F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. --
Facility managers for the missile alert facilities are incredible group of Airmen fulfilling a special duty assignment for a four year controlled tour. The FMs care for and manage the well-being of 15 MAFs in the 90th Missile Wing missile complex here.
I recently had the opportunity to visit a MAF and received a tour of the facility by an FM. I saw all they were tasked with controlling throughout their day and I really got an appreciation for what they did.
“As a line FM my duties consisted of daily inspections on various systems such as water, HVAC, elevator motor inspections and quality checking equipment,” said Tech. Sgt. Danielle Fox, 90th MW commander’s executive assistant. “You do inspections below ground as well as checking the fire alarm system and pressure gauges.”
Fox who had recently come back to her main job in the Air Force after being an FM for almost five years explained a lot of what she experienced. She started her tour as a basic line FM and then was promoted to site senior. Fox finished her tour as a group trainer and periodically inspected all the FMs in the missile complex.
“I loved being an FM,” Fox said. “Once I got used to all the duties of inspections and cleaning, there was a lot of free time to work on other things like school or a promotion test. You’re never going to find another job in the Air Force where you only work 17 days a month.”
Some of the MAFs are a few hours away so I was curious to hear about their schedule. FMs usually work four days on and five days off, which sounded pretty sweet to me.
There are a few Airmen assigned to each MAF which are always manned with at least one FM. I was happy to find out they don’t stay at the same MAF for their whole tour.
“Leadership likes to do MAF rotations to move Airmen away from some of the further sites,” Fox said. “If you’re stuck at a MAF that’s two hours away, they rotate you to a closer site.”
The MAF itself was smaller than I expected, considering the FM’s responsibilities. Topside, it had a kitchen, a few small bedrooms, common bathrooms and a gym. The room housing the security monitors was the largest.
The rooms are used to house maintainers, security forces or other visitors who might need to stay at the MAF, explained Staff Sgt. Benjamin Cestoni, 320th Missile Squadron FM.
“I provide a support function to the security forces, chefs and anyone who comes out here to my MAF,” Cestoni said. “We maintain equipment needed in order for the LCC to function properly. Part of my duties include ordering linen for the beds or food items for the chefs. I even shovel snow.”
The missileers I spoke with at the MAF also held the FMs in high regard for the importance of the job that they do every day.
“The FM is incredibly critical to the mission,” said 1st Lt. Kevin Perez, 320th MS, missile combat crew commander. “The FM is the technical expert who takes care of all the equipment that supports our capsule and the entire MAF. Without them we would not be able to do our mission of nuclear deterrence.”
I had no idea what FMs actually did, and after seeing it first-hand, I was definitely put in my place. This wasn’t a bad gig at all, and I was fortunate to see the critical role they play in our Air Force.
“FMs play a crucial role in the nuclear deterrence mission,” Fox said. “If for any reason that LCC stops operating properly, they have a lot of checklists and protocols that would get it back up and running.”
If you are ever thinking of doing a special duty, the FM duty can be very rewarding. Taking care of the facility and the Airmen who work there might not sound like a fun job, but these Airmen are responsible for the operations housing America’s most powerful deterrent. Aim high Airmen.