National Nuclear Security Administration

The man who trains everyone on the bombs

October 19, 2015

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Mark Meyer, training coordinator and field engineer at Sandia.
Mark Meyer, training coordinator and field engineer at Sandia National Laboratories.

Over the past five years, Mark Meyer, training coordinator and field engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, has introduced thousands of people across the Department of Energy and Department of Defense nuclear enterprise to the inner workings of U.S. nuclear weapons.

Using Sandia’s realistic trainers for every enduring stockpile weapon, Meyer’s training provides the technical, hands-on information needed to operate, maintain, and securely store the weapons in the current U.S. nuclear stockpile. It focuses on orienting students to the nuclear weapons enterprise, on stockpile maintenance and sustainment and providing background information on stockpile logistics and operations.

Students include those serving in the U.S. Navy and Air Force whose responsibilities include operating and maintaining stockpile weapons, plus employees from a variety of agencies across the DoD and NNSA weapons enterprise.

 “They can’t train on actual stockpile weapons, so this is the best way to for them to improve their proficiency: non-functioning trainers,” Meyer said. “We strive to make our trainers as realistic as possible, including frequently updating them with new components when changes are made in stockpile weapons.”

Sandia has offered the Military Liaison Nuclear Weapons Training course in some form since the 1940s. Meyer estimated that he’s trained more than 6,000 people since he came to Sandia from a career with the Air Force, including support for missile operations at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.

Meyer also was lead field engineer for the W87 and backup field engineer for the W78, and led a team of technical experts to troubleshoot and repair a critical high fidelity Joint Test Assembly re-entry vehicle. His efforts kept the ICBM Joint Flight Test program on schedule and resulted in the first-ever successful launch on the Minuteman III.