Officially established in 1947, the Air Force is celebrating its seventh decade on Sept. 18.
In one capacity or another, however, it’s been around since 1909, when the U.S. Army Signal Corps formed the Aeronautical Division. When World War II illustrated the value of airpower, President Truman signed the National Security Act, which not only created the Air Force as an independent service, but also established a single Department of Defense with a strong Joint Chiefs of Staff with the Army, Navy and Air Force chiefs.
Today’s Air Force has just more than 315,000 active duty service members, including 12,669 pilots. Familiar names who have served under it include George W. Bush, Morgan Freeman, Johnny Cash, Ronald Reagan and James Stewart.
The branch does more than just fly through the skies; very few personnel actually fly. The Air Force handles missions such as bombing runs, in-flight refueling, special rescue missions behind enemy lines, medical service in impoverished areas, airborne mapping and monitoring of targets and maintenance of aerospace systems and planes, to name just a few.
Another Air Force duty? Tracking Santa each Christmas Eve. The North American Aerospace Defense Command fire up its Santa tracker and handles calls from more than 200 countries to see where in the world is Santa.
We thought one of the best ways to celebrate the Air Force was by catching up with what some of our Air Force spouses have been up to.
“I’m at Ramstein AFB in Germany. I’m working on helping Girl Scouts in Baumholder start up again and am spearheading our Thrift Shop (run by RESA-enlisted spouses) open up a Belle’s Boutique, a loan locker of sorts of formal attire for the ladies (and hopefully one day the gentlemen) in our area. I’m also heading to D.C. in September for the AF Awards. I also added child No. 5 in August.” ~Alicia Grabianowski-Barnett
“I’m in Waco, Texas, recruiting. I have been attending and helping my husband recruit by exemplifying the Air Force as a family and answer any questions families may have from the family perspective of the Air Force and its benefits.” ~Shelby Renninger
“I just left Spangdahlem, Germany. Following SOFA, I was able to start up a free Home-based Business Bingo for the base community. It raised money and benefited the local economy and our base, as well as HBB owners. I’m hoping to start something here now that I’m at Nellis AFB.” ~Carissa Jones
“I’m in Ellsworth, S.D., running my kiddos to school and sports and adjusting to my husband’s new squadron and work schedule. I’m also volunteering with the homeless, my husband’s squadron and in my children’s classrooms.” ~Amber Rose Odom
“I just PCSed from Seymour Johnson AFB to Altus AFB a few months ago. I signed on to be a key spouse for our new squadron and helping with the squadron’s social committee. I also volunteer for Odyssey of the Mind and am a stay-at-home mom to two kids.” ~Charissa Godfrey
“I’m the Kirtland AFB SOY 2016 and 2017 USAF Chaplain Spouse. Our family is three weeks into an unaccompanied remote assignment so that has made life a bit crazy with managing the home front and our almost 5- and 3-year-olds. However, I have managed to not only maintain my current volunteer positions but actually added a couple others. I was asked to provide support to spouses separated from service members stationed at the same remote location as my husband, their chaplain. I serve as a Key Spouse Mentor for two Wings at KAFB, among other positions with the Kirtland Spouse’s Club in which I represent the spouse community to senior leadership at IDS/CAIB meetings. I organize base-wide military spouse resiliency events that I have focused on marriage resiliency as this is the need of our community. Additionally, I work as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor at a Christian Counseling Clinic off base and serve military and veteran families. I am also working with a local senator here in New Mexico to change legislation to protect teens who suffer from mental illness that make them vulnerable, a result of experience of my own niece who is mentally ill and had been missing for two years. Police refused to assist our family because she left on her own and the law had no consideration for her condition. This is something I hope to change for other families. Thankfully my niece was found alive and is now receiving treatment.” ~Dinah A. Dziolek
“I volunteer around our base helping families, at our schools on base and with the National Military Family Association. This year I am the co-president of the PTA with an active duty member. The past two years I have done Month of the Military Child at the school and hope to make each year better than the last. All of this while keeping up with my 12-, 11-, 9- and 7-year-olds and their activities.” ~Tesha Jackson
“I’m the 2014 Los Angeles AFB SOY. I recently PCSed to Maxwell while my hubby attends ACSC, so it’s quiet here commitment wise for now! I’m looking forward to getting involved with the ACSC spouses and working on short-term volunteer projects while helping a nonprofit I’ve worked with for several years. I’m looking forward to taking me time this year to expand my freelance writing and editing career.” ~Sheila Snodgrass Rupp
“I’m at Dover AF. I’ve been volunteering with NMFA for the past three years, and I help run a peer-to-peer PTSD/MST group in town where we do various group therapy to include yoga, knitting, crochet and community outreach. I’ve been working with several state’s officials in regards to mental health in our military families, benefits for the MWDs after retirement, and general health issues.” ~Jessica Nicholas-Salter
“Since winning the Shaw AFB MSOY 2017 I have become more involved in every facet of military life. I am the Shaw AFB Heartlink program emcee, working alongside the AFRC to welcome new spouses to the base every quarter. I volunteer at Right Start orientation briefings to introduce new airmen and their spouses to the Key Spouse program and encourage them to get involved. As a member of the brand new combined Shaw Spouses’ Club, I am the Chairperson for the Scholarship Auction aimed at awarding our largest amount of scholarship money in Shaw AFB history. On a national level, I am the Director for the New Military Spouse Support Program with Military Spouse Advocacy Network (MSAN). We are working to mentor brand new military spouses and provide them with the tools and resources they need to succeed. I am so grateful to be able to share my passion with others and I look forward to many more opportunities in the future!” ~Whitney Armstrong
“I’m the 2016 Air Force Spouse of the Year. I’m the co-founder and Director of Adventure Learning at Cerno! I am busy running the Give A Squat® fitness challenge program, helping people reach their fitness goals one squat at a time and get money into the hands of deserving nonprofits. In June, our sponsors gave $1,450 to Semper Fi Fund and $100 to another nonprofit. I am also busy with our new Survival Challenge Team Adventure! We are having a blast helping teams get out of the office, connect in new ways, learn valuable lessons that apply back at the office, and gain a better appreciation for the military community. I also spend time speaking with large groups about attracting, retaining and engaging top talent, tapping into talent within the military community, and finding out how how we can achieve more and be more satisfied as individuals. I am looking forward to several upcoming engagements with Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).” ~Michelle Aikman
“I am the Hurlburt Field SOY 2017 and am still involved and busy as ever. While my husband received PCS orders to Pensacola NAS; I’m still attached to the Hurlburt Field/Eglin AFB area as the Blue Star Families Chapter Director and the Hurlburt Spouses’ Club President. I have been working with building community relations with the schools, base and businesses for military through the various resources available. I love being able to interact with new/seasoned military spouses. It has been such a joy to learn new things. We are going to start up “Special Operations: Cinderella Project” this year through our Spouses’ Club. I still volunteer for my children’s school, church and national fraternity. My passion has always been to serve others and I can do this by continuing to connect with my military community through on/off base partnerships.” ~Hang Owen