HARB historian on 74th Air Force birthday

  • Published
  • By Mr. Robert H. Clark
  • 482 Fighter Wing

HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. -- Looking at our aircraft now and pondering the potential arrival of the F-35 Lightning II to Homestead Air Reserve Base, it may be difficult to believe that American air power started with Benjamin Franklin rationalizing about using hot-air balloons in warfare in 1783. Then came the advent of the world’s first military airplane by way of the Wright military flyer of 1909, with wooden propellers powered by a four cylinder engine and chain drive cranking 32 horsepower, an airplane built by Wilbur and Orville Wright and sold to the U.S. Army Signal Corps in July 1909.

Even before the Air Force was recognized as a separate service, earlier champions like Maj. Gen. Billy Mitchell documented and demonstrated airpower’s lethality and potential. During World War II, we witnessed brave Airmen such as the Doolittle Raiders and the Tuskegee Airmen demonstrate mastery of their craft. The maintainers and ground support warriors of those aircraft also overcame challenges and adversity to propel airpower forward. They demonstrated to our nation and the rest of the world what it meant to fly, fight and win.

On Sept. 18, 1947, the United States Air Force was established when President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947. This separated the Army Air Corps from the U.S. Army, signifying the birth of the Air Force. From its early concepts in the U.S Army Signal Corps and then its proven stride in WWII, the Air Force began.

The critical role HARB played in the legacy of Air Power started within months after the Dec.7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and the Dec. 11, 1941 declaration of war on the United States by Hitler. In September 1942, Homestead Army Air Field was officially activated under the Caribbean Wing of the Army Air Transport Command as a maintenance stopover point for aircraft being ferried to the Caribbean and North Africa.

Fast-forward to today, the F-16 Fighting Falcon is seen over the South Florida skies projecting power and securing peace locally and across the globe. It is difficult to think of the Air Force’s 74th birthday without also acknowledging the COVID-19 global pandemic challenge that we face, but every day, our Airmen have an opportunity to add text to new chapters of the Air Force historic story by serving in the years to come.

Please join all of the 482nd Fighter Wing leadership and staff at HARB in celebrating this proud history and our service’s 74th Birthday.