HomeNewsArticle Display

Band of Brothers Part 1: The Willie Rose Story

Tech. Sgt. (Sep.) Willie Rose stands for a portrait during an interview in Minot, N.D., May 13, 2016. Rose enlisted in the Air Force in 1963 and served at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., in the 70s. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class J.T. Armstrong)

Tech. Sgt. (Sep.) Willie Rose stands for a portrait during an interview in Minot, N.D., May 13, 2016. Rose enlisted in the Air Force in 1963 and served at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., in the 70s. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class J.T. Armstrong)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- “I remember the winter of ’72 being one of the worst,” said Tech. Sgt.(Sep.) Willie Rose. “The snow drifts were as high as the telephone poles.”

Rose smiled as he recalled memories of his time spent stationed at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, in the 70s. We sat at a kitchen table covered in news clippings and photographs spanning across the years. Like puzzle pieces, they connected Rose’s story.

Willie Rose was born July 4, 1946, in Springfield, Massachusetts and raised in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He enlisted in the Air Force with his twin brother in October of 1963.

“I was 17 and irritated with school,” said Rose. “I was too young to enlist, so my mom and dad had to sign a waiver.”
Rose enjoyed his Air Force technical training much more than his high school’s curriculum.

“I was aircraft maintenance before crossing over into corrosion control,” said Rose. “After that, I cross-trained into civil engineering where I got to drive the big equipment.”

Rose loved learning maintenance and operating the equipment but most of all, he valued the relationships he built here.

“Minot is the best kept secret in the Air Force,” said Rose. “Once you get used to the cold, the people are awesome.”

Minot is also where Willie Rose met his wife. He said he would have gladly served another 20 or 30 years if he had been given the opportunity.

Unfortunately, it only took a split-second to cut Rose’s almost 20-year-career short.

“I was working on what we called a ‘foam truck’. They were used to spray foam at the missile sites to keep the missiles dry during the snowy winters.”

“I was supposed to fix a valve – they put the wrong valve on, which was holding back 75 lbs. of pressurized nitrogen.”

He motioned outwards with his hands.

“That’s when it blew off. I couldn’t see. Everything was yellow.”

The chemicals from the blast had affected his nerves so badly that he ended up being medically discharged from the Air Force. But that doesn’t stop him from enjoying life and giving back to the community. He currently works as a bus driver for the Edgewood Vista assisted living facility, where he takes individuals out to experience the local community who couldn’t ordinarily do so.

In his spare time, Rose also plays guitar as a part of the Dakota Rose Band.

The members consist of Rose on the guitar, Larry Nelson on vocals and guitar, Karen Martin on the keyboard and Floyd Borud on the bass guitar. All of the members have been inducted into the North Dakota – South Dakota Music Hall of Fame.

Three of the four members of the Dakota Rose Band share another bond. Rose, Nelson and Borud are also veterans, having served in Korea and Vietnam.

“When we first started 13 years ago, it was just Larry and myself having fun jam sessions in the basement,” said Rose. “We were all friends before, which is why we’ve stayed together so long.”
USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.

Contact Us

To reach the Minot Air Force Base Main Directory, call: Commercial (701) 723-7979 or DSN: 453-7979.   

To request Public Affairs support, please fill out an Air Force Form 833 and email to the Minot AFB Public Affairs workflow mailbox

Unfortunately, we are not accepting marquee requests since our marquee board is down for an undetermined amount of time. Thank you for understanding.