Historian preserves Cannon’s history

Freedom New Mexico

Cannon Air Force Base’s new historian loves his new job.

“What’s not to like?” said Rick Shea, who took the position in February. “I like everything about this job: The opportunity to be a part of the Air Force, to watch, record and be a part of the growth of a new entity.”

The base had been without a historian for two years, and his first job was to clean up the documents that had piled up during that time.

He is working to create an automated database archive of documents and photos for Cannon. The searchable database will help staff locate any item quickly, he said.

His job includes answering inquiries from the public, assisting squadron commanders in documenting lineage and honors, and documenting the history of individual squadrons.

“I’m responsible for educating airmen in the rich history of the Air Force,” Shea said. “I have to be as much of a Cannon Air Force Base expert as I can.”

The historian is a civilian employee, but may have to deploy anywhere in the world to record military events. He also participates in debriefings of airmen when they return from deployment.

“We want to get it down as soon as possible after they come back,” Shea said. “We focus on learning from what happened on previous missions.”

The Air Force requires historians to complete an educational course before filling the position, Shea said.

Shea retired from the Air Force in 1995. He holds a graduate degree in public history, and worked at the White Sands Missile Range museum for a short time before becoming Holloman Air Force Base’s historian. He held that position for two years before coming to Cannon.