MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. - The state of Montana, known as "Big Sky Country," is home to rolling plains, few trees and the daughter of two North Country residents who has a job of protecting the U.S. in an area slightly larger than the state of Maryland.
Air Force Airman 1st Class Jocelyn M. Frenyea - daughter of Michael and stepdaughter of Tina Frenyea, Peru, and daughter of Kathleen Frenyea, Plattsburgh - is a medical technician at this intercontinental ballistic missile base, one of only three remaining in the U.S. The 341st Missile Wing is one of the largest units in the Air Force, with 150 Minuteman III missiles spread out over 13,800 square miles within 15 missile alert facilities, and more than 4,000 military and civilians, making it the largest complex of its kind in the western hemisphere.
Frenyea is assigned to the 341st Medical Operations Squadron in the pediatrics section, with the responsibility of screening patients from seven days old to 18 years old.
"I look for any abnormalities in vital signs, and find out why the patient is being seen," said Frenyea, a 2008 graduate of Peru Central School. "I also triage urgent and acute needs for the providers."
To support such a large operation requires help from just about every corner of the Air Force career specialties. Everything from admin to chefs, missile crewman, missile alert officers, security forces, helicopter pilots and maintenance, communications, services, medical and dental - it all adds up to one of the biggest support operations in the military.
"My mission here is to help patients be seen by the provider when they need sports physicals, well child checks, or illnesses that need to be treated," said Frenyea. "If I wasn't here, then patients wouldn't get what they needed from the providers and it would cause an inconvenience to military members and their dependents."
For Frenyea and other airmen stationed there, Montana can be considered one of the best places to be stationed or one of the worst. Montana can be a haven for the outdoorsman and traveler with major national parks like Glacier and Yellowstone just a few hours away. For others, being in an out-of-the way place like Malmstrom, with no major metropolis or urban centers nearby, can make a tour seem isolated.
"I have only lived in Montana for two months, so I haven't really seen much. I have been told that there are a lot of outdoor activities depending on the weather," said Frenyea. "You can go hunting, fishing, hiking, sightseeing, whitewater rafting, or horseback riding.
"During my off time, I usually just study and go to the gym," she said. "I have been to Billings so far and hopefully will explore the rest of Montana in the next couple of years that I will be here."
Frenyea has been in the Air Force for almost a year. Malmstrom AFB is her first permanent duty station after attending technical school at Sheppard Air Force Base, Wichita Falls, Tx., and phase one training at Travis Air Force Base, Fairfield, Calif.
Rich Lamance is a writer with the Joint Hometown News Service, based in San Antonio, Tx.