AGOW historian pens yesteryears

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Janiqua Robinson
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
On Jan. 16, 1957, three Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses of the 93rd Bombardment Wing, later designated as the 93d Air Ground Operations Wing, soared for 45 hours and 19 minutes to become the first jet aircraft to circle the world nonstop.

This milestone, and others like it would be lost forever without someone working to keep track and recording the 93d AGOW's history. Documenting the past may seem like a very daunting task, but the 93d AGOW historian does it every single day.

Retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Alan D. Landers not only ensures milestones like these are documented, but he also collects and displays artifacts that pay tribute to members, both past and present, while giving the mission the opportunity to extend its reach.

"The history I write today will help the Battlefield Airmen tomorrow," said Landers. "I love being able to share the stories that get forgotten and it's cool to help bring back those memories and share what people don't know."

In addition, Landers, who has a Bachelor of Arts in History, also has the responsibility of promoting the Heritage Hall, answering inquiries and the administrative things that must be done like filing, plans and training. What he enjoys most is telling stories.

"[My favorite part about my job is] sharing the stories and accomplishments of the 93d [AGOW]," said Landers, who has been a civilian historian since 2010. "As missions change, the stories are forgotten. The accomplishments as a B-24 group in World War II, B-52 and KC-135 crew training wing throughout the Cold War are a few of the reasons [the] 93d AGOW was chosen to activate. Many only recognize Memphis Belle as the first bomber to complete 25 missions in Europe, but it was a 93d Bomb Group B-24, "Hot Stuff", that flew 25 missions three months prior to the Memphis Belle."

Without a historian to verify and account for the records, leadership cannot look back at how things were done or improve them for the future. Ensuring all necessary information is accounted for makes the job easier.

"Writing the history is relatively easy if you have the right documents," said Landers. "Once written, it takes proofreading and coordination [with all] the units to ensure I have it all right."

In addition, the 93d AGOW is comprised of three operational groups, 17 squadrons, nine detachments and 10 operating locations at 18 host Air Force Bases owned by eight major commands.

With the 93d AGOW being so geographically dispersed, the harmonization that it takes to collect documents and data doesn't come easily.

"Being a historian is all about coordination and building a rapport with your units," said Landers. "It's very challenging for historians with geographically separated units to get documents easily. Often [other units] may need [documents or information] for their unit, and helping them builds trust and rapport."

Nevertheless, the 93d AGOW isn't the first unit Landers has written history for. After retiring in 2010, he became a civilian historian at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., then Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. before settling here in 2012.

"When I retrained, I had planned on finishing my active duty time in the [historian] career field," said Landers. "I wrote 2 multi-year histories there at F.E. Warren [Air Force Base, Wyo.] and it was enjoyable to research and write. When I retired, it was the obvious thing to shoot for."

In addition to the duties previously mentioned, Landers has also taken on populating the newly renovated Heritage Hall with 93d AGOW memorabilia and putting it on display for the community to see its heritage.

Maj. Samuel McKinsey, 93d AGOW director of staff, is Landers's supervisor and sees first-hand how he works.

"He is passionate about his work," said McKinsey. "He took great pride in setting up historical displays representing the 93d AGOW in the historical building."
The chance to build the displays that will house the 93d AGOW's history is an opportunity that Landers says he relishes.

"Building displays for the Heritage Hall, I think, enabled the story of the 93d [AGOW] and the missions we carry out today to be told," said Landers. "I hope the displays [help] others understand a little about our missions. I hope it's created a sense of pride in the AGOW guys that have been able to walk through."

As the 93d AGOW grows and members serve and depart the Air Force Landers will make sure their legacies are inscribed in Moody's archives.

"Writing the history for the 93d [AGOW] ensures what we are doing today, is remembered tomorrow," said Landers.