Sunday, January 1, 2012

Are We There Yet?...Are We There Yet?

My first full fledged alert was to be had at my "new" home, November-01.  November was located some 15 to 20 miles east of Lewistown, yet in actuality closer to Grass Range.  Like most trips to the 490th's sites, time was an ever present factor.  In order to reach November-01, you simply took US Hwy 87 from Great Falls/Malmstrom and just kept driving.

As customary in the crew hierarchy, the deputy usually did the driving.  I recalled that T.J. and I had well passed Charlie-01 near Standford when I asked, "How much farther?"  T.J. merely smiled and replied, "Man, were not even out of the 10th's squadron area, we've not yet entered the 490th's." 

Nearing Hilger, we pulled into Eddie's corner for a cup of coffee.  Eddie's corner was, and still is, the unofficial boundary separating the 10th SMS and  the 490th SMS.  In actuality, the 10th's Echo Flight crews still continued on to Lewistown, then traversed north towards Winifred to reach E-01.  From Eddies Corner, one could continue on Hwy 87 and eventually reach November Flight, or turn north at Lewistown and head for Oscar Flight with O-01 located on the outskirts of Roy.  Take the road south from Eddie's Corner and one reached the Lima and Kilo 490th's sites.

Upon reaching  Lewistown, I asked T.J., "Are we almost there?"  Again, a smile and T.J. said, "Just 10 to 15 more miles to go."

Finally we arrived at November-01 Launch Control Facility, closer to Grass Range than Lewistown.  Approximate driving time from Malmstrom 3 hours!  I would make this trip religiously to November for the next year.  I swear that even today, I could drive this route in my sleep with no appreciable problem at all.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

EWO Certification Briefing: The First of Many

After the completion of the training alert at Charlie, my crew commander, Thomas J. Mclaughlin and I spent approximately one week preparing for our Emergency War Order (EWO) certification briefing. The briefing was designed as a crew effort to demonstrate that we knew the philosophy of the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP). This was more for my benefit since Thomas had already certified when he had upgraded to crew commander status a year prior to my arrival. For all practical purposes the briefing was to focus on me.

The briefing was held in the wing commanders conference room which was located in the Wing Command Post. Present for the briefing was Col. James Crouch, wing commander, and LtCol. Frank Zachery, 490th SMS squadron commander. As I can recall, I was nervous, yet stammered through the hour long briefing presentation. As was the custom, Thomas gave one portion of the briefing and I the other. Col. Crouch asked numerous questions, mostly directed towards me which I answered most to his satisfaction. When all was done and said, Thomas and I passed the certification briefing.

This took place in late Feb. 1981. Within the next few days, I was scheduled to pull my first alert at November-01. November-01 would be my home site for the most part of a year.

To this day, I still have my first EWO certificate which was given to me in its original frame.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Training Alert at Charlie-01

After setteling into the squadron and taking care of personal business, such as finding a place to live, it was time for my first training alert. This is where I and two other new deputies were to acutally go out to an operational Launch Control Center and take part in part of the alert duties under the observation of a wing instructor crew. The site chosen for my group was Charlie, C-01. I found it a different environment, since all of the LCCs that I had been in simulators up to this point. I recalled that I had enjoyed it, since we were only down in the capsule for about 4-5 hours. The rest of the time we were topside with the Facility Manager (FM) and the Flight Security Controller (FSC). We spent the remainder of the alert playing cards and shooting pool with the security cops. I recall that we did observe the change over with the instructor crew and their relief crew in the morning.

Thinking about it after all these years, brings back good memories concerning my first two weeks on station. Next up would be my initial EWO certification briefing which my crew commander and myself would present to the Wing Commander.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The "Mole Hill"

In the early days of SAC, bomber and tanker crews pulled their alert duty primarily in an alert facility called the mole hill. Partially underground and partially above ground the "mole hill" resemble a half submerged cube with entry/exit arms radiating from its four sides. At the sound of the klaxon, the alert crews would scramble and race out the exits to either climb into the aircraft cockpits or load up into a waiting van to be taken to their aircraft. Malmstrom AFB had such a relic from SAC's past (KC-97 tankers) and it was the home of the 341st SMW's operations squadrons.

At the time that I was assigned to the 341st SMW, there was no active SAC flying unit on the base. There was; however, a unit comprising of old B-57s that flew as "targets" for the NORAD unit and the Montana National Guard F-106s stationed out of Great Falls' airport. Plus there was an air search and rescue helicopter squadron located on the base.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Arrival: It's Cold

Ray and I arrived at Malmstrom AFB in mid to late January 1981. All that I can remember of my arrival to Great Falls was the color white. Snow was everywhere. Ray and I split up due to our being assigned to separate squadrons. Ray was assigned to the 10th SMS and I to the 490th SMS. I would see Ray off and on, but we would eventually go our on separate way as we integrated into our new units.

Frank Zackery was my squadron commander. Terry Hunter was the squadron's Operation Officer. Both of them eased me and the other newbies into the system. T. J was to be my first Crew Commander. November 01 was to be my new "home" for the next year. More about life at November later. At that time, most of the 490th crew members were single. Whether by design or coincidence I don't know (the 490th's LCFs were generally the farthest distance from the base with exception to the 10th's Echo LCF.)

I believe that it was during the first week upon my arrival that I got a full taste of a Montana winter. The temperature dropped down to 40 below, no wind chill factor. My '78 Ford Elite said "screw it" and froze up on me, burst freeze plugs and all. I would eventually learn about engine block heaters, but for now I was on foot "bumming" rides to and from the squadron's offices.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Note to the readers:

For those of you who have happen to come across this blog and are wondering about it's content, I am compiling a narrative about my years associated with the "pulling" of nuclear alerts at Malmstrom AFB, MT between the years 1981 to 1985. The majority of the blog contents is based strictly from memory. Unfortunately, most of my personal records for this time period is missing. The posts are basically "snap shots" in time.

The past post are describing events while attending the Minuteman II ILCS IQT program at Vandenberg AFB, CA. IQT being the Initial Qualification Training course that all ICBM crews attend to gain qualification to serve as an ICBM Combat Crew member.

Tim Hebert, 490th SMS, MM ILCS, 1981-1985

Monday, December 24, 2007

Seasons Greetings to the Crew Force

Wishing all of you old crewdogs, bears, line swine, shop pukes, and SMES evaluators a Merry Christmas, Hanuka, and overall great Holiday!

A Christmas Tale

I remember my first Christmas alert, Dec 25, 1981. Took Joe Leone's place so that he could be with his family, me being single and nothing better to do. Went out to Oscar 01 with Flight Commander Al Hunt. His wife made Santa hats with our ranks pinned in front. I had a very quiet and enjoyable alert. Bob hope addressed the entire SAC alert force via a hook up to the PAS (Primary Alerting System).

Merry Christmas Joe and Al, where ever you are. Thanks for the fond memories!

Tim Hebert, 490th SMS, MM ILCS, 1981-1985