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Operation Support Squadron lends helping hand to wing historian

Chrissie Parker, 366th Fighter Wing historian, shows her collection of resources, May 4, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Parker reached out for help with transcribing oral interviews when the 366th Operation Support Squadron offered to help. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Natalie Rubenak)

Chrissie Parker, 366th Fighter Wing historian, shows her collection of resources, May 4, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Parker reached out for help with transcribing oral interviews when the 366th Operation Support Squadron offered to help. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Natalie Rubenak)

Chrissie Parker, 366th Fighter Wing historian, looks through historical images, May 4, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Parker has been the historian at MHAFB since 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Natalie Rubenak)

Chrissie Parker, 366th Fighter Wing historian, looks through historical images, May 4, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Parker has been the historian at MHAFB since 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Natalie Rubenak)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho --

From deployments to the garrison mission, a wing historian’s job is to document the official history of a wing. A large part of the job entails conducting oral history interviews to gain a deeper understanding of what happens in the wing. While this may seem like a lot to take on, the 366th Fighter Wing Historian has no shortage of people who are willing to help her.

Chrissie Parker, 366th FW historian, was at a wing commander stand-up meeting when she mentioned she could use an extra hand in transcribing audio.

“These interviews are a great way to learn about decision making, getting the ‘why’ behind what happens, as well as the more phenomenological answers, such as ‘how’ things happen,” Parker said. “However, where an interview may be an hour long, it takes much longer than a hour to transcribe.”

Second Lt. Jeffrey Bliss, 366th Operation Support Squadron airfield operations officer, was at the wing stand-up and put together a team of 11 Airmen who were more than happy to assist in transcribing the oral interviews that Parker conducted.

“I give out and modify the guidance on how to transcribe, formatting with slang, acronyms, ways of speaking to type, etc,” Bliss said. “Those documents are transcribed by our Airmen and sent back to me where I go back through to quality control, make the appropriate edits and make sure it’s in perfect condition.”

Once they are reviewed by Bliss, they are sent back to Parker to make sure they’re ready to be cataloged.

“So far we’ve transcribed over 20 hours of audio and put in over 125 hours collectively of work,” Bliss said. “Ten minutes of raw audio could take upwards of an hour or much more of actual hours worked to transcribe, edit and correct it.”

Bliss goes on to explain the benefits of lending a helping hand.

“It allows our people to contribute to another organization and appreciate the work other Airmen have to do,” Bliss said. “Our Airmen have been incredibly motivated and proactive in transcribing these audio files. In addition, it keeps Airmen contributing and engaged in duties from home, when it’s been hard staying engaged with your people in a teleworking environment.”

Along with allowing Airmen to experience and appreciate a different job, the volunteers are actually saving the Air Force money.

“She’s always in need of an extra hand in sifting through the material because it’s very time-intensive and if we didn’t help out she would eventually have to gather FW funds to contract this work out and get these transcribed,” Bliss said. So not only does it help out the historian office and everyone Air Force wide to access this content for study, but it saves tens of thousands in billed hours from contractors having to sift through this data.”

Parker feels it is important to continue documenting a time of historical significance.

“Documenting the past can help us navigate our future,” Parker said. “We are living in a historical time and part of what history offices can do is provide a more robust heritage and research support. Every bit of work that people are doing is valuable.”

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