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By Airman 1st Class Landon Gunsauls
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
For the last 64 years, sitting underground inside a concrete pill, F.E. Warren’s missileers have stood alert, responsible for the world’s premier nuclear arsenal 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Families of all kinds have served on F.E Warren, but never before have a father and daughter been together on alert in the capsule.
On Jan. 6, 2023, Lt. Col. Raymundo Vann Jr., and his daughter Capt. Gabriella Graham, stepped into the launch control capsule at Echo-01 missile alert facility and assumed the alert together.
For Vann, the decision to make the jump from enlisted to officer and the request to be a missileer was an easy one. Growing up down the street from Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, during the height of tensions between the Soviet Union and the U.S., where nuclear war was consistently in the news, helped guide Vann’s decision to serve as a missileer.
Graham grew up in a much different climate to her father, but still chose to follow in his footsteps. She became a legacy missileer, stepping into the community that she considers the best kept secret in the Air Force.
“I decided to follow in his footsteps and I put 13N as number 1 on my dream sheet,” said Graham.
The duo was given the opportunity to go on a 24-hour alert together before Graham attends the Squadron Officer School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Following SOS, she will begin her maternity leave.
“Being able to pull the first ever father-daughter alert was amazing,” said Vann. “There has never been any parent-child alert ever, and this kind of event is something other career fields really celebrate but it has never occurred in ours, so I'm glad we got to be the first to do it and spread the word that ICBMs is family business. It is amazing to know that two generations of ICBM operators, three when we count her baby due in May, were proudly providing nuclear deterrence for our nation.”
To Graham, being a missileer is being a part of a quiet, even underground community, providing security to the nation. To Vann, it’s incredibly humbling to know that he owns the operational readiness of the world’s most powerful and stabilizing force, and in the words of President Theodore Roosevelt, conducting the mission of speaking softly while wielding the most powerful stick.
Never in the 64 years of F.E. Warren’s history has an alert been jointly carried out by two family members in the same capsule and it’s an event that both members are proud to have accomplished.
“It is such a unique situation to both be on active duty together and pulling alert was even more unique, knowing that we had three generations in the capsule together,” said Graham. “It’s a story that I’m sure I'll share with baby when they are older.”
Graham recognizes the awesome responsibility put on the shoulders of the missileers commanding the ground leg of the nuclear arsenal, as well as her father’s role in that over the course of his career and how that influenced her.
“Being able to do what we both love together was really cool,” said Graham. “I think a lot of people watch their heroes from a distance and aspire to be like them. I was lucky enough to go on alert and watch mine in action.”