George Masters didn't know where Minot was when he got orders for Minot Air Force Base 40 years ago.
"When I first got orders for Minot I had to go look at a map and see where it was," said the native of Bethlehem, Pa. At the time, Masters was stationed at Griffiss AFB in New York.
He arrived here on New Year's Eve in 1972.
Eloise Ogden/MDN • George Masters has retired twice at Minot Air Force Base — from active duty in the Air Force and recently from Civil Service. Most of his work career has been at the Minot base.
But Minot became home for Masters. He retired from the Air Force at Minot AFB after 20 years of active duty and in December, retired after almost 19 years in Civil Service at Minot AFB. Nearly all of those total years have been at Minot AFB.
When Masters got to Minot AFB in the early 1970s, initially he worked on the Hound Dog Missile System. "Two of them were carried on the wings of the B-52s," he said.
The Hound Dog was Strategic Air Command's first air-launched missile.
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But at that time Masters didn't like it here. After a year he put in to go to Beale AFB, Calif., to work on the Hound Dog Missile System there. After 18 months, the Hound Dog was phased out. He could either go to the Minuteman Missile System and return to Minot AFB or go to a missile system but that would mean being on temporary duty overseas. Having a family he didn't want to do the latter, so he moved back to North Dakota in 1975 and bought a home in Minot.
At the base, Masters became a team member in the Electro-Mechanical Team Section with the Minuteman System and worked his way up through all the ranks. He was in Quality Assurance when he retired, with the rank of master sergeant.
When he moved back to Minot in the latter 1970s, Masters also got involved in the local community.
Before he went into the military he did roofing and siding with his brother so he formed a company here, M&M Siding, and took on a partner Jack Miller. Miller is now deceased.
"We did sidings on weekends and evenings, obviously for extra money," he said. Then he got into home remodeling.
Masters retired from the Air Force on March 31 and on April 1 started his next work a lawn-care service. He would do the spring cleanup for his customers and then give his customers a card saying "we do roofing and siding, and windows too," he said. After about three months, he wasn't doing anymore lawn care. "So that theory worked for me," he said.
For a time, he and a homebuilder in Williston were partners building homes. They built some spec homes. Then Masters got into some light commercial work - remodeling Perkins restaurant, all the shelving at Minot State University Library and remodeling the Super 8. "But then we got into a lot of the home building," he said.
He went to work in Civil Service at the base in 1993, when he was hired as an inspector with the 5th Civil Engineer Squadron.
"After about two years of that, then they needed someone to work inspections in the missile complex," he said. With Masters' construction background and missile field experience, he went to work in Missile Engineering Section, continuing with it until retiring Dec. 1.
Minot AFB, he said, has done many upgrades since 40 years ago when Masters first set foot on the base. "The commissary, Bx and shoppette are all, obviously, upgraded and moved," he said, reminiscing about some of the changes. He also noted the work to renovate and replace housing on base which has been done.
Now, Masters said, it's hard to believe all those years of work at the base are behind him.
He's president of the Dakota Cruisers Car Club, the organization he will be focusing on for his volunteer time.
He owns Masters Restorations, a vehicle restoration business.
"I'm rebuilding a 1962 Chevy Impala and as soon as that's done I've contracted a 1957 Chevy Nomad," he said. "It will take me a year or more to do both of them."
He also has two classic car auctions Masters Auctions LLC. The first one is in June each year in Devils Lake, held in conjunction with a huge event called Devils Run. The other one is held each year in Minot during Motor Magic.
He's a lifetime member of the David C. Jones Chapter of the Air Force Association and is emceeing the banquet in April. "That's a great organization," he said.
"These are the organizations I'll concentrate on," he added.
He is one of about 1,100 military retirees residing in the Minot area. "We become a family," he said.
Masters and his wife, Eileen, lost their home in the flood this summer but have bought another home in the city. Eileen, a native of Scotland, is retired from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. She was the military clothing sales manager. She helps her husband with the auction and does the bookkeeping.
"We're staying here, we love Minot," he said.