Happy 60th Birthday!

PATRICK AFB, Fla. -- Our U.S. Air Force marked its diamond anniversary Tuesday and we are celebrating that milestone here at the 45th Space Wing with this commemorative edition of the Missileer, tonight's Freedom Fest and tomorrow's sold out Air Force Ball! This is also the year that marks the 25th anniversary of Air Force Space Command - a silver anniversary with a rich heritage and bright future.

As we recognize the pioneers and achievements of our past, we also applaud you - the Airmen and Space Coast community for the outstanding service and support you provide each and every day.

As you thumb through this newspaper, you will see how our Air Force, Air Force Space Command and 45th SW evolved. President Harry Truman set the wheels in motion 60 years ago with the establishment of the U.S. Air Force. He put airpower in its proper place as the preeminent purveyor of the high ground in fighting America's wars.

Since 1947, the value of aerospace power has been demonstrated time and again. The newly created Air Force quickly gained relevance after President Truman's order. Our fledgling Air Force defeated the Soviet blockade of Berlin with a monumental humanitarian effort known as the Berlin Airlift. At the height of the operation, an allied aircraft landed in Berlin every minute, with 1,398 flights in 24 hours carrying 12,940 tons of goods, coal and machinery. Less than a month later, the Soviets ended their 11-month blockade. Our Nation's Airmen have served with distinction at critical junctures for six decades. From Korea to Vietnam to Iraq, airpower has made and continues to make a difference.

Airmen were also at the forefront of developing the Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles that evolved into the space launch vehicles that became the backbone of America's prestigious space program for over half a century. Since our first launch of Bumper 8 back in 1950, Air Force missileers, rocketeers and range specialists have served as part of a long blue line of military, Air Force civilian and contractor personnel who helped America win the space race, Cold War and continue to keep America in orbit. We have had nearly 3,400 major launches and tests on our Eastern Range...and counting!

Those of you in the 45th SW know that you are also part of Air Force Space Command, which is marking its 25th anniversary this year. AFSPC was established Sept. 1, 1982, with space operations as its primary mission. A predecessor organization of the 45th SW, the Eastern Space and Missile Center, was transferred from Air Force Systems Command to AFSPC in 1990. The following year, Operation Desert Storm provided emphasis for the command's new focus on warfighter support. ICBM forces joined AFSPC in 1993. In 2002, AFSPC was assigned its own four-star commander after previously sharing a commander with U.S. Space Command and NORAD.

The establishment of Air Force Space Command solidified our Air Force's position as the greatest the world has ever known-growing from launching military balloons to launching billion-dollar spacecraft. In our short but noble history we've established ourselves as the unrivaled provider of air and space and cyberspace capabilities.

Space power has emerged as an equal partner with airpower in providing the global vigilance, global reach and global power it takes to help keep our Nation safe and strong. You are on the front lines-here at home and overseas-upholding a proud legacy that was established 60 years ago.

Today, Airmen-on the ground, in the air, in space and in cyberspace- continue to fight on all fronts. In the past year, our Air Force conducted more than 900 strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan, employing more than 2,600 air-to-ground weapons. Since Sept. 11, 2001, our Air Force has flown more than 48,000 sorties in America's skies to protect our homeland. In the Global War on Terror alone, on a typical day our Air Force flies more than 200 airlift sorties and moves in excess of 1,000 tons of cargo and 2,500 passengers. Right now, more than 25,000 of our Airmen are deployed in the Global War on Terror in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. This includes nearly 200 of our fellow Airmen from here at Patrick and the Cape.

You are the foundation of and driving force behind what air, space and cyber power will be in the future. As we celebrate our Air Force's 60th birthday and the 25th birthday of AFSPC, let us not only reflect on the foresight, courage and sacrifices of past leaders and heroes, but let us also remember the courage and sacrifices of today's Airmen and their families. I also want to thank our mission and community partners for supporting us through the years here on the Space Coast. We couldn't do it without you.

Happy birthday Air Force and go Sharks!