Exceptional Distinguished Public Service

Written by:
Mark Jantzer

Secretary of the Air Force Honors Mark Jantzer

His term as a member of the Air and Space Force Civic Leader program appeared to be coming to an end for Mark Jantzer. After 12 years of service, Mark would transfer to an emeritus status, but not before being presented with the Secretary of the Air Force Distinguished Public Service Award by Col. Daniel Hoadley, commander of the 5th Bomb Wing.


Recently the Northern Sentry was able to sit down with Mark and talk about his history of civilian service to the U.S. Air Force that earned him this prestigious award, the highest award to be presented to a non-employee civilian.


“I arrived in Minot in 1977. We fell in love with Minot immediately. To us (he and his wife Mary) it was like a big, small town. Besides work, I got involved in the Chamber of Commerce. I was on the ambassadors committee for a while” according to Mark. Soon the Jantzer family was rooted in the community, which would involve taking kids to activities “we started making friends and getting involved in the community, it was a good transition.”


Mary Jantzer was originally from the New Ulm, Minnesota area, and according to Mark “was a little reluctant to get that far away from her family, but she acclimated well” continues Jantzer.
Mark’s first involvement with Minot Air Force Base was joining the Military Affairs Committee, and ended up being chairman of that committee in the late 80’s.


In the 90’s communities with military bases would soon learn about the BRAC (Base Re-Alignment & Closure) process. Keeping Minot off of the list of base closures became a major focus of the Minot community, and the group that was organized would end up being the predecessor to the now Task Force 21. 1996 would be a key year, as a majority of the base closures would be announced by then. “Even though the BRAC rounds were over in 1996, there was no guarantee that there wouldn’t be another one” according to Jantzer “but there were also all of the decisions on budgets by the department of defense that could potentially affect Minot Air Force Base, so we decided that we needed to keep going. The new name that was chosen, Task Force 21, meant that we wanted to be around through the 21st Century, not just passed 1996.” Then Chairman Buzz Syria and Mark Jantzer would make a trip to Washington, DC where Buzz introduced Mark to Senator(s) Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan and Representative Earl Pomeroy, and “so the torch, I guess, was officially passed to the next generation, and that was kind of daunting at that time.”


Mark shared that the next day (Tuesday, June 6th) he would be travelling to Camp Grafton as part of Task Force MIND (Military Issues in North Dakota). Mark and fellow Task Force 21 members Pete Hankla and Brekka Kramer were appointed to this group. “The purpose of this group is to make sure that there are leaders in the state that are informed about the military and what they were doing not only in our city, but other cities where the military existed” continues Jantzer “and the goal there is to make North Dakota one of the most military friendly states that folks can come to.” Jantzer points to the recently passed legislation that eliminates state income tax on retirement pay for veterans.


As far as the Distinguished Public Service Award, it states that Jantzer “served as a Department of the Air Force advocate, connecting his regional and professional communities to the Air and Space Force through his expertise in military operations and civilian socioeconomic issues. He conscientiously advised senior Air and Space Force leaders on the development of national and international military programs as well as facilitated cooperation between civilian communities and Department of the Air Force entities to ensure each program’s success. He openly communicated information about Air and Space Force missions and requirements to the American public, increasing awareness and understanding among local, regional, national and international audiences. Mr. Jantzer’s concern for Airmen, Guardians and their families, as well as his desire to facilitate communities’ service to those service members, was essential to his stewardship of an enduring relationship between the Department of the Air Force and the Nation. The distinctive accomplishments of Mr. Jantzer reflects the highest credit upon himself and the Department of the Air Force.”


For Jantzer, being recognized was certainly an honor “that I didn’t expect.”
Besides his commitment to the mission of Minot Air Force Base, Jantzer has been active in the Minot community serving on the Minot City Council as well as being active in the Minot Chamber/EDC.

Task Force 21

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