Minuteman Missile is establishing new records for visitation during 2009 while the seasonal ranger staff continues to provide facility upkeep for the historic site and guided tours for the visiting public. Eleven seasonal employees are assisting the permanent staff with high numbers of visitors to one of our nation’s newest national park areas. Interest in the site has been so popular that reservations, beginning back in April, have filled most of the tour slots through July. June 2009 saw a 22% increase over June of last year and the trend is continuing for the remainder of the summer.
In anticipation of the busy summer, site managers began preparation earlier this year to hire additional seasonal employees to assist with operations. “Not only are we witnessing increases in visitation, our seasonal staff is also growing to meet some of the demands,” said site Superintendent Mark Herberger. “Having eleven seasonals this year doubles the number from previous summers and we are very proud of their efforts and achievements so far. We wouldn’t be able to accomplishment half of our facility maintenance, grounds keeping, interpretive research, and visitor services if it were not for the newest members of the Minuteman Missile team.”
The seasonal appointments consist of three park interpretive rangers, one law enforcement ranger, four volunteers, two maintenance workers, and an intern. Laborer Jason Schwager from Ellsworth Air Force Base, but residing in Philip for the season, is the most recent addition whose duties focus on maintaining the historic structures and assets at the former Delta-01 Launch Control Center. Pete Mazella is a volunteer from the Black Hills assisting with administration and management operations. Pete discovered the national historic site through the Plus 50 course offered by Western Dakota Tech.
Four members of the seasonal staff had previous careers with the U.S. Air Force serving as officers during the Cold War at Minuteman Launch Control Facilities in the upper Great Plains. Kerry Davis and Al Hall reside in Rapid City, Al Martens is from Sioux Falls and Dennis Cabrera from California. While guiding tours, all four provide visitors with a fascinating personal perspective of their duties in the former missile. Another seasonal interpreter is Pastor Ron Burtz of the EvangelicalFreeBibleChurch in Wall. Ron says “It has been a great learning opportunity for me. I lived next to these missiles for years without ever being exposed to what the people who manned these bases experienced.”
Minuteman Missile NHS was established by Congress in 1999 to tell the story of the Minuteman ICBM system, including the development of the system, the personnel who served at the 1,000 sites throughout the upper Great Plains, and the impact of the system on the communities nearby. Administration of Delta-01 and Delta-09 was transferred from the United States Air Force in September 2002 to the National Park Service. More information about the site can be found on the internet at www.nps.gov/mimi. Visitors wishing to visit the site later in August or September should reserve their spots as soon as possible. Reservations can be made by calling the Minuteman Missile headquarters office at 605-433-5552 between 8 A.M. and 4:30 P.M. MST, Monday - Friday. A reserved tour takes approximately two hours and the service is free.