Answering Our Nation’s Call: The Life & Times of a Missile Alert Facility Manager

Written by: Airman 1st Class Trust Tate, 5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


At first glance the fields surrounding Minot may seem desolate with dirt roads, wildlife and endless fields. However, if you look a little closer, you’ll see areas teeming with human activity.

Surrounding Minot are fortresses enclosed with chain-link fencing operating, preserving, and protecting the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile. These enclosures are also known as Missile Alert Facilities.
The ICBM mission is essential to the United States’ strategy of nuclear deterrence.

The brave men and women who manage and protect these facilities are missileers monitoring the missile, security forces members safeguarding the site, chefs feeding the people on site, and the missile alert facility manager making sure everything runs smoothly.

MAFs operate 24 hours above and below ground around the clock, with personnel working 12-hour shifts and being housed on site.

“Our job as Missile Alert Facility managers is to take care of the members and the facility in which the intercontinental ballistic missile mission takes place in the missile field,” said Staff Sgt. Edward Maruna, 742nd Missile Squadron facility manager. “We do just about everything around the MAF to include taking care of the grounds, like mowing in the summer, snow removal in the winter, and small jobs such as painting and replacing carpet.”

Maruna states that facility managers (FM) are an absolute necessity in regards to missile safety, and the wellbeing of those safeguarding them.

“The MAFs don’t operate without us, our whole job is to maintain the facility and people,” Maruna states. “If we’re not here the snow is not getting moved, security forces won’t be able to hit the missile sites, and that leaves assets unsupervised which can leave them compromised.”

Maruna acts in direct support of the Airmen working on site, so he does his best to make sure they are comfortable and motivated to tackle the mission.

“When everyone’s out here this is their home, and it’s our job to make sure that they’re comfortable and safe,” Maruna said. “They can come back and recharge, so when they go do their jobs they’re 100% ready to go.”
The 91st SFG equips each missile site with two Airmen around the clock day and night.
“The facility manager helps out alot, especially in the wintertime”, states Airman 1st Class Fabian Santa-Maria, 91st SFG. “Snow is two feet in the air and he’s plowing it in minus 50 degrees.”

Maruna said he wishes the FM job was more publicized, as he would’ve applied for the special duty position earlier in his eight years of service.

“I felt stuck in my maintenance job and I didn’t feel motivated, so I applied for a facility manager job and it brought me up to Minot.” said Maruna. “The morale and attitude is way higher than anywhere else I’ve worked, including civilian life,” Maruna states.

Every day citizens drive past these facilities without fully understanding the weight of what’s being kept behind the gates; however, Maruna is all too familiar with what it takes to maintain them.

The 24/7 responsibility of a Missile Alert Facility manager requires nonstop vigilance, so as the rest of America sleeps, they don’t.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Edward Maruna, 742nd Missile Squadron facility manager, prepares for his daily equipment check at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, July 7, 2023. As the facility manager, Maruna is responsible for the functionality and maintenance of the equipment on the missile site. Missile sites are essential to the United States’ strategy of nuclear deterrence. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Trust Tate)

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