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Preparing the next generation of missile maintainers

A maintainer stands above a porthole holding a hose.

Airman 1st Class Emilio Gilliam, 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron missile maintenance trainee, performs topside maintenance of a launch facility March 27, 2021, near Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Trainees work with instructors after arriving to their first duty station to practice critical skills before being assigned to the missile fields. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Elijah Van Zandt)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Missile maintenance instructors are at the forefront of the United States Global Strike Command operations, ensuring personnel are capable in their duties, servicing the most powerful weapon system in the world: the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile.

For Malmstrom’s mission to be executed reliably, maintainers must possess the appropriate skillsets and training to be qualified to work in the missile field. Airmen learn additional skills through on-the-job training, molding them into innovative leaders working to keep Malmstrom’s assets safe, secure and effective.

Staff Sgt. Gilberto Reyesmora and Staff Sgt. Benito Gutierrez, 741st Missile Maintenance Squadron team instructors, provide foundational knowledge that maintainers will use throughout their careers.

“Our career field is unique in that we continue our training upon arriving to our first duty station,” said Reyesmora. “We help hone their skills so when they complete their five-level training, they are able to become more efficient on the job.”

During the initial months of training, instructors teach introductory skills and lead Airmen through practice scenarios of routine maintenance in controlled environments, such as in the T-41 launch facility trainer.

The T-41 is a replica of operational launch facilities throughout the missile fields, with the goal of giving Airmen realistic opportunities to experience challenges they may encounter on a day-to-day basis. The instructors credit working in the T-41 to increasing consistency on the job, which they described as the most critical element to mission success.

“My job is to ensure my students learn how to do their job the right way, every time, without fail,” said Gutierrez. “We’re here to set our Airmen up for success by ensuring they have a complete understanding on how and why something is done.”

The focus on reliability and accuracy in the missile maintenance career field is paramount to providing strategic deterrence, anytime, anywhere.

Once Airmen receive five-level certification, they are ushered into the missile fields as field runners, working to ensure Malmstrom’s ICBMs are ready to launch at a moment’s notice.

Instructors continue to train the next generation of maintainers to lead nuclear surety and missile safety for years to come.

“I like to teach my students to take pride in what they do,” said Reyesmora. “At the end of the day, every maintenance job they take part in effects everyone around the world.”
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