20th Military History Team uncases its colors
October 29, 2008
<b>BIRMINGHAM, Ala. </b>- Humans have been recording history for thousands of years. From cave etchings to Internet blogging, people have been fascinated with capturing and documenting history.
The Army Reserve has taken that enthrallment to the next level during a small, seemingly unnoticed recent ceremony to unveil the Army's latest tool to record military history - the 20th and 23rd Military History Teams.
Commanded by Birmingham, Ala., resident Dr. (Lt. Col.) John Boyd, the mission of the team, comprised of two Soldiers, will be to deploy around the world to record and archive the activities of a corps or strategic-level headquarters.
Boyd said the small detachments, assigned to the 412th Engineer Command, will assume operational control of deployed military historical detachments, provide quality control of their products and assist units in executing a theater-level, comprehensive collection plan.
"The history of our Army is important - both from a lessons learned perspective as well as a Soldier's perspective," Boyd said. "It is important to tell the public a story of the achievements and sacrifices of our brave Soldiers."
As the Army moves toward a modular force, it has experienced an increasing demand for historical collection. As a result, the Center of Military History proposed creating small teams to document both military combat and peacekeeping operations.
Dr. Lee S. Harford, Jr., Director of the Office of Army Reserve History, said the MHT is a perfect fit for today's Army.
Currently, there are 25 three-Soldier military history detachments within the active and reserve-component Army.
To satisfy the demand for military history detachments overseas, CMH determined that high-level historians were needed to work with general officers - an unpolished practice until now.
Harford said eight additional two-Soldier MHTs were established in the Army Reserve to meet this growing need.
"Their mission is to reinforce the traditional MHDs with additional manpower or to serve as an Army component command special staff to oversee all historical activities in a theater of operations, to include the efforts of all the MHDs," he said.
Boyd said the historical accounts that may benefit our Army are not being recorded, and that's where military historical teams are a valuable tool for battlefield commanders.
"In many instances, military historians are the only ones preserving operational records," Boyd said. "Military historians want to get the story right."
Unlike a military historian's close cousin, the public affairs specialist who writes for the "now," the Army historian focuses on capturing data and creating an archive for writers of the future, Boyd said.
"It is labor intensive work with no immediate pay off," he said. "The historian seeks information which may result in an in-depth many-sided look at events."
The historical data gathered by these teams will be used to write the history of the Army.
MHTs will provide input for writing objective military histories prepared by professional Army historians and civilians.
Boyd said the almost unnoticed mission of the historian is important for him because it's his duty to accurately capture and record the achievements and sacrifices of Soldiers.
"I have been given a sacred trust, the honor of telling their story - compiling their actions," Boyd said. "This unique responsibility, in my small way, allows me to immortalize them. No soldier dies in vain, no wounded soldier should be forgotten, and each veteran needs to understand and feel proud of what they have achieved."
Both Boyd and Harford agree that telling history doesn't always conclude with a happy ending.
"It is rather an account of victory, defeat, cowardice, heroism, and all the shades in between," Boyd said. "What part of us it becomes hangs in the balance. A young soldier wounded today will carry those wounds for a lifetime - long after America has moved on. We owe it to those we leave behind and those who come after us to tell their story well."