NEWPORT, R.I - Students, faculty and guests of the U.S. Naval War College (NWC) marked the U.S. Air Force’s 64th birthday with a ceremony on the college’s Colbert Plaza, on Sept. 16.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Jay Lindell
, director of the Air Force’s Global Power Programs, delivered a keynote speech highlighting the achievements of the Air Force in its six-decade history.
“It was a simple stroke of a pen on the National Security Act,” Lindell said. “It not only created the separate Air Force but laid the foundation for the modern Air Force, the most powerful in the world.”
The Air Force was a branch of the Army known as the Army Air Corps. But President Harry Truman changed that forever when he signed the National Security Act of 1947 on Sept. 16.
Combat missions make only a fraction of its current abilities. Since the founding of the service, Airmen have engaged in warfare, humanitarian missions, and military supply chain management. Furthermore, the Air Force serves as a critical component in combat zone medical evacuations, saving countless lives of American service members and its allies and friends.
With roots going back to aircraft built of wood and cloth, the Air Force has evolved into a sophisticated, versatile global force. Today, Air Force unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s), satellites and telecommunications equipment are the most sophisticated in the world. More importantly, an all-volunteer force now operates them.
“Although a lot has changed since 1947, one thing has not,” Lindell said. “Airmen are the heart of our Air Force. The swiftest planes, the most powerful satellites are nothing without the people who drive them.”
Lindell commented that the Air Force has about 30,000 airmen deployed around the globe and delivers more than half a million gallons of fuel every day to sustain military operations.
In an informal gathering after the ceremony in which attendees enjoyed a birthday cake and surrounded themselves in USAF memorabilia, several students shared memories of their careers.
NWC faculty member Col. Tim White
said he remembers distinctly being at the Strategic Air Command when the Soviet Union disbanded and President George H.W. Bush gave the order to “stand-down” from nuclear alert.
“It was like you just stopped breathing,” White said. “I mean that’s all that we did.”
NWC is host to about 70 active duty Air Force officer students and faculty as well as veterans.