Revamped building with heritage center grows 341st SFG footprint

  • Published
  • By Kiersten McCutchan
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
On Wed., Oct. 17, 2018, a designation sign for the Defender’s Den was unveiled, making the building an official expansion of the 341st Security Forces Group teaching, meeting and recreation structures.

“We have 1,200 security forces members with extensive training requirements,” said Jim Pappa, 341st Missile Wing SFG training program manager and one of the architects for the Defenders Den.

“Air Force Global Strike Command sent us an interactive use of force and tactical judgment simulator and we needed a place for it,” he said. “We are grateful to the wing for giving us this building where we realized we could house the sim and create additional space for training, a conference room and special events.”

He added, “Also, we wanted to put into place something truly special and unique to 341st SFG – a historical exhibit and heritage center.”

Col. Peter Bonetti, 341st Missile Wing vice commander; Col. Aaron Guill, 341st SFG commander; Chief Master Sgt. Eryn McElroy, 341st MW command chief and a select group of security forces personnel joined and toured the official building dedication.

Master Sgt. Jason Seibel, 341st SFG training and scheduling superintendent, who also managed the planning and development of the Defenders Den, led the tour.

Seibel explained the purpose for the new building, walked invitees down the “red carpet” with each squadron patch and the group crest, and gave the debut speech for heritage hall.

Emphasizing the importance of the heritage center to the wing, after the tour, the cover was lifted off the new Defenders Den sign, and Bonetti thanked all those who brought the Defenders Den into existence.

Heritage center importance
Going into the entrance, people will see photos and original uniforms worn by actual security forces members at Malmstrom from the 1940s to today.

“We have a picture of the first guard shack,” Pappa said. “Throughout the years, photos were taken of the same location from the 40s to now, and it’s very cool to see how much it’s changed.”

“The thing about missile security duty is that it’s unlike defending anything else in the world. Only three bases do what we do in the way we do it. Malmstrom security forces have a specific legacy,” Seibel said.

“I’ve been here since 1995,” Pappa said. “I was at Malmstrom when I retired as an enlisted master sergeant working in security forces, and I remained here as a civilian working for our security forces.”

“The longer I’ve been here, the more I saw a need to capture the heritage,” he said.

Seibel echoed Pappa’s sentiment of the need for 341st SFG to have its institutional history encapsulated in a visual context.

The rules have changed for how long security forces members guard missiles at the same Air Force base, Seibel and Pappa explained.

“Security forces members used to stay for any number of years at the same location in their mission role, and it was through this manner that job inheritance and knowledge was passed down,” Pappa said.

“Now, after a tour, they transfer out of the missile guarding business for five years,” Seibel said. “It’s during this time the men and women in our field have gaps in their job knowledge, history and heritage.”

Seasoned security forces veterans Seibel and Pappa asked themselves how the 341st SFG could ensure historical continuity for Airmen coming into the field and demonstrate to all how this off-shoot of security forces has evolved over decades.

Thus, the heritage center in the Defenders Den emerged.

“With the center, we can teach unit orientation and invigoration briefings with more of an impact,” said Seibel.

Pappa and Seibel, equally passionate about passing down professional traditions and history, agreed they have firmly secured the 341st SFG legacy.

Security force supervisors are able to reserve the Defenders Den for meetings, training and other events through the 341st Security Support Squadron Training Section.