91st MW Roughriders celebrate Black History Month

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alexander Nottingham
  • 5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

A Missile Alert Facility fifty miles from Minot Air Force Base celebrated Black History Month with an all-black missileer crew. The crew tripped out for a week where they performed a crucial role in the 91st Missile Wings’ nuclear deterrence mission, while also honoring the history and culture of black Americans.

“I celebrate Black History Month by first being proud of who I am,” said 1st Lt. Bryana Terell, 742nd Missile Squadron missileer. “I love spreading the knowledge of my history and how people can consistently educate themselves. An all-Black alert is important to me because it is very rare to see an all-Black crew. Being able to be a part of something so unique, while highlighting our culture in the workplace, continues to illuminate how far we have come.”

The crew of this alert hoped that their efforts would help educate and honor the history of black service members who served in the same capacity they do now.

“As an African American, Dr. Martin Luther King's vision for racial equality and justice has been a guiding force in my efforts to confront systemic issues,” said Capt. Joshua Watson, 91st Operational Support Squadron instructor. “His dedication to breaking down racial barriers and promoting unity has inspired me to engage in conversations about race, challenge stereotypes, and work towards a more inclusive society. An all-black alert symbolizes that while we honor our heritage as African Americans, we also stand guard of our nation's 24/7/365 deterrence mission. It's our responsibility, and honor, to protect and defend the nation our ancestors worked to build and to support future generations to come. ”

Each member says they did this alert for a different reason. Their reason may come from a place of honoring a past relative who served or a proud history of a culture they want to bring more awareness to.

“My father, Retired USAF Master Sgt. Ronnie McCoy, has always been an important role model in my life,” said 2nd Lt Evelyn McCoy, 742nd Missile Squadron Missileer. “Growing up, he showed me what it means to overcome adversity with poise and determination. As a black man from Phenix City, AL in the early 60s, he experienced blatant racism and discrimination during the period of desegregation that began in 1963. My father can still recount what it was like having to use "black only" amenities in public spaces.”

McCoy said it’s her father, who didn't allow adversity to stop him from serving his country for 20 years, that inspired her to be the officer she is today. McCoy says her dad will always serve as an inspiration for her.

While their reason for serving might differ, everyone on the team has a unique perspective that they bring.

“The emphasis on black achievement is awesome because it indicates tangible progress,” said Capt Andrew Gould, 742nd Missile Squadron flight commander. “Having the opportunity to serve under an all-black wing command team, meeting black General Officers, and seeing Gen. Charles Q. Brown lead as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been markers of the increasing acknowledgment and normalcy with which we are being valued in the military. Understanding our past is necessary and showing up in the present is imperative.”

Roughriders, the 91st MW’s mascot, was a band of service members from many different cultures and backgrounds. The 91st MW continues that legacy by creating an environment of diversity empowering Airmen to share their experiences to create a more powerful force.