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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

381st Strategic Missile Wing

The 381st Strategic Missile Wing was organized at McConnell AFB, Kansas on 1 March 1962. McConnell AFB spent a quarter century supporting 18 Titan II missile silos of the 381st Strategic Missile Wing that were planted in the surrounding region. The Air Force accepted the final silo on January 31, 1963. With the arrival of the Titan II missiles from the Martin plant near Denver, the 381st Strategic Missile Wing focused on bringing the weapons to alert status.

Operational readiness training for the missile crews took place mostly at Vandenberg AFB, California. The unit received its first Titan II ICBMs in January 1963. Its squadrons, the 532d Strategic Missile Squadron (ICBM-Titan) and 533d SMS (ICBM-Titan), became operational in December of the same year.

The wing was composed of two Strategic Missile Squadrons (the 532nd and the 533rd). These squadrons were each composed of nine ballistic launch complexes, each housing a Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. The Titan II being 105 feet long and 10 feet in diameter. The launch complex was about 150 feet deep and 50 feet in diameter including the twenty foot diameter launch tube which comprised its center.

The Titans were fully configured for immediate launch in a matter of two minutes. The launch sequence included a number of test and initiation functions as well as a 20 second door opening sequence. The Silo closure door weighed 780 tons and was locked down with hydraulicly operated locks, and raised on hydraulic jacks. The hydraulics also operated the radial motors that pulled the door open with 1.5 inch diameter steel cables (4 of them). Launch initiation was also accompanied with attenuation water which flowed 9000 gallons per minute for sound suppression and protection of the silo during the launch.

Launch crews were composed of four personnel. Two officers were responsible for launch initiation, while two enlisted crewmembers were responsible for equipment checkout, repair and readiness. All four crewmembers were together responsible for communications, and final responsibility for launch. With an average of eight alerts (duty shifts at the site) per month, a crewmember achieved 200 alerts in about two years.

On August 24, 1978, an accident involving an oxidizer leak at launch complex 533-7 killed two Air Force personnel, caused the temporary evacuation of local communities, and damaged the site. A more positive event occurred during the following month as First Lieutenant Patricia E. Dougherty became the first female officer to perform SAC Titan II alert.

On October 2, 1981, Deputy Secretary of Defense Frank l? Carlucci ordered the inactivation of the Titan II weapon system. For McConnell, the end began on July 2, 1984, when Launch Complex 533-8 was removed from alert status. This silo would be placed in caretaker status on August 31st. The deactivation process received a setback on November 2, 1984, when fire broke out at Launch Complex 532-7 after liquid fuel had been unloaded from a deactivated Titan II. As a result of the ensuing investigation, Headquarters Strategic Air Command and the Ogden Air Logistics Center determined that the accident could have been prevented if different procedures were followed. With implementation of these procedures, Titan II deactivation continued.

On August 8, 1986, the 381st Strategic Missile Wing became the second Titan II wing to be deactivated. The 381st was deactivated after providing twenty-plus years of strategic deterrence and winning numerous awards, including the SAC missile combat competition Blanchard Trophy in 1972, 1975, 1980, and 1983.

The 381st Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated at Gowen Field, Idaho, on 3 November 1942. The group moved to Ephrata AAB, Washington, where it was partially manned and then Pyote AAB, Texas, where 381st crews began their training in B-17s. In May 1943, the group began its overseas operations with the Eighth Air Force. The 381st operated chiefly against strategic objectives on the European Continent from June 1943 to April 1945. Bomb crews from the 381st saw action against Villacoublay, Amiens, St. Nazaire, Le Mans, Offenberg, Kassel, Leipzig, Gelsenkirchen, nitrate works in Norway, aircraft plants in Brussels, U-boat yards at Kiel, and ball-bearing works in Schweinfurt. The group's accurate performance against the shipyards at Bremen despite persistent enemy fighter attacks and heavy flak earned the unit its first Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) on 8 October 1943. A second DUC was awarded for similar action on 11 January 1944 during a mission against aircraft factories in central Germany. The 381st Bombardment Group participated in Big Week (20-25 February 1944), the Normandy invasion, the airborne assault on Holland, the Battle of the Bulge, the Allied crossing of the Rhine, and the final Allied push into Germany. After hostilities ended, the group transported repatriated prisoners of war from Germany to France.

The 381st Bombardment Group was inactivated on 28 August 1945 at Sioux Falls AAFld, South Dakota. The group was re-designated the 381st Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) and was activated in the Reserve at Offutt Field, Nebraska, from 24 July 1947 to 27 June 1949. The group was redesignated by Strategic Air Command (SAC) as the 381st Strategic Missile Wing and was organized at McConnell AFB, Kansas on 1 March 1962.

On 1 April 1994, the 381st was re-designated by Air Education and Training Command (AETC) as the 381st Training Group Provisional under Second Air Force and located at Vandenberg AFB, CA. The group, which was activated on 30 September 1994, is responsible for the consolidation of all space and missile training for Air Force Space Command.

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