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Schriever celebrates AF birthday

AF birthday

Col. Jacob Middleton, vice commander of the 50th Space Wing, and Airman Alexzander Gunn, systems maintenance technician with the 4th Space Operations Squadron, cut a cake during the celebration of the Air Force's 71st birthday at the Satellite Dish dining facility at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Sept. 18, 2018. Seventy-one years ago on Sept. 18, 1947, former President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act establishing the U.S. Air Force as a separate, independent service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kathryn Calvert)

AF birthday

Former President Harry S. Truman signs the National Security Act, establishing the Air Force as a separate, independent military service, July 26, 1947. On Sept. 18, 1947, the Air Force was officially established. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)


Seventy-one years ago on September 18, 1947, former President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act establishing the U.S. Air Force as a separate, independent service. 

 Col. Jacob Middleton, vice commander of the 50th Space Wing, began a ceremonial cake cutting at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Sept. 18 in honor of the Air Force’s birthday.

“What do you think about when you think of birthdays,” he questioned Airmen sitting down for lunch.

After Airmen replied, “cake,” and “the past and the future,” he asked Airmen what they thought about when they heard Air Force.

“When I think about the Air Force, I think about innovation,” he said. “When we think about where we were, I think in all facets of what we hold dear, we are better off than we were then, because of the people in uniform.”

Middleton emphasized the need for respect, in and out of the Air Force.

“Respect is important, and it’s not just rank,” he said. “We are setting a precedent for everybody who is going to follow afterwards.”

James Mesco, historian with the 50th SW, said the need for a separate air service began nearly 40 years before the signing of the NSA.

“The air arms contribution to World War I and II that aided in the victories of those wars proved air power was a separate realm of combat,” he said. “As part of the significance of signing the act, President Truman signed it on board the Douglas VC-54 "Sacred Cow."

Over the next two decades, the Air Force was instrumental in both combat and humanitarian operations in events such as the Berlin Airlift, the Korean, and Vietnam War.

In the late 1950s, the Air Force took its first steps into space with the launch of the first Air Force satellites and intercontinental ballistic missiles. 

“Space operations began to have roles in communications, weather and warning operations, with many assets supporting our operations in Vietnam,” Mesco said. “Progress continued for the Air Force and space in the early 1980s. The Air Force established Falcon Air Force Station, later Falcon AFB and then Schriever AFB, as a hub for satellite operations to include many communications, warning and the first global positioning system satellites.”

Mesco explained the systems were essential to the victory in Operations Desert shield and Desert Storm in the early 1990s, as well as other U.S. and coalition operations.

“The advancement of space continued with additional communication satellite capabilities, situational awareness satellites and improved GPS satellites,” he said. “On this anniversary of establishing the Air Force, we see how the Air Force and Air Force Space operations have evolved to the support the Air Force global mission.”

Col. Jennifer Grant, commander of the 50th SW, explained since the establishment of the Air Force as an independent service, innovating and accelerating to be the most dominant Air Force in the world has been a top priority.

“Happy birthday to our great Air Force,” she said. “The words of our first Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Carl Spaatz, ring true today: ‘We’d better be prepared to dominate the skies above the surface of the earth, or be prepared to be buried beneath it.’ We dominate the skies in space and cyberspace right here at the 50th Space Wing every day.

“Let this day be a time to reflect on how far we have come as an Air Force and as a family,” she continued. “Thank you for your continued efforts and dedication. One Team ... Mastering space and cyberspace operations ... Now and into the future.”

Middleton left Airmen at the cake cutting with a piece of advice:

“What I want to leave you with is that people are watching, you’re setting an example for folks who are here and for the folks who follow,” he said. “Take the time to think about what it means to be in the Air Force.”


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