RANTOUL, Ill. (WCIA) — It’s been a discussion in Rantoul for decades: restore the Minuteman missile displayed at the old Chanute Air Force Base or tear it down and give it to the National Museum of the Air Force in Ohio.
But time is running out for village leaders to make a decision. They have until March.
If you really want to learn Rantoul’s history, look no further than village historian Jim Cheek.
“This being a Boeing Minuteman was, and many like it, were a big deterrent to an attack on the mainland,” Cheek said.
The missile was placed at Chanute in 1966, and it’s something that Cheek has deep ties to.
“My father was a crane operator with the civil engineers that contracted here on the base, and he was the one who set that up there,” Cheek said.
He’s not the only one with a tie to the missile.
“I’m torn,” said Rantoul Mayor Charles Smith. “See, I served here at Chanute back in 1966, so it has a deep meaning for me too,”
Sitting in the same spot since that year, the static display has sunken into near disrepair, and the city has to figure out what to do with it next.
“Decide if we want to keep it, send it back,” Smith said. “Or if we want to set up some memorial for Chanute the community can contribute to.”
Cheek offered his thoughts on the matter.
“It’s reached probably the stage of deterioration where it’s probably not savable anymore,” he said.
Village officials had discussions about the future of the missile at Tuesday’s board meeting, but no decisions have been made yet. Smith said they’ll be looking at options and costs of both options: retiring the missile and sending it to the Air Force Museum or restoring the missile to its former glory.