ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --
The Journey Museum and Learning Center located in Rapid City, South Dakota, held the grand opening of its "Wild Blue Yonder" exhibit on Oct. 20, 2017.
The free exhibit pays respect to Ellsworth AFB and the servicemen and women stationed there in the past and present. The pictures, models and plaques showcase the unique relationship between the base and the local community.
“This exhibit was made to revel in the rich history of Ellsworth and its impact on the local area,” said. Tricia Weathers, a 2nd Lt. with the Civil Air Patrol Rushmore Composite Squadron.
The Wild Blue Yonder exhibit starts in the year 1942, back when the base was still known as the Rapid City Army Air Base (AAB), and displays unique attributes about Ellsworth’s history through its current mission of providing combat airpower. From uniforms and photos dating back to the 1940’s, plaques depicting historical base events and models of the Minuteman II missile and the B-1 bomber, the exhibit acts as a journey into the past.
Weathers explained that Ellsworth is a part of the community’s heritage, making the base very important to celebrate.
"When you think of the many, many years of all of the servicemen and women who have touched our community and the number of people who have ended up retiring here, I think that this really is a big fabric to Rapid City and [the] western South Dakota area,” said Troy Kilpatrick, executive director of the Journey Museum and Learning Center. “I think we should really be thankful to all those people’s contributions to our community.”
Every year, Ellsworth Airmen spend countless volunteer hours in the local area, feeding and housing local residents, and assisting with natural disasters such as the Black Hills Flood of 1972, the most detrimental flood in South Dakota history, and the second most deadly flood in U.S. history.
This free, temporary exhibit is open until January 7th, 2018, and is open to any and all who are interested in the history of Ellsworth.
“It means a lot because without the support of the local area, the base would not be able to complete the mission effectively,” Wight said. “This exhibit helps educate the community on the involvement the base had in the past, our current partnership and forward to what the future might hold.”