Nearly everyone in the United States is familiar, to some degree, with our military, and their often valiant young soldiers. Many of whom make sacrifices in service to their country. But how much do people truly know about the history of the military, or their youngest branch―the Air Force?
It all started over 100 years ago on the first day of August, 1907. The U.S. Army Signal Corps set up an Aeronautical Division, and thus was born the early version of the Air Force. As aircraft technology continued to develop and improve, the 1st Provisional Aero Squadron was formed in 1913. In 1914, this first air branch had 12 officers, 54 enlisted men, and six planes. A year later, it counted 44 officers, 224 enlisted men, and 23 planes. During World War I, it was a struggle to organize aerial activities because of the lack of communication between aeronautical organizati ons.
But this fledgling force would develop and grow rapidly as the world was thrust into the second World War. Beginning in September of 1939 Germany began executing blitzkrieg tactics with the help of a strong German air force. Within a year, Germany had conquered most of Europe. In light of this astonishing success, the U.S. government was willing to give the US Air Corps just about anything they requested.
At the end of World War II, the Air Corps' numbers had risen to 2,253,000 men and women and 63,715 aircraft. In 1942, the War Department formally organized and recognized the Army Air Forces as one of three Army Commands.
The year 1947 is regarded as the Air Force's birth-year, as this was when they were finally recognized as a branch separate from the Army. July 26th is the day they were officially designated the United States Air Force. But Air Force members celebrate September 18th as their birthday, because that was the day that the first Secretary of the Air Force was sworn in.
America's youngest military branch has become arguably the world leader in aeronautical engineering and technology. Its mark in recent history is deep, from becoming one of the first military branches of its kind in the world, to playing a major role in recent wars. As wars and turmoil continue, the Air Force will continue to flourish, grow, and progress as America's protectors of the skies. They will continue to pursue their motto: "Fly. Fight. Win."
[Sources: Military.com; National Geographic]