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Deployed civilian captures 332nd AEW history

By Senior Airman Melanie Holochwost | 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs | Jan. 9, 2012

SOUTHWEST ASIA — Often over-looked and misunderstood, very few individuals know exactly what wing historians do on a daily basis. Ironically, they may just have one of the most important jobs of all, which is preserving the Air Force story.

Meet Lane Bourgeois, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing historian, who is deployed from the 12th Flying Training Wing at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. Although he is a civilian, he proudly wears ABUs and combat boots to work every day. Deployments are his norm, as this is his third in five years. And, although he has served his country for 27 years, he doesn't have any retirement plans.

So, what does this wing historian do every day at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia?

"It's probably the most common question I get asked," Bourgeois laughed. "Simply stated, I collect and preserve information."

Well, it's a little bit more complicated than that. Especially since his work load is about 10 times as heavy as it is for him back at home. So, Bourgeois is usually at the office for at least 12 hours a day.

"On this deployment, I've been collecting about 1,500 to 2,000 pieces of documentation per month," he said. "This includes photographs, statistics and official records - basically anything that shows what our Airmen are doing here on a daily basis. When pilots notice something different on a mission, I take note. When leaders make decisions, I keep track. And, I do this so future leaders can learn from them."

But, collecting the information is just the starting point. After Bourgeois computes the flying hours and other information, he organizes it into a monthly report. This 50-page-plus document gets sent to Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. for editing. After he makes the corrections and the wing commander signs it, the history ends up at the Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. It is there where our Air Force leaders can access and learn from it.

From maintenance technical orders to high school history books, the information Bourgeois and other historians collect can end up practically anywhere. But, it exists so servicemembers have a choice. They can ask themselves, do I want to repeat this history or do I want to learn from it?