Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


351st Missile Wing

In June 1961, the Department of Defense chose Whiteman to host the fourth Minuteman ICBM wing. On 01 February 1963 the 351st Strategic Missile Wing was activated at Whiteman AFB, and the 351st SMW assumed host responsibilities for Whiteman on 01 September 1963. The 351st SMW traced its lineage to the 351st Bombardment Group, a unit that had seen extensive action throughout World War II. The 351st Strategic Missile Wing controled 150 Minuteman missiles scattered throughout a 16,000 square mile area in west-central Missouri. The 351st initially employed the Minuteman I weapons system until the mid-1960s when a force modernization program converted the Minuteman I to the Minuteman II. Throughout the ICBM's tenure with the 351st, it went through a variety of modifications to keep it at the forefront of America's defense. In the late 1980s, the 351st fielded the first female Minuteman missile crew, the first male and female Minuteman crew, and the first squadron commander to pull alert in the Minuteman system.

During April 1967, SAC sponsored the first missile combat competition at Vandenberg AFB in California. The 351st Strategic Missile Wing came home with the Blanchard Perpetual Trophy for recognition as the best missile wing within SAC. The Whiteman-based unit went on to receive many more such honors at these annual competitions that became known as Olympic Arena.

In October 1967, the 510th Strategic Missile Squadron received responsibilities for the Emergency Rocket Communications System (ERCS), which was mounted on Minuteman F missiles. Successful testing of this replacement for the Blue Scout Jr. rockets stationed in Nebraska had been completed at Vandenberg during the previous year. The ERCS mission involved the transmission of emergency action messages to United States nuclear forces in the event of an attack. The squadron maintained this mission until 1991.

During the 1970s Whiteman's missiles were involved in the integrated improvement program, which included hardening silos and installing command data buffers to facilitate quick missile retargeting. The completion of this program at Whiteman in January 1980, marked the end of the Air Force's last major Minuteman modification program. However, throughout the 1980s improvements to enhance missile accuracy, security, and survivability were made at the numerous launch complexes.

On November 12, 1984, four antinuclear demonstrators trespassed onto Launch Facility N-05 and caused $25,000 worth of damage. Arrested by SAC security police and brought before a U.S. District Court in Kansas City, the four demonstrators were tried, convicted, and ordered to serve sentences ranging from 8 to 18 years.

A SAC first occurred on March 25, 1986, when the first all-female crew manned one of the launch control centers. In 1988, for the first time, an all-female crew from Whiteman, along with a mixed-gender crew from Malmstrom AFB, Wyoming, competed in the Olympic Arena competition.

The September 28, 1991 order from President Bush to take Minuteman II missiles off alert status ended Whiteman's role as an active ICBM base. Subsequently, the Air Force removed Whiteman's 150 Minuteman II missiles from service.

Under the provisions of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty the Minuteman II system was inactivated. Whiteman AFB was home to the 351st Missile Wing until 31 July 1995, when the 351st MW and its missiles were inactivated. In July 1992, removal of the Minuteman IIs from their silos began, with the last missile removed in May 1995. The 351st Missile Wing oversaw 10,000 square miles of rural Missouri land dotted with 150 Minuteman II launch facilities and 15 launch control facilities. The 351st Missile Wing ran the base, even though it was preparing to deactivate its Minuteman II missile system. However, this arrangement changed on 01 July 1993, when the 509th Bomb Wing accepted host unit responsibilities. The 351st Missile Wing held its inactivation ceremony in Hangar 9 on 07 June 1995. Although the official inactivation did not occur until 31 July 1995, the wing held the ceremony in advance because most missile wing people were gone by the end of July.




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