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Alerts – Dispatches – Missions

    The iconic “100 Missions” patches first appeared on missileers’ uniforms in the early 1970s and appear to have been inspired by similar patches worn by bomber crews returning from Vietnam to bases in the CONUS with collocated missile wings, such as Ellsworth, Minot, and Grand Forks. Therefore, these patches are unique to Minuteman and Titan II units only, since the earlier missile systems were all gone by 1965. At some missile wings, “100 Missions” was used, while others preferred “100 Alerts.” Higher totals were indicated by either the addition of rockers and/or crowns, or sometimes an entirely different patch. Later, maintenance personnel at a couple of the wings created similar patches for 100 or more dispatches. In some cases, such patches were produced and awarded by the squadrons, and in other cases they were a wing award, often with an accompanying certificate and a presentation made at a pre-departure briefing or a commander’s call. Francis E. Warren AFB was the last base to join this patch party, not making them until well into the 1990s, but during the earlier years they did have small metal bison pins awarded for the same purpose. These were worn on the ascots and were made in bronze, silver, and gold to designate the milestone attained. Today, Twentieth Air Force has a standardized series of patches from 100 through 500 alerts for award to crew members.