by Thea Skinner
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
A symbol of the Cold War stands tall at Peterson Air Force Base, with the dedication of a Minuteman III LGM-30G ICBM Aug. 11.
About 150 attendees gathered at the site of the new display near the North Gate at the corner of Peterson Boulevard and Otis Street. The missile is the first to showcase the ICBM legacy for Peterson and Colorado Springs.
“As with all of our historical displays it is important to note that we are not honoring a weapon, rather this is a symbol that represents the dedication to perfection of all the silent sentinels, maintainers, communicators and defenders who have served over the past 50 years in defense of our great nation, and to all those who currently serve, and will serve, every single day around the clock,” said Col. Wayne Monteith, 21st Space Wing vice commander.
In July, Air Force Space Command officially realigned its ICBM mission to the new Air Force Global Strike Command and gained responsibility for the Air Force cyberspace mission.
“This wonderful display behind us is a tremendous legacy to the operational force that we have out there today, and the commitment of the men and women whom operate, sustain, secure and maintain it,” said Gen. C. Robert Kehler, AFSPC commander. “It is a great celebration of men and women who serve today and who have served before them, many of them who are in this audience today, in this ICBM mission, contributing to the country’s foundation of its defense — that’s its strategic deterrence force.”
The missile display is an effort to enhance knowledge of the missile’s deterrent role in the nation’s defense. A display board at the site describes the use of the missile in correlation with the underground weapons system.
“This is an exceptionally significant display for us, because the ICBM mission is moving. (The missile) is a good focal point to center around the ICBM heritage and describes how Air Force Space Command ties into the old strategic command,” said Gail Whalen, Peterson Air and Space Museum director. “There was nothing here before this to showcase the ICBM history.”
The construction, labor and landscaping for the display project cost $250,000, which was allocated to a contract awarded to APM Construction. The budgetary money from Congress was awarded through the Simplified Acquisition of Base Engineering Requirements program, which expedites contracts.
Located on base for about five years, APM Construction, a local small business, assembled the display and constructed the exhibit. The display belongs to the Air Force and the National Museum of the Air Force.
In February 2008 initial planning and collaboration between the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron, AFSPC, and the museum ignited the missile’s travel to the base. A three-person engineering team took three days to piece together three sections of the missile atop a six-foot deep cement foundation. The missile display is the first display that Peterson civil engineering built.
“It’s a complex project — unique. It is not like piecing together a building — the interesting part has been the missile itself and the foundation for it. It required special measure to make sure concrete that thick does not get that hot,” said Brian Hub 21st CES project manager overseeing the missile.
The missile, painted in warrior colors, mirrors how the missile appears in its silo, instead of a white color painted on other static displays. The missile display includes six Air Force wing mission emblems, past and present, equipped with the Minuteman III, etched into stone in a natural urban pocket park setting.
“It is not just a display of a missile, but the history of the men and women that serve,” said Paul Scoggins, 21st CES operations landscape architect and designer of the display. “I feel it will intrigue people enough to draw them to the museum itself.”
The missile is part of a future Triangle Plan in conjunction with the base’s BluePrint-2050 Plan for development. The triangle development is a walkable community that combines work environments, food courts, and living areas in a central location.
“We want to maintain continuity on base and we are trying to establish a standard,” Mr. Scoggins said. “Once you are there (the pocket park) you do not have to get into your car and go anywhere — it will become the center of the base. As we start to set-up this triangle you will see how it becomes a pocket point.”
Since 1993, AFSPC has led the charge of land-based nuclear weapons working to reinvigorate the Air Force Nuclear Enterprise. The missile is presently on alert at several Air Force bases in the United States. As part of the 21st SW, the museum has 22 aircrafts and missiles on display to preserve and portray the rich aviation and space history of Colorado Springs and Peterson Air Force Base.