ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
For many Airmen, April 14 will be just
another Tuesday. But to members of the Air Force Reserve, it will be a day to
reflect on how each and every one contributes to the Air Force mission.
On April 14, 1948, the Army Air Corps
Reserve transferred to the Air Force, officially becoming the Air Force
Reserve. However, since 1916 Reserve members have played a unique and integral
role in the military.
“The Air Force Reserve provides
integrated and flexible operational capability to combatant commanders
worldwide,” said Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, Air Force Reserve Command
commander. “We are part of every Air Force core mission function and perform
the same missions as our active-duty partners.”
Since the Reserve’s establishment as a
separate part of the Air Force, Reservists have played vital roles in many U.S.
operations to include the Korean War, Vietnam, and Operations Enduring Freedom
and Iraqi Freedom.
At just 2 years old, the Reserve
mobilized nearly 147,000 Reservists for the Korean War. In 1962, approximately
20,000 Reserve personnel and five Air Force Reserve C-124 aircraft units
supported the Cuban Missile Crisis. In support of Operations Desert Shield and
Desert Storm, 15,000 Reserve Airmen volunteered for service.
“[The Reserve] has had a presence in
everything. There’s not one [conflict] that they haven’t been involved with,”
said Paul Larson, Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command staff historian. “Reservists
have had a massive presence in Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Grenada, Panama in
’89, Operations Northern and Southern Watch, the Gulf War, 9/11, Operation
Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. We’ve been everywhere, doing
Throughout the Reserve’s history, there
have been some Airmen who have stood out from the rest; Airmen who were brave enough
to stand up to adversity and make changes for the better.
In 1948 Lt. Gen. George Stratemeyer became
the first commander of the Continental Air Command, which took responsibility
over Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard personnel. Stratemeyer is known
for establishing 130 air reserve training detachments so that Reservists had
facilities to keep their skills sharp and maintain readiness at all times. In
addition, he developed an “understudy program” in which individual reservists
trained with their active-duty counterparts. This allowed for maximum mobilization.
The program is still in use today and is known as the individual mobilization
augmentee program, which comprises more than 9,000 people.
In the early 1920s, Grover and Albert
Loening made history when they designed the Loening OA-1A, a unique observation
amphibian aircraft. The Army ordered 45 OA-1As that were used in the Pacific
theater of operations, and a total of 169 aircraft were built for other
military uses, to include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Around
the 1960s, the Loening brothers requested more recognition programs for certain
units and personnel. Soon after, the request was approved, and the first Grover
Loening trophy was presented in September 1963. The award was given to a troop
carrier wing that achieved the most outstanding tactical excellence that year.
Albert Loening also established an award, which recognized operational
excellence amongst Reserve rescue and recovery units.
Jackie Cochran, another Air Force
Reserve giant, was a pioneer for women in Air Force aviation. After much
success in the civilian flying world, she turned her attention to military
aviation. In 1942, Cochran founded and directed the Women’s Airforce Service
Pilots program. WASP pilots were the first females in America’s history to fly
American military aircraft.
In a short amount of time, WASP pilots
flew approximately 60 million miles in every type of aircraft in the Army Air
Force arsenal. During World War II, they flew any type of mission their male
counterparts did, except combat missions. Cochran and her WASP pilots paved the
way for women aviators in today’s Air Force.
Today’s AFRC Airmen continue to be an
integral part of the Air Force’s mission to fly, fight and win.
According to Jackson, last year Citizen
Airmen completed almost 500,000 man-days in support of Department of Defense
requirements and filled more than 4,000 deployed air expeditionary force
taskings. On any given day, there are approximately 5,000 Reservists mobilized
and serving globally.
“The evolution of our Total Force over
the years is a great success story, but much of that story has yet to be written,"
said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. "Those Airmen,
who've been fighting side by side for years, don't see the difference between
an active component member, a Guardsman or a Reservist. And those who benefit
from American airpower really don't care. They just know that without it … you
On April 14, 2015, try and take time to
remember where the Air Force Reserve has been, where it is now and where it is
going. Great men and women have sacrificed to give all Americans a better tomorrow.
Honor their legacy by doing your part today.