KSLA Salutes: The Air Force Historian

KSLA Salutes | The Air Force Historian

BARKSDALE AFB, La. (KSLA) - Over the last few weeks, the coronavirus pandemic has changed a lot of things for a lot of people, including Shawn Bohannon.

“We’re planning on writing a study in the very near future on the coronavirus and how it impacted Air Force Global Strike Command," he said.

It’s actually Bohannon’s job to preserve Air Force history. He currently works for Global Strike Command on Barksdale Air Force Base as a commander archivist and historian.

“We write the official history of whatever echelon of command we’re assigned to," he said.

His job allows him to help feed the Air Force’s archives.

“All of the documents that we use to prepare this history are then preserved for posterity not only in our internal archives, but the finished products are sent to Maxwell Air Force Base which is home to the Air Force’s archives.”

History is something Bohannon has always had a passion for since the 7th grade.

“We had the 24 volume set of the Marshall Cavendish Illustrated History of World War II in our school library, and while other kids were out playing basketball or sports I was in there reading a series of books," he said.

He joined the Air Force in 1986 and spent his first ten years working as a law enforcement specialist.

Shawn Bohannon serving as an Air Force Law Enforcement Specialist back in 1990.
Shawn Bohannon serving as an Air Force Law Enforcement Specialist back in 1990. (Source: Shawn Bohannon)

“It was a great job, but I never could quite shake the love of history,” he said.

He soon learned he could become a historian in the Air Force, and in 1996 he officially made the switch.

Bohannon’s written numerous deployed histories have won several history awards, and he even helped share Barksdale’s story with award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns for his documentary on the Vietnam War.

“The point that I was talking about was the build-up to the December 1972 Linebacker II Bombing Operation," he said.

Bohannon learned every B-52 Bomber and KC-135 Stratotanker was deployed from Barksdale Air Force Base during that time. He says it was the first time in history the flight line was completely empty.

“Being able to not only know about it through documents but getting the human feel from it from friends of mine just really drives it home... just the level of sacrifice that went into that," he said.

Bohanan retired in 2007 as a Master Sergeant and later worked as an archivist at Louisiana State University in Shreveport from 2008 until 2014.

As he continues to preserve the Air Force’s history through Global Strike Command, it’s a job he knows he was made to do.

“I never would have pictured that I would find myself here, being a historian working in contemporary Air Force history, and I can’t think of a better job to have," he said.

Along with the Ken Burns documentary, Bohannon has also helped out with other tv spots and films including the Captain Marvel movie.

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