As a nation, we are fortunate to be protected by the best air force in the world, which celebrates the anniversary of its founding on September 18th. The mission of the modern United States Air Force is “to fly, fight, and win in air, space, and cyberspace.” The Air Force has approximately 5,000 aircraft, 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles, and 60 satellites. It is comprised of roughly 650,000 active, civilian, reserve, and air guard personnel.
Although not officially established until September 18, 1947—soon after the end of World War II—the origins of the air force go back to 1907 when the United States Army Signal Corps formed an Aeronautical Division after powered air travel had begun. Soon thereafter, the Aeronautical Division purchased its first airplane from the Wright brothers.
In light of the use of airplanes during World War I and the obvious military importance aircraft would play in future military conflicts, the Aeronautical Division evolved into the Army Air Service in 1918 and was placed under the direction of the War Department (now known as the Department of Defense). Two years later, the Air Service was made a combat arm of the United States Army and was thereafter known as the Army Air Corps.
The effectiveness of the Army Air Corps was critical in our victories in both the European and Pacific Theaters of World War II. The achievements of the Air Corps led to the creation of the Air Force in 1947 as an independent branch of our armed forces.
In 1954, the United States Air Force Academy was established in Colorado to train future Air Force Second Lieutenants. The school currently has about 4,000 cadets. The largest source of Second Lieutenants, however, comes from the thousands of cadets who are part of the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) on over 1,000 college and university campuses across the country.
Since its creation, the Air Force has played a key role in protecting the interests of our nation and our allies. In particular, through its arsenal of bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Air Force serves as part of our nuclear triad, along with the Navy’s missile-launching submarines, to serve as a deterrent to nuclear attack and, if necessary, to respond quickly to any such attack.
The Airman’s Creed captures the commitment of those who serve in the Air Force. It represents their promise to our nation and to each other:
I AM AN AMERICAN AIRMAN.I AM A WARRIOR.I HAVE ANSWERED MY NATION’S CALL.
I AM AN AMERICAN AIRMAN. MY MISSION IS TO FLY, FIGHT, AND WIN. I AM FAITHFUL TO A PROUD HERITAGE, A TRADITION OF HONOR,AND A LEGACY OF VALOR.
I AM AN AMERICAN AIRMAN. GUARDIAN OF FREEDOM AND JUSTICE, MY NATION’S SWORD AND SHIELD, ITS SENTRY AND AVENGER.I DEFEND MY COUNTRY WITH MY LIFE.
I AM AN AMERICAN AIRMAN. WINGMAN, LEADER, WARRIOR. I WILL NEVER LEAVE AN AIRMAN BEHIND, I WILL NEVER FALTER, AND I WILL NOT FAIL.
As Americans, we should be thankful for our Air Force and for all of those serving in our armed services. They work day and night to protect our national interests and to keep us safe. Without them, we could not enjoy our way of life.