MINOT AIR FORCE BASE It started to rain and hail that night at the Bravo missile alert facility during one of Staff Sgt. Chariesse Garrett's shifts. As she began taking down the flag to protect it from the weather, Garrett spotted a tornado in the distance and immediately took action.
"I rushed out to take down the flag. I then informed the flight security controller and grabbed the chef because they are our safety buddy," said the 741st Missile Squadron facility manager. "We continued on to grab our emergency books, kit and the other airmen, and headed downstairs to wait for the tornado to pass."
Facility managers are responsible for the day-to-day operations at a missile alert facility and ensure the airmen are taken care of at their home away from home.
Tech. Sgt. Kevin McPherson, superintendent of missile alert facility management with the 91st Operations Group at Minot Air Force Base, performs daily checks at a missile alert facility in North Dakota, shown in this photo by Senior Airman Brittany Y. Bateman. Facility managers are responsible for the day-to-day operations at a missile alert facility and ensure the airmen are taken care of at their home away from home.
"The FM is overall responsible for all portions of the MAF operations," said Tech. Sgt. Kevin McPherson, 91st Operations Group superintendent of missile alert facility management. "We make sure the missile crews downstairs are taken care of and the chefs are available to bring food down."
They work with security forces personnel to ensure they have the required items they need to perform their duties.
"We also control the bedding-down situation when maintenance or fire teams have to stay in the field; we make sure they have a place to sleep along with hot meals," McPherson said. "During inclement weather, we're responsible for snow removal so security response teams can dispatch to the field and do their portion of the job."
Garrett explained that her day begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m., but a facility manager is always on-call when deployed to the field.
"Normally the FM will start the day with daily checks," McPherson said.
Daily checks include checking water levels and the launch control equipment building to ensure all equipment is working properly. From there, they verify the missile alert facility is in good condition and inspection order.
After daily checks are complete, facility managers move on to normal daily operations, consisting of lawn care or snow removal, depending on the season. General upkeep of the building also falls under their purview and can vary from painting to shampooing carpets.
"You coordinate with security forces response teams on site because it's a team effort," McPherson said. "We all do it together and we ensure the building is in tip-top shape."
From a line FM, the typical name for an FM, to the group facility manager superintendent, there are several positions that can be held within this special duty.
"FM NCOs have a great opportunity to progress as leaders," said Chief Master Sgt. Jason P. Colon, 91st Operations Group chief enlisted manager. "If they truly want to step up to the challenge, they may then be selected as the squadron superintendent or may end up being the group facility manager superintendent. It's a great way for NCOs to gain knowledge about the nuclear enterprise, along with the U.S. Air Force missile history and the impact it has had on Air Force strategy."