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NEWS | Sept. 18, 2017

Happy 70th Birthday Air Force!

By Col. Jimmy Canlas, commander 437th Airlift Wing

This year, we are celebrating the 70th birthday of our mighty United States Air Force.  While 70 may seem like a small number compared to other services, our history, heritage and legacy run deep.  There is plenty to be proud of, and it is a great time to be an Airman.

With rapidly advancing technologies in the air domain and proven success in World War II, President Truman signed the National Security Act on September 18, 1947, creating a separate service and signifying the birth of our United States Air Force.  But long before the signing of this act, there were Airmen already dominating the skies and showing what it meant to fly, fight and win. Airpower giants like Benjamin Foulois, Eddie Rickenbacker and Billy Mitchell demonstrated the lethality of airpower and the potential to revolutionize warfare.  In World War II, we witnessed brave Airmen such as Richard Bong, the Doolittle Raiders and the Tuskegee Airmen demonstrating the mastery of their craft. Showing our nation and the rest of the world what it meant to fly, flight and win.  Our service was born on the shoulders of these giants.

As fast as we became a service, the nation called upon us time and time again for our speed, agility, lethality and ability to operate across the range of military options. The Berlin Airlift. The Cold War. Korea.  Vietnam. Operations DESERT SHIELD/STORM, JUST CAUSE, ALLIED FORCE, ENDURING FREEDOM, IRAQI FREEDOM—we can go on and on.  Our equipment such as the B-24, F-86, U-2, F-4, F-117, C-17, MQ-9, Minuteman ICBMs and the B-2 were highly visible examples of how we contained, deterred and/or dominated our enemies. In a short span of 70 years, our nation watched us grow beyond the traditional roles of an air-centric force and transform to a force dominating the air, space and cyberspace. 

Our weapon systems may be the outward, visible and tangible icons when our nation (and enemies) thinks of our Air Force.  Furthermore, there are many who have touted our technological advantage as the X-factor giving us the edge over our foes.  But we, as Airmen, know the real X-factor behind our success: our PEOPLE.  We succeed because each and every day we have amazing Airmen on active duty, in the reserve components and in the civilian workforce showing the same grit, innovative spirit and drive demonstrated by our early Air Force pioneers. We have outstanding Commanders, courageous Chiefs, incredible NCOs and technically-savvy Airmen who are the envy of other nations.  We also boast strong, resilient families providing unconditional love and support which make our Airmen the best at what they do. Our legacy continues to build with great leaders such as Ron Fogleman, Hawk Carlisle, Sam Cox, Paul Selva, Brian Robinson and Johnny Lamontagne. 

So while our service has the shortest history amongst the branches, remember WE continue to write our history every day we serve.  As recent as Hurricane Harvey and Irma, we witness our Airmen writing new chapters as we bring life-saving supplies and recovery equipment to Florida and the Caribbean—and above all, delivering HOPE to those in need.  We all should be very proud of who we are as Airmen and what our Air Force does for our nation.  Happy 70th Birthday to our United States Air Force!