ISR history office repeats as dual-award winner
7/3/2012 - LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- The Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency History Office staff recently captured its second straight Brig. Gen. Brian S. Gunderson Excellence in History Programs Award, in the forward operating agency/direct reporting unit category and its second consecutive Air Force Heritage Award.
The history office is well on its way to establishing its own history of excellence after winning the 2012 Air Force History and Museums Program awards back-to-back.
"I'm amazed," said Phil Myers, the AFISRA chief historian. "It's an honor to earn one Air Force-level history award in a career. To earn four major awards in two years is an incredible feat."
Until two years ago, due to the classified nature of the organization's mission, the agency's history office publications and histories could not compete. Now, its products compete against four DRUs and 27 other FOAs for the Gunderson Award and the Air Force Heritage Award.
The key to the history office's two-year run is easy for Myers to pinpoint.
"In a few words, my incredibly talented, focused and professional team," he said. "We successfully completed all required duties and responsibilities and then did much more."
Their more notable accomplishments in 2011 include providing support to the secretary of the Air Force study on ISR via historical data on people, planes and operations from 1948 through 2010. The project required 900 hours of research, analysis and writing.
At the same time, the history office quartet of Myers, Gabe Marshall, John Williamson and Senior Master Sgt. Benjamin Jones also delivered on time a 300-page AFISRA history for 2010. They were named one of seven superior agency teams sporting zero deficiencies during the organization's unit compliance inspection.
Their heritage program highlights included the unveiling of three new displays in the rededicated Dr. Dennis F. Casey Heritage Center: a 9/11 remembrance, the 70th anniversary of World War II and the Soviet Fialka encryption/decryption machine.
They also published a new heritage pamphlet and conducted oral history interviews with several personalities.
The team responds to more than 1,000 inquiries a year from the commander, agency staff, the enterprise field historians and the public.
"While we take great pride and satisfaction from providing timely and accurate answers, we're extremely focused on providing research support to our veterans, especially regarding disability claims," Myers said.
In one case last year, a widow spent years trying to prove her husband died from exposure to Agent Orange. The history team's research on his unit's activities proved her claim, and she received more than $70,000 in retroactive benefits.
"Our collective success substantiates the value of the history office to the Air Force," Myers added.
In submitting his nomination recommendation, Maj. Gen. Robert P. Otto, the commander of AFISRA, echoed Myers' sentiments.
"The (AFISRA History) office performed at an outstanding level in 2011, establishing an unsurpassed methodology for history," the general wrote. "The team strives to exceed standards and be the very best in all they do. They clearly are the best history office in the Air Force.
What can they do for an encore?
"Next year we can add awards for the best special study and best history," Myers said. "That would give us a clean sweep."