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WRNMMC To Celebrate Air Force’s 70th Birthday


By Bernard S. Little

WRNMMC Command Communication

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center will celebrate the U.S. Air Force’s 70th Birthday following morning colors Sept. 14 at 8 a.m. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Nathaniel M. Perry Jr., command chief master sergeant of the 11th Wing and Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, will be the guest speaker during the ceremony.
Raised in Hammond, Louisiana, Perry advises the 11th Wing and Joint Base Andrews commander on all enlisted force matters and issues regarding the welfare, readiness, utilization, morale and quality of life for personnel across five Air Force wings, three headquarters, more than 80 tenant organizations, as well as 60,000 Airmen and families in the National Capital Region and around the world.
History to today
In celebrating the U.S. military’s youngest armed service, WRNMMC will be observing a legacy that traces its roots back to Aug. 1, 1907, when the U.S. War Department created the first antecedent of the U.S. Air Force, as a part of the U.S. Army. Following a succession of changes of organization, titles and missions, the National Security Act of 1947 established the U.S. Air Force as a separate military service on Sept. 18, 1947. The predecessor organizations leading up to today’s U.S. Air Force included the following: the Aeronautical Division, Signal Corps (Aug. 1, 1907 to July 18, 1914); the Aviation Section, Signal Corps (July 18, 1914 to May 20, 1918); the Division of Military Aeronautics (May 20, 1918 to May 24, 1918); the Air Service, U.S. Army (May 24, 1918 to July 2, 1926); the U.S. Army Air Corps (July 2, 1926 to June 20, 1941); and the U.S. Army Air Forces (June 20, 1941 to Sept. 17, 1947).
Today’s U.S. Air Force is the largest and one of the most technologically advanced air forces in the world. According to the Fiscal Year 2017 Air Force Posture Statement, “The U.S. Air Force remains the greatest air force on the planet. We are powered by Airmen with more talent and education than ever before. Our inventory, although aging, continues to be more capable across the enterprise than any nation in the world. Together with our Joint and Coalition partners, Airmen provide around-the-clock Global Vigilance, Global Reach, and Global Power in defense of our nation and our allies. They are also vital to the most integrated Joint, Coalition and partner relationships in our history – even better than during the incredible combined success of Operation Desert Storm 25 years ago.”
The Air Force Posture Statement added America is experiencing “a colossal shift in the geopolitical landscape. For the first time in a generation, adversaries are boldly challenging America’s freedom of maneuver in air, space, and cyberspace in contested regions and near our Allies’ borders. The era in which the United States could project military power without challenge has ended.
 “While the world’s expectations of American airpower were shaped by Operation Desert Storm, our near-peer adversaries responded to that victory by modernizing their forces with systems specifically designed to neutralize our strengths. Satellite-enabled precision, stealth, cruise missiles and other military technology that debuted in Desert Storm are now proliferating around the globe. Quite simply, our adversaries have gained unprecedented ground in just 25 years…As our challengers employ increasingly sophisticated, capable, and lethal systems, your Air Force must modernize to deter, deny and decisively defeat any actor that threatens the homeland and our national interests. The modern force hinges upon the globe’s finest Airmen. We will develop these Airmen through world-class education and training so they are prepared for 21st century combat.”
Continuing the legacy of excellence
Airmen serving in today’s U.S. Air Force are continuing a legacy of excellence started seven decades ago. Those Airmen include Air Force Col. (Dr.) Jeffrey A. Bailey, director of surgery at WRNMMC. In 2016, Bailey was honored by the Center for Public-Private Partnerships of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine as a Hero of Military Medicine for his contributions to the Department of Defense’s Joint Trauma System. The mission of the JTS is to provide evidence-based process improvement of trauma and combat casualty care, to drive morbidity and mortality to the lowest possible levels, and to provide evidence-based recommendations on trauma care and trauma systems across DOD.
“I grew up a child of the generation that fought the Second World War before the Air Force was born,” Bailey explained. “I had neighbors who served in the Army Air Corps who shared their stories and medals with me. Celebrating the Air Force birthday reminds me of that generation of people who lived at the time before there was an Air Force. I think of that group of people who fought the war [and served their nation]. They passed that [dedication and commitment] onto me. The Air Force changed my life.”
Air Force Capt. Robert M. Stanley also serves as a health-care provider at WRNMMC. “I have always wanted to serve in the medical services of the military.  The Air Force seemed to have the best opportunities for education and quality of life,” stated the critical care nurse in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at WRNMMC.
Stanley said the most rewarding experience he has had as an Air Force officer and caregiver was deploying to Afghanistan. “It can be easy to feel detached from the mission during daily, stateside operations.  Serving downrange helped me to understand how my supportive role affects the bigger mission.”
He added it’s important to celebrate the Air Force birthday for a shared spirit of comradeship, enthusiasm, and devotion to a cause. “Esprit de corps is critical for motivation and morale, especially during a time of hardship and contingency as what we are experiencing. Being in the military is a labor of love, and it is important that we take time to remember why we do what we do.”
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Tiffany Chambers, like Bailey, was influenced by others who served to join the Air Force. “I followed in my dad's foots steps and joined the Air Force. Military lifestyle was all I knew and I wanted to learn a trade, take advantage of educational benefits,” explained the medical technician and flight chief for the Air Force Element at WRNMMC.
“I have had several rewarding experiences [in the Air Force], but my biggest contribution is to have been able to take care of the wounded, ill, and injured and provide support to their families,” Chambers added.
“Another successful year is always a big deal,” Chambers added in explaining why it’s important to her to celebrate the Air Force birthday. “Paying homage to those trailblazers and those that made history, past and present,” is another reason she said observing the Air Force birthday is important.
“If I had to choose again, my decision to join will still be the same. The Air Force has been good to me and I attribute a lot of my success to the Air Force and the opportunities that were afforded to me through this great branch of service,” Chambers stated.
Senior Airman Victoria Harris, also a medical technician in the MICU at WRNMMC, explained growing up with a sense of service to others was influential in her decision to join the Air Force on 2014.
“I joined the Air Force because I felt that it was a good fit for me being that my mom was a police officer and my father was a firefighter. I grew up in a military town and wanted to do the honor of serving my country,” Harris stated.
“I think that my most rewarding opportunity in the Air Force so far has been being able to help with the mission in Turkey and also getting the opportunity to have an amazing experience in the ICU. I want to become a nurse and being here at Walter Reed Bethesda has really made me excited to pursue that career,” Harris continued.
She said celebrating the Air Force birthday is important for remembering and reflecting on its heritage and how the United States became the air power it is today. “It's nice to have a day when we take the time to remember all the hard work that people put in to be able to be the branch we are,” stated the senior airman.
Airman 1st Class Mansaroop Kang, an aerospace medical technician in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at WRNMMC agreed, adding, “It is important to celebrate the U.S. Air Force birthday because it represents the air and cyber power that help protect our world, nation, and our freedom.”
“I enlisted in the Air Force to further my education and travel the world, but my most rewarding experience has been being able to help individuals heal and return to their everyday lives,” Kang added.
For more information concerning the 70th U.S. Air Force Birthday celebration at WRNMMC, contact Tech. Sgt. Tiffany Chambers at 301-295-7946 or tiffany.v.chambers.mil@health.mil.