Officials Investigating Graffiti of Swastikas and Racial Slur at Air Force Base

Heavy fog covers a sign at the front of the entrance at Minot Air Force Base.
Heavy fog covers a sign at the front of the base entrance at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, Aug. 16, 2022. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Alysa Knott)

Updated at 12:21 p.m. Eastern, April 11

Officials at an Air Force base in North Dakota are investigating graffiti that included profanity, swastikas and a racial slur spray-painted on the garage doors of a base housing unit.

Video taken of the graffiti began circulating online late last week and was verified by Minot Air Force Base officials. It shows black spray paint covering two white garage doors, as well as some parts of the unit's driveway.

The 5th Security Forces Squadron was notified of the incident early April 1, Maj. Jhanelle Haag, spokeswoman for Minot Air Force Base, told As of Monday afternoon, the graffiti was still being investigated and a suspect had not yet been identified, she added.

Read Next: US Air Base in Greenland Gets New, Inuit Name

One of the residents of the duplex is MacKenzy Rutledge, a former service member, mother and the wife of Airman 1st Class Justin Rutledge. She said her garage door was hit with the majority of the graffiti.

MacKenzy Rutledge told in an interview Monday evening that she left her house and drove her car to the base gas station around 2 a.m. She estimated that she was gone for no more than 30 minutes. When she pulled back into the driveway, her headlights illuminated the new black spray paint across the garage doors.

"I was like, 'Wow, OK, well, this is not what I expected to come back home to,'" she said. "Knowing that somebody is willing to come and target us specifically, kind of makes me worried about being here still."

The Rutledge family is white, but MacKenzy told the neighbor they share the duplex with is a Black service member. Some of the language spray-painted, including the letters "GDK" -- a potential reference to a Midwestern gang that has a presence in a state where she grew up, make her believe her family was singled out.

Col. Dan Hoadley, commander of the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot, said that the installation has a zero-tolerance policy for vandalism and discrimination.

"Let me be abundantly clear that Minot Air Force Base has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind," Hoadley said in a statement provided to "This type of behavior is abhorrent, unacceptable, and does not align with our Air Force core values."

The Ward County Sheriff's Department and the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation are also assisting in the case.

No other similar incidents have been reported in the past year, according to a base spokesman. Officials declined to say whether the families whose unit was spray-painted have been moved or will move because of the incident.

The Rutledge family's garage door was initially painted white by base engineers, but it didn't cover up the black spray paint, so the door was replaced altogether. Their neighbors are waiting on their door to be replaced as well.

MacKenzy Rutledge said she has been happy with the base commander's response to the incident.

"Our 5th Security Forces team is engaged and investigating the matter so that appropriate action can be taken," Hoadley said in his statement. "I have also engaged personally with the affected families to make sure we are taking care of their needs."

MacKenzy Rutledge is waiting for approval from the privatized housing company to move to a different home, but she is still wary of safety at Minot Air Force Base as a whole and has considered moving away.

"Now that I'm seeing all of this going on, do I really want to still live here?" she said. "If they won't relocate us to a different base, I was considering just moving back home with my family for now until they can find us something."

Minot is located about 130 miles north of Bismarck, North Dakota. The rural military installation has a population of 12,000 people, including roughly 5,500 active-duty and reserve members, according to base officials.

The sprawling 5,000-acre base is the only installation in the service that operates two legs of the nuclear triad, housing the 5th Bomb Wing's B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers and the 91st Missile Wing's Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The graffiti marks the latest incident to make headlines out of Minot.

In late February, Col. Gregory Mayer, the commander of the 5th Mission Support Group, and Maj. Jonathan Welch, the commander of the 5th Logistics Readiness Squadron, as well as four subordinates were fired from their jobs.

A defense official, who spoke to on condition of anonymity to speak about the incident, said the service members were not fired for any improper personal conduct but rather due to concerns regarding a failed safety inspection.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comments from Rutledge.

-- Thomas Novelly can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.

Related: Nuclear Base Fired 6 Service Members Over Failed Safety Inspection, Defense Official Says

Story Continues