Wednesday, September 19, 2007

TOP STORY >>AF milestone

Leader staff writer

The Air Force celebrates its 60th anniversary this week, festivities are being held throughout the country, including a military ball hosted by Little Rock Air Force Base Saturday evening at the Statehouse Convention Center.

The Air Force was established Sept. 18, 1947.

Little Rock AFB has been an established Air Force base since October 1955.

Of the close to 700,000 airmen who make up the total Air Force (active duty, civilians, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve), 6,014 are stationed here at Little Rock AFB, and more than 500 local airmen are deployed in support of the global war on terror.

Thousands of retired Air Force members and their families, about 25,400, also live in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas.
A number of official events were held Tuesday in the nation’s capital in honor of the Air Force’s 60th anniversary, including a birthday celebration attended by members of the Tuskegee Airmen and Women Air Force Service Pilots, Vietnam veterans, Berlin Airlifters, Medal of Honor recipients, Air Force astronauts and family members of the first chief of staff of the Air Force, Gen. Carl A. Spaatz.

“The events here in the national capital region not only gave us a chance to reflect on our remarkable Air Force heritage, but also gave us the opportunity to celebrate our 60th birthday as an independent service,” said Brig. Gen. Janet A. Therianos, director of the Air Force 60th anniversary task force.

She described the events as a way to capture the spirit of the past and the enthusiasm for the future, and “bestow honors to the sacrifices of all who have given so much for our country” by recognizing “those Americans who volunteer to selflessly serve our great country.”

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley and Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne heralded the Air Force’s 60th birthday as an opportunity to reflect on the nation’s progression in powered flight, rocketry and access to space.

“We also honor the extraordinary achievements and gallant sacrifices America’s airmen have made in the defense of freedom. Born of the revolutionary ideas of military aviation and rocketry and forged in the fire of combat throughout the wars of the 20th century, a handful of visionary pioneers helped shape the most dominant Air Force the world has ever known,” Moseley and Wynne said in a statement.

While marking this milestone in Air Force history, the two congratulated the airmen who make up today’s Air Force.

“Total Force Airmen of the U.S. Air Force past, present and future can take pride in their roles in the Air Force’s success,” they said. “Your service, dedication and sacrifice guarantee our ability to fly, fight and win for America and into the future.”