The Delaware Guard needs history detectives

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Matwey
  • 166th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
From the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, to the end of 2012, several thousand members of the Delaware National Guard participated in an unprecedented period of sacrifice and dedication at home and abroad to serve their state and nation.

If you served in uniform during any part of this time, you participated in this history.

Capturing the essence of those experiences is the goal of a new history book project, intended to give a fair shake to each unit in the Delaware Guard - Army and Air. The effort is being coordinated by a task force at Joint Force Headquarters, Delaware National Guard.

The endeavor will result in a book of about 180 pages dedicated to Delaware Guard history. The welcome mat is out for each section, flight, squadron and group in the wing to submit their unit contributions. Wing staff offices and Delaware Air Guard HQ will also be asked for input. There is a July 8 deadline for all Air Guard submissions.

Your point of contact is your unit public affairs representative. Your unit commander or first sergeant can direct you to him/her. Squadrons should aim to contribute an average of one page per year of content (text and photos).

Our Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, wants the story told of the evolutionary growth and development of the Guard from a strategic reserve to an operational asset in the post- 9/11 era.

Colonel Mike Feeley, commander of the 166th Airlift Wing, said, "Each wing unit will contribute to this great opportunity to tell our history. Have some fun, seize the moment, and make it worthwhile."

There is a rich vein of material to draw upon to tell this story. In the dozen years covered by the project, members of the 166th Airlift Wing deployed, exercised or trained with members from other units in the Guard, reserve or active duty, with troops from other service branches, with civilian first responders from local, state or national agencies, or with uniformed members of allied nations.

This is a grass-roots effort, and the squeaky squadron wheel of history will get the grease. At a minimum we need one or more people in each unit to speak up and submit some text and photos. Some portion of their take on your unit history will be published after the task force reviews for OPSEC and edits the material for size and style. A team at JFHQ will do all the layout and design.

For those individuals with a lot of material stashed in your office, home, or hard drive, we want your treasure trove. We can review and edit your material to gain the essence of your story. Project advisors, such as retired Brig. Gen. (Del.) Ken Wiggins (who has researched and written several books on Delaware Guard history), welcome all content. "We prefer more material, not less," said Wiggins. That includes video you might have captured on personal cameras and smart phones. In time, that action footage could become part of a larger unit video.

So, start looking this week at your personal or unit digital collections of imagery and written documentation. If you wrote something down during this period that captured your thoughts at that moment, find that sheet of paper or digital file and look it over. Or, just start writing from scratch today to capture your recollections. Just a handful of sentences that explain your experiences will do fine.

Try to answer the "Five W's and One H"-- Who?, What?, When?, Where? and Why?, plus How? (how much/many time, money, aircraft or other materials were involved). And most important, describe the importance, impact, uniqueness and the emotional and human interest element.

Some memory joggers to help tell a unit story: Did your unit receive a new mission tasking, or reorganize? Did you change commanders or chief master sergeants? Did someone write a poem, short story, email or letter home, keep a diary, draw a picture or tell a joke? - and can you get your hands on it? What were unit members most proud of? What was most memorable? What needs to be told about your unit's experience that should not be overlooked by your grandkids or your community?