SUBJECT: Textually Digitizing Project CHECO Reports for Historian Researchers/Aiding in Academic Research Project


BLUF: Scores of previously Secret and Top Secret documents, the Project CHECO reports, many now declassified and approved for public release, tell the story of U.S. airpower in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and 70s. To make them available to the public in a user-friendly format, and learn the best process and people to get these products textually digitized, we need your help.

WHERE YOU COME IN: 1) Sign up at the to be notified when “Recovered Memories” – the project’s designation – goes live, ostensibly in the first week of January. 2) When it does, sign up to aid in the transcription or correction of documents. It’s that simple.

BACKGROUND: The Air Force created Project CHECO (Contemporary Historical Examination of Current Operations) in 1962 to analyze issues of immediate concern to various echelons of the service. Over the course of fifteen years, authors completed more than 250 reports on topics that included command arrangements, training, air base defense, special operations, conventional air operations, and many others. Arguably, the Project CHECO reports represent the single-most comprehensive collection of Air Force-produced documents detailing its activities in the Vietnam War. More information on Project CHECO is available at “What Just Happened? A Historical Evaluation of Project CHECO,” by Major Dan Hoadley, June 2013, an Air University student research project, and “Project CHECO and CORONA HARVEST: Keys to the Air Force’s Southeast Asia Memory Bank,” by Warren Trest, written in 1986 for Aerospace Historian magazine.

The “Recovered Memories” project has been created as the first step to textually digitizing documents housed in the Air Force archive at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Using a semi-curated collection of Project CHECOs as a pilot, the project leverages “crowdsourced” volunteers to transcribe these decades-old documents directly, or correct text files created through Optical Character Recognition technology, to near 100 percent accuracy. In the long term, digital historians will be able to use the final products for data mining, the production of e-books, or the creation of a data-heavy website illuminating the Air Force’s role in the Vietnam War.

Researchers will also use the data gathered by this application to evaluate the efficacy of the crowd, i.e. what attributes make a volunteer better suited to the task of textual digitation. Factors measured will include age, gender, education level, and group affiliation, among others. This latter supports USAF historian and AFHF member David Byrd in his dissertation project in Information and Interaction Design from the University of Baltimore.