Why Not Minot? Here’s The 5 Official Reasons For Airmen.
Written by Scott McGinnis for Goombay Tally Blog | goombaytally.com | Minot North Dakota Humor |Contact us at [email protected] for comments, feedback, or advertisement requests. Share us on Facebook and Twitter.
It has been well over a decade now since I was an active duty Air Force Airman and just being notified that I’d just received orders to my next base. Mind you, I’m retired now so I can look back on those times and chuckle.
Anyway, exciting time right? Where are we headed next? Would it be Lackland? Lakenheath? Eglin? Maybe Kadena?
Nope. It was none of the above.
On that day, I vividly remember the moment I found out that I had military orders to (add firing squad, drum-roll sound here) “Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota.”
“Well Crap,” I said to myself. “This day ain’t going the way I’d hoped it would when I woke up this morning.”
I believe every Air Force member who has ever been assigned to Minot Air Force Base can recall exactly what they were doing and where they were when they first received their Minot orders… much like those who recall where they were during the JFK assassination, the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, and of course, the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers.
And once everyone in your unit found out … there’s the well-meaning co-workers and friends who proceed to chide you by chanting the all-too-familiar saying, “Why not, Minot. Freezin’ is the reason.”
Your more blunt and direct friends will just come out and say it: “Who in the hell did you piss off dude?”
Clever, but hardly ever funny. In fact, in retrospect; I could have throat-punched every single one of those clowns.
So let’s talk about Minot, North Dakota.
For those unfamiliar with the “Magic City,” Minot is the fourth largest city in North Dakota, with a population near 40,888. For perspective, New York City has a population of 8.55 million.
Historians write that the City of Minot was founded in 1886 during the construction of the Great Northern Railway, which was an American Class I railroad created by entrepreneur James J. Hill and ran from Saint Paul, Minnesota, to Seattle Washington.
For those associated with the Department of Defense in any capacity, Minot is chiefly associated with Minot Air Force Base, the home of two major Global Strike Command wings: the 5th Bomb Wing and the 91st Missile Wing. The installation has a population of roughly 5,521 people.
Now back to my active duty, glory days again.
I remember glaring down at a copy of that assignment notice. Frozen in a state of (half) disbelief, migraine-inducing dread, and an immerging feeling of anxiety. Why anxiety specifically?
Well, I still had to break the “fantastic” news to my unsuspecting wife of six months and inform her that in a few months, we would be packing up our precious belongings and headed to one of the most loathed, avoided, (I’d rather volunteer for another tour in Afghanistan instead) and feared assignments in the United States Air Force.
My wife was separated out of the Air Force at that point so she knew darn well what an assignment to Minot Air Force Base meant in the grand scheme of things. That means, there would be no “sugar-coating” the news of this new assignment to her.
There’s no … Hey hun, I heard Minot is absolutely amazing … you’re gonna love it … pep talk that was gonna work in this scenario.
She knew better than that. She would’ve smacked me in the eye if I even tried it.
Another problem: that particular day was also my wife’s birthday and we already had plans that night to celebrate with friends and co-workers.
Could timing get any better? What do I do?
Do I wait to drop this nuclear bomb on her (excuse the pun – inside joke) today and essentially destroy her one special day, or do I let her enjoy her birthday and pretend that everything is hunky-dory until tomorrow?
Yep … I waited.
When I eventually broke the news to my wife, I’m certain I didn’t really get the word “Minot” out of my mouth completely before the warm, staining tears began to flow down her face like a sad, haunting, waterfall.
My heart sunk for her. Dammit! I thought to myself.
Would she divorce me? I thought. Would she move back home with her parents; leaving me as a Minot bachelor?
Don’t laugh … Minot assignments have indeed (and will continue) to caused abrupt and untimely divorces and separations in the United States Air Force.
Now fast forward the clock to the end of our assignment at Minot and my spouse and I are loading up the vehicles once again to move to our next adventure. I remember looking into her face and seeing tears in her eyes again as we would now, be leaving life-long friendships and cherished memories up north.
Minot is funny that way. It has a way of growing on you.
The lesson here: Military assignments are really what you make of them. Assignments like Minot AFB and Grand Forks AFB (Minot’s RQ-4 Global Hawk-flying little brother in the northeast) will invariably challenge military members to be more physically and mentally resilient, while learning how to depend on their Air Force comrades like never before; mainly due to the geographic isolation and extreme weather conditions in this part of the country.
Additionally, challenging military assignments will force you to try new things that you would have never attempted on your own: hunting, ice fishing, winter sports, and eating lutefisk (a traditional Norse country, slimy cod fish soaked in lye). Yeah … don’t ask. They’ll be able to explain it to you way better than I ever can when you get there.
Just remember that receiving orders to Minot Air Force Base is certainly not the end of the world, but you do have to change your mind-set and take advantage of what the assignment has to offer. I’ve personally known military members who fell in love North Dakota and ended up retiring there forever.
I also loved the fact that (at least during my time there) the Minot Police Department hadn’t investigated a homicide in years. In fact, the more serious crimes were near non-existent (statistically) compared to the rest of the country.
In fact, when I lived in Minot, residents would often leave their cars (and heat) running during the cold winter months while they shopped at Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, recent statistics show that crime rates in North Dakota have been on the rise due to the influx of people from all over the country seeking jobs in the immerging oil industry in the state.
At the end of the day, you’ll find that the people of Minot are incredibly friendly and really easy going.
The City of Baltimore, MD will see more homicides in one night than Minot, ND may experience in years.
With that said, here are the 5 official reasons (right or wrong) that orders to Minot Air Force Base continue to strike fear in the hearts of Airmen around the world:
Courtesy of www.niche.com
Why Not, Minot? Here’s The 5 Official Reasons For Airmen.
1. Freezin’ Definitely Is The Reason!
Let’s get the easy one out of the way first: Minot gets freakin’ cold during the winter months!!!! I know … queue the “Captain Obvious” commercials right?
I’ll just say that I’ve shoveled snow in the month of May in Minot. That just ain’t godly!
The Weather Channel tells us that average low temperatures in Minot fall somewhere between 4 and 9 degrees Fahrenheit. Moreover, temps at Minot can easily dip well below zero degrees with frigid, bone-chilling winds that could make it feel like – 75 degrees in January and February.
Weather-hardened, Air Force Missile Security Airmen often joke about pouring a cup of coffee onto the ground during the winter months out in the missile field and watching the coffee crystallize before it even hits the ground.
Seriously, winter temperatures in Minot are no joke and can prove to be incredibly dangerous, even fatal if you’re not prepared. Remember to dress in layers and choose fabric that will insulate you well, but also allows sweat to evaporate. Always keep an emergency kit in your vehicle when traveling during the winter months.
If you’re vehicle decides to quit on you for whatever reason, you don’t want to be stranded in North Dakota’s harsh winter conditions without the necessary provisions, e.g., extra food, water, clothes, gloves, blankets, flashlights, matches.
Finally, if you are headed to Minot for any reason during the winter months, quickly educate yourself on the signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Take a first aid class. Also, I highly suggest finding Dakota Outerwear Company at 203 72nd Ave, Hwy 83N when you get there if you need to upgrade your winter gear with effective military-grade, extreme cold weather clothing. These guys are GSA contractors and veteran owned.
2. The Isolation
A second reason why Minot is not at the top of every Airman’s assignment dream sheet is due to Minot’s geographical separation from major cities, entertainment, restaurants, professional sports complexes, or major shopping centers (No, Target and Super Wal-Mart don’t count obviously).
For perspective, Minot is located 213 miles from Grand Forks, ND, (4 hours, 9 minutes), 271 miles (5 hours, 5 minutes) from Fargo, ND, and if you really want to do some serious shopping for Christmas … 409 miles (7 hours, 48 minutes) from Mall of Americas, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I suggest you apply for the “miles program” with your favorite airline carrier right now.
3. Lack of Diversity.
The 2010 Census tells us that Minot, ND is about 90% white, 2.28% African-American, 2.73% Hispanic, 0.9% Asian and of course the math makes up for the rest of the racial groups.
That essentially means that the epicenter for racial diversity and multiculturalism in Minot, ND, magnificently churns around the college campuses and within the well-guarded, and gated community called Minot Air Force Base. Never-the-less, the general lack of racial diversity within the state has been cited as a major reason why it remains absent from many an Airmen’s assignment dream sheets.
didn't know there was so many black people in Minot until I've walked around MSU's campus this week… #wheredotheyhide
— kelsey (@kelseyjohaugen) August 29, 2014
You guys would not believe how many black people there are in Minot
— Stay wavy Prescott (@OL7518) September 13, 2014
4. Nukes, Nukes, and More Nukes.
It’s no secret that Minot Air Force Base serves as a strategic, first strike nuclear capability for the Department of Defense. The installation is responsible for the security, maintenance, and operation of 150 Minuteman III missiles and launch facilities and 15 missile alert facilities. For perspective, Minot’s missile field covers 8,500 square miles of North Dakota plains.
In case you were not aware, the nuclear weapons business is “serious business.” That means, there is zero tolerance for failure and even less room for tactical errors or careless miscalculations when you operate, maintain, or secure nuclear weapons. Yes, this is a checklist-driven world if there ever was one.
Hey … do you remember the 2007 incident where six AGM-129 cruise missiles, each loaded with W80-1 variable yield nuclear warheads, were mistakenly loaded onto a B-52H and transported across the country to Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Louisiana?
Yep, that flight originated at Minot Air Force Base.
Moreover, a total of four Commanders were relieved of duty following that incident and the Air Force made significant changes to the command structure of the nuclear enterprise following DoD investigations.
In short, the nuke world is a tough business and honestly, most Airmen would probably just rather not deal with it and do their time at Tyndall Air Force Base (Panama City, Florida), Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (Hawaii), or “anywhere” in Germany.
5. Unless You’re a Hunter or Outdoorsman – Ain’t Nothin’ to Do in Minot.
One of the biggest gripes you will hear about the City of Minot is that there aren’t many entertainment and restaurant options there. The City periodically makes (somewhat) of an attempt at fun by opening up the trampoline park and mini golf course, but lets be honest: if you are a young, single, go-getter looking for some night life in Minot … well, I hope you like country bars and boot-scootin’ if you know what I mean.
The intent of this article is to help manage expectations about Minot, North Dakota for those who will find themselves there in the future.
With that said, the people in Minot are indeed friendly and you will invariably make lifelong friends there if you give it a chance. In fact, my wife and I still communicate with people we’ve met there – over a decade later.
Minot is a wonderful place to raise your kids; a low crime rate, good schools, and decent youth programs. And only time will tell how long the lucrative oil industry will continue to shape the economic and social landscape of that area; and to what end.
Inevitably, Minot will be an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone, try new things, and meet new people. If all else fails, let your Minot experience serve as your opportunity to earn your bachelors, masters degree, or PHD. That’s exactly what I did – truth be told.
Trust me, you’ll have no excuse not to further your education there in the great, white, cold north. Seriously, good luck to you and best wishes.
Written by Scott McGinnis for Goombay Tally Blog | www.goombaytally.com | contact us at [email protected]