Grand Forks Herald 08-18-2002

CAVALIER AIR FORCE STATION: Celebrating 25 years

Site monitors the skies for missiles

By Lisa Davis
Herald Staff Writer

NASA astronaut LTC Rex Walheim presents LTC David Doryland with a plaque commemorating shuttle mission STS-110.
Herald photo by Mark Anderson

Lt. Col. Rex Walheim, and NASA astronaut (left), presents Lt. Col. David Doryland with a plaque commemorating shuttle mission STS-110, in which Walheim was shuttle mission specialist. Congressman Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D. (center), participated in the 25th anniversary Saturday of Cavalier Air Force Station near Cavalier, N.D. Saturday morning. Walheim was stationed in Cavalier in 1985 as a member of the missile warning operations crew.

Celebration included an re-enactment of the day the Air Force took over the station.

CAVALIER, N.D. - Calls of "here they come," and the roar of engines accompanied the cool, blustery weather at Cavalier Air Force Station's 25th anniversary Saturday.

The day began with a fly-over by three F-16's from Fargo. A ceremony began soon after in the gymnasium, and included several speakers, a reenactment of the day the Air Force took over the station, and a little bit of reminiscing.

Lt. Col. David Doryland, who helped organize the day, said the event was for the people.

"We want to recognize the outstanding performance of the men and women who have served here," he said.

Colorful history

"Instant to watchful instant," is the motto of the station. Their primary role today is to monitor the skies for missiles.

The idea for a station such as the one near Cavalier was proposed in 1969 when the Nixon Administration started the Safeguard program. The administration reviewed the Army's plan for destroying enemy missiles and announced a modified concept, dubbed Safeguard. The idea for the site was born, and construction began in 1970. Cavalier Air Force Station was declared operational in 1975.

A day later, the House Appropriations Committee passed a bill that did not fund Safeguard. A compromise bill called for dismantling all the Safeguard systems except for the radar.

The site became a missile early warning site in 1977. Oct. 1, 1977, the site was passed over to the U.S. Air Force.

Concerns for today

Keynote speaker, Major General Michael Haugen, spoke about the role the station is playing today, when terrorism is such a large concern.

"The threat today is terrorists who have done harm to us," he said, "they are out there."

Congressman Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., also stressed how important the role of the air station has been since Sept. 11.

"Our nation's need for vigilant defense never changes," Pomeroy said, commending those who had served in Cavalier, "in the end, it is the men and women of this station who have made it work."

He also joked about Senator Kent Conrad's absence at the event.

"Imagine it," he said as the audience laughed, "it was too windy for a Senator."

Conrad's plane was unable to land because of the weather.

The ceremony continued as employees who had been with the station since it began were recognized for their service. The spectators applauded for the work they had put in.

Doryland stressed how significant it was that the station has been around as long as it has.

"When we started we weren't sure if it would be around the next year," he said, "but we've been here for 25."

Reach Davis at (701) 780-1105, (800) 477-6572, ext. 105 or