Curator an example of base's close community tie

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jeremy Larlee
With 140 years of military history at her disposal, the museum director has a lot of information to share with visitors at the Warren ICBM/Heritage Museum.

Paula Taylor describes herself as a fifth-generation local ranch daughter. She said her family has had a long tradition of working with F.E Warren, starting when they sold horses to the base in the 1880s when it was an Army cavalry post named Fort D.A Russell.

With 15 years on the job as museum director, Mrs. Taylor said her enthusiasm for the base's history has not waned.

"What gets me up in the morning is the opportunity to touch people with our great heritage at this base," she said. "It's an awesome responsibility and something I enjoy."

By her own calculations, Mrs. Taylor said she has done about 800 presentations to various groups during her time as museum director. She said the most enjoyable part is when someone's face lights up when she has told them something interesting.

She believes that history is something that is still very relevant in conducting the current military mission.

"I'm a firm believer in that if we understand our history, we will not repeat our mistakes," she said. "A lot of great people have trail-blazed the path for us and we need to respect their efforts by learning the lessons from their history."

It is a history that nearby Cheyenne and F.E Warren share together. Both the base and the city were built about the same time and there is a close sibling-like bond between the two.

One event that exemplifies this bond is the annual Cheyenne Frontier days. The event is billed as the world's largest outdoor rodeo and western celebration and draws about 300,000 visitors every year. The base has participated in the event for more than one hundred years and the Air Force aerial demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, even made their first public demonstration at the event in 1953.

Col. Barry Kistler is the vice commander of 20th Air Force and also the head liaison between the base and city for the event. He said that there is a lot of pressure to make a good showing at the event.

"With such a long of history of performing at the event you want to put on a good show," he said. "Every year though, we end up being a very popular part of it."

It is an event that Mrs. Taylor is very familiar with since she has spent her whole life in Cheyenne.

She was born in 1959, one year after the missile mission was started at the base. She said people often ask her if she is scared to live in an area of the country with so many missiles, but she says the weapons have always been a part of her life.

In the 14 decades the base has been serving a military mission, its mission has transformed from protecting the railroad to being a part of Air Force Space Command and acting as caretaker for a portion of the nation's Minuteman III missiles. Even with all the changes, Mrs. Taylor said the base still has the same goal today that it had in its cavalry days.

"Our mission has not changed from 1867," she said. "Our duty then was to protect Americans, and today we are doing the same mission with the ICBMs."