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All Those Other Topics

While the AAFM Online Museum has galleries for almost every past and current Air Force missile system, there are a lot of topics that relate to more than one system, to the people involved with missiles or across the board.  In this gallery, we cover some of those topics, including badges and patches, uniforms, transport, missile reunion and social organizations and the Association of Air Force Missieeers, itself.   You will find separate pages for some of the topics, while others are covered here.

Badges and Patches 

Transporting Missiles and Missileers

Food and Missileers

Standardization, Evaluation and Inspection 

Airborne Launch Control System

Missiles and Going to War


In the early days of missiles, Missileers were usually found in whatever the standard work or utility uniform was at that time.  By the late 1950s, most enlisted members were wearing the standard two piece olive drab fatigue uniform, while most officers wore what was then called Class A or Class B dress uniforms, either the summer or winter version.  Fatigues might be short sleeved in the summer, and shirts worn untucked, and summer Class Bs were called Shade 505 or 1505, light tan colored short sleeve shirts with similar colored pants.  It is not unusual to find photographs of noncommissioned officers sitting at consoles in launch control centers also in various dress uniforms.  Officers seldom wore utility uniforms, and flight suits were reserved for only those on flight status.  

As the missile programs matured, standard white coveralls became the common uniform for missile crewmembers and some maintenance technicians.  These coveralls were similar to civilian painter's coveralls, were laundered and heavily starched by the base laundry, and not very comfortable.  One would occasionally see crewmembers in the missile procedures trainer in dress uniforms instead of the coveralls.

In late 1957, the Air Force replaced the white coveralls with a two piece utility uniform, similar to the olive drab fatigues, but dark blue in color.  Some of us discovered a Sears work uniform that was inexpensive and more comfortable, and was permanent press, so we began wearing those.  The two piece blues were replaced by a one-piece uniform in the late 1980s.

The one-piece blue uniform was similar to an Air Force flight suit, but was not fire retardant.  In 2000, this uniform was replaced with the standard Air Force flight suit, the "green bag."  At the same time, missile operators were authorized the wear of the leather flight jacket.   

Maintainers have worn the standard utility uniform and continue to do so.  That uniform has changed over the years, from the standard fatigues, to the Battle Dress Uniform, to more recent versions .  There have been and are some special purpose uniforms for specific tasks.  

One of the big differences in the Air Force overall is that, before the early 1990s, dress blue uniforms were worn by all but those who worked in the field or flight line.  With the Gulf Wars, that changed, so that everyone, office workers incluoded, wore flight suits or battle dress uniform day to day, seldom wearing dress unifomrms.

Photos - Top right, a mix of uniforms on an early Atlas crew, ight - a four man Titan II crew in whites, below, Minuteman maintenance in battle dress uniforms.

The ICBM Journey

The Air Force Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force,  and the intercontinental cruise missile and intermediate range cruise missiles that were parts of our deterrent force for a short time.  The Snark, Thor and Jupiter were all part of what has become the nuclear triad,   Atlas D entered the mix with the first alert in December 1957, followed by the new Atlas D, E and F and Titan I ICBMs that were becoming part of that force in the early1960s.  They were all part of Strategic Air Command, even the Thor and Jupiter, stationed in Europe.  By 1966, These early systems had been joined, and replaced, by 1,000 new Minuteman missiles and 54 Titan II missiles, all part of SAC.  AT one time , SAC had three numbered air forces (NAF), 2nd Air Force (AF), 8th AF and 15th AF, and each NAF had one or more missile units.  the mix that was assigned to each NAF changed over the years, with 20th AF activated 1 September 1991 and responsible for all of the OCBM wings.  SAC remained the major air command  responsible for two legs of the nuclear triad, bombers and land based missiles, until the Cold War ended and SAC was  shut down in 1 June 1992

The Chief of Staff of the Air Force at that time decided  that all combat forces should be under a single command, the new Air Combat Command (ACC), which had replaced Tactical Air Command at Langley AFB, Virginia.  On 1 June 1992, 20th AF and the ICBM force became part of ACC.  The new US Strategic Command, at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, would be the combatant command for nuclear forces, including ICBMs.

On 1 July 2003, 20th AF and the ICBM was moved under the Commander, Air Force Space Command, Peterson AFB, Colorado.  Over the next few years, there was an effort to combine the space and missile operations career fields.  However, in 2009, after several problems in what had become to be called the nuclear enterprise, senior leadership determined that the Air Force nuclear forces should be under a single command.

On 1 December 2009, Air Force Global strike Command was activated, with responsibility for all Air Force nuclear bombers and missiles.  20th AF and the ICBM wings, along with 2ne AF and the bomb wings with nuclear missions, became part of this new commnand. now commanded by a our star general. 

Missile Reunion, Heritage and Social Organizations

The end of the Cold War in the early 1990s stirred up a lot of activity in the heritage and reunion areas.  Many of us had left the service in recent years, or would soon, and the Air Force was rapidly changing.  One major event was the move of the Strategic Air Command Museum from Offutt AFB to a new location on the interstate west of Omaha.  During that process, Lt Gen Leo Smith, the last Vice Commander in Chief, SAC, and Col Ed Burchfield, who had been a missile wing commander, formed the Society of SAC.  About the same time, a number of Missileers formed AAFM.   Both SoSAC and AAFM had successful initial meetings, which seemed to kick off a great interest in both preserving our history and having further reunions.  

A lot of Missileers have put in a lot of hard work establishing unit reunion organizaitons.  The internet and social media has made it somewhat easier, but it still takes a lot of effort to get the work out, to organize meetings and to run the events.  There are a number of web pages and Facebook presences for missile units, and a number have one or more gatherings,  Some meet every year or two.  Some have joined AAFM at the AAFM National Meeting, and all have done a lot to enhance the public's knowledge of the ICBM business.  You can find information about active organizaitons on the AAFM Connections page.  

Missile Career Management History

During the peak of the ICBM force, in the 1960s to the 1980s, Strategic Air command put together a detailed career management plan for Air Force Missileers, both officer and enlisted.  There were missile officers and noncommissioned officers assigned to SAC Headquarters and to Air Force Personnel Center who worked Missileer assignment issues and provided advice and guidance to Missileers in the field.    The SAC Missile Career Development Handbook was published periodically, and the SAC office published bulletins and newsletters.  Members of the SAC staff travelled to the missile wings often for briefings and meetings with Missileers to help them decide about future assignments.  Some versions of the Handbook listed Missileers position at every level from the Air and Joint staff down to each unit, by position and Air Force Specialty Code, and even gave telephone contact information for some of the positions.  An operator or maintainer could review every unit or office, including special assignments, headquarters positions and geographic locations.  The Handbook also included information about each location, the local area and other information.  AAFM has some of these documents in our CD collection.

Mailing address:

P.O. Box 1767

Monument, CO 80132


The Association of Air Force Missileers

is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 

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