What’s The Story Of Malmstrom AFB, Montana’s Only Military Base?
How did Great Falls end up with the only military base in Montana?
Malmstrom's beginnings go all the way back to 1939 and the beginning of World War 2 in Europe.
It was actually the idea of the local city council. They got a hold of Montana's Senators, and by 1942 a survey group was here and construction started on May 9, 1942. It was first known as East Base because the 7th Ferrying Group was already operating at the airport. Later to be known as Great Falls Air Force Base.
The 1940's were a wild time of expansion for Malmstrom. Everything from training, military transport and name changes, to buildings being erected and our local soldiers helping out the war efforts depending on the era. The gradual evolution of Malmstrom continues to this day. The latest update looks to be in 1988 when Malmstrom gained its first SAC flying wing.
Now, Malmstrom is well known for being a Minuteman Missile Site. The first 3 squadrons started in July 1963 and 2 years later a 4th was added increasing the wings capabilities to 4 squadrons with 200 Minuteman II Missiles.
You can read all the details on the history of Malmstrom by clicking HERE
How Did They Land On The Name Malmstrom
October 1, 1955, the name of The Great Falls Air Force Base was changed to Malmstrom Air Force Base in honor of Colonel Einar Axel Malmstrom who was killed in a Lockheed 33 fighter jet crash near the base on August 21, 1954.
How does Malmstrom AFB affect the Great Falls Economy?
Quite a bit, honestly. There are currently around 4,000 active-duty military and civilian members assigned to the base. In addition, around 2,500 family members live and work on and around the base. Malmstrom is also listed as a major Montana employer with over 1,300 indirect jobs created. In 2021 it's estimated that the base has had around a $384 million dollar impact on Great Falls and the surrounding area.