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New historian hits ground running

Historian arrives 919th SOW

Master Sgt. Matthew Roux currently serves as wing historian for the 919th Special Operations Wing located at Duke Field, Fla. Air Force historians, such as Roux, are charged with capturing, preserving and interpreting a unit's official record, as well as researching and analyzing data to determine historical significance of unit operations and accomplishments. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jodi Ames)

DUKE FIELD, Fla. -- The 919th Special Operations has a new historian on board.

Master Sgt. Matthew Roux, a traditional reservist, joined the wing during the January 2019 unit training assembly.

In his new role, Roux is responsible for collecting, preserving and interpreting information related to the wing’s mission, operations and accomplishments. As historian, he is also charged with researching and analyzing data to determine long-range historical significance of activities related to the wing and its associated units.

In addition to preserving the 919th SOW’s official record and providing historical context for the unit's daily activities, Roux has plans to share the unit’s lineage and heritage with Air Commandos across the wing.

The new historian discussed his goals for the coming months as he begins a deep dive into the program.

“One of my first goals is to introduce myself to all the commanders and superintendents from various units around the wing,” he said. “Laying that foundation and getting to know one another will help us understand how I can best serve their units.”

Roux will rely on Airmen of all ranks and statuses for perspective, as well as details regarding missions, milestones, firsts, exercises, after-action reports, unit awards and other significant achievements that are all part of compiling the wing’s annual history.

As part of his research, he will also be looking for opportunities to meet with subject matter experts who have been assigned to Duke Field for long stretches of time.

“There are individuals at every base who have been there for a long time and Duke Field is no different,” he explained. “These are the go-to people who have the continuity, the knowledge and background related to missions, events and changes that have taken place over time. They likely have a wealth of information to share about their units’ long-term impact and the many unique capabilities that reside within the wing.”

That institutional knowledge is a key factor in the success of the history program.

According to Dr. Paul Larson, a senior historian assigned to Air Force Reserve Command, wing historians play an integral role in the Air Force History and Museum Program.

“The Air Force History and Museum Program serves as the institutional memory of the Air Force,” Larson said. “[The history program] also promotes and preserves our heritage through Air Force art (paintings), unit emblems (patches) as well as public relations and educational events. Most importantly, [the program] captures what the Air Force is doing today at the operational level throughout the world.”

Historians who have boots-on-the-ground perspective of their units while at home are also required to deploy to gather current information on contingency operations, Larson added. Whether at home station or abroad, historians are an indispensable asset to the Air Force, he said.

“The wing historian is critically important because he or she provides vital information about what happens at the wing level, which is arguably the most important level as far as day-to-day operations are concerned,” Larson noted. “The wing historian, more frequently than historians at higher levels, interacts with the people who execute the mission at the operational level.”

Building those interactions and connections are what Roux is looking forward to most.

“I look forward to meeting everybody and preserving the wing’s history,” he shared. “I think it’s a fun job. I think it’s a job that’s important. When you learn about a unit’s history and where they’ve been, you get a sense of who they are now and what their culture is like. I like the idea of preserving that legacy and presenting it back to Airmen in the unit, so they know who they are and where they came from. That’s my main focus.”

Prior to joining the 919th SOW, Roux served as an individual mobilization augmentee assigned to 8th Air Force at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.