If you see a serviceman in a blue uniform today, say happy birthday.
It is the anniversary of the creation of the United States Air Force.
For the first 33 years of its life, the Air Force was part of the US Army.
In fact, from 1914 to 1918, it was part of the Signal Corps, used mainly for observation work.
But World War 1 and more importantly, World War 2 proved the effectiveness of air power.
But it was never a separate service.
So on September 18th, 1947, the Army Air Corps became the US Air force. And Bill Halbert was there to see it happen.
Flying B-26 Marauders in World War 2, Bill’s crew encountered the Messerschmitt 262, and he saw the beginning of the jet age, from the wrong end of the gun.
And when the Air force became independent?
“I don’t think there was much change in the culture,” he told us. “I do think there was a feeling that we’re one of the big boys now and we’ll have to make our own way. I think that’s probably the case.”
Bill flew the F-86 Sabre in Korea and the F-100 Super Sabre in Viet Nam before retiring in 1978.
“Of course, it was hard going from bombers to fighters,” Bill laughed, “because fighter pilots have a real fraternity and they guard it jealously. And they don’t want to let you in if they think you can’t hack it.”
And he bleeds Air force Blue.
“A little old boy from East Texas would never get to Stuttgart, Germany or Berlin except for the military service that I served in,” Bill says. “So I think that’s a wonderful opportunity for me over the years.”
By the way, Bill is a docent at the Historic Aviation Museum, and loves to talk about his experiences.
He told me, he considers it his duty as one of the generation who, you know, only saved the world.