Birth of the United States Air Force

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Shortly after noon on July 26, 1947 the engines on President Harry S Truman's airplane were warming up to ferry the President to the bedside of his dying mother.  Before the plane could lift off the runway at the National Airport in Washington, DC a courier drove up to deliver a briefcase.   Inside were three important documents, the result of months of debate in both the halls of the Pentagon and the chambers of Congress.

The first was a Congressional action, the National Security Act of 1947 establishing the Department of Defense.  The second was Executive Order No. 9877 defining the roles and missions of the United States Armed Forces.  The third was the nomination of James V. Forrestal as our Nation's first Secretary of Defense.  On his plane, before departing, the President signed all three historic documents, charting the course for the future of the United States military.   That course was based upon the historic lessons of nearly two centuries of struggle by a young nation for survival.  It was bolstered by the experience of decisive victories in two world wars.  Among the lessons learned...the importance of air power and the need for aerial supremacy.

Thus it was that the first document, the National Security Act of 1947 not only established a Department of Defense to unite the Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.  It recognized the unique role of the American airman and separated him from the rest, establishing a whole new branch of military service.  From the embryo nurtured in two world wars was born the United States Air Force.

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