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The Wing Historian

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman William Turnbull
  • 355th Wing Public Affairs

A historian is a subject matter expert or writer of a particular or specific time periods, military historians record and manage historical events, and provide references and combat documentation for the future generations of the U.S. military.

Military historians were established during World War II to accurately record the outcomes of battles and unit history. Modern day historians will also deploy with a unit to document their interactions in real-time.

“Gen. Henry Arnold instituted a program in 1942 where service members with historian backgrounds were gathered and distributed across the European and Pacific Theaters,” said George Tinseth, 355th Wing historian. “These historians would track campaigns, aerial credits and changes in unit designation among several other things.”

Once something is recorded, it is then archived and then sent to the major command as well as to the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA) for additional archiving. Any unit personnel may request historical documentation of their unit’s achievements or changes by contacting their installation’s historian.

“What we do is record real-time history,” Tinseth said. “We’ll document all sorts of things. From command changes, operations, changes in doctrine, maintenance and anything else the wing does.”

Historians and public affairs work hand-in-hand to document and archive any historical event which takes place at the installation level and beyond.

“Our shop works frequently with the historian because we have a lot to gain from each other,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jacob Stephens, 355th Wing Public Affairs noncommissioned officer in-charge of command information. “Anytime we need information on the history of the base, wing or any squadron here we know we can reach out to Mr. Tinseth and get those details, and vice-versa when we cover an important event we archive it ourselves and share our documentation with him.”

Archiving events is important not only for historical accuracy, but as a reference for future issues that may arise to understand what works and what doesn’t.