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Kaiserslautern American

October 4, 2013

86th Airlift Wing historian: Connecting past, present, future University (Alabama) from July 2004 and spent seven years there.

Story and photo by Airman 1st Class Michael Stuart 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


Q: How long do you think you’ll remain in this position? A: As for how long I’ll be in this position really depends on what options are available in terms of upward mobility. I do miss teaching a lot.

istory is the record of past events and is important to the future of a society. History affects what we do on a daily basis. Some may say the lack of knowledge of how and what happened in the past can be the reason history repeats itself. At Ramstein, Silvano Wueschner is the historian of the 86th Airlift Wing. As an organization, it’s important to have a record of past events so educated decisions can be made in the future. During an interview, Wueschner discussed more about his position and what it entails. Q: Have you previously served in the military? If so, what was your specialty? A: I served for 10 years with the Marine Corps during the ’70s. I started off as a military police and since I had a year and a half of college when I went in, they wanted me in what would be today’s equivalent of knowledge operations. I also had a secondary specialty as a drill instructor at Parris Island (Marine Corps Recruit Depot), S.C. I was an administrative chief at Parris Island for a few years. I ended up getting drafted around 1971, during the Vietnam War. The Air Force was a close second for me, but I was infantry motivated so I joined the Marines. The Marine Corps was great. It was a small family. Out of the four active branches, it was the smallest organization, and the camaraderie was great. Q: Out of that year and a half of schooling, was any of that related to your job now? A: No, other than the general history classes I took, it was all general education courses. That was my first year and a half of college. Q: Exactly what are your duties as the wing historian? A: To capture the history of the unit I’m assigned to, whether it’s here at Ramstein with the 86th or downrange when deployed. In other words, make sure nothing falls through the cracks. TRAINING, from Page 2 our mission in a completely new perspective for me. With the help of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations 13th and 4th Field Investigations Squadrons from Vogelweh Cantonment, the 86th Security Forces Squadron, the 86th Airlift Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator and several other agencies, the training became something more than any of us could have imagined. The AFOSI agents and experienced alert photog-

Q: What’s the best part about your job? A: The best part would be coming to work. When you like your job and it’s fun, it’s easy to come to work. It’s tough deploying, but even then it’s fun because you feel like you’re a part of something important. You feel like you’re making a real contribution, and that’s where the rubber meets the road as they say. Q: Do you believe that the past affects the future? A: Yes, absolutely. Decisions that were made 100 years ago still affect us today. I did have a professor at the University of Iowa who cautioned me one time. He said, “As much as we’d like to, we can’t always go back to the Garden of Eden.”

Silvano Wueschner, 86th Airlift Wing historian, sifts through books in his office Sept. 25 on Ramstein. Wueschner has been a historian at Ramstein since June 2011. He captures and organizes the history of the base.

Q: What were the educational requirements to get this job? A: For this job you had to have 18 credit hours of history or Ph.D. preferred. In other words, you really didn’t have to have a Ph.D. or a master’s degree, as long as you had 18 hours of history. The colonel at the time wanted someone with the most education, but that was the minimum. Q: Were you a history teacher? A: Yes, I was a history professor prior to coming into the Air Force program. Q: How long have you been in this position? A: I’ve been here at Ramstein since June of 2011. Prior to that, I was at Maxwell Air Force Base Air raphers created several scenarios using a combination of live actors and training mannequins to mirror scenes they have seen in the past. They included domestic assault, child abuse, suicide, suspected homicide and a building fire. It is our responsibility to take photographs of fatalities, evidence of rape, abuse and assault victims, aircraft accidents and mishaps, damage to government property, environmental damage and safety incidents. Our photos are used by investigative agencies to ascertain the truth and preserve evidence.

Q: How does your job affect Airmen on a daily basis? A: If I do my job and I do it properly, it affects them in terms of good decision-making by leadership. Airmen are the ones who have to carry out the tasks. I’m not saying I’m solely responsible for that, but leadership can make informed decisions based on the information they receive about the past. Q: Is there anything you would like to add about your job that people wouldn’t necessarily think about when they think of a historian? A: We’re motivators too. We’re the keepers of the motivational aspect of the wing. We can take you all the way back to who and when the base was founded, all of the accomplishments, all of the lineage and honors. People don’t necessarily look at us as having that kind of information or being the keepers of the treasure trove of motivation. We provide some of the young Airmen with a reason to come work. Some Airmen come in and they don’t understand who they are and what the mission is, and they’re just here. But we can make a connection. We can help you come to work and make you smile. Mistakes in this line of work are not an option. Failure on our part cannot only slow or halt the investigative process but, in some cases, can destroy the lives of the victims or let a perpetrator go free. I have never seen our training conducted in this way before, but now that I have, I wouldn’t want to see it any other way. It was as close to the real thing as you can get. From start to finish, the training was flawless, and because of that, their ability to perform the mission should be as well.

Kaiserslautern American - Oct. 4, 2013  
Kaiserslautern American - Oct. 4, 2013  

The Kaiserslautern American is the local newspaper for the Kaiserslautern Military Community (KMC), including Headquarters, U.S. Air Forces...