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A history of the United States Air Force

Updated on May 23, 2011

The United States Air Force has a rich history from its early beginnings in August of 1907 to the present. The Air Force began as part of the U.S. Army Signal Corps when it formed an Aeronautical Division. Once the Wright Brothers made their historic flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina it only took three and a half years for the creation of what would eventually be the United States Air Force to be established. The Aeronautical Division accepted delivery of the first airplane from the Wright Brothers in 1909. The first aero squadron was formed in December 1913. In the span of six years there was much change toward establishing a new organization of the Armed Forces

To begin discussing the Air Force we must examine several aspects that are at the core of how the Air Force operates. The first involves the mission of the Air Force which is to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace. The mission is accomplished around three core visions of developing airmen, technology to war fighting and integrating operations. Along with the core visions there are three core values. These are: integrity first, service before self and last is excellence in all we do. Another important aspect of being an airman is what is called the Airman’s Creed. It involves the promise to country and colleagues. The content is noted below:

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.

From the time the Air Force organization began its journey to what it is now many events have taken place. These events and the involvement of the Air Force are engrained within its history. In September 1939 the air corps as it was known then began a steady growth. In June of 1941 the Department of War created the Army Air Forces. Many individuals may not have known that the Air Force was a part of the Army organization prior to it becoming a full-fledged service on its own. The initials of this organization were AAF. When we were attacked by Japan on December 7, 1941 the AAF expansion was accelerated. The AAF (Army Air Forces) oversaw a mobilization of the nation’s aviation industry and deployment of the largest armada of all time. This was a significant event for which this organization should be proud.

The Air Force became an entity of itself separating from the Army and Navy on September 18, 1947. The first Secretary of the Air Force was Stuart Symington while General Carl A. Spaatz was the first chief of staff. Chuck Yeager is also a name familiar to some as within a month of the separation as a test pilot he flew the Bell XS-1 past the speed of sound which launched the Air Force into the supersonic age.

The Air Force has proven to be a vital part of the Armed Forces of the United States. Since its separation from the Army and Navy the Air Force has been called upon to support and participate in various conflicts around the world. Examples include Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield, Vietnam, Korea and the current activities in Afghanistan. There can be no doubt the activities in which the Air Force has been a part of has strengthened the security of the United States.

The values, mission and the Airman’s Creed identified and/or discussed above provide a rich history of the character and honor the Air Force has exhibited in everything it has accomplished to date. The activities in which the Air Force is currently involved with today and those it will be called upon to be involved with tomorrow will provide a sense of pride for our country. The current economic times we are in will require some streamlining of our military forces. It is hoped that the budgets appropriated for each of the services will not hamper the capability of our armed forces to accomplish their missions whatever they may be. The security of our country should be foremost in the minds of those who make economic decisions associated with our military and not allow politics to enter the picture.

One last point to make is the prospect of strong leaders for the Air Force is strong today.  This is accomplished through the Air Force Academy.  This institution has a strong history of providing future leaders for the Air Force organization.  Those chosen to be a part of this institution must meet specific requirements of eligibility.  The first and foremost is you must be a citizen of the United States or at least have your citizenship finalized prior to entering the academy.  The next requirement is an age one.  Individuals applying to the Air Force Academy must be at least 17 but less than 23 years of age by July 1 of the year an individual would enter.  Other requirements include unmarried with no dependents and have good moral character.  Other qualities an applicant must meet involve high leadership, academic, physical and medical standards.  These eligibility requirements provide an insight to the quality of the leaders the Air Force and the Air Force Academy require to carry out their missions today and those of tomorrow.


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