Live, Laugh, MAF

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Evan Lichtenhan
  • 5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

The 91st Missile Wing (MW), like any wing, is akin to an orchestra composed of a variety of different instruments and musicians. Without the musician’s capability to play their instruments in a well-managed facility, the audience could never fully appreciate the symphony.

From chefs and missileers, defenders to medical personnel, this orchestra in support of the nation’s ICBM mission requires a vast array of Airmen with diverse skill sets to operate effectively. One such section, the facility manager (FM), serves as both a vital player in the orchestra in addition to someone who directs the day-to-day maintenance and upkeep of the missile alert facilities (MAFs).

While the FM’s primary responsibility involves general upkeep and functionality of the MAF, the true impact comes in the form of ensuring the quality of life and mission for Airmen deployed to the missile fields. The FMs keep everyone on their A-Game.

Additionally, the FM serves as the squadron commander’s primary representative while on duty at the MAF.

Tech. Sgt. Andrea Butler, 740th Missile Squadron MAF facility manager, recently switched sites from MAF Kilo-01 to Oscar-01. Butler, one of three FMs assigned to Oscar-01, rotates out to her MAF once every three weeks, as a part of the 91st MW deployment model, gaining responsibility of what’s referred to as the top-side mission.

“It looks like it’s going to be a really good site,” said Butler prior to taking over at Oscar-01. “It seems that all three FMs are going to be on the same page and that we are going to mesh together really well.”

Butler’s role as the Oscar-01 FM means more than ensuring the mission readiness of her teammates. Due to the facility’s proximity to the main installation, when senior leaders from off-station visit the missile fields to gain better understanding of day-to-day operations at Minot, Oscar-01 typically makes a prime opportunity for a deep-dive into the ICBM community.

Butler plays a vital role in telling the Air Force’s story, informing a variety of senior leaders and guests on the mission of the 740th Missile Squadron.

 Not only does Butler guarantee senior leaders have timely awareness of the day-to-day operations in the 91st MW, but she also ensures the Airmen in the missile field remain fully aware of the critical role they play in supporting the nation’s nuclear enterprise.

Butler understands Airmen are the key to the readiness and security of the 91st MW. Because of this, she takes time to talk with Airmen about how what they do matters.

“It’s always important to know your Airmen,” said Butler. “It’s not just here [at the MAF] as a facility manager, but it’s even more important given the environment we are in and the mission set that we do.”

Her passion for mentoring and listening to Airmen helps her help others to improve their careers and personal lives. Butler stated that on multiple occasions Airmen came to her asking for more private conversations requiring one-on-one coaching. After seeing that those around her feel comfortable enough to come talk with her, Butler stated she is grateful to have earned their trust and respect, but recognizes she must always continue to work for it.

One of the Airmen she’s had the opportunity to work with, Airman 1st Class Ralph Luna, a Defender in an Alarm Response Team for the 891st Security Forces Squadron, recently tripped out to Oscar-01 with Butler.

“I do enjoy coming out here,” said Luna. “It really depends who I’m going out with, who’s the FM and the chef.”

Taking the impact she can have on other Airmen’s experience at the MAF into account, as soon as people arrive on site, the first thing Butler does is talk to them and get to know how they think, act and operate.

“I sit down and I talk to them. I find out where they're from, what they like to do, their hobbies, how long they’ve been here, and then I tell them my expectations on what I expect them to do,” said Butler.

Butler said keeping the morale high as well as maintaining a friendly and social environment is important for not only the Airmen’s health but also mission readiness.

“As long as we have fun and keep it upbeat, then the seven days go by just like that. But if you’re miserable, the food is horrible, or you’re uncomfortable in your room, then it makes for a rough week. A lot of people are used to embracing the suck…but why? Say something!” said Butler.

Maintaining a missile alert facility is not only about making sure it is fully operational, but also making sure that the Airmen are in a comfortable, welcoming environment. It is not an easy job, but for Butler, it is certainly rewarding.