By CourtesyMarch 25, 2019
By Sean Kelly, AMCOM Public Affairs
Every historian knows the George Santayana saying, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." It is the job of the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command's History Office to ensure AMCOM commanders remember and learn from the history they so diligently document and preserve.
One of AMCOM's most valuable players, Dr. Kaylene Hughes has been an AMCOM historian for 32 years.
After completing her doctorate in American history with a minor in archives, Dr. Hughes was told of a position at the U.S. Army Missile Command which was having difficulty being filled. The historian job at U.S. Army Missile Command required both a history degree and archival management credentials - requirements which she possessed.
"It was hard to come into the federal government as an outsider then. They didn't hire many people for history positions who weren't already working for the government. But I had the required credentials and got the job," Hughes said.
"I also had a family connection to the area. My grandfather was from Alabama, my uncle worked for NASA and my dad had met Dr. von Braun in his professional capacity. So I knew a bit about the area."
As one of the initial commands on Redstone Arsenal, the now AMCOM History Office provides the organizational history of the command and the garrison going back to World War II through documentation and archival preservation.
In addition to creating annual reports and chronologies, they track the history of the physical installation, building inventory and the addition of new tenants as the installation shifts from an Army to a federal reservation. The History Office provides biographical materials on commanders and significant individuals and researches the time before Redstone Arsenal became an Army installation. They produce a variety of written, visual and web-based products which depict the history of AMCOM and Redstone Arsenal.
"The history of the garrison has not been assigned directly to us, but as a long-term command, we have the historical information and continue to help support that role," Hughes said.
"Our histories allow AMCOM to see the constant change that goes on and how we responded in the past. Our products let us learn from events which parallel what is happening now and provide guidance for future leaders," she added.
One of the big projects the History Office has been working on are the displays outside the Command Suite on the fifth floor of Bldg. 5300 and around the Bob Jones Auditorium, both in the Sparkman Center.
"We've been working on the display with the lead illustrator from the AMCOM Logistics Center," Hughes said. "Those collages and items are an alternative way to tell the story of AMCOM and Redstone. It's kind of fun to trace all that history and straighten out the misconceptions."
The History Office is working on a book based on those materials.