VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE -- Scott Bailey, 30th Space Wing historian, is operating in an interesting time at Vandenberg Air Force Base. As the Air Force pursues one of its core missions to Maintain Air & Space Superiority, Vandenberg’s Western Range and space launch operations are at the forefront of change in the pursuit of cost-effective modernization in the space domain.
For Bailey, who has worked as an Air Force historian since 2009 before coming to the 30th Space Wing in April 2019, changes are a notable and expected part of his career, as he works to preserve the official record of his unit’s operations.
“In essence, this office is the institutional memory of the Wing,” Bailey said, describing how constant turnover of commanders and personnel within units can create gaps in continuity with their past and heritage. “What I do as the Wing Historian is take the past legacy of accomplishment, and tie that to current and future operations and the mission of the Wing.”
To illustrate this point, Bailey motions to a Wing briefing slide detailing contributions to the Apollo 11 lunar mission in 1969. The contributions were made by Detachment 30 of the 6th Weather Wing, which was assigned to Vandenberg AFB at the time.
“With the Apollo mission, the Wing provided meteorological support for the atmospheric re-entry and Pacific recovery site of the Apollo 11 Command Module after their journey to the moon,” Bailey said. “So I can take this legacy of accomplishment with the moon landing, and associate that into the current and future operations of the Wing as they support public and private partnerships and the commercialization of space – how the Air Force is now supporting that role to go back to the moon.”
This correlation of past heritage to today’s Airmen and leadership is accomplished through five areas of responsibility for the 30th Space Wing History Office.
“What I leverage are the historian lines of effort,” explains Bailey. “Document the official record of 30th Space Wing operations, make information available to decision makers and action officers, provide training and education involving past and current wing operations, inspire today’s Airmen with Airpower heritage, and provide historical and archival reference material for researchers.”
Using these lines of effort, the Wing operations chronicled and shared by Bailey will become heritage for a future generation of Airmen and commanders to learn from – utilizing the history of the 30th Space Wing during an era of rapid commercial space expansion and innovation to help develop the next exceptional leaders in the space domain.
“I’m seeing over the next couple of years, there’s going to be a big push here at Vandenberg to provide support for the commercial ventures into space and it’s going to be huge. The foundation for America’s future in launch operations is contained in the legacy of accomplishment at Vandenberg, a legacy showcased by the History Office.”