15 MAFs in 15 days
By Senior Airman Daniel Brosam, 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 21, 2020
MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- While COVID-19 has created challenges in usual routines, one Malmstrom chaplain decided to adjust his schedule to support the needs of Airmen in the field.
Capt. Bill Mesaeh, a 341st Missile Wing chaplain, began his 15-night stay at 15 Missile Alert Facilities on May 6.
After teleworking as efficiently as he could, Mesaeh soon realized teleworking as a chaplain was difficult, if not impossible, to do properly.
“It was starting to bother me that I couldn’t be around my Airmen,” Mesaeh said. “So I decided to talk to my leadership about letting me go into disciplined self-isolation for 14 days.”
Disciplined self-isolation, or DSI, uses advanced social distancing measures and limited restriction of movement, primarily in one’s home, to prepare for their scheduled deployment to a missile alert facility. Currently, all missile field deployers must undergo DSI for 14 days before beginning their field tour.
While isolating himself for two weeks, Mesaeh planned his trip and how he was going to devote the next 15 days spending time with Airmen in the field.
“The typical day has been playing cards in the lounge area, eating downstairs each evening with the missileers in the capsule, watching movies in the lounge and playing videos games,” Mesaeh said.”
Mesaeh also brought his personal smoker with him and the First Sergeant’s Association provided Mesaeh with pork shoulders to provide smoked pork for the Airmen.
"My whole point for coming out here was to let them know that if they have to pack up and be away from their families for a couple of weeks, their chaplain is willing to do it too," Mesaeh said. “You’re not alone out there, and if you have to make the sacrifice, as difficult as it is, you should know you’re not making it alone.”
Additionally, Mesaeh said his visits to the MAFs could not have been done without his chaplain team taking on a significant workload to free up time for Mesaeh to go to the field.
“In my background as a chaplain, we look at ourselves as shepherds,” Mesaeh said. “We often use the phrase ‘shepherds are supposed to smell like sheep’.”
Mesaeh said one of his favorite words is hope and he likes to think he is providing Airmen with a little additional morale to get through these tough times.
“Even if this is difficult for you, you’re not forgotten and there is an end in sight.”