Air Force lacks resources to retrieve Humvee after a week of being stuck outside nuclear missile silo


USAF Humvee stuck

Despite boasting 37-inch tires, the power to climb a 40 percent grade and the capability to traverse up to 60 inches of water — one Air Force Humvee (High Mobility Multipurpose Utility Vehicle) and its crew are no match for a Montana dirt road.

Air Force security forces were patrolling Minuteman III missile sites near Grass Range and were forced to abandon the Humvee after the mud took its grip.

According to the Missoulian, the Air Force attempted to extract the Humvee three times in the last few days, but muddy conditions made the rescue unsuccessful.

The Air Force will attempt to remove the vehicle again with a tow truck, said Connie Hempel, public affairs chief at Malmstrom Air Force Base.

Hempel said the airmen were either traveling to or from a missile site when they were forced to walk out of the area carrying their weapons and other equipment, leaving the vehicle stuck in the mud. She said the stretch of road they were on was not a usual route, but wasn’t an unauthorized road.

The stuck Humvee was positioned roughly two miles southwest and facing away from the missile site. A log had been jammed through two front tow bars and another large log was resting behind the rig. The vehicle has more than 17 inches of ground clearance and on its driver’s side was buried in mud up to the bottom of the door. The remote roadway is gravel leading to the missile site but further down it’s not maintained, reports the Missoulian.

Photo credit: Brett French
Photo credit: Brett French

Ed Evans, a long-time resident in the area, says he’s never seen an Air Force vehicle on this portion of the road. He says travel is impossible during certain times of the year.

“It’s not possible six months out of the year because they don’t plow it for snow and in spring it’s a mud hole,” he said.

Evans tells the Missoulian road conditions don’t always stop people from traveling the road, and thinks the scenic view is the draw.

“They just try because it’s a cut-across road and it’s pretty country,” he said.

Even though Evans has a truck, tractor and skidsteer, he said traveling at the wrong time is a no go for fear of becoming stuck. He also offered his lessons learned from 17 years living in the area telling the Missoulian it’s unlikely Air Force crews will be able to extract the Humvee anytime soon since Sunday about one foot of wet snow fell in the area.

Great Falls Air Force Base was renamed Malmstrom Air Force Base in honor of Col. Einar Axel Malmstrom on Oct. 1, 1955, and formally dedicated in June 1956.

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