The 321st Strategic Missile Wing was the sixth, and last United States Air Force LGM-30 Minuteman ICBM wing. In 1962, the Air Force announced that the Grand Forks AFB would be first to deploy the new LGM-30F Minuteman II missile (The previous deployments were all Minuteman I). Sylvania won the contract to build all the Launch Control centers and the launcher sites. Flooding during the winter and spring of 1964 and 1965 proved to be a serious issue with the missile silos under construction, as many flooded components, such as diesel generators, had to be returned to the factory for rehabilitation. The Launch Control Centers were built by Sylvania, rather than Boeing which constructed the facilities at the other Minuteman bases and were much larger and had a different underground design. Also, the site designation system at Grand Forks was different with each Flight LCC or MAF ending in zero rather than one as in the other 5 Minuteman Wings. In addition, the Grand Forks launch facilities had a hardened Launcher Equipment Building as opposed to the earlier five Minuteman wings that had softer Launcher Support Buildings. The Sylvania Minuteman system of the 321st Missile Wing at Grand Forks AFB as well as the Odd Squad 564th Strategic Missile Squadron at Malmstrom AFB utilized a double or redundant Deuce communication system with the Hardened Intersite Cable System or HICS backed up with radio capability for command and control of the missiles.
On 1 November 1964, the 321st SMW was activated by Strategic Air Command. As personnel began to report to the 321st, the wing trained for the day when the Minuteman II missile would be placed on alert status. In August 1965, the 321st received its first Minuteman II missile, shipped by train from assembly plant 77 at Hill AFB, Utah. During the following March, the base received the first Minuteman II to be shipped via aircraft, an Air Force first. On 26 April 1966, the 447th Strategic Missile Squadron and its 50 Minuteman II missiles were declared operational. Additional flights came on line throughout 1966. On 7 December the 321st Strategic Missile Wing, with its component 446th, 447th, and 448th Strategic Missile Squadrons, became fully operational.
From December 1971 to March 1973, the 321st converted to LGM-30G Minuteman III missiles. These missiles represented a significant technological advancement, having multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs).
With the restructuring of the Air Force after the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s the 321st first came under Air Combat Command and then Air Force Space Command jurisdiction. In March 1995, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) selected the 321st Missile Wing for inactivation. Initially downgraded to a Group in July 1994, the 321st was inactivated, with its three component missile squadrons on 30 September 1998. The 446th Strategic Missile Squadron completed its mission of mission transfer first in late November 1996, followed by the 448th Strategic Missile Squadron in September 1997 and lastly the 447th Strategic Missile Squadron in June 1998.
The last Alert pulled at each Launch Control Center and the last time a warhead or missile was pulled from its silo according to pictures taken of art work / wall murals at each facility.
446th Strategic Missile Squadron.
Alpha-Zero: 22 November 1996.
A-1: 16 April 1996 reentry vehicle removed, 17 April 1996 missile pulled.
A-2: 19 Dec 1995 reentry vehicle removed, 20 Dec 1995 missile pulled.
A-3: 2 April 1996 reentry vehicle removed, 3 April 1996 missile pulled.
A-4: 3 October 1995 reentry vehicle removed, 4 October 1995 missile pulled.
A-5: 3 January 1996 missile pulled.
A-6: 14 May 1996 reentry vehicle removed, 15 May 1996 missile pulled.
A-7: 15 July 1996 reentry vehicle removed, 16 July 1996 missile pulled.
A-8: 22 March 1996 reentry vehicle removed, 23 March 1996 missile pulled.
A-9: 5 March 1996 reentry vehicle removed, 6 March 1996 missile pulled.
A-10: 24 June 1996 Reentry vehicle removed, 9 July 1996 missile pulled.
Bravo-Zero: 25 November 1996.
Charlie-Zero: 26 November 1996. Squadron Command post which was nicknamed "The Deep C"
Delta-Zero: 21 November 1996. Decertified last alert 2115Z
Echo-Zero: 15 May 1996.
447th Strategic Missile Squadron.
Foxtrot-Zero: 16–17 December 1997. 11,560 continuous 24 hour alerts.
Golf-Zero: 1349Z 5 June 1998. Shutdown complete
Hotel-Zero: 9 June 1998 9:35 CST or 1435Z. Decertified
India-Zero: 8 June 1998. Squadron Command Post
Juliett-Zero: 12 December 1997.
448th Strategic Missile Squadron.
Kilo-Zero: on or before 19 September 1997
Lima-Zero: 17 September 1997.
Mike-Zero: 19 September 1997. Alternate Command Post
M-21: 4 June 1997 reentry vehicle removed, 5 June 1997 missile pulled.
M-22: 21 Aug 1996 reentry vehicle removed, 22 Aug missile pulled.
November-Zero: 15 September 1997. Returned Classified and lights out.
N-31: 31 July 1996 reentry vehicle removed, 1 Aug 1996 missile pulled.
N-32: 6 Aug 1996 reentry vehicle removed, 7 Aug 1996 missile pulled.
N-33: 13 Aug 1997 missile and reentry vehicle pulled.
Oscar-Zero: 17 July 1997 13:15 CST.
Destruction of silos and control facilities began in October 1999 with (Alpha-04) being imploded on 6 October. The last silo (Hotel-22) was imploded on 24 August 2001, being the last US silo destroyed per the 1991 START I treaty. Sites (Oscar-Zero) and (November-33) were preserved by the North Dakota State Historical Society as the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Site.
The Missile Alert Facility (MAF) consists of a buried and hardened Launch Control Facility (LCC) and Launch Control Equipment Building (LCEB). MAFs were formerly known as Launch Control Facilities (LCFs) but terminology was changed in 1992 with the inactivation of Strategic Air Command (SAC). In addition, a MAF has a landing pad for helicopters; a large radio tower; a large "top hat" HF antenna; a vehicle garage for security vehicles; recreational facilities, and one or two sewage lagoons. The entire site, except for the helicopter pad and sewage lagoons are secured with a fence and security personnel. About a dozen airmen and officers are assigned to a MAF.
The underground LCC Launch Control Center (LCC) contains the command and control equipment for missile operations. It is staffed by the two launch officers who have primary control and responsibility for the 10 underground and hardened Launch Facilities (LF)s within its flight which contains the operational missile. Each of the five LCCs also has the ability to command and monitor all 50 LFs within the squadron. The LF is unmanned, except when maintenance and security personnel are needed.
A squadron is composed of five flights; flights are denoted by a letter of the alphabet with the facilities controlled by the flight being designated by a number. The first site in each flight is #00 and designates the Missile Alert Facility. The Launch Facilities (LFs, i.e. missile silos) are numbered 01 through 10, 11 through 20, and so on up to 50.