- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - Hundreds of airmen and several B-52 bombers are leaving Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota to return to their Minot Air Force Base home in North Dakota.

The planes and airmen have been stationed at Ellsworth for about half a year while a $67 million runway upgrade was completed at the Minot base. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the project was held Monday, and the airmen and bombers began returning from southwest South Dakota on Wednesday.

Bombers and airmen temporarily reassigned to Anderson Air Base in Guam in the western Pacific during the project returned last month.

Minot bombers are often deployed to Guam. Ellsworth was chosen as another temporary site because it has the necessary infrastructure. It once housed B-52s and now is home to B-1 bombers.

“We’ve had a great opportunity here. The flying has been great, the support has been great,” 23rd Bomb Squadron Capt. James Bresnahan said. “The interactions we’ve had with Ellsworth Air Force Base and Rapid City have been really good. We’re excited to get back and continue doing our mission at home. It’s great that the runway is back open and we’re able to operate again”.

Minot is one of two B-52 bases in the country and also is the command center for about 150 Minuteman III missiles in underground silos that dot the northern North Dakota countryside.

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