As he sat down on a bench and listened to his hero talk about the accomplishments of the greatest generation in Europe and the Pacific during World War II, an 11-year-old boy looked at his father in awe and knew what he wanted to do with his life.Ever since a book his father gave him sparked his interest in WWII, Robert Paley, 100th Air Refueling Wing historian, was set on the path to where he is today - living his "dream job" as an historian.Forty-four years later, Paley accomplished two major goals - graduating from U.S. Military Academy West Point and publishing a book about his dad. After that, he was hired as the 100th ARW historian in Jan. 2019, a year after retiring from the Army.His primary focus as a historian is to document the legacy of the 100th ARW for future historians to know what air refueling was like in the early 21st century."I'm meeting the commander's priority to help utilize our history to educate our Airmen on our heritage and to let them realize that everything they're doing today will directly impact the success of the mission," Paley said. "One day, people will look back and see how they performed and learn what they did on tactics, techniques, and procedures to take in all the lessons learned."His office is overflowing with historical books, posters, and mementos from WWII. That collection, along with the books in the historian's library has been meticulously organized to help people find the information they want. If he had space, he would have filled the room with WWII-era models."He takes his work very seriously and is very passionate about it," said Steven Foran, 100th ARW Information Protection information security specialist. "He always comes up to me and tells me a new historical fact about the wing since he's always researching it."Paley's ambitions stemmed from the inspiration his father gave him and the promise he made to graduate from West Point and have his father be his first salute.His father thought of the men and women who fought in WWII as heroes and wanted to join the fight but was too young at the time. When the Korean War began, his parents let him enlist - despite being only 17 - since they knew he would just lie on the paperwork to join anyway. He saw combat at the age of 18 and was wounded in action at 19.Paley was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, at Tripler Army Hospital, 1966, just after his father deployed to Vietnam. After his dad retired in 1973 as a sergeant major, they permanently moved to Columbus, Ohio, so his father could stay close to a military hospital."My dad collected stickers from where he traveled," Paley said. "That's how I knew he was a Korea and Vietnam War veteran. That was the seed of my love for history; I didn't know it until he taught me about D-Day. Something my dad taught me at 11 years old became my life's passion."After his father retired from the army, the combat veteran continued to fight for his life every day. He was losing his memory and a piece of himself against the battle with dementia from meningitis. When Paley was 12, his father went into the Veteran Affairs hospital, only to never leave due to the constant care he needed.The dementia his father suffered from didn't let him remember much from his daily life, but he never forgot his 12-year-old son's promise to give him his first salute upon graduating from West Point."He remembered, and that was the beginning of me taking it seriously because it meant that much to him," Paley said. "That is who I am. I tried to honor my dad."When I realized he was waiting for the day I gave him my first salute, nothing could have stopped me. It was an unbelievable struggle and the hardest thing in my life to this day, nothing has come close".After he graduated, Paley served as a field artillery officer. His father died two years after giving him his first salute. After four years of service, he went into the mortgage business."I was unhappy as hell," Paley said. "Then 9/11 happened. I told the national guard that I didn't care if I came in as a private, just get me back in; it's time for me to pay my dues as my father did."This time it wasn't for him, it was for me. They attacked my country," he exclaimed.Paley went on to serve in the U.S. Army Active Guard Reserve. He deployed to Afghanistan with, he said, the best and bravest soldiers he ever served with. He continued to serve until he retired a year ago.After he retired, he accomplished his dream of publishing an inspirational book about his father.Then, the stars aligned and his dream job became available in England, near where his wife's parents live.Now that he has achieved his dream, Paley now has a new set of goals. He wants to help spark interest in history the way others have in him so we can learn from the past and make informed decisions."I want to connect with more Airmen so they understand their jobs matter and everything they do makes this amazing Air Force work the way it needs to," Paley said. "If I can inspire them to live up to their legacy and carve their own path here in the 100th, then I succeeded in my job."