Scattered across the high plains east of Cheyenne are dozens of nuclear missile silos and launch stations. The nondescript facilities hold Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, powerful warheads that can be deployed across the Pacific or the Atlantic with the turn of a key.

From 2008-2011, newly-appointed Sen. Brian Boner (R-Douglas) was a 319th Missile Squadron launch officer responsible for up to 50 missiles while stationed in underground control centers near F.E. Warren Air Force base.

Sen. Brian Boner (R-Douglas)

“The joke I always tell is I joined the Air Force to see the world, but they put me in a hole in the ground in my home state,” Boner said. “It taught me to handle a tremendous responsibility at a young age.”

Boner, 30,  later spent two years in the 20th Air Force as an officer overseeing nuclear safety at air bases in Cheyenne, Great Falls, Montana, and Minot, North Dakota. He views nuclear weapons as an “unfortunate necessity” in a world where other countries with nuclear weapons may not share America’s security objectives, or values such as freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

“I knew I wasn’t going to be asked to do [conduct a nuclear strike] unless the survival of this country was at stake,” Boner said. “This is a deterrent that has been very successful for 60 to 70 years, so I felt comfortable I was doing the right thing.”

Toward the end of his military service, Boner completed an online M.B.A. in agribusiness at the University of Nebraska. That added to his two bachelor’s degrees in Russian and political science from the University of Wyoming, where he graduated in 2007.

Boner first became interested in politics as a Douglas High School student through a civic education program that his Senate District 2 predecessor Sen. Jim Anderson (R-Glenrock) helped organize. Anderson announced his retirement at the end of the 2015 session.

In April county commissioners chose Boner from among three finalists to represent Converse and Platte County.

“The process struck a good balance on several levels, and I was humbled to be selected,” Boner said.

Boner is both the newest and the youngest member in the Senate. He got married just two months ago, shortly after being appointed. He will serve on the Labor, Health and Human Services Committee, and the Transportation, Highways, and Military Affairs Committee.

“I wasn’t planning on putting my name forward [for elected office] any time soon,” Boner said, “but looking at the issues in the state, I thought my life experience matched up with being able to understand the district and [contribute] my skill set and views as we look to a budget shortfall.”

Boner served in the military during the time the federal government went over the fiscal cliff and cut defense budgets by 10 percent, which he said gives him perspective on fiscal challenges. He supports Gov. Matt Mead’s idea of targeted cuts to Wyoming’s budget, and he’s also eager to hear the results of a study on how much the state needs to save in its rainy day fund.

The legislative work will balance well with the physical demands of his day job at the family farm co-owned by his father and his uncles, Boner said. He’s been cutting hay and making hay bales for weeks, a job which will continue through August. In between days driving tractor he’ll visit with constituents and local school districts to learn about issues they are facing.

“It’s been a really good experience so far, and I look forward to working with my new colleagues and getting to know folks in my district,” Boner said. “We can make all the policy we want in Cheyenne but if it doesn’t work for them, it’s not the best thing.”

Gregory Nickerson

Gregory Nickerson worked as government and policy reporter for WyoFile from 2012-2015. He studied history at the University of Wyoming. Follow Greg on Twitter at @GregNickersonWY and on www.facebook.com/GregoryNickersonWriter/

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Just attended a meeting with him. He was attentive to issues and seems like a bright young man.

    Ann Rochelle