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Chief's Corner - week of March 27

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

"I am faithful to a proud heritage, a tradition of honor, and a legacy of valor."

I had the privilege of attending the very first Senior NCO Academy class in 2007 immediately after the Airman's Creed was published. Very appropriately, each student memorized the creed. At the time though, and for the foreseeable future, the list of Airmen who memorized the creed or were even familiar with it was pretty short.

Now, nearly seven years later, it's refreshing to see the Airman's Creed is part of our Air Force culture and reciting it in mass has become a standard closing to many of today's official ceremonies.

I wonder how many people really think about the words.

I am by no reasonable person's definition an historian. But I have really learned to appreciate the idea that we are all a part of the Air Force legacy. What the history books will one day say about each of us is up to each of us.

As we can track the 50th Space Wing's lineage from the post-World War II 50th Fighter Wing in the Air Force Reserve at Otis AFB, to our re-designation as the 50th Fighter-Interceptor Wing and evolution to 50th Fighter-Bomber Wing at the French-established Hahn AB in Germany, I wonder how many Airmen stopped to ponder the significance of what was happening as the first F-86F Sabre aircraft arrived in 1953.

As the 50th Fighter-Bomber Wing Commander, Col. Wallace Ford, "unpacked the new unit" at Hahn AB, as relationships between the U.S. and NATO Alliance worsened with the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, I wonder how many Airmen stopped to consider the significance of the infant 50th as they began "flexing" on mainland Europe to demonstrate to the Soviets the developing, devastating combat capability of U.S. airpower within the 50th.

I know I'm leaving plenty of historical gaps in this narrative, but from then until now I wonder how many Airmen really understood the global significance the 50th would have on events like the Cuban missile crisis, the reunification of post-cold war Berlin, Operation Desert Storm, and on and on. Consider that until the Wing at Hahn Air Base was inactivated in 1991, the emblem of the 50th Tactical Fighter Wing bore a Griffin facing forward breathing fire, with an olive branch in one talon and a lightning bolt in the other. And a mushroom cloud centered behind the griffin. Nothing says "awesome" like having a mushroom cloud as part of your heraldry.

From the very beginning of the U.S. Air Force, the 50th has been a stalwart representation of the U.S. and its airpower. It makes perfect sense that our evolution and growth have taken us to space. Under the U.S. Air Force Heritage Program, the 50th Space Wing was reactivated and assumed control of the 2nd Space Wing. Quite a legacy. You are all a part of that. As Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III has encouraged us, tell your story. What will the history books say about you?
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