Veteran of the Month: Bob Elliott

By Milan Eagle Media

Bob Elliott’s dad was in the Army Air Corps during WWII, a crew chief on B38 fighters and stationed in California where Bob was born. When Bob was two they moved to Hudson, MI where Bob grew up. After high school Bob attended Adrian College, graduating 1967. Because of the draft he enlisted in the Air Force and signed up for officer training school (OTS). He’s had training in Chanute AFB in IL and Vandenburg AFB in CA. After Bob was accepted for OTS he married Mary, his high school sweetheart. He was shipped to Utah and Commander of headquarters squadron after about 1 year Bob was selected for missile duty and he became a missile launch officer operate underground missile systems at launch control centers, crew size was Strategic Air Command’s Two-man rule for positive control of nuclear weapons.
Malmstrom Air Force Base, located at the eastern edge of Great Falls, Montana is unapologetically obsessed with the weapons they are charged to protect, to maintain and, if the proper authorization comes, to launch without hesitation
Being a Misileer, one of the best protected people on the planet meant spending shifts buried 65 feet underground in a self-contained capsule called a Launch Control Center dealing with artificial lighting, recycled air, loud noises, and intimately close quarters with equipment racks.
Above there would be a series of passwords with security forces before going through an 8-ton, 4.5 foot thick concrete and steel blast door, the only way in to the elevator going down. The LCC is like a pill suspended by shock isolators for protection from nearby nuclear blasts.
Bob said, “ two of us always armed on 3 day alerts flown out by helicopter, 8 hours on and 8 hours off working underground in this capsule in case of war and we received a message from the President to launch.” Above ground Bob served as a Codes Officer, he transported and installed “plug” missiles in silos. They removed nuclear warhead for transporting and replaced with a dummy warhead for firing/testing for accuracy in designated airspace, Pacific Test Range.
He said the job was really exciting as first but after a while not as much, all the security, all the codes, plus had President’s if ever needed to launch. There were alerts, briefings, classified photos from spy planes. A missile can be launched through the atmosphere, rocket body dislodged, nose cone and nuclear weapon guided by computer to target thousands of miles away almost instantly.
Late 1971 Bob returned to Michigan as an inactive reserve, he kept this status for about 10 years
Bob was Planning Coordinator for Lenawee County, then for 7 years at Merillat Cabinet. In 1978 Bob moved to Milan.
He was President and CEO for KSI Kitchen and Bath in Brighton where he retired from.. Bob still stays very active, if it’s not driving 2 days a week delivering flowers, it’s visiting Nation Parks with his wife, they’ve seen all but 2 which they will do this summer. He says he has some favorites, 1 in Utah and a couple in Alaska.
They belong to 2 dance clubs in Jackson and at least once a week they go ball room dancing. He says. “the whole idea is to have fun”. He has raced cars, and mototcycles and once owned a hot air balloon. They’ve mountain climbed and ziplined. Bob and Mary have 2 sons, both graduated from MHS. Oldest son Troy lives in Montana and he is presently working on installation of a zipline project at NASA and younger son, Tyan is a Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Minnesota.
Bob said. “the Air Force was a good experience, certainly something more teenagers could use to learn responsibility and gain maturity”.

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