MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. --
Day to day, maintainers, missile chefs, defenders and missileers deploy to the missile field to ensure Airmen and their families are safe and secure. It’s not very often spouses get to see what their loved ones do.
For Malmstrom spouses, they were able to tour facilities and workplaces that make it all happen and see the importance of the nuclear deterrence mission.
The spouses received a mission brief, toured the missile procedures trainer and finished with a visit to a missile alert facility in the missile field.
Leigh Ann Miller, spouse of Col. David Miller, 341st Maintenance Group commander, worked with the 341st Operations Group and the 12th Missile Squadron to allow spouses to get a firsthand look at what their family member does.
"We pass by launch facilities on the highway and you just see barbed wire fencing, a pole and some wires,” said Miller. “It's intriguing what all is happening there that we can't see.”
Part of what spouses can’t see, is an everyday, nonstop mission that Airmen operate, maintain and protect.
“I'm excited about getting spouses from across the wing out to the site because it will allow them to see why what their loved ones do is so important,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Hays, 12th MS commander. “The mission of this base is incredible, but because it takes place out in the plains of Montana it's easy for spouses to be disconnected because they cannot see the importance with their own eyes.”
When the spouses were able to see operations firsthand, it helped them gain insight on what the mission is.
Rachelle Glidewell, spouse of Airmen 1st Class Coy Glidewell, 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron electromechanical technician, got to experience part of what her spouse does during the tour.
“It’s crazy; definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Glidewell. “You hear about it but never actually get to be one-on-one with those who get to work on it and see it for yourself. It was eye opening because you see the big picture versus all the little things that go in to it.”
Wing leadership’s goal is to continue to allow for spouses to tour where their military spouse works.
“We would love to get people out to the field to see our mission more often,” said Hays. “I am a firm believer that buy-in and commitment comes with better understanding what we do and why it's important.”
The wing mission is more important today than ever, but the "out of sight, out of mind" aspect sometimes allows people to forget, he explained.
“I want people to know how their active-duty members have an important role to play in the nuclear enterprise - cop, chef, facility manager, maintainer, missileer and families back home -we can't do it without all of us working as a team,” Hays said.
After the tour was completed, Glidewell shared with other spouses the importance of the tour.
“Just to have an idea of really how much goes into it; you see the bigger picture but you never really know one person has all these little tasks that they do to make that happen,” said Glidewell. “You hear a lot about it…and as a spouse you don’t see that.
“If this opportunity comes up, take it,” she continued. “And now being able to actually experience it for myself, it just doesn’t feel real.”