News | Feb. 8, 2017

Vehicle operators keep the mission rolling at Malmstrom

By Jason Heavner 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

When it comes to the fleet of more than 800 vehicles that travel both on base and in the nearly 13,800 square mile missile field located in central Montana, the 341st Logistical Readiness Squadron vehicle operators are on hand to ensure that transportation needs are met for units to carry out mission objectives.

For a 341st LRS vehicle operator duties entail preparing government vehicles for temporarily assigned personnel, handling cargo by operating forklifts and retrieving vehicles that are in need of repair.

“It fluctuates as far as the number of vehicles we have to bring back for repair,” said Senior Airman Leonard Montoya, 341st LRS vehicle operator.  “On occasion, we may only bring in two to three in a week.  Other times, it can be two to three a day. The seasons play a part in that and right now, with freezing temperatures being a common occurrence, it does get a bit busy."

“Things can get pretty interesting when it comes to retrieving vehicles especially during the winter time,” he continued.  “This area has its share of icy roads, but as long as you take your time, develop patience and get there safely, that’s all that matters.”

On a day when there are no vehicles being retrieved, there’s always work to accomplish such as maintenance and upkeep of their fleet of vehicles.

“I like to think we’re like the Air Force’s answer to a car rental company,” said Senior Airman Ian Lauzon, 341st LRS vehicle operator.  “With that said, it’s all about keeping our vehicles clean and presentable at all times as well as making sure the fluids are up to date.  Something always comes up where a government vehicle needs to be used so it’s up to us to make a good impression.”

Another task vehicle operators accomplish is driving distinguished visitors during base visits and it’s one job that Montoya finds to be the highlight of being a vehicle operator.

“Doing that part of the job is a good way to get to know every aspect of the base,” said Montoya.  “It’s also a good way to visit high-level dignitaries.  I drove for the Secretary of the Air Force and the Secretary of Defense, so it’s a good way to meet them on a personal basis.”

Lauzon also agrees that transporting distinguished visitors is a highlight of the job. 

“It’s interesting to meet generals and to have that one-on-one interaction when you’re driving them around.  I also got to meet Gary Sinise that way so it can be a rewarding job,” said Lauzon.

Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the Malmstrom Air Force Base website.