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There and back again: a commander’s journey

Col. Kelvin Townsend, 91st Missile Wing vice commander, speaks at his going-away ceremony at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., July 14, 2017. After three separate tours to Minot AFB, Townsend’s next assignment is at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Weissman)

Col. Kelvin Townsend, 91st Missile Wing vice commander, speaks at his going-away ceremony at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., July 14, 2017. After three separate tours to Minot AFB, Townsend’s next assignment is at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Weissman)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D., -- In 1992, a young college graduate commissioned through the University of Oklahoma’s Air Force Reserve Officer’s Training Course and began his journey in the U.S. Air Force.

Col. Kelvin Townsend, 91st Missile Wing vice commander, started his career at Minot Air Force Base as a second lieutenant serving in a variety of positions and reaching senior combat crew instructor.

Looking back at his first assignment here, Townsend remembers his friends and colleagues the most.

“One of the best memories I have to this day, is playing football in the wintertime,” said Townsend. “For as much as people complained, we always found fun, quirky, things to do even in the winter, from playing football to playing broomball, which is basically playing hockey with a broom and a ball.”

At the end of his first assignment, Townsend left broomball behind and moved across the continental U.S. six times, spanning Washington D.C. to California. Then, after more than a decade, Townsend received orders back to the Magic City as the 91st Operations Support Squadron commander.

“I was excited to come back to Minot as a commander,” he said. “[One of my responsibilities] was completing building 695, and it was an honor to see that project through from start to finish.”

Following his second tour at Minot, Townsend moved across the country again - this time from New Mexico to Washington D.C. to California.

Then, in 2015 after 11 moves, Townsend returned to his roots at Minot as the 91st Missile Wing vice commander, where he has been serving since June 2015.

“My responsibility as the vice wing commander is simply to make sure the wing functions the way the wing commander wants it,” he said. “I take his intent, get it to Airmen and ensure it happens. Since we’re not the home base, my main responsibilities are facilities, manpower and money.”

Each tour spent at Minot AFB resonated differently for Townsend.

“This last tour was by far my favorite because I [was able to] interact with various units and Airmen,” he said. “I just love connecting with Airmen, whether it’s at the First Term Airmen’s Center or talking to someone at an event. We talk about who we are and what we enjoy; it helps me realize who I am as a person and a commander.”

Townsend said he is honored to have served three tours at Minot AFB and credits the people he’s worked with for his successful career.

“What I plan to take to my next job is the passion for the mission that I have learned from the men and women I have served with here,” said Townsend. “I’ll work to make things better for Airmen here and at all the missile and bomber bases under the command.

Townsend’s next adventure will take him to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, to work at Air Force Global Strike Command.

“It’s been an honor, and I truly mean that,” said Townsend. “It’s amazing that so many people have supported me throughout both the 5th Bomb Wing and the 91st Missile Wing.”
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