Reserve Detachments Record History in the Making
By Spc. Cheryl A. Kraning, USA
American Forces Press Service
TUZLA, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Oct. 23, 1996 What does it mean to have your name and photograph in print for all the world to see? To some, it means a documentation of their accomplishments or failures. To others, it's a record of their existence for future generations to see.
More than likely, units throughout the Task Force Eagle operational area will have dealt in some way with members of the Army's 126th and 317th Military History detachments for a book on Operation Joint Endeavor.
"We collect interviews, documents and anything that pertains to the history of Task Force Eagle and all the armies in Operation Joint Endeavor," said Maj. David E. Hilkert, commander of the 317th Military History Detachment. "Our motto is 'Don't throw away anything -- save everything.'"
One aspect of the collection is an oral history. Historians interview key leaders and service members. "In addition to looking for technical information relative to the soldiers' mission, we are interested in how they have adapted their environment to meet their living needs," said Maj. Michael V. Pacheco, commander of the 126th Military History Detachment.
Pacheco said they are looking for such things as the way troops customize their living areas by constructing closets out of wood and building shelves out of cardboard boxes. "That's what historians are really interested in," he said. "You get the real story from the soldiers."
The two detachments constantly visit units in the field gathering historical information. However, often when people complete an operation, they purge their computers and all the information is lost forever. "We want to prevent that," said Pacheco, a National Guardsman based in Worchester, Mass. "We will generally go to the unit with a stack of disks and download all of their operation orders and training calendars to preclude the information from being disposed of."
The work is nonjudgmental, the commanders said. They do not decide whether operations and leadership were effective. It is their mission to objectively document the chronological order of events and ensure units' contributions are captured and recorded, nothing else, said Pacheco.
The two detachments cover all the Task Force Eagle major commands and brigades and place them in the summaries of Operation Joint Endeavor. A historical team at Taszar, Hungary, conducts summaries for redeploying units that have not yet been covered.
"If we can't get to all of them, then their contributions during this mission won't be reflected in the book," said Pacheco.
To ensure everyone's contribution is documented and attributed properly, Hilkert encourages unit historians to submit a historical folder of all important documents. Once the detachments collect all information, the unclassified portions will be available to the public.
(Spc. Kraning writes for the 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, currently assigned in Bosnia-Herzegovina.)