I often sit in line for a couple of minutes when entering Minot Air Force Base through the main gate. The few minutes gives me an opportunity to think back to the first time I entered this gate some 45 years ago, a young journalist working for a local TV station assigned to do a story about an event on base.
Those who work for the media are asked to stop at the Visitor’s Center, fill out paperwork and meet with an assigned member of Public Affairs who will then accompany you during your time on base. I can only describe the next few hours as one of those WOW! experiences. First, there was the “Only The Best Come North” sign above the guard house, followed by a view of B-52’s and KC 135 tankers sitting on the alert pads. My guide explained the B-52’s are ready to go at a moment’s notice. Air crews were housed in the alert area 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
My story was actually with the 5th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, the Spittin Kittens, and the car slowed down so I could see the 2 mascots, Canadian Lynx appropriately named Spittin’ and Kitten. From where we were parked I could see several F106 Delta Darts. My first story on Minot Air Force Base had now become a Super WOW!
Although I cannot remember exactly what I covered that day, the story took place in one of the hangars of the 5th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. The interview and subsequent gathering of B-Roll (Support footage of planes, etc.) took about an hour. After packing up I was given a quick tour of the rest of the base, including the area where the 91st Missile Wing had their training and maintenance vehicles. “Someday we will take you down into our training silo” my PA guide said. I remember saying something like, “Sure, I can hardly wait.”
When I arrive back at the newsroom I walked straight into the news director’s office and told him that if there was ever an opportunity to do a story on Minot Air Force Base, I would volunteer. Yep, the bug had bit me. My passion for stories about Minot Air Force Base has not waned at all. Even though there was almost 25 years where I was not part of a news team I still had a few opportunities to be on base.
What brings my story into focus this week was a recent “fireside chat” with Col’s Hoadley and McGhee. As a reporter who spends quite a bit of time on base, I am able to cover stories about the men and women who serve our country in the U.S. Air Force. Even more than that are the stories about the professionals who also work to help the families of those assigned to Minot. In the 60 minutes Col Hoadley and Col McGhee were in the studio, they talked about dedication; they talked about sacrifice and then they talked about families. The job of protecting our nation is still a 24/7 job. Those assigned to the 91st Missile Wing and 5th Bomb Wing can experience lengthy times away from home. How a base like Minot deals with childcare is certainly unique. Reporter Erin Beene will begin a series of stories that focus on childcare at Minot AFB. Look for her stories in upcoming issues of the Northern Sentry.
On Saturday we also observe Veteran’s Day. In this paper is the Northern Sentry’s Tribute to Service, stories about those who have served their country. This is certainly not to diminish the importance of those who are serving on Minot AFB today. We are reminded of their presence every time we see a B-52 overhead or when the Minot AFB Honor Guard presented the colors at a local community event. We watch as Minuteman III maintenance personnel move both warheads and missiles with helicopters flying vigilantly above the caravans. And probably most important, we share our community with the many personnel and families stationed at Minot AFB.
Only The Best Come North…and only the very best leave after their experience in Minot, or as I was reminded recently, “A growing number of us love Minot, and choose to retire here.”
So in the Northern Sentry it is my privilege to share stories of those who served, and those who are serving today. Be sure to thank those who serve. Not only on Veteran’s Day, but every day. It’s what I do each time I pass through the front gate; for I truly believe that only the Best Come North.
Best Kept Secret
Ever been a guest of The Lord and Lady of an English Manor? The Minot Chamber Chorale invites you to participate in their annual Renaissance Feast. The feast takes place on Friday December 1st and Saturday December 2nd at the Regency Event Center in Downtown Minot. Tickets are available on the Minot Chamber Chorale web site minotchamberchorale.org. Your evening includes a royal feast, entertainment and a lot of fun. Get your tickets today!
A housewife complained that someone broke into her parked car and stole $50.00 worth of groceries from her glove compartment.