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Dr. Shirley

University Communications

Thank you Minot Air Force Base

As July 4th nears and our nation prepares to celebrate another birthday, it is a fitting time to think about the independence and freedoms we enjoy. As we think about these freedoms, Independence Day also reminds us of the men and women who serve right here in our backyard helping protect and defend our nation.

Minot State University and the Minot Air Force Base have partnered for many decades. Throughout the academic year, MSU routinely enrolls and educates 200-300 students each semester at Minot AFB. It is our distinct privilege and high honor to educate these honorable men and women, and we look forward to this strong partnership continuing well into the future.

Thanks to an invitation from Colonel Matthew Brooks, Commander of the 5th Bomb Wing at the Minot Air Force Base, I was fortunate enough to go on a B-52 Stratofortress training flight in mid-June. With the deep history of MSU providing educational opportunities for Minot AFB airmen, dependents, and veterans, I jumped at the Colonel's invitation to learn first-hand about a key mission of Minot AFB. The invitation resulted in two full days on-base gaining an education unlike any I had ever experienced!

Day One was training focused on ensuring a safe flight and preparations should an emergency occur aboard the aircraft. Detailed information regarding basic parachute operation, emergency egress evacuation, oxygen mask usage, familiarity with the aircraft seats, and basic safety precautions were stressed. The day ended with a flight suit/equipment fitting and a doctor's visit to ensure I was medically cleared to fly. All of the individuals on that first day were extremely professional and clearly dedicated to their mission of providing a safe flying experience.

Day Two was the big day. I arrived on base in the morning, met the pilot, co-pilot, and other crew members, participated in the morning pre-flight briefings including a detailed meteorological update, and then we headed for the runway. Upon boarding the B-52, the crew went through a detailed set of on-board pre-flight checks lasting about 90 minutes before the engines were fired. Following a smooth departure, we spent the next four hours flying the skies above North Dakota in a series of training measures and flying maneuvers. With one of the two Minot AFB B-52 squadrons currently deployed to the Middle East, and the squadrons preparing to trade places later this year, this training was significant given current global conditions.

The crew exuded the utmost in professionalism, dedication, commitment, and enthusiasm for the task at hand. I was so impressed by this group of young airmen and can rest easy knowing they are defending our country and our freedoms.

As we near the 4th of July, please keep in mind our men and women who are serving at Minot Air Force Base, this includes both the 5th Bomb Wing and the 91st Missile Wing (I have previously toured a Missile Alert Facility and was equally impressed by the professionalism and dedication shown by the 91st Missile servicemembers).

It is also important that we keep in mind their families and friends who share in their sacrifices, especially when they are deployed, as well as military veterans and those in the Guard and Reserves for all of their current and past service. It gives me great peace of mind thinking about the personnel I encountered during my two days on-base, and knowing they are serving our country.

We are indeed most fortunate to call the USA (and to call Minot) our home. Have a wonderful Independence Day!

Dr. Steve Shirley
President, Minot State University

Published: 07/03/17

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