Grand Forks has a population of about 50,000 and is home to the University of North Dakota. Grand Forks AFB is home to the 319th Air Base Wing. It’s the only base in the nation selected to host aircraft systems that are piloted by remote control. The base is also located about 75 miles from Fargo, in the Red River Valley where two rivers meet.
The Department of Defense selected Grand Forks in 1954 as a site for an Air Defense Command base. Through generous monetary donations, citizens from nearby Grand Forks were able to make this wish a reality by buying land for the base. Building began in 1956 and Grand Forks AFB was a fully functioning base by 1960.
Grand Forks AFB has hosted KC-135’s, F-101 B fighters, B-52 bombers, B-1 bombers and Minuteman missiles. Throughout its history, units assigned to the base have performed the missions of providing various support services, including air refueling. Today, the base is home to the 319th Air Base Wing, a premier base for remote-controlled aircraft systems.
Parks near Grand Forks AFB offer soccer fields, softball and baseball fields, hockey rinks, playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts. Residents enjoy NCAA soccer and football games at Alerus Center. Entertainment events are also held at Alerus in the 22,000 seat arena.
ARTsplace is a fine arts studio and gallery, displaying works from regional, local and national artists. Grand Forks activities range from Ballet performances by the North Dakota Ballet company to Tae Kwon Do lessons to exciting softball tournaments. Columbia Mall and Grand Cities Mall offer good shopping opportunities. There are also many interesting restaurants like the Toasted Frog and Red Pepper.
Most base residents are served by the Grand Forks AFB clinic for routine health care. There is no 24 hour emergency facility on base. However, there is a 24 hour ambulance service available to transport emergency patients to Altru Hospital emergency room. The clinic operates Monday through Friday and can supply acute care on weekends if necessary.
There are two schools on base. The Carl Ben Eielson School is for grades K-4 and the Twining Elementary and Middle schools are for grades 5-8. There are two high schools off base for students, with most students going to Central High School. The base also has an extensive system of youth programs and a Child Development Center to provide child care.
Housing in Grand Forks is less expensive than in most areas. There are over 540 units to house military families on base. Apartments and homes off base are available at reasonable prices. With lower than average home prices, Grand Forks a good place to consider home buying. Temporary quarters are available in a dorm for single Air Force members and a Temporary Lodging Facility for families.
Services include a commissary and base exchange, along with one bank and one credit union. There are also flower, military clothing, alterations, barber and other small shops conveniently on the base. Grand Forks AFB features a small town lifestyle with big city amenities.