AFGSC Historians win DAF History and Museums Awards

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Shelby Thurman
  • Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

The Department of the Air Force recently announced the Air Force Global Strike Command History Office as the winner of the DAF’s Excellence in Command History Program Management Award.

This major command level award recognizes a MAJCOM history office for outstanding leadership of history and heritage programs that provided exemplary historical services to improve organizational effectiveness, esprit de corps, and combat capability during the previous calendar year.

“This was truly a team effort by the entire History and Heritage Program across Global Strike,” said Donald Koser, AFGSC History Office director. “While we had won several individual Air Force-level awards since our standup in 2009, we had never been recognized as a team. That makes earning this award especially gratifying.”

Based at AFGSC Headquarters here, the AFGSC History Office worked on multiple projects relating to the Air Force’s new B-21 Raider stealth bomber, the new LGM-35A Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile weapon system, and the LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBM weapon system.

More specifically, they supported AFGSC HQ planners with their ongoing weapon system development and bed down for the B-21 Raider.

The B-21 Raider will be a dual-capable penetrating strike stealth bomber capable of delivering conventional and nuclear munitions. It is designed to operate in tomorrow’s high-end threat environment and will play a critical role in ensuring America’s enduring airpower capability. Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota; Whiteman AFB, Missouri; and Dyess AFB, Texas, are the preferred locations as main operating bases, with Ellsworth AFB announced as the first main operating base and the home of the formal training unit.

Additionally, the team worked with AFGSC HQ planners on the deployment of the LGM-35A Sentinel ICBM by providing historical site activation task force and other weapon system programming documents for use as a baseline in the development.

With nuclear deterrence being the top priority mission for the Department of Defense, the Air Force plans to use the LGM-35A Sentinel ICBM as a replacement to the LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBM; which has currently been in service for more than 50 years in Air Force missile fields at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming; Malmstrom AFB, Montana; and Minot AFB, North Dakota. The Sentinel weapon system is the most cost-effective option for maintaining a safe, secure, and effective land-based leg of the nuclear triad and would extend its capabilities through 2075.

Since the Sentinel Program is still relatively new, Koser was chosen by the AFGSC commander to represent the command in a telephone interview with Defense News on the naming of the Sentinel ICBM. Koser said his answers were infused with Strategic Air Command heritage into what became the first published article on the missile previously known as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent.

“It was exciting to have the opportunity to speak to a national audience on the legacy of those who served in the missile fields since the Atlas ICBMs activated in 1959,” said Koser. “And like the Minuteman, the name Sentinel elicits the perfect imagery, in this case knowing the Sentinel missile community will continue to stand guard and keep the watch.”

When it came to securing the legacy of the Minuteman III weapon system, the historians conducted artifact and photo preservation projects to ensure future generations understand the major deterrent role the system played. These actions involved coordination across several agencies with major conservancy through historical preservation offsets. 

“I believe the generations of missileers, maintainers, and security forces should be proud to have been the ones who created a legacy of ensuring that the Minuteman III was and still is reliable, safe, and constantly on alert,” said Shawn Bohannon, AFGSC History Office senior historian.

Projects focused on the planning and bed down for the B-21 Raider and Sentinel Program represent the modernization of the air-based and land-based legs of the nation’s nuclear triad. Modernized weapon systems such as these would be potentially unfathomable if it were not for the foundation laid by the Airmen of Strategic Air Command.

The historians highlighted Global Strike's direct lineage with Strategic Air Command and its significant contribution in winning the Cold War by creating a "Power of Strategic Air Command" exhibit in the command foyer. Many have noted that the prominent display of this unique history has been well-received by distinguished visitors and is a sense of pride for Global Strike personnel.

“It’s important Striker Airmen know the dominant role Strategic Air Command played in the Air Force for over 40 years, at times boasting a combat-ready force of over 220,000 personnel, 1,200 ICBMs, and 2,900 aircraft operating from 68 bases around the world,” said Koser. “The strength displayed by Strategic Air Command and the professionalism of its personnel prevented all-out war, led to the fall of the Soviet Union, and victory in the Cold War. “

Historians throughout AFGSC are vital in conducting research, maintaining meticulous records, and providing strategic planning to leaders- ensuring the Air Force continues to modernize at the speed of relevance.

“We have the best job in the Air Force,” said Koser. “It’s an exciting time to be a historian contributing to modernizing the force by informing leadership of the lessons of past modernization efforts.”

The team at AFGSC HQs were joined by other winners in the command for the DAF History and Museums Awards for 2023.

Dr. Jeremy Prichard, of the Twentieth Air Force at F.E. Warren AFB, won the Excellence in History Program Award for the Numbered Air Force level as the best individual history office for superior historical and heritage service that contributed to his unit’s ability to accomplish its mission.

Mr. Walter A. Nicolds, of the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess AFB, won the Air Force Heritage Award for his efforts in the research and restoration of Dyess Air Park’s EB-57 Canberra bomber. Through his work, he was able to foster a better understanding and appreciation of the bomber, its history, and its accomplishments while building esprit de corps.

“It is with great pride that we recognize the hard work, dedication, and commitment to excellence that your personnel have shown through their exemplary work and contributions to preserving our history, improving Air Force combat capabilities, and inspiring Airmen and Guardians,” said Dr. Bill Harris, director of Headquarters Air Force History and Museums. “I extend my heartfelt thanks to all the historians, curators, and archivists for their hard work and my warmest congratulations to the award winners.”