HomeNewsArticle Display

Living museum: Airman preserves AF uniforms

Lt. Col. Kyle Clement stands in front of his vintage U.S. military uniform collection Jan. 9, 2015 at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.  Collecting for more than 20 years, Clement’s goal is to preserve Airman heritage by piecing together authentic uniforms dating back to 1914. Clement is the 20th Maintenance Group deputy commander.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jensen Stidham)

Lt. Col. Kyle Clement stands in front of his vintage U.S. military uniform collection Jan. 9, 2015 at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. Collecting for more than 20 years, Clement’s goal is to preserve Airman heritage by piecing together authentic uniforms dating back to 1914. Clement is the 20th Maintenance Group deputy commander. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jensen Stidham)

An Airman assigned to the 20th Maintenance Group, touches an original aircraft maintenance badge Jan. 9, 2015 at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.  Lt. Col. Kyle Clement, the 20th Maintenance Group deputy commander purchased this badge as a teenager, starting his life-long passion for collecting Airman memorabilia. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jensen Stidham)

An Airman assigned to the 20th Maintenance Group, touches an original aircraft maintenance badge Jan. 9, 2015 at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. Lt. Col. Kyle Clement, the 20th Maintenance Group deputy commander purchased this badge as a teenager, starting his life-long passion for collecting Airman memorabilia. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jensen Stidham)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. (AFNS) -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series on AF.mil. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)

Walking through the 20th Maintenance Group building, it would be appropriate to stop and gaze into the office of one senior leader there. Eyes would be greeted with several mannequins wearing different shades of green and blue, each decorated with metals and ribbons.

For most of his life, Lt. Col. Kyle Clement, the 20th MXG deputy commander, has been preserving Airman heritage by collecting vintage Army Air Corps and Air Force memorabilia, most notably uniforms and their decorations dating back to 1914.

"Everybody collects little things when they are growing up," Clement said. "When I was a teenager I just happened to collect bits and pieces of Air Force uniforms. It just always caught my eye."

Enlisting in the Air Force in 1989 and commissioning in 1994, Clement has pieced his collection together from across the United States.

"The majority of it came from thrift stores," Clement said. "As I travel, if I pass an antique store I'll pull over and check it out. It's amazing what you can find. Most stores don't even know what it is."

Though his collection of complete uniforms has grown to more than 15, his passion for collecting is not all about the pieces of fabric.

"Every one of these uniforms belonged to an Airman, and I think that is key," Clement said. "The history of why these uniforms were worn, who wore them, and how our uniform has changed over the years is incredible. The uniforms we wear today are just pieces of the uniforms that used to be worn."

Even though he purchased his first vintage uniform as a young captain, his favorite uniform known as "pinks and greens," the Army Air Corps uniform from WWII, connects him to an earlier time in his life.

In 1994, Clement graduated from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, wearing a similar uniform to the pinks and greens, and says the uniform reminds him of his college years and the opportunity that lead to his commission.

Since his years after college, Clement has spent time reading his library of books to ensure all of his uniforms, ribbons, medals, and hats are displayed in an accurate way.

"Lt. Col. Clement's collection is brilliant," said 2nd Lt. Cameron Schmitt, the 20th MXG executive officer. "His love for history is incredible and it is such a great opportunity to work with someone who is willing to give a quick history lesson at a moment's notice."

Not only does Clement have a passion for collecting Air Force uniforms, but what he wants even more is to become a
Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) teacher after he retires from service.

"My intent is for these uniforms to never come home with me," Clement said. "I plan to have them in my classroom one day and then donate them to the school, that way they can continue to be appreciated."

A living museum from World War I to present day, Clement's passion for uniforms has built a lifelong journey rooted in Air Force history.

"He is helping preserve our heritage through his collection and that is crucial to the development of Airmen and officers alike," Schmitt said.

Engage

Twitter
Keeping us a #ReadyAF by strengthening partnerships w/our allies! 💪 #AimHigh https://t.co/wmMDgLeTd3
Twitter
The Air Force Civil Engineer Center is executing $87 million in critical airfield construction at one of the most i… https://t.co/bRhCVY7X6R
Twitter
Got power? ⚡ This year's energy resilience theme is "Energy Able, Mission Capable." #EnergyAwarenessMonth Follo… https://t.co/yRhhSDQLcT
Twitter
Suicide prevention training is now available for Air Force families as a way to educate spouses, partners, adult fa… https://t.co/68Trsq4AvC
Twitter
Modernizing the force. @NellisAFB was one of the first five @DeptofDefense bases named to host new 5G technology,… https://t.co/aOpGtX2wZq
Twitter
Airmen from Will Rogers Air National Guard Base and @Team_Tinker participated in a Tactical Combat Casualty Care fo… https://t.co/9xKP1H3e3D
Twitter
“Resiliency is readiness & readiness breeds culture.” - @CMSAF_Official Connection to others is a basic human need… https://t.co/s6ktJj7jyX
Twitter
Training to be the best on the worst day. #ReadyAF https://t.co/KGwHLG0oVK
Twitter
.@AFWERX is hosting a "Reimagining Energy for the DOD" challenge, seeking solutions to create the future of resilie… https://t.co/oGKgli3pbd
Twitter
The circumstance the family lived in led to constant emotional turmoil, which boiled over when SrA Zatavia Funchess… https://t.co/wY5rG0rdUr
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: Born & raised in the Philippines, A1C Antonette Joanne Delos Santos of @97AMW, earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering be…
Twitter
The Air Force Civil Engineer Center announced the winners of the 2020 Air Force Design Awards, recognizing seven in… https://t.co/1S5zPl3D7s
Twitter
The #USAF has increased aircraft availability & readiness across three of its bases thanks to new sustainment initi… https://t.co/UKmePcUphL
Twitter
The Stormbreaker! No...not Thor's axe, but it packs just as much punch! The Small Diameter Bomb II Stormbreaker is… https://t.co/QzhepbzuhZ
Twitter
Forward presence The 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, deployed with @USAFCENT, is responsible for delivering… https://t.co/GZEGf9CqqT
Twitter
"Doomsday" simulators are coming! The Air Force has awarded the contract for simulators to train E-4B "Doomsday pl… https://t.co/uOko4RNM04
Twitter
Using a try-before-you-buy strategy, a team within the Digital Directorate, headquartered at @Hanscom_AFB, complete… https://t.co/cE0xPkzNSA
Twitter
RT @DeptofDefense: Sports heroes who served. From the basketball court to the baseball diamond and the halls of the U.S. Capitol, find ou…
Twitter
.@AFWERX is announcing the Reimagining Energy Challenge for the @DeptofDefense. https://t.co/3zh486icys
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,294,445
Follow Us