By Airman 1st Class William Blankenship
Air University Public Affairs
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. — Sept. 18 marks a significant milestone as the Air Force reaches its 65th birthday.
In military terms, the Air Force is still a young service. The U.S. Army was founded in June 1775, followed by the Navy and Marines later that same year. A few years later, the U.S. Coast Guard was created in 1790; however the Air Force has made significant strides in a short 65 years.
From the signing of the National Security Act of 1947, to the F-117 Nighthawk launching in 1981 and the Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles of today, the Air Force has seen more technological advances than most companies three times its age.
Although airmen represent less than one percent of the United States population, they are physically, mentally and spiritually well rounded, prepared to deploy when called upon and technologically savvy. Today’s airmen reflect their creed of being faithful to a proud heritage, a tradition of honor and a legacy of valor.
Here at Maxwell, the Intellectual Center of the Air Force, thousands of officer, enlisted and civilian personnel at every level learn how they fit into that legacy.
Within the halls of Air Force Historical Research Agency here, Airmen take the opportunity to examine documents like a copy of the National Security Act of 1947 which Master Sgt. Patrick Acre, Air University first sergeant, describes as the Air Force’s declaration of independence from the Army.
“Today’s airmen would not be where they are without those that came before them,” Acre said. “Since becoming its own branch of service, the Air Force has been integral to many American defense efforts. History provides all of us with a roadmap to success and failure. Air Force forefathers blazed a path throughout our history that we all can learn from.”
In the last 65 years, the Air Force’s ability to sustain steady growth and embrace advancing technology has allowed for quick response capability along with rapid global mobility.
“The Air Force has had a technology-based mindset longer than it has been an Air Force,” said Lt. Col. Jenns Roberson, Air Force Research Institute air and space power strategist. “Billy Mitchell visited Dayton Field in 1925, telling the engineers there they were wrong on being proud of their propeller designs, they were behind the times. He explained to them that they should be building jet aircraft and explained how to build a jet engine 20 years before they were invented.”
Remembering the past while looking toward the future is a popular idea. The Air Force’s long standing reputation for being on the cutting edge of technology did not start in the last few years. Airmen have been flexing modern warfare capabilities for a long time.
“Being inclined to embrace technology allows airmen to understand the capabilities of today and see what is possible tomorrow,” said Roberson. “Would those Air Force leaders of the past recognize today’s world? I have no doubt — they built it.”
The mission of the Air Force is to deliver sovereign options for the defense of the United States of America and its global interests. To fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace; remember the legacy of valor; and look toward the next 65 years of air power.