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The First 100: Douglas D. Stoddard

The construction of Minot AFB in the late 1950s.

The construction of Minot AFB in the late 1950s.

Minot AFB main gate

Minot AFB main gate

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --

Douglas D. Stoddard, visited Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, Sept. 27, 2021. Stoddard was previously stationed in Minot in September of 1958 and was one of the first 100 people ever to receive orders to the brand new base, at that time. 

Stoddard was assigned to communications for the Air Defense Command and primarily operated a switchboard because telephones had not yet been installed in the base.
“When I got here, the switchboard was in a trailer outside of the communications building that was being constructed,” said Stoddard. “You had the cords to connect telephones together, you’ve probably seen them before on TV.”

With the base being newly constructed Stoddard and the other personnel were here even before the B-52H Stratofortresses and long before the Missile Wing.
“There were no aircraft when I came in. They were in the process of setting the base up,” he said.

Stoddard had family in North Dakota, with his grandmother living in Stanley. He was not unfamiliar to the climate of Minot, however it was very different from his previous assignment in Dhahran Air Base, Saudi Arabia.
“A lot of guys kidded me about coming from the frying pan and into the freezer,” he joked. “[Minot] was nothing like it is today. As you go down the hill there, that's where town started and when you went up the other side, that's where it ended. As I recall, it was pretty small.”

As a 20 year old Airman 3rd Class at the time, Stoddard recalled the hospitality of the Minot community even back then.
“They were nice, the farmers took some of us guys duck hunting,” he said. “They took us into their homes for Thanksgiving meals; very nice people in the area.”

Now, 62 years later, and at 83 years old, retired Master Sergeant Stoddard got to tour modern Minot Air Force Base and see many of the old buildings that are still here today, and witness what his work so long ago has grown into. 

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