Puneet Varma (Editor)

91st Missile Wing

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Country  United States
Role  Strategic deterrence
Type  Missile
91st Missile Wing
Active  1948–1957, 1963-Present
Branch  United States Air Force
Size  150 Minuteman III missiles 290 officers, 1,500 enlisted members and 25 civilian employees

The 91st Missile Wing (91 MW) is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Force Global Strike Command Twentieth Air Force. It is stationed at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota as a tenant unit.


The 91 MW is one of the Air Force's three intercontinental ballistic missile wings. The missile wing, whose members are known as the Rough Riders, is responsible for defending the United States by maintaining a fleet of 150 Minuteman III missiles and 15 Launch Control Centers located in underground facilities scattered across the northwest part of the state. The wing's missile complex stretches over 8,500 square miles—approximately the same size as Massachusetts.

The wing's on-alert missiles are under the operational control of the nation's strategic war-fighting command, U.S. Strategic Command, based at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

The wing's predecessor, the World War II 91st Bombardment Group (Heavy) was a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress unit formed at MacDill Field, Florida and subsequently stationed with Eighth Air Force in England. It was one of the first United States Army Air Forces (AAF) heavy bombardment groups deployed to Europe in 1942. The 91st Bomb Group was stationed at RAF Bassingbourn and is most widely known as the unit in which the bomber Memphis Belle flew, and for having suffered the greatest number of losses of any heavy bombardment group in World War II.

As part of Strategic Air Command (SAC), the 91st wing was one of SAC's longest-lasting and most versatile wings. It was a strategic reconnaissance wing from 1948 to 1957 and a B-52 bombardment wing from 1963 to 1968. Its men flew virtually every plane in the SAC inventory. It became a missile wing in June 1968. On 1 July 2008 it was designated as the 91st Missile Wing.

The 91st Missile Wing is commanded by Colonel Michael J. Lutton. Its Command Chief Master Sergeant is Chief Master Sergeant John A. Burks.


The wing's major organizations include:

  • 91st Operations Group
  • 91st Maintenance Group
  • 91st Missile Maintenance Squadron 791st Maintenance Squadron.
  • 91st Security Forces Group
  • The wing headquarters includes several special staff functions, such as plans and inspections, financial management, and safety.


    For additional history and lineage, see 91st Operations Group

    91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing

    The 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing was constituted 11 October 1948 and activated 10 November at McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey as one of the first wings organized under the United States Air Force wing base reorganization (Hobson Plan). Under this plan, it was assigned the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Group, which had been at McGuire for four months, as its operational element. The wing and group moved to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana in 1949. RB-29J bombers were assigned to the wing and its primary mission was global strategic reconnaissance. The group was inactivated in June 1952 when Strategic Air Command converted to the Dual Deputate organization. Under this plan flying squadrons reported to the wing Deputy Commander for Operations and maintenance squadrons reported to the wing Deputy Commander for Maintenance. The squadrons had been attached to the wing and the group reduced to a paper unit in February 1951.

    In 1950 the wing began receiving air refueling aircraft, first modified KB-29s, then the Boeing KC-97 Stratotanker. In 1950, the 91st was redesignated the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, Medium. At Barksdale, its wing headquarters was integrated with that of the 301st Bombardment Wing from April 1950 to February 1951. Although each wing conducted independent tactical operations, both were commanded by the same headquarters. The wing detached components for up to three months, primarily to England, and maintained detachments from other units, to provide ongoing reconnaissance of overseas areas.

    On 11 September 1951, the Wing' moved to Lockbourne Air Force Base, Ohio from Barksdale. The mission of the 91st SRW was to provide aerial reconnaissance and mapping services. It was equipped with aircraft fitted with cameras to perform this mission, including B/RB-45 and the B/YRB-47.

    When the wing moved to Lockbourne, a detachment of the wing deployed to Yokota Air Base, Japan, performing combat reconnaissance for Far East Air Forces over the Korean Peninsula flying with RB-29 Superfortresses. Over North Korea, RB-29s were confronted daily by People's Liberation Army Air Force MiG-15s and were no longer able to perform reconnaissance, targeting, and bomb-damage assessment photography with impunity.

    The RB-45C unit was attached to the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron and began flying reconnaissance missions over northwestern Korea. The RB-45Cs were able to evade the MiGs for several months, but on 9 April 1951 one of the RB-45Cs had a close call and was barely able to escape a numerically superior enemy. At that time, it was decided that RB-45s could no longer go into northwestern Korea without fighter escort. Another close call on 9 November 1951 caused the RB-45s to be restricted from entering northwestern Korean airspace in daylight even when fighter escort was available. In January 1952, the 91st Squadron was ordered to convert to night operations. Some RB-45Cs were painted all black so that they would not show up on enemy searchlights. However, the RB-45s were not well suited for night photography because the aircraft buffeted too badly when the forward bomb bay doors were opened to drop flash bombs. The RB-45s were withdrawn from the Korean theatre shortly thereafter, bringing the Korean experience with the RB-45 to an end.

    On 29 July 1952, A 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing RB-45C commanded by Major Louis H. Carrington made the first nonstop trans-Pacific flight by a multi-engine jet aircraft from. The plane flew from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska to Yokota Air Base in Japan. Major Carrington refueled twice Knaack, Marcelle Size (1988). Encyclopedia of US Air Force Aircraft and Missile Systems. Vol. 2, Post-World War II Bombers 1945–1973. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-59-5.  from KB-29s along the way. This feat earned the crew the 1952 Mackay Trophy for the most meritorious USAF flight of the year.

    The 91st SRW won the SAC reconnaissance, photographic, and navigation competition and the P. T. Cullen Award in 1955 and 1956. From Aug to November 1956 most of the wing deployed overseas in detachments to North Africa, Newfoundland and Greenland. These detachments were not under the operational control of the small establishment remaining at Lockbourne.

    The wing was inactivated in November 1957.

    91st Bombardment Wing

    4141st Strategic Wing

    The origins of the wing as a bomber organization began on 1 September 1958 when Strategic Air Command (SAC) established the 4141st Strategic Wing (SW) at Glasgow Air Force Base, Montana. Glasgow was a World War II training airfield which had been reopened the previous year as an Air Defense Command base for interceptor aircraft of the 476th Fighter Group, which was the host unit at Glasgow. SAC assigned the wing to Fifteenth Air Force, and it was transferred to the 821st Air Division in July 1959, but remained a headquarters only until April 1960 when the increasing role of SAC at Glasgow in connection with SAC's plan to disperse its Boeing B-52 Stratofortress heavy bombers over a larger number of bases (making it more difficult for the Soviet Union to knock out the entire fleet with a surprise first strike) led to the transfer of the base to SAC. The 4141st became the host at Glasgow and was assigned the 4141st Combat Support Group and the 861st Medical Group to fulfil this mission.

    The wing did not become an operational unit until 1961. In January the 68th Munitions Maintenance Squadron was activated to oversee the wing's special weapons. In April three maintenance squadrons were activated and the 326th Bombardment Squadron (BS), consisting of 15 Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses moved to Glasgow from Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington where it had been one of the three squadrons of the 92d Bombardment Wing. One third of the wing's aircraft were maintained on fifteen-minute alert, fully fueled, armed and ready for combat to reduce vulnerability to a Soviet missile strike. This was increased to half the wing's aircraft in 1962. The 4141st (and later the 91st) continued to maintain an alert commitment until inactivation except for periods when the wing deployed to support Operation Arc Light missions. On 1 July 1962 the wing was reassigned to the 810th Air Division (later the 810th Strategic Aerospace Division). However, SAC Strategic Wings could not carry a permanent history or lineage and SAC looked for a way to make its Strategic Wings permanent.

    91st Bombardment Wing

    In 1962, in order to perpetuate the lineage of many currently inactive bombardment units with illustrious World War II records, Headquarters SAC received authority from Headquarters USAF to discontinue its Major Command controlled (MAJCON) strategic wings that were equipped with combat aircraft and to activate Air Force controlled (AFCON) units, most of which were inactive at the time which could carry a lineage and history. As a result, the 4141st SW was replaced by the 91st Bombardment Wing, Heavy (91st BW), which assumed its mission, personnel, and equipment on 1 February 1963. In the same way the 322d Bombardment Squadron, one of the unit's World War II historical bomb squadrons, replaced the 326th BS. The 861st Medical Group and the 68th Munitions Maintenance Squadron were reassigned to the 91st. Component support units were replaced by units with 91st numerical designation of the newly established wing. Each of the new units assumed the personnel, equipment, and mission of their predecessors. Four months later, the wing added an air refueling mission when the 907th Air Refueling Squadron, equipped with Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers was activated at Glasgow.

    The 91st Bombardment Wing continued to conduct strategic bombardment training and air refueling operations to meet operational commitments of Strategic Air Command. From 11 September 1966 to 31 March 1967 the entire wing, except for a small rear echelon, was integrated into the Operation Arc Light force at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam for combat in Southeast Asia. From 5 February to 15 April 1968, the wing deployed to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa in response to the Pueblo Incident.

    By 1968, Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) had been deployed and become operational as part of the United States' strategic triad, and the need for B-52s had been reduced. In addition, funds were also needed to cover the costs of combat operations in Indochina. The 91st Bombardment Wing became nonoperational in May 1968 when Glasgow was temporarily closed and the wing's component units were inactivated in July.

    91st Missile Wing

    On 25 June 1968, the wing moved to Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. There it was redesignated the 91st Strategic Missile Wing and absorbed the mission, personnel, and LGM-30A Minuteman I missiles of the inactivating 455th Strategic Missile Wing. There it maintained its strategic missiles in a state of operational readiness,

    The first LGM-30G Minuteman III missile to arrive in the field was accepted by the 91st Strategic Missile Wing on 14 April 1970. The following August, the first Minutemen IIIs were placed on alert status. By December 1971, the switchover to the new missile was completed. With the inactivation of SAC in 1992, the wing became part of Air Combat Command.

    The wing was a five-time winner of the Blanchard Trophy awarded by SAC and later Air Force Space Command for the winner of the combat missile competition. It also won the Lee R. Williams Memorial Missile Trophy five times as the command's best missile wing and the Thomas S. Moorman Trophy as Space Command's outstanding wing in 1996.

    On 1 July 1994, along with other missile units, the wing was transferred to AF Space Command. On 1 October 1997, it was redesignated as the 91st Space Wing. On 1 July 2008, it was once again designated the 91st Missile Wing. Along with Twentieth Air Force, the wing transferred from Air Force Space Command to Air Force Global Strike Command in December 2009.

    In 2009 two missile officers, were charged with stealing classified missile launch technology. The classified material- a device used to detect equipment tampering in the launch facility, was taken in July 2005. The theft came to light in May 2008. The officers were allowed to resign from the Air Force in lieu of facing courts martial.

    On 14 October 2009 the wing commander, as well as the 91st Maintenance Group commander, and 91st Missile Maintenance Squadron commander, were relieved of command by the commander of Twentieth Air Force for loss of confidence in their ability to command. The reliefs followed incidents including the crash of a truck carrying missile components on 31 August 2009, a similar truck crash in July 2008, and a failed wing nuclear surety inspection. Colonel Ferdinand Stoss was named the new wing commander; he had previously been serving as vice commander of the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming.

    In May 2013, press reports indicated that the wing had been rated "marginal" when tested on Minuteman III launch operations. A USAF spokesperson characterized this as the equivalent of a "D" grade in school. Lt. Col. Jay Folds, deputy commander of the 91st Operations Group described the unit as "in a crisis." Seventeen missile launch officers were removed from duty as a result of their performance in this evaluation. In addition, another officer faced potential disciplinary action for intentionally violating nuclear safety rules that had the potential to compromise launch codes for the wing's missiles.


  • Constituted as 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing on 11 October 1948
  • Activated on 10 November 1948 Redesignated 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, Medium on 6 July 1950 Inactivated on 8 November 1957
  • Redesignated 91st Bombardment Wing, Heavy on 15 November 1962 and activated (not organized)
  • Organized on 1 February 1963 Redesignated: 91st Strategic Missile Wing on 25 June 1968 Redesignated: 91st Missile Wing on 1 September 1991 Redesignated: 91st Missile Group on 1 July 1994 Redesignated: 91st Missile Wing on 1 February 1996 Redesignated: 91st Space Wing on 1 October 1997 Redesignated: 91st Missile Wing on 1 July 2008



  • 91st Air Base Group (later 91st Combat Support Group): 10 November 1948 – 28 May 1952, 1 February 1963 – 25 June 1968, 1 August 1972 – 22 June 1988
  • 91st Maintenance & Supply Group (later 91st Maintenance Group, 91st Logistics Group, 91st Maintenance Group): 20 November 1948 – 10 February 1951, 14 February 1952 – 28 May 1952, 1 September 1991 – 1 July 1994, c. 1 February 1996 – present
  • 91st Security Police Group (later 91st Missile Security Group, 91st Security Forces Group): 1 October 1973 – c. 1 July 1994, c. 2003–present
  • 91st Station Medical Group (later 91st Medical Group, 91st Medical Squadron, 91st Medical Group, 91st Tactical Hospital): 10 November 1948 – 8 November 1957
  • 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Group (later, 91st Operations Group): 10 November 1948 – 28 May 1952; 1 September 1991 – 1 July 1994; 1 February 1996 – present.
  • 861st Medical Group: 1 February 1963 – 25 June 1968
  • 4091st Operations Group: 1 July 1988 – 14 February 1991
  • Assigned Operational Squadrons

  • 91st Air Refueling Squadron: 28 May 1952 – 8 November 1957
  • 322d Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (later, 322d Bombardment Squadron): 28 May 1952 – 8 November 1957; 1 February 1963 – 25 June 1968
  • 323d Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron: assigned 28 May 1952 – 8 November 1957 (detached to 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing 19 September 1949 – 10 October 1949, to unknown 12 January 1954 – 26 February 1954)
  • 324th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron: 28 May 1952 – 8 November 1957
  • 740th Strategic Missile (later, 740th Missile) Squadron: 25 June 1968 – 1 July 1988; 14 February-1 September 1991; 1 July 1994 – 1 February 1996
  • 741st Strategic Missile (later, 741st Missile) Squadron: 25 June 1968 – 1 July 1988; 14 February-1 September 1991; 1 July 1994 – 1 February 1996
  • 742d Strategic Missile (later, 742d Missile) Squadron: 25 June 1968 – 1 July 1988; 14 February-1 September 1991; 1 July 1994 – 1 February 1996
  • 907th Air Refueling Squadron: 1 July 1963 – 25 June 1968
  • Attached Operational Squadrons

  • 16th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron (Special): 10 November 1948 – 1 June 1949
  • 26th Air Refueling Squadron: 28 May 1952 – 1 June 1953
  • 38th Reconnaissance Squadron: 1 November 1950 – 5 January 1951
  • 68th Air Refueling Squadron: 5 May 1952 – 28 May 1952
  • 91st Reconnaissance Squadron (later 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron): 22 January 1949 – 25 March 1949
  • 100th Air Refueling Squadron: 23 May 1953 – 24 November 1953
  • 338th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron: 1 November 1950 – 24 November 1950
  • 343d Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron: 1 November 1950 – 3 January 1951
  • Maintenance Squadrons

  • 91st Armament & Electronics Maintenance Squadron (later 91st Avionics Maintenance Squadron): 28 May 1952 – 8 November 1957, 1 February 1963 – 25 June 1968
  • 91st Maintenance Squadron (later 91st Field Maintenance Squadron, 91st Maintenance Squadron, 91st Missile Maintenance Squadron): 10 Feb 1951 - 12 Feb 1952, 28 May 1952 – 8 November 1957, 1 February 1963 – 25 June 1968, c. 1 July 1994 – present
  • 91st Missile Maintenance Squadron (later 91st Field Missile Maintenance Squadron): 1 July 1963 – 30 September 1975, 30 September 1975 – c. 1 July 1994
  • 91st Periodic Maintenance Squadron (later 91st Organizational Maintenance Squadron, 91st Organizational Missile Maintenance Squadron): 28 May 1952 – 8 November 1957, 1 February 1963 – 25 June 1968, 30 September 1975 – c. 1 July 1994
  • 4211th Armament & Electronics Maintenance Squadron: 10 February 1951 – 28 May 1952
  • 4211th Organizational Maintenance Squadron: 10 February 1951 – 28 May 1952
  • Other

  • USAF Regional Hospital, Minot: 1 August 1972 – 22 June 1988
  • Stations

  • McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, 10 November 1948
  • Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, 1 October 1949
  • Lockbourne Air Force Base, Ohio, 11 September 1951 – 8 November 1957
  • Glasgow Air Force Base, Montana, 1 February 1963
  • Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, since 25 June 1968
  • Awards

  • In addition to the awards earned by the wing it is also authorized through temporary bestowal the awards and campaign credits earned by the 91st Operations Group before 10 November 1948
  • Missile Alert Sites

    LGM-30G Minuteman III Missile Alert Facilities (MAF) (each controlling 10 missiles) are located as follows:

  • 740th Missile Squadron
  • A-01 2.3 mi WxNW of Balfour ND, 47°58′00″N 100°34′51″W B-01 8.6 mi SxSW of Voltaire ND, 47°54′31″N 100°55′37″W C-01 9.2 mi SxSW of Ruso ND, 47°42′52″N 101°00′36″W D-01 1.8 mi S of Max ND, 47°47′42″N 101°17′54″W E-01 10.8 mi SW of Douglas ND, 47°45′02″N 101°40′29″W
  • 741st Missile Squadron
  • F-01 8.3 mi WxNW of Douglas ND, 47°53′46″N 101°40′26″W G-01 7.1 mi N of Plaza SD, 48°07′11″N 101°57′38″W H-01 4.3 mi WxNW of Parshall ND, 47°58′27″N 102°13′20″W I-01 4.3 mi ExNE of Stanley ND, 48°20′42″N 102°18′16″W J-01 9.8 mi NW of Berthold ND, 48°24′43″N 101°53′29″W
  • 742d Missile Squadron
  • K-01 8.8 mi SxSW of Kenmare ND, 48°33′02″N 102°07′12″W L-01 1.5 mi SW of Bowbells ND, 48°47′21″N 102°16′06″W M-01 9.1 mi E of Kenmare ND, 48°40′22″N 101°52′31″W N-01 3.7 mi W of Mohall ND, 48°45′34″N 101°35′31″W O-01 9.5 mi NW of Maxbass ND, 48°49′28″N 101°16′55″W


    91st Missile Wing Wikipedia

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