by Ed Sperry Col USAF (ret), Stevensville
I want to share with you a recent experience that was encouraging and a source of great pride. Most opinion letters are expressions of great concern for issues facing our state and nation. Let me briefly change this depressing trend and present something that most citizens will appreciate and many will enjoy.
I recently was fortunate to get a first class tour of Malmstrom Air Force Base at the outskirts of Great Falls. For those who may not know, this is the home of the Minuteman Missile Wing which has been operational since August 1962. The missiles have intercontinental range and are dispersed across a wide part of eastern Montana. Long ago back in 1959-1962 I was a young captain in the program office that created the original version of Minuteman system. A system which has defended our nation for nearly 60 years. You may be surprised to know that between the B-52 bombers and the Minuteman Missiles the Air Force is currently operational with two of the oldest weapon systems in our national arsenal. Yep, as taxpayers we got our money’s worth! But I am going astray.
I got to spend an entire day visiting the missile wing at Malmstrom. The personnel treated me with great courtesy and exposed me to the entire operational, support and security facets of the system. Frankly, it was overwhelming. I think most folks realize that no matter how modern, complex and expensive the equipment is, it is still just equipment and subject forever to change. What doesn’t change is the need for dedicated, skilled personnel.
Personnel! That’s really what I want to comment on. Folks, my day was spent with America’s finest. The officers and airmen that I encountered had obvious high morale, great skill, dedication to the mission and determination to do their level best, 24 hours a day for all 365 days a year. Days that you and I enjoy in this free and wonderful land. All the news of the day seems to question and detract from our schools, youth, leadership, and morals (seemingly every facet of our lives). Let’s keep some balance and recognize the almost unbelievable skill, courage and dedication of the troops in all the Services. Folks, they deserve our upmost respect and support!
After my tour I drove out of the gate with moist eyes. This old colonel and his peers have been replaced with outstanding men and women. There is a National Treasure behind that fence on the eastern edge of Great Falls and their scattered satellites. That treasure is the men and women of our military!