PCS is a 3-letter word
Rod Wilson, Minot
PCS? What is that?
Well not being from a military family and having been absent from the activities of the Minot AFB for over 20 years, it was a valid question, I thought. A quick shake of heads and smiles by those folks in the room, mostly wearing camouflage, told me that everyone in that room, except me, knew that PCS stood for Permanent Change of Station. PCS was quickly defined a bit more by one of the enlisted group as one of them said “it means they are leaving MAFB for destinations elsewhere.”
It has been a little over 2 years since my return to the Minot AFB landscape as one of the writers for the Northern Sentry. No problem in 2020 adding PCS to my now expanding military vocabulary. By the time I started working on base, most of the PCS’ing had been done. Instead, I was busy meeting new faces, in new positions. Col Michael Walters and Col Christopher Menuey had arrived and had taken command of the 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing. I get that…change of commands had happened and been well publicized over the years. This being the COVID 19 Pandemic year would tone down the pomp and circumstance a bit, but Col’s Walters and Menuey did not really seem part of the whole PCS cycle. However, I expect that next year reality will hit. Col Walters and Col Menuey will probably both (not that I know anything special) be indeed, part of the PCS cycle, leaving for different assignments next summer.
Indeed, PCS is tough to accept. Even though Col Walters and Col Menuey will remain at their positions for another year, several of my friends at MAFB will have, or will soon, leave Minot AFB for assignments elsewhere. Aaron, Leah, Nuke, people who I worked with almost every day as a member of the Northern Sentry writing team, are gone. Certainly not forgotten in any way, shape, or form, but nonetheless, gone. On Minot AFB those who serve are known as Col, Major, Sargent, Captain, Airmen, or whatever rank they hold. But in our community, we knew them as those who served their country as members of the Air Force, and who were part of our community giving of themselves and their time to numerous organizations.
The transition of families does not only affect those of us who work on Minot AFB. Just the other day a member of a local church talked about a family that will soon “leave Minot”. “We are going to miss them, they were really involved, they made a difference” she shared. And I am sure there are hundreds of other stories about the men and women who became members of our community, albeit for a limited time, and made a huge difference in the organizations they became involved with.
But hold on for a second. That is only half the story. This is a bad news/good news scenario. One does not have to travel too far down Highway 83 south to meet a moving van headed north. A percentage of those moving vans are certainly transporting new families to Minot and Minot AFB. You see, for every family that leaves, a new one will more than likely take their place. For every Airmen that leaves, an Airmen will arrive.
Minot, it’s time for us to roll up our sleeves and welcome these new folks into our community. And for those arriving, and maybe reading this column, I can assure you that indeed, there are many holes to fill, and we will help you get involved! We can borrow and modify an old saying, “PCS ing goes both ways”. New names and new faces replace those who have left, and then we start the count down for next summer when many who are still here, will more than likely be planning a moving event, and researching a new city for housing, schools and well, a new place to call home.
So yes, PCS is a 3-letter word. And no, I personally will never like saying goodbye to friends from Minot AFB who have reached the end of their term here. But on the front entrance to the Minot Air Force Base, it says “Only the Best Come North”, and if I had my way it would also say “And Only The Very Best Leave!”