I really loved being a freelance writer for the Minot Daily News. First of all, I love small town newspapers which allow for good news to be printed as well as the bad. Second, I covered Minot Air Force Base, which meant I could explore my environment more completely than other folks living there.
I had access to the commanders of both the 5th Bomb Wing and the 91st Space Wing. I got to snoop into all the nooks and crannies and I got to drive the Public Affairs team nuts when I found out something before they were ready to release it. (Shout out to my still good friends, Ange Keskey and Ellen Rasmussen!)
It was pretty exciting to go into a missile silo that had an actual Intercontinental Ballistic Missile in it. The missile alert facilities were interesting too. Upstairs it looked like a house — living room, kitchen, many bedrooms, a bathroom, study area, game area. But downstairs, where the missile officers hung out for 24 hours, the space was filled with computers and monitors and all sorts of gadgets, including two bunks for the missile officers. These were the guys responsible for one portion of launching a missile if the word ever came down. Thank God it never has. Once they were in the facility, they were in for the entire shift.
This was all on the Space Wing side. The Bomb Wing was just as exciting. The Bomb Wing flew B-52 Bombers, or BUFFs, as they were called. (I can’t tell you what BUFF stands for, because it is not a nice acronym. Use your imagination.) This is one HUGE plane. Amazingly, the area for the crew is just a small portion of the plane. The Air Force started using the B-52 in 1955 and it is still going strong today. For more info and history of this great plane go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_B-52_Stratofortress Although I never flew in a BUFF, I did get to taxi down the runway in one before getting kicked off so the crew could go on a mission. I didn’t have any clearance to fly on a mission.
But I did get to fly on a UH-1N helicopter en route to a missile alert facility. That was a lot of fun, even if I did get sick!
All-in-all I had great experiences in Minot and got to know some wonderful people who I still call friends.
Next up: The most cohesive chapel staff we’ve ever been part of.