A historian to remember

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Andrew Kobialka
  • 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
A woman sporting a black shirt and joggers with short brown hair held in place with silver butterfly hair pins scribbles away in a bright red notebook. Standing there, in a patch of grass, she places her hand over her brow to block the sun from her eyes. As she looks around she finds herself surrounded by uniformed Airmen, tan tents, military grade technology and the 100% humidity of the Florida coastline. She doesn’t exactly fit any military stereotypes.

“Why are you here?”, I asked, genuinely but admittedly abruptly.

The woman threw her head back and burst into laughter.

She composed herself and kindly said, “I’m doing the same thing I always do. My job.”

This is Chrissie Reilly, the 366th Fighter Wing historian. She came with the Gunfighters to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, to document the historic nature of Agile Flag 21-1.

During Agile Flag 21-1, the 366th FW from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, will test its ability to deploy as a lead Air Expeditionary Wing with a wing-level air staff. This is among the first times the Air Force has tried to implement this concept. If it is determined to be a viable structure, it could change the nature of the future of war fighting force presentation.

“Everyone here is taking notes about their particular area of expertise,” Reilly said. “As the historian, I can provide an external and neutral view on what has happened, as well as collect other’s findings so there can be one place where all of the lessons learned can be accessed as the Air Force pushes forward with agile combat employment exercises.”

So Reilly goes around observing the exercise, jotting down notes, conducting field interviews and transcribing them so they can be added to the historical record.

“It has been great to see a year of effort and planning come to life,” Reilly said. “And the findings made here about what we know, don’t know and what we need to prepare for will help us succeed when we go overseas next year.”

Reilly is a character. She smiles big, is genuinely curious, and has a remarkable memory, often referencing astoundingly specific facts from history. She lives with passion for what she does and that’s how I know the Gunfighters will be remembered well through history.