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NEWS | Sept. 16, 2015

68 Years of Mission! Airmen! Fun!

By Col. Jimmy Canlas Deputy commander, 437 AW/CV

Those of us who serve in the 437th Airlift Wing know our priorities are Mission! Airmen! Fun!  We are driven to accomplish the mission of safe, precise and reliable airlift anywhere in the world while taking care of our amazing Airmen and their families.  Oh yeah, we like to have fun along the way!  On September 18, 2015, as we celebrate the Air Force's 68th birthday, we can see the spirit of Mission! Airmen! Fun! has been a major theme in our Air Force from its inception.

It is often said that the mission of our military services is to fight and win our nation's wars.  Our Air Force (and our predecessor, the Army Air Corps) drastically transformed the way we accomplish that mission.  Try to imagine World War II without Red Tail P-51s escorting long-range bombers carrying out attacks on targets deep in enemy territory or the absence of B-25s and Doolittle Raiders sending a message to Imperial Japan.  The Berlin Airlift rendered the Soviet blockade a failure and kept thousands of innocent people alive. Our B-52s and KC-135s kept the USSR at bay through global power projection during the Cold War.  The ability to gain and maintain air superiority has meant our ground forces have not been attacked from the air in over 60 years.  Our C-17s are writing modern day history with rapid global mobility, conducting humanitarian and combat airdrops, as well as direct delivery of troops and equipment to the battlefield: The mission - Fly, Fight and Win. 

While the public eye may relate to the Air Force through its equipment, we know it is our Airmen who make the difference each and every day.  Our Airmen have always been the driving force behind the exceptional progress the Air Force has enjoyed.  Leaning forward is what we do best.  General Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier with broken ribs.  Actor Morgan Freeman turned down an acting scholarship to serve his country as a radar operator.  Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin flew 86 combat missions during the Korean War before becoming an astronaut. The backbone of our Air Force, the NCO corps, is the envy of all other air forces around the globe because of their talent, leadership, and innovation.  Most recently, A1C Spencer Stone showed the world what Airmen are made of when he heroically helped stop a terror attack on a train.  These are just a few of the many examples of the grit and tenacity Airmen are known for. All of our Airmen are led by caring front line supervisors, first sergeants, commanders and mentors.

Even though our history is not as extensive as that of our sister services, the Air Force has developed fun traditions of our own.  Traditions such as roof stomps to welcome new commanders, the ever-popular Mustache March to honor Colonel Robin Olds, running around a pool table playing crud, Combat Dining In/Outs, creative marshalling of aircraft and induction/recognition ceremonies help us celebrate our identity as Airmen.  Force Support Squadrons do a wonderful job around the globe ensuring there is always some fun to be had, whether in garrison or deployed.  However, often fun comes as a by-product of taking care of the first two priorities.  When we accomplish the mission and make positive impacts in the lives of Airmen, we attain a sense of fulfillment that makes our Air Force a fun place to be.

The Air Force's short yet storied history is full of incredible accomplishments and heroes. So as we celebrate our Air Force's birthday, take a moment to reflect on our heroes of the past, our Airmen presently executing the mission and the next generation of Airmen that will write the  next chapters of Mission! Airmen! Fun!  Happy 68th birthday Air Force!