MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — Many members of the military who are stationed in Minot, don’t believe they will call North Dakota home forever. That’s how Wednesday night’s Veterans Voice first felt when he was called to serve at the Minot Air Force Base nearly 30 years ago, but answering that call, was the best decision Roger Reich ever made.
“I said, what did I do wrong? Why would they send me to a place like Minot? And here it is, 2023, and we’re still here,” said Roger Reich, an Air Force Veteran.
But Reich says that feeling didn’t last long. In fact, his wife and two daughters moved to Minot right away, while he was serving in Turkey. And Reich says it wasn’t easy, because it was a busy time in his career, traveling all around the world.
“From Worthington, Minnesota we went to Whiteman Air Force Base outside of Manchester, Missouri. Did a couple of deployments there. Went to Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, during Desert Storm, the first Gulf War, and we were there. We went in on the second or third wave of people going into Kuwait. And then from there, went to Turkey. Was stationed in Turkey for just over 13 months. It was a remote so I didn’t take my family with me,” Reich said.
He served his 21 years in the Air Force as a cop, a recruiter, and an educator and trainer, retiring as a First Sergeant in 2004.
After retiring he stayed on base working as a Camp Center Director for Park University for four years, helping military spouses and families get degrees. Then he transitioned into his current job as the executive director at the Minot Commission on Aging.
“We’d been at Minot for a long time,” explained Reich. And I wanted to do something to be more involved in the local community. So, this job became available and I applied and I’ve been here 15 years now.”
Reich is a key part of making the programs at the Minot Commission on Aging successful. He helps run the Meals on Wheels program, organizes interactive classes for the elderly, brings seniors together for congregational meals, and helps with senior housing.
He says, a lot of the people he serves are also veterans, which is a full-circle moment for him.
“You see a lot of Veterans come through and stuff. We do a lot of stuff. We do a lot of different things. There are different groups that come down here that help veterans get programs. You know, you just feel good about every day,” Reich explained.
He says, over all the places he’s traveled to, there’s no place quite as special as Minot.
“It’s the people. It’s a great place to retire. The people are great, they were great when we came here. You go to a lot of different places and you don’t find the sincere friendships that you do when you come to Minot,” Reich added.
When Reich retired from the Air Force, he was gifted a window from a B-52. His retiree flag has also been through several countries and wars. He says, one of the things he is most proud of though, is providing more than 350 meals a day to seniors, through the Meals on Wheels program.