The 341st Operations Group, activated 1 Sept., 1 1991, is made up of more than 500 operators, administrators, helicopter aircrews, chefs, facility managers and support personnel. Together, they ensure the readiness of 15 missile alert facilities and 150 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles spread across a 13,800-square mile missile complex; the largest such complex in the western hemisphere. The group is composed of three missile squadrons, an operations support squadron, a helicopter squadron, and a standardization and evaluation division. Maintaining proficiency for the critical and sensitive mission is of the utmost importance. The ICBM combat crews spend more than 20 hours in training with more than 200 hours in the field each month.
Each of the operations group's three missile squadrons is responsible for five Missile Alert Facilities and 50 Minuteman III ICBMs. The 10th, 12th and 490th Missile Squadrons are our fighting units. Each squadron has five missile combat crews on alert duty, 24 hours a day, every day, with the support of facility managers and chefs, and security forces from the 341st Security Forces Group.
10th Missile Squadron
The 10th Missile Squadron was originally constituted as the 10th Bombardment Squadron Dec. 22, 1939, and activated at Langley Field, Va., Feb. 1, 1940. It was assigned to Borinquen Field, Puerto Rico; Edinburgh Field, Trinidad; Lincoln Army Air Field, Neb.; Westover Field, Mass.; and Abilene (Dyess) AFB, Texas, before being deactivated June 25, 1961.
On Aug. 2, 1961, the Air Force reactivated the squadron as the 10th Strategic Missile Squadron and assigned it to Malmstrom AFB, Mont. By late Oct., 1962, the launch facilities comprising Alpha Flight were brought to alert status during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. A statement from President Kennedy referred to Alpha Flight as "America's First Ace in the Hole," giving the squadron its motto and tradition.
12th Missile Squadron Originally constituted the 12th Bombardment Squadron Dec. 22, 1939, the 12th Missile Squadron also activated Feb 1, 1940 at Langley Field, Va. It served in St. Croix; Alamogordo, N.M.; Hartford, Conn.; and Dyess AFB, Texas, before it was deactivated in June 1961.
On March 1, 1962, the 12th transitioned to its current role as part of America's deterrent force when it became the 12th Strategic Missile Squadron. It quickly achieved the distinction of being the first Minuteman missile squadron to become 100 percent combat ready. While operating the Minuteman I weapon system, the crews of the 12th were nicknamed "Red Dawgs."
The squadron flag proudly displays the anti-submarine campaign streamer and five Outstanding Unit Awards. Today, the 12th Missile Squadron continues its deterrent role into the 21st century as one of the world's strategic war-fighting units.
490th Missile Squadron The 490th Missile Squadron was activated as the 490th Bombardment Squadron (medium) Sept. 15, 1942, as part of the 341st Bombardment Group (medium), flying the B-25 Mitchell bomber in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations.
The squadron's emblem of "Skull and Wings" adorned the fuselages of the 490th MS B-25s. After the war, the 490th MS was reactivated at Dyess AFB, Texas, in 1955. In 1962, the squadron was redesignated as the 490th Strategic Missile Squadron, assigned to the 341st Strategic Missile Wing at Malmstrom AFB, Mont It is the only squadron that has been continually assigned to the 341st since activation.
The 490th Missile Squadron missile alert facilities are deployed at the farthest sites in Twentieth Air Force; squadron personnel are known as the "Farsiders" and take tremendous pride in being the furthest from the support base.
341st Operations Support Squadron The 341st Operations Support Squadron maximizes the operations group's combat readiness by training missile crews, missile alert facility managers and chefs. The 341st OSS provides emergency war order materials and missile launch codes for 15 MAFs and 150 ICBMs, manages ICBM crew schedules and maintains training documentation for more than 300 missileers. The squadron oversees wing battle staff training and operations and furnishes mission-critical intelligence support for the wing and its tenant units. Additionally, the 341st OSS provides weather services and information to the wing and DoD and civilian agencies throughout Montana.
40th Helicopter Squadron The 40th Helicopter Squadron, assigned to Malmstrom AFB, Mont., began as Detachment 5 of the 37th Air Rescue and Recovery Squadron and was one of seven detachments in the 37th ARRS under Military Airlift Command. The 37th ARRS was activated during the Korean War when helicopters were first used for medical evacuation. After the Vietnam War, 37th ARRS was deactivated, only to be reactivated in December 1973.
The 37th ARRS has been in service since March 21, 1968 and has carried out numerous search and rescue operations in combat areas throughout Southeast Asia, participated in the evacuations of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Saigon, Vietnam and also provided service during the assault on Koh Tang Island during the Mayaguez incident.
Malmstrom AFB has had helicopters assigned since December 1964 under the Strategic Air Command structure and the 40th Rescue Flight was activated on May 1, 1993. In April 1998, the unit was redesignated as the 40th Helicopter Flight, and in October, 2005, the unit was redesignated the 40th Helicopter Squadron.
The 40th Helicopter Squadron ensures strategic security by providing flexible, rapid-response helicopter airlift support to the 341st Missile Wing. The 40th also performs aerial surveillance of Department of Defense strategic weapon convoys and short notice emergency security forces responses; supports emergency war order taskings, and priority personnel and logistical transportation. The 40th Helicopter Squadron has a proud rescue history and currently conducts search and rescue missions in support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff National Search and Rescue plan.
The 40 HS currently employs the UH-1N "Iroquois" helicopter, commonly known as the "Huey," a name that stems from its original designation of utility. The aircraft can carry up to 13 passengers at a maximum gross weight of 10,500 lbs. It has a range of 300 miles and can travel at a maximum airspeed of 130 knots (approximately 145 miles per hour). To date the unit has saved more than 395 lives and since 1973 has accumulated over 135,000 accident-free flying hours. The men and women of the 40th Helicopter Squadron are proud of their military heritage and continue to strive for excellence and better service for the 341st Missile Wing.