Military News

Friday, January 29, 2016

William Smith High School students learn about Buckley AFB history

by Staff Sgt. Darren Scott
460th Space Wing Public Affairs

1/28/2016 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- Students from William Smith high school in Aurora, Colorado, visited Buckley Air Force Base Jan. 27 to learn a little bit about the base's history during World War II.

Christopher McCune, 460th Space Wing historian, talked to 25 students about Buckley AFB's role throughout history. McCune has been the wing historian for a little over one year and said it was the first time he has had the pleasure of leading a tour himself.

"The teacher actually called me about three or four weeks ago, asking about the possibility of bringing the kids onto the base," McCune said.

Ryan Clapp, William Smith High School teacher, says the base was an obvious choice to visit based on what the students are studying.

"We've been looking at local Word War II history, bringing the war to a more personal level," said Clapp. "Naturally, our next door neighbors at Buckley AFB seemed like perfect candidates."

The students traveled to Buckley AFB as part of a day-long field trip, which also included a trip to the Wings Over the Rockies Museum in Denver. McCune taught the group about the wing's current space-based missile warning mission and gave them an idea of what Buckley AFB was like more than 60 years ago using a presentation, historical photos and artifacts.

"There was a lot going on here during the second World War," said McCune. "It wasn't just an armament training school. We had basic training going on here. They went through all the same drills that any basic training curriculum did at that time period, including combat skills training, bayonets, marching, field skills and everything else."

McCune also revealed that there was once a women's Army Auxiliary Corps and a segregated African-American unit on Buckley AFB. The history of the base mirrored significant moments and changes in history that were taking place all over the nation.

Clapp said the group enjoyed the visit and was very thankful for McCune's time and expertise.
"Few of our students have ever been on base, and it was a fantastic opportunity to connect the sometimes abstract Word War II on a local level," said Clapp. "Christopher McCune was incredibly generous with his time in relating the history he's unearthed."

McCune hopes this visit won't be the last. He would like to reach out to local schools as the historian, give presentations or host visits just like this one.

"I've already had teachers asking me if I can put them in touch for a visit," said Clapp.

"It goes back to a roll as diplomats to the local community," McCune said. "What we do here still affects the local community in a lot of ways. There's also the impact of the importance of providing these kids with an idea of what things were like during this time period in history, which is extremely significant in the development of where this country is today."

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