by Robert Hastings
According to now-retired USAF Technical Sergeant John W. Mills III, the events described below occurred in late December 1978, or early January 1979, outside of Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, at one of the base’s remote Minuteman missile launch facilities. At the time, Mills was an airman assigned to the 44th Organizational Missile Maintenance Squadron (OMMS).
After I interviewed Mills, he provided me with various USAF records relating to his assignment, including security clearances and performance reviews. Regarding the latter, year after year, his superiors gave him the highest possible scores.
During two taped interviews, combined here, Mills told me, “I was an Airman 1st Class at the time, part of a two-man Combat Targeting Team. A week, maybe two, after Christmas 1978, I was dispatched out to the Delta [Flight] missile field, to do a targeting alignment procedure called RMAD [Reference Mirror Azimuth Alignment], which measures earth movement—whether the site has moved or not—so that the targeting would be accurate. My team chief was on Christmas leave so I was paired with a temporary chief, 2nd Lt. ------. We were on-site at Delta-3. It was about 6 to 6:30 at night.