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Air Force’s 60th Anniversary approaches

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Air Force bases around the world, are preparing for a celebration of the Air Force's 60th anniversary.

McConnell's celebration will culminate with the annual Air Force Ball Sept. 15 at Century II in Wichita.

From 1947 until today, and on into the future, the Air Force has made, and continues to make, an impact for the United States military. Although there are few men still alive today who were also around when the Air Force began 60 years ago, the ones who are about recall how it all began and the struggles they faced like it was yesterday. They also all seem to share one sentiment; they will never regret joining the Air Force.

When the Air Force began 60 years ago, some members who served with the National Guard became members of the Air National Guard. Many men, such as retired Colorado Air Guard Tech. Sgt. Harry Emily, tell their stories of World War II, to everyone. They talk about what their part was in the military at the time. From trainers to commanders, all have their stories.

Sergeant Emily is the oldest living charter member of the Colorado Air Guard at the age of 90. At the time his squadron, the 120th Tactical Fighter Squadron, was the first to be federally recognized, it only had 17 members. Today, that number is much larger and is growing day by day.

On July 26, 1947, the National Security Act became a law, signed by President Harry S. Truman. This is when the Department of the Air Force was created. Its primary function was: "... to organize, train and equip air forces for air operations including joint operations; to gain and maintain general air superiority; to establish local air superiority where and as required; to develop a strategic air force and conduct strategic air reconnaissance operations; to provide airlift and support for airborne operations; to furnish air support to land and naval forces including support of occupation forces; and to provide air transport for the armed forces ..."

With the appointment of Stuart Symington as secretary and Gen. Carl Spaatz as chief of staff on Sept. 18, 1947, the Air Force existed in reality as an independent service. From then until today, the Air Force has been growing at an amazing rate. From people to aircraft, today's Air Force has a variety of jobs and many opportunities for advancement for both men and women, as well as opportunities to see and do things that many never thought possible. An article titled "Women in the Ranks," states June 28, 1976, the Air Force Academy became the first of the big three-service academies to admit women cadets. Today, more than 65,000 women are an integral part of the Air Force active-duty force.

Technological advancement has also changed the Air Force dramatically over the years. There has been a huge transformation in almost every aspect of the military since the 1940s and every decade from then to now, and it will continue to grow even more. From flying under radar to stealth technology, from radio to satellite communications and today's global reach, the Air Force is able to serve its country better and be prepared to protect, defend or attack at a moment's notice.

In the first decade of the 21st century, the Air Force reaches for new horizons. An example of a great technological advancement is the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles the X-45 and X-47 currently being developed. They can perform extremely dangerous and high-priority combat missions, without physically hurting an Airman if something goes wrong. The Air Force is continually finding ways to better protect its men and women, and the machines they command on an everyday basis, reaching for what Chief of Staff Gen T. Michael Moseley's Air Force Vision Document calls "Limitless Horizons."

Airmen should celebrate the past sixty years while setting their sites forward to the next sixty and beyond.