Focus on the Force: Missile maintenance at its finest

  • Published
  • By Valerie Mullett
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs Office
The 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron's periodic maintenance program has a find-and fix philosophy, according to its commander, Lt. Col. Suzanne Sauls. They are tasked to inspect, troubleshoot, repair and service the missile alert facilities and launch facilities environmental control systems, waste water disposal system and primary, secondary and emergency power systems.

One PM team, Papa 02, has risen to this challenge admirably and was selected for this week's Focus on the Force spotlight.

"Our job is extremely important to the mission because it ensures our system maintains the highest percent of on-alert status that is possible," said Staff Sgt. Kyle Babbert in September 2010, prior to competing in the first ever Global Strike Challenge. "Without our missiles on alert, our deterrent mission would fail."

He now serves as the Papa 02 team chief supervising and mentoring his team of technicians: Senior Airmen Wayne Reid, Jeffrey Estes, Ray Deleon Guerrero, Alejandro Cedillos, Eric Menger and Jonathan Hudock. Airmen Menger and Reid are also certified drivers for the periodic maintenance van.

On average, they deploy in a group of four to six and dispatch to the missile complex more than 140 times a year visiting more than 215 missile sites to clear more than 2,700 work orders. A typical duty day when deployed can last upwards of 13 hours.

"We report to work at 7 a.m. each day," said Sergeant Babbert. "When we deploy, we are gone for awhile, but I would say on average, 13 to 16 hours would be a normal shift."

These long hours are one of the things other team members don't like about their jobs, but they don't outweigh the things they do like.

"What I like most about this job is the people I've met and the friends I've made," said Airman Deleon Guerrero. "I've learned a lot, as well, just doing my job."

For Airman Estes, job satisfaction is something he likes about his duties.

"I like feeling that I have actually accomplished something when I am fixing a problem," he said.

Airman Cedillos joined the Air Force two-and-a-half years ago because he wanted a positive challenge that could drive him to succeed.

"I love knowing that simply by doing my job I have helped keep my family and country safe," he said. "It is great coming to work and knowing that no matter how long I have been doing this job, I learn new things."

Meshing as a cohesive unit, this team faces the challenges Montana's weather brings combined with the long hours and many schedule changes and hold their heads high - leaning forward and pressing forward as the wing commander would want them to.