It’s time to celebrate a very important birthday. A 72nd birthday, actually. No, we’re not talking about a person. We’re referring to one of the military branches of this fine country: The United States Air Force.
The Air Force’s birthday is officially recognized as September 18, 1947, which is the date of the passage of the National Security Act of 1947.
I personally have a great deal of respect and admiration for the Air Force, having grown up on Air Force bases across the country. My stepfather is a retired fighter pilot of 25+ years and one of my brothers is a fighter pilot as well (both attended USAFA).
In honor of this momentous occasion, let’s take a look at five inspiring quotes from legends in the United States Air Force’s history.
1. Billy Mitchell
“With us air people, the future of our nation is indissolubly bound up in the development of air power.”
Though he was technically a general in the United States Army, Mitchell is considered the “Father of the Air Force.” He advocated for a separate, independent Air Force despite opposition from many of his peers.
2. Chuck Yeager
“You do what you can for as long as you can, and when you finally can’t, you do the next best thing. You back up but you don’t give up.”
Yeager was a record-setting test pilot who became the first pilot confirmed to break the sound barrier in level flight. His incredible flying career spanned more than 70 years.
3. Robin Olds
“Fighter pilot is an attitude. It is cockiness. It is aggressiveness. It is self-confidence. It is a streak of rebelliousness and it is competitiveness. But there’s something else—there’s a spark. There’s a desire to be good. To do well; in the eyes of your peers, and in your own mind.”
Olds became well-known in the public eye for his distinctive mustache, which he sported during Vietnam despite it being out of regulations. He was a triple ace with 17 victories in WWII and the Vietnam War and retired as a brigadier general.
4. Daniel “Chappie” James
“The strength of the United States of America lies in its unity. It lies in free men blessed and ordained with the rights of freedom working to provide, build, enjoy, and grow. Those who would subvert us – or any free people – try to disrupt this unity by breaking the small parts from the whole – driving in the wedges of fear and discontent.”
The first African-American to reach the rank of four-star general in the armed forces, James attended the famous Tuskegee Institute and achieved numerous distinctions and medals.
5. Eddie Rickenbacker
“Courage is doing what you are afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you are scared.”
With 26 aerial victories, Rickenbacker was America’s most successful fighter ace in World War I. He was also a Medal of Honor recipient.
Who’s your favorite Air Force legend? Let us know in the comments below. Aim High, Fly-Fight-Win!