30th Space Wing members create history

Shawn Riem, 30th Space Wing historian, poses in front of a bookshelf full of archived material, Dec. 16, 2014, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Riem’s personal mission as wing historian is to capture the base's exciting history and heritage and make it readily accessible to all members of the wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Robert J. Volio/Released)

Shawn Riem, 30th Space Wing historian, poses in front of a bookshelf full of archived material, Dec. 16, 2014, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Riem’s personal mission as wing historian is to capture the base's exciting history and heritage and make it readily accessible to all members of the wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Robert J. Volio/Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- British historian and journalist E.H. Carr once said, "The function of the historian is neither to love the past nor emancipate himself from the past, but to master and understand it as the key to the understanding of the present."

Carr saw the historian's role as that of a facilitator, someone who can make history accessible.  As the 30th Space Wing historian, I couldn't agree more. My personal mission as your historian is to capture your exciting history and heritage and make them readily accessible to all members of the wing.
 
The main product of the wing historian is an annual history. This document covers the mission, organization, and operations of the wing, as well as any notable events that occurred within that year and preserves the supporting documentation. You, as members of the wing, are a vital part of this process. You produce the documents, participate in exercises, and make the decisions that determine how objectives are met.
 
As my primary source material for the annual history, you can expect to see and hear from me from time to time as I gather together the pieces of information needed to compose your history. As you look at piles of paperwork on your desk, or all those files on your computer, and contemplate just tossing all of it in the circular file, please keep in mind the words of John W. Gardner, former secretary of health, education and welfare: "History never looks like history when you are living through it."
 
We can't always know today what will be significant tomorrow, so documents pertaining to exercises, operations, equipment and wing events are excellent source materials for the annual history. That after action report you're thinking of tossing just might prevent future leaders from making a grave misstep.

In addition to the annual history, you'll likely also see other products from me: oral history interviews, historical studies, and lunch and learn classes.

Oral history interviews of key leaders and participants in significant events capture not only a first-hand account of an event, but also the emotions felt by the interviewees, something that is impossible to convey in a written document. Historical studies offer an in-depth discussion of a topic, often not available in an annual history. Lunch and learn classes offer an opportunity to learn a little something about the wing you support and the base you work on.

Additionally, I am always available to answer questions about the wing's history and heritage and offer this to not just members of the wing but also to the general public. Preserving and promoting Air Force heritage is just as important to me as documenting the wing's history. I have a rather large archive of material I am happy to share, just ask.

You, as members of the 30th SW, make history daily and I am the careful custodian of that history. So the next time you stop for a second and think, "I just got to be a part of that!" give me a call, shoot me an email, or just stop by. My door is always open and I'd love to hear about it.