Minot Radar Station To Become Just
A Memory

-Submitted by BillK

-Excerpts from Minot Daily News, June 22, 1979, page 13

In addition to the expected Minot Air Force Brass, it might be appropriate for a lot of common people to be in the crowd next Friday among some concrete block, white painted buildings 18 miles south of the city.

And almost sure to be there are people such as Larry Erickson and other citizens of the area - charter members of the informal "South Prairie Country Club."

It wonít be a happy occasion for Erickson and his neighbor farmers Önor for the men who will be in review.

Nor, really, for Minot, Max and the surrounding area because a 28 year old operation will fold its tents and silently slip away.

For it will be the end for the Minot Radar Station, sometimes called the South Base. Itís referred to by its very big brother 30 miles to the north as Minot Air Force Station and known to Erickson as South Prairie County Club - the "Bubble Top Gang."

On Friday at 4:30 p.m. (June 29th, 1979), with the public inivited, those left of the 786th Radar Squadron - and there are precious few - will hold a formal retreat ceremony near the commanderís small office and flagpole. At 7 p.m. the next day, June 30, the plug will be pulled, and the radar surveillance will end and an uncertain future will begin.

"On Sunday," said Capt. Paul Parkinson, "we are going to have a sort of a ceremonial, going away, maybe a sad party. Weíve got the buffalo steaks already."

Go away, they will, the remaining 78 military and most of the 15 civilians who man this station, which once, and for many years, was a prime figure in the nations defense.

"Close it," the Defense Department decreed last year. And closed it will be.

It is, in short, a very relaxed atmosphere, not at all like what one encounters at Minot Air Force Base where 16,000 to 18,000 people either work or live. There isnít even a sentry on the gate when drivers go through and gophers bound up and down the hills and over roads.

Itís relaxed, but has done its job for nearly three decades under a score of commanders, the latest being Capt. Ronald K Trithart.

By August it is expected that most of the military personnel at the station will have departed. By September at the latest, they will be all gone; by the first of October a housekeeping force of perhaps seven to eight to 10 people, some of them the civilians who are now employed there, will be the lone remnant.

The radar station, in fact, has never been part of the Strategic Air Command, as is Minot AFB. It was, and is, under the command of the 24th Air Division of the North American Air Defense Command in Great Falls, Montana.


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