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It's history -- Behind the display case

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Eric Hamilton
  • 176th Wing Public Affairs
Telling whether something is trivial or truly historical is a matter of judgement. Does the item tell the story of the people, place and/or time from which it came? A bit of concrete from a wall in Germany is trivial; a bit of concrete from the destruction of the Berlin Wall in 1990 is historical. 

Ideally, when historical items are assembled into a display, they should tell a story. Displays "shouldn't just be items sitting in a case,"said MSgt. Robert Braley, 176th Wing Historical Property Manager.

"We have our own criteria here for determining historical relevance," Braley said. How is the distinction made? "Those items will be placed on a commander's inventory list," he explained. "A board of five people will determine if the items have historical relevance
to the unit or not." 

Ultimately, the final call will be made by the base commander, he added.

Sometimes, the problem isn't identifying whether something is of historical interest -- it is getting permission to bring the item back. War zone souvenirs,  for example. 

"You have to fill out "You have to fill out a lot of paperwork,"said MSgt. Michael Phillips, the Wings's alternate historical property manager, in establishing the historical value of an item. Removing items from a theater of operations, even for historical purposes, is very tightly regulated. 

"We have a rocket launcher from a Russian aircraft," Phillips noted. "We justified the historical value by telling CENTCOM that because we'd done SAREX missions in Russia with the PJs and operated with the Russians."