VP Pence makes promises at Minot AFB visit
Pence assures airmen administration will rebuild the military
MINOT AIR FORCE BASE – It was a historic day at Minot Air Force Base when Air Force Two landed here Friday morning, bringing to the base Vice President Mike Pence.
When the blue-and-white plane with “United States of America” emblazoned across the side pulled up and stopped, Pence stepped out and waved to the greeters below, followed by Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson.
Col. Matthew Brooks, commander of the base’s 5th Bomb Wing, and Col. Colin Connor, commander of the base’s 91st Missile Wing, Gov. Doug Burgum, Sen. John Hoeven and Congressman Kevin Cramer were among those on hand to welcome Pence to Minot AFB and North Dakota.
The Minot base is the only Department of Defense dual-wing, nuclear capable installation. The bomb wing has two squadrons, the 69th and 23rd bomb squadrons, with B-52 bombers. The 91st Missile Wing has Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles in underground facilities in several counties.
“Any time you have an opportunity to showcase the mission and the airmen at Minot Air Force Base to the vice president of the United States, it’s a tremendous honor and a proud day for our airmen and their families,” said Brooks.
Brooks met with the vice president and secretary of the Air Force shortly after they arrived on Friday. He said he had an opportunity to provide them with an overview of the mission at Minot AFB “and hear first-hand the incredible level of support that they have for us.”
Connor said of the vice president’s visit, “I think it’s great for Minot.”
Airman 1st Class Joshua Willacey, who works in the 5th Bomb Wing’s Finance Office, serving both wings, said of the vice president’s visit, “I think it’s awesome. It’s really a highlight and shows the importance of what we do here.”
This was Pence’s first visit to North Dakota since becoming vice president in January. The last vice president to visit this area was Spiro T. Agnew who was in Minot in September 1970 to give a speech at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.
Security was heightened at the base on Friday with Secret Service members also on detail for the vice president’s visit.
Shortly after his arrival at the base, Pence visited a launch facility with a Minuteman III ICBM in the Minot missile field. When he returned to the base, he spoke to about 200 airmen in a hangar with a B-52 bomber as the backdrop.
Pence told the group he stood before them on behalf of their Commander-in-Chief, President Donald Trump. “And on behalf of a grateful nation to pay a debt of gratitude to all of you who have stepped forward to wear the uniform of the United States at such a time as this,” he said. He also recognized the spouses, children and parents who support them.
Noting the 60th anniversary of the first unit to take flight from Minot AFB, he said, “And every day since, Minot Air Force Base has answered America’s strategic needs and exemplified American leadership in the skies. This Air Force base is the bedrock of America’s national security and stability across the wider world,” he said.
Pence told the group it’s a great honor for him to serve as vice president to a president who cares so deeply about the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States, their families, and the veterans. “I believe that history will record that President Donald Trump is the best friend the Armed Forces of the United States will ever have,” Pence said.
Pence made a promise to the group of airmen: “Under President Trump’s leadership, we’re going to rebuild our military, we’re going to restore the arsenal of democracy, and we will once again, as a nation, give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard the resources and the training you need and deserve to accomplish your mission and come home safe. That’s my promise to every one of you and your families.” His promise drew a loud applause from the airmen.
He told the group that last week, American and allied forces liberated Raqqa, a city in Syria. “Many of you were a part of that historic victory. America is defeating ISIS because the brave men and women of Minot took the fight to ISIS in the air, and on the ground, and I came to say thanks to the team here at Minot for a job well done.” He said the Minot bomb wing’s B-52s were responsible “for over 700 danger-close strikes to support the coalition for freedom in the region.”
Pence noted President Trump will be traveling to the Korean Peninsula in a few days. While the president has made it clear the U.S. has, in his words, “great strength and patience,” Pence said all options are on the table.
“Anyone who would threaten our nation should know that America always seeks peace, but if we are forced to defend ourselves or our allies, we will do so with military power that is effective and overwhelming. He said those gathered at Minot AFB would play a critical role, again.
“Now more than ever, your Commander-in-Chief is depending on your to be ready, stay sharp, mind your mission, and your airmen, and be that credible deterrent that has assured the security of the American people for generations.” He said the “brave men and women of Minot Air Force Base may yet be called upon to be the instruments of American power. And if that day comes, we know you will be prepared.”
He thanked the men and women at Minot AFB for their service and their vigilance. “May God bless you. May God bless your families and your mission and may God continue to bless the United States of America,” said Pence.