ****ed-up dispatches I have ever had. So I RON’ed for my third time. As they say, “third time’s the charm”.

Sincerely,
Thomas B., EMT Team Chief
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Yes it really happened.
Tom B. former SAC Team Chief
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91st MIMS-EMT Sept. 1971 - Nov. 1974
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Re: Minot – An EMTer’s Chronicle

Postby SAC Killer on Sun Nov 23, 2008 6:48 pm

That is a truly incredible story. I have to wonder where the squadron leadership was on this one. They should have weighed in as soon as things started screwing up rather than just leaving it to WJC. WJC has enough to do at the best of times, and the squadrons should be in on activities to help smooth things out.

If I'd let a dispatch in my shop get this screwed up, I'd have been on the carpet in the DCM's office first thing the next morning. Meaning, while you were on your first RON. The wing was buying NMC red time the entire period that site was down. But more important, this is no way to treat the folks who work the field.
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Re: Minot – An EMTer’s Chronicle

Postby SSgt Tom on Tue Nov 25, 2008 8:37 pm

Yes, many times I felt we were at the very bottom of the pecking order and obviously we were in practice.

I don’t recall any flap after the dispatch even though I know my shop read the story. I can’t remember but I presume I would have made some comments on the dispatch form when I was at Briefing/Debriefing at the end of the dispatch.

I look at this story now and say what if I had made calls to my shop. But this was not the system. Except for the overview by Job Control and TCC, we were essentially on our own.

When a maintenance team goes to the field for a certain problem, they are supposed to have all of the equipment to do the job.

Part of the system was that the vehicles for maintenance dispatches were in a pool at the VECB. For every dispatch a truck was loaded with a basic set of items at VECB and the EMT junior team-mate inspected the truck, signed out some additional items at VECB, brought it over to the MIMS building where more items were checked out from various shops, tool crib, T.O. kit, etc. From arrival at your shop to departure from MIMS was supposed to be no more than 1 ½ hours. (Preparation time was running 2 hours with most EMT dispatches at one point and then there was attention on this, help from the EMT shop, to get back to 1 ½ hours). You can see in retrospect how inefficient this is. If we could have had our own trucks and kept loaded, we could have saved much time. If there was a fully complemented dedicated refrigeration maintenance truck dispatched to my site on the fateful Wednesday, you can see how much time and running around could have been saved. When you got back to base, everything was unloaded and returned to the various shops/TO library. This was the system and may still be.

EMTers built up a heavy briefcase full of remnants of work orders over time; boxes of screws, cotter pins, etc. (Two classic items in the briefcase: the Personnel Access Hatch big magnet for IZ troubleshooting, and a roll of aluminum foil duct tape.)

My last NCOIC was working on a proposal for EMT to have a truck of their own, one of those with cabinets on both sides and a bed like a pickup truck, like you expect a self-employed carpenter or plumber to have. The idea was to have a good supply of bench stock items in the truck so that many nut & bolt work orders can be fixed in one dispatch or spotted and fixed on the same dispatch. I don’t know what happened on this.
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Parka pocket items – crescent wrench, flashlight, ear plugs, black USGov pens, LF ladder bolts, screwdrivers, gloves, rag.
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Glory Trips 14 GM & 15 GM - April to June 1972
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Re: Minot – An EMTer’s Chronicle

Postby SAC Killer on Tue Nov 25, 2008 11:39 pm

The process wasn't that different in the 80s when I was in mx. But I also recall that while the teams were "on their own" in the field and subject to WJC direction, they often called their shop with issues and the shop chief would often work with other orgs on base to smooth things out as much as possible.

I remember visiting WJC several times a day every day to see how my teams were doing and whether I needed to weigh in to help them out. Also frequently talking to my shop chiefs to see what they thought of events in the field.
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Re: Minot – An EMTer’s Chronicle

Postby banjodog on Thu Nov 27, 2008 1:53 am

SSgt Tom wrote:When you got back to base, everything was unloaded and returned to the various shops/TO library. This was the system and may still be.

My last NCOIC was working on a proposal for EMT to have a truck of their own, one of those with cabinets on both sides and a bed like a pickup truck, like you expect a self-employed carpenter or plumber to have. The idea was to have a good supply of bench stock items in the truck so that many nut & bolt work orders can be fixed in one dispatch or spotted and fixed on the same dispatch. I don’t know what happened on this.


At Malmstrom in my day those are the trucks we had. Not permanently assigned, but kept in VECB's control with a basic pen load on all. You'd get stuff from the EMT tool crib, the T.O. library, VECB (the equipment side of VECB), pick up whatever parts and maybe a stop at E-lab (or the codes vault if you were unlucky enough). Then you were on your way. It worked well, usually.

We used the kind of trucks you wanted, except the "bed" of the truck was removed & replaced with a commercially available box with storage bins inside & out. They still use this setup today.

FMT troops carried a huge roll-on/roll-off tool box that did carry various parts & tools. They too, did not have assigned vehicles. Only PMT did for some reason, probably because there were only a small number of PMT teams and too many FMT/EMT teams to provide vehicles for each team.

One thing that always amazed me was that at Malmstrom up until about 1989, all teams loaded their trucks out in the weather, year-round. Backed-up to a dock that itself was covered, but in the weather nonetheless. Then, the former wing king (Col Keen I believe) came to bldg 3080 one day, stood on the dock & asked a very basic question that, apparently, no one else had: "where do you load the trucks in the winter?" It wasn't long before we had three garage bays for the protos (EMT/FMT trucks) and an enclosed dock with garage doors for the M-vans (MMT) & B-vans (EMT battery vans), all heated even!

Missile MNX now uses the former airplane maintenance buildings, so presumably everything is indoors.
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Re: Minot – An EMTer’s Chronicle

Postby philip on Sat Jan 17, 2009 3:30 am

> One colorful character on the base was grouchy Col. Graves, the senior
> strategic commander over the missile, fighter and bomber wings.

I was there at that time, 1969 through 1973, as a missile combat crewmember. At the time, I recall that Col. Graves was commander of the 91st SMW, but he thought he ran the base (maybe he did). I definitely remember he had a burr under his saddle for haircuts.

Our squadron executive officer called me out of the crew predeparture briefing one morning to tell me that although my haircut was within the requirements, my hair was the longest in the room and to watch it. :->
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Re: Minot – An EMTer’s Chronicle

Postby SSgt Tom on Mon Jan 19, 2009 1:19 am

Hi Philip,

It’s good to hear from another veteran of the same period at Minot 91st SMW. I was looking through my archives for my promotion orders for my thread on “Challenge coins” in the Happy Hour General section and found a relevant memo that had been posted on my barracks wall. I thought that you might enjoy this letter on haircuts I saved for posterity:

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FROM: 91 MIMS/CC 9 October 1974

SUBJECT: Standards of Appearance (AFM 53-10 Dress and Personal
Appearance of Air Force Personnel)

TO: All Personnel

1. Over the past sixty days increased emphasis has been placed on individual dress and appearance here in the squadron. Numerous items of correspondence from all command levels, including inspection reports, messages and letters, have been brought to our attention. Further, inspections have been conducted here in the squadron to clearly impress upon all personnel the standards that are expected. All of these actions have been keyed to one precise point – the dress and appearance standards established in AFM 35-10 provide the standard for all Air Force personnel.

2. In conjunction with the verbal and written emphasis, a number of individuals have been personally told to take appropriate action to improve their dress and/or appearance, including getting a hair cut, shaving, trimming their mustaches or sideburns, changing their uniform or shining their shoes. The greatest number of infractions have involved hair cuts and mustaches. Corrective action, in a number of cases, has been accomplished only after verbal or written admonishment and counseling.

3. Adherence to the standards outlined in AFM 35-10 will continue to receive strong emphasis. I expect full support from each individual assigned to this squadron. Future infractions will be subject to firm and more stringent disciplinary action, including either administrative or non-judicial action.

(signed)
ROBERT E. WALKER, Colonel, USAF
Commander
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Tom B. former SAC Team Chief
Parka pocket items – crescent wrench, flashlight, ear plugs, black USGov pens, LF ladder bolts, screwdrivers, gloves, rag.
Minot 91st SMW
91st MIMS-EMT Sept. 1971 - Nov. 1974
Glory Trips 14 GM & 15 GM - April to June 1972
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