KABUL, Afghanistan --
U.S. President Harry S. Truman once said, “There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.”
As the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing and Train, Advise, Assist Command – Air (TAAC-Air) historian, Joshua Mayes, makes it his personal goal to capture every detail of the TAAC-Air mission ensuring its place in the Air Force history books. From flying operations, mission support, to command and control; men and women of the 438th AEW train, advise, and assist their Afghan partners to develop a professional, capable, and sustainable Air Force.
“As a deployed historian, the contingency reports I develop for the 438th AEW provide objective, accurate and descriptive accounts of Air Force operations for decision makers back home,” said Mayes. “It’s important for personnel to realize that training and advising roles have significantly changed since the NATO Air Training Command – Afghanistan (NATC-A) days of 2008.”
Like a majority of the wings in the U.S. Air Force, the 438th AEW traces it linage back to the early days of the Air Force when it was established as the 438th Troop Carrier Wing, Medium on May 10, 1949. Today, instead of moving U.S. troops; the wing now works with13 coalition nations in TAAC-Air to strengthen the Afghan Air Force.
At present, the AAF has more than 100 military aircraft and more than 6,000 assigned personnel. Those numbers are expected to grow expediently in the coming years.
Besides the monthly reports Mayes produces, he is also charged by the wing commander to conduct oral history research interviews with personnel and advise support staff on lineage and honors data of the unit.
One such interview with the TAAC-Air Programs and Financial Management director stands out to Mayes.
“Historically, the budget of the AAF falls under the Afghan National Army,” said Mayes. “Right now, financial personnel are making great strides with the AAF on the planning, programming, budgeting and execution process to maintain and operate a sustainable air force in defense of Afghanistan.”
When Mayes isn’t advising commanders or updating higher headquarters on the progress of the 438th AEW, he experiences the training mission first hand. Recently, he witnessed civil engineer personnel and Afghan firefighters conduct a burn house exercise on Kabul Air Wing.
“Sometimes it’s important to witness history in the making,” said Mayes. “For example, the burn house was built in January 2017 giving the Afghans a valuable tool to increase their firefighting capabilities.”
Despite being in a deployed environment, Mayes knows that his contributions to the TAAC-Air mission and the U.S. Air Force are invaluable.
“Being a historian is way more interesting than most people think; what I document today can potentially impact future training operations,” said Mayes.