By Zachary Mott
88th Readiness Division
The Army Reserve is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in unprecedented ways. In order to capture the uniqueness of this response, military history detachments from the 88th Readiness Division have been dispatched to compile historic data as it is happening.
The 90th Military History Detachment, from Fort Douglas, Utah, and the 101st Military History Detachment, from Chicago, are currently mobilized to Salt Lake City and Detroit, respectively, since April.
“Our mission is to collect and preserve the Army’s response to COVID-19,” said Maj. Bettina Schmid, team leader of the 90th MHD. “I am constantly aware of the gravity of this responsibility. We collect documents and materials, as well as conduct oral history interviews, which will eventually be archived at the U.S. Army Center of Military History.”
The data being collected is vast and varied.
“Because of our unique role in this event, the people involved today are writing the books and manuals for future generations to follow during a pandemic,” said Sgt. Keith Kippen, an historian with the 90th MHD. “Our job is not to write the history, just collect it. The job of writing the history will be left up to future historians to write and debate. Our job is simply to interview as many as we can who are involved, collect all the digital information we can, and help gather as much as we can so the complete picture can be painted.”
During these Soldiers’ time mobilized in support of the COVID-19 response they have provided historical documentation of both Army Reserve and active duty units as well as aerial flyovers.
“I have been excited about it, and feel it’s a unique time to be activated as this response is a rare opportunity for the military to work directly with the American people to help them in a time of need,” said Sgt. Sami Abdelaziz, an historian with the 90th MHD.
The mission for these military history detachments will continue through the duration of the current response.
“It feels like we are just getting started. I have a great team and it will be interesting to see how things unfold over the next few months,” said Schmid.