MARILYN HAGERTY: Base leader’s wife knows ins and outs of movingBonnie Bauman has had 15 homes and lived on 11 different U.S. Air Force bases since her marriage 22 years ago.
By: Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald
Bonnie Bauman has had 15 homes and lived on 11 different U.S. Air Force bases since her marriage 22 years ago.
Right now, she and her family are settled in at Grand Forks Air Force Base where her husband, Paul, is base commander for two years. Moving is not her favorite pastime, but Bonnie thinks she has gotten pretty good at it.
Besides, she loves the Air Force way of life. She likes being among people who are personally invested in keeping this country free.
Moving around brings on different lifestyles. Bonnie finds that her family — including two teenage daughters — needs to rediscover themselves with each move.
“If you did Irish dances in Ohio, you may have to learn the ballet in Oklahoma! If you enjoyed curling in Alaska, you may need a new pastime in South Carolina,” she said.
Right now, the Bauman family has been discovering Grand Forks. They love coming “to town” and walking along the Red River, shopping, eating ice cream at Culver’s and sometimes dining out downtown.
The daughters, Bailey and Bridget, were born at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., 17 years ago. In spite of moving around, they have completed high school a year early. The girls are less than a year apart in age, and their parents call them their Irish twins. They are enrolled as freshmen this fall at Texas A&M in College Station, Texas.
For the Baumans, this will mark the onset of the “empty nest.” They will depend more than ever on their Air Force friends as extended family.
The daughters will be home at the air base for Christmas. Meanwhile, their parents will be immersed in activities at the base. For Bonnie Bauman, that includes a myriad of activities and events planned by the social committee — such as regular sessions of a game called Bunko.
The Baumans have found there is always something to do on the base. There is a good library and a recreation center where they can check out bikes. Some people even raise horses.
All in all, Bonnie Bauman says life on Grand Forks Air Force Base is “wonderful.” There are about 500 families living on base and another 300 single airmen. People gather outside on summer nights to visit and watch their children at play. Adults share downtime over outside grills on weekends.
Families help each other out by carpooling their children to events in Grand Forks. Bonnie Bauman says they enjoy meeting people here. They like to talk about their life in the Air Force.
“I think people like Grand Forks because it is safe here and they feel part of the community. The pace of life is slower than at other bases in bigger cities. When we were stationed at Altus (Okla.) Air Force Base, we drove over 60 miles to get to a Starbuck’s and 100 miles to find a Target,” she said.
The quiet is also different here. At previous bases, they covered their ears as the “sound of freedom” deafened them from above where F-22s were roaring.
“Our quiet unmanned aircraft missions are new on my list of experiences,” she said.
“People around here tend to smile a lot, I love that! Grand Forks is a happy place to live,” she said. “And some people stop and thank Air Force people for their service and sacrifice. That kind of appreciation is awesome.”
Reach Hagerty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (701) 772-1055.