By Christine June, George C. Marshall European Center for Security StudiesSeptember 23, 2019
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany -- Seventy-two years ago, the U.S. Air Force took off into the wild blue yonder, and the 23 active-duty and former airmen stationed at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies held a "Frontiers of Blue…This is 72!" celebration Sept. 19.
This celebration was an opportunity for these airmen to showcase the U.S. Air Force's heritage, warfighting capability and innovation to their German, U.S. and international civilian and military colleagues.
The event showcased the U.S. Air Force traditional cutting of the cake by the most senior and junior Airmen present: Retired Brig. Gen. Dieter Bareihs, Marshall Center's U.S. deputy director, and U.S. Air Force Capt. Adam Gorzkowski, a student of the Master of Arts Program in International Security Studies offered by the Universität der Bundeswehr München and the Marshall Center.
The U.S. Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. Initially part of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force was formed as a separate branch of the military under the National Security Act of 1947 on Sept. 18 of that year.
"It's true that our heritage officially started then, but if we stop and think for a few moments, airmen have defended the U.S. and her allies, and their national interests for well over a century," said Bareihs, during his remarks at the Marshall Center's celebration.
In fact, the origins of the U.S. Air Force lie in a decision made just four years after the Orville and Wilbur Wright brothers conducted the world's first airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In 1907, the U.S. Army Signal Corps created an Aeronautical Division and put it in "charge of all matters pertaining to military ballooning, air machines and all kindred subjects."
As aviation technology improved, the army's air force grew bigger. An independent military arm became virtually inevitable after the Army Air Forces became an autonomous U.S. Army Command in 1942 and then grew substantially throughout the remainder of World War II.
On July 26, 1947, President Harry Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947 on board the presidential aircraft, the Sacred Cow, and set the creation of the U.S. Air Force in motion.
"At 72 years old, the Air Force is quite young compared to the other U.S. services," Bareihs said. "It's the youngest by quite a bit, and fourth in the order of precedence.
"Well don't let age fool you. This is the largest and most technologically advanced air force in the world.
He added, "This is an air force that operates from 100 feet below the surface to outer space. This is an air force that is involved -- either supported or supporting -- in EVERY U.S. military mission that occurs no matter how large or how small."
That should tell you," Bareihs continued, "that this is an Air Force that is indispensable to the nation and to the joint force, and that provides that force the ability and the freedom to operate in the air, on the ground and at sea."