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Happy 68th birthday, United States Air Force!

By Lt. Gen. Vincent R. Stewart, USMC

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On a cold December morning in 1903, two brothers changed the world with a historic, successfully controlled 12-second flight of a heavier than air vehicle. Within 4 years America had its first Airmen, 18 pilots, 100 support personnel, and 31 planes, all belonging to the Aeronautical Division of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Thirty-seven years later at the height of World War II, the United States had 2.4 million Airmen and 80,000 planes. Airpower had come into its own and on September 18, 1947, the United States Air Force became the newest Armed Service, marking the start of unrivaled dominance in air and space.

The men and women of the United States Air Force were at the forefront of last century's frontiers. Airmen were the first to break the sound barrier; Airmen were among the first to walk on the moon; and, Airmen were the first to wield the power of the atom.

Staying true to this rich heritage, Airmen continue to push onward and upward, finding new frontiers to explore and defend. Our Airmen stand guard in cyberspace; Airmen lead the way in drone combat; Airmen develop technologies that leave no hiding places for our enemies; and Airmen deliver humanitarian aid the world over.

Beyond this great work, Airmen are our coworkers, our friends, and our family. The members of the United States Air Force by us as models of integrity, service and excellence. They defend this country with honor and sacrifice. They are wingmen to us all. General Curtis LeMay said it best: "If we maintain our faith in God, love of freedom, and superior global airpower, the future of America looks pretty good." On Friday, September 18th, the United States Air Force celebrates 68 years of independent service. Along with the rest of the Defense Intelligence Enterprise, let me say - Happy Birthday, United States Air Force.

Sept. 18, 2015 — Lt. Gen. Vincent R. Stewart, USMC
Director, Defense Intelligence Agency