Happy Birthday, U.S. Air Force!

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Sep 18, 2009 No Comments ›› John Eidsmoe

Happy Birthday, U.S. Air Force!

Today, 18 September 1947, marks the 62nd birthday of the United States Air Force.

Of course, this wasn’t the beginning of air defense. Aerial balloons were used in the War Between the States and the Spanish – American War, and the Army Signal Corps was formed in 1907. General John J. Pershing commanded the American Expeditionary Force during World War I. In 1926 they became the Army Air Corps, and this Corps became a division of the Army Air Force in 1941.

But during the war and afterward, visionaries like General Billy Mitchell and General Hap Arnold dreamed of air power as a unified command. Despite opposition from the Army and the Navy, the United States Air Force was born 62 years ago today as Congress passed and the President signed into law the National Security Act of 1947.

On 27 May 1967, after four years of Air Force ROTC, I was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force. Realizing that in either active, reserve, or retired status, I have been an Air Force officer for over two-thirds of the Air Force’s history, makes me feel like I’ve had a small part in that history. But lest I develop grandiose delusions, I have to remember that my part was very small.

The Air Force identifies its core values as:
1. Integrity first.
2. Service above self.
3. Excellence in all we do.
As an Air Force pilot prepares to fly a mission, his very life depends upon the assurance that those who have serviced his aircraft and those who have packed his parachute are men who live by those values.

The Air Force Academy was founded in 1954, and the first graduating class developed and adopted a simple Honor Code: “We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.” In 1984, the Cadet Wing voted to adopt an “Honor Oath,” which is administered to fourth class cadets (freshmen) when they are formally accepted into the Wing at the conclusion of Basic Cadet Training. The oath remains unchanged since its adoption in 1984:
“We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate
among us anyone who does.
“Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and to live
honorably, so help me God.”

Air Force officers take an oath of office, and enlisted personnel take an oath of enlistment. The wording differs, but both “do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” and close with “So help me God.”

And the Airman’s Creed, adopted in April 2007, speaks for all:
The Airrman’s Creed

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.

So happy 62nd birthday, United States Air Force. May you always be men and women of honor.  May you always “live in fame” and never “go down in flame,” and with God’s help, may it always be true that “Nothing can stop the U.S. Air Force!”

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