341st Missile Wing

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341st Space Wing logoMost people know the military installation here in Great Falls as “Malmstrom Air Force Base.” All AF bases have names – usually in honor of an Airman who did something amazing or perished while in flight. Malmstrom, for example, is named in honor of Colonel Einar Axel Malmstrom. But Air Force bases also have numerical & mission designations……in the case of Malmstrom, the number is 341 and the mission is space. Hence, the official term for the “host” organization at Malmstrom is the 341st Space Wing. A “wing” is a large AF unit that encompasses several smaller units known as “groups,” such as a Maintenance Group and a Medical Group.
As many of you know, the primary mission of Malmstrom is to maintain and operate nuclear missiles, which was reflected in the former names of the host unit: the 341st Strategic Missile Wing and the 341st Missile Wing. In the mid-90s, however, there was a “forced marriage” between various career fields and missions in the Air Force, and missileers were lumped into the broad category of “space operators.”
But now, in light of recent events, the base is being renamed to more accurately reflect its core mission; at 4:00 pm today, it will be re-designated as the 341st Missile Wing. Nothing else will really change, except the name on the main gate, the patches, and a few signs, but symbolically, this move will bolster the pride of the Airmen assigned to maintain, operate, and protect the nation’s ICBMs.

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8 Comments

  1. I have great memories of times when ‘the guys’ worked for “341st Strategic Missile Wing” part of “Strategic Air Command (SAC)”

    Is my age showing?

    LOL…good times

  2. EEW. Way to depersonalize the military even further.

    My friend’s father was Commander of Malmstrom for years, and was beloved by the men and women that reported to him.

    Thanks for the very thorough and coherent expanation, David. Most civilians don’t know that stuff. I did a special project for AFSATCOM in the Mountain once.

    However, the Navy has the most goat-gagging unbelievably long acronyms of all the armed services. I used to joke, “continued on next sign”.

  3. I am confused, I thought SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) became the root of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). I haven’t heard of SHAPE in years.

  4. Bivings, Robert Jr. on

    “I TRULY LOVE GREATFALLS, MT”
    .
    This was one of my very best assignments while serving in the United States Air force.
    I still have my 1972 Dodge Challenger that I purchased while stationed there in Great Falls (1976-1978).
    I miss the snow, people, scenery, river, fishing, parks and everything included with just living a wonderful life.
    Thank you Great Falls for opening my eyes to that real life experience that you truly offer to us all. You made a real positive impression in my life and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Robert Bivings Jr / U.S.A.F. (Ret)

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