Active Duty Heritage

A chronology of some enlisted contributions throughour our nation's air defense:

Jun 30, 1898 - Sgt. William Ivy make first ballon ascension of Spanish-American War.

Aug 1, 1907 - The Army Signal Corps establishes an Aeronautical Division; Cpl. Eddie Ward and PFC Joseph Barrett assigned as the first enlisted airmen.

Aug 1908 - Fourteen enlisted men are detailed to Ft. Meyer, VA to assist as ground crew for test trials of the Army's first drigible.

Dec 1909 - Several enlisted men ordered to Ft. Sam Houston, TX for the Army's first official aircraft program.

Aug 1910 - Cpl Glenn Madole helps develop tricycle landing gear for Army's first airplane.

Aug 14, 1912 - Sgt. Vernon Burge receives rating as the U.S. Army's first enlisted pilot.

Sep 28, 1912 - Cpl. Frank Scott becomes first enlisted airman to die in a plane crash, at College park, MD.

Jul 18, 1914 - Aviation Section of the Signal Corps is created by Congress; authorizes training of enlisted pilots.

Nov 5, 1916 - American-born Eugene Bullard, first black military aviator, enlists in the French Flying Corps.

May 20, 1918 - President Woodrow WIlson orders Army aviation transferred from Signal Corps control to agencies under the Secretary of War; new organization is named the "Air Service."

May 19, 1919 - MSgt Ralph Bottriell makes first parachute jump with backpack chute.

Jun 4, 1920 - The Congressional Reorganization Act establishes the basic enlisted grade structure (private to master sergeant) used by the Army and the Air Force, in altered forms, today.

Jul 21, 1921 - Ex-German battleship Ostfreisland destroyed by Air Service bombers in first "planes vs. ships" tests of Virginia coast.

Sep 5, 1923 - SSgt U.S. Nero sinks battleship U.S.S. New Jersey, helping Brig. Gen. William "Billy" Mitchell prove air power viability against naval warships.

Jul 2, 1926 - Air Corps Act is signed; sets five-year expansion plan in motion and changes name of Air Service to Air Corps.

Jan 20, 1928 - MSgt Henry A. Chapman is named first recipient of the Cheney Award, for heroism in rescuing crew members of the burning airship Roma, six years before.

Jan 1-7, 1929 - Sgt Roy Hooe participates in world record endurance flight of the Air Corps aircraft Question Mark.

Jun 20, 1941 - The Air Corps and General Headquarters, Air Force are combined to form the Army Air Forces.

Mar 7, 1942 - Class 42-C, containing 93 airmen, graduates from Kelly and Ellington Fields as first enlisted pilot group trained under Public Law 99.

May 11, 1942 - Army Air Forces Pvt Joe Alexander is captured by the Japanese in the Philippines; becomes the youngest American prisoner of war in World War II at age 15.

May 1, 1943 - By himself, Sgt Maynard H. Smith fights off enemy aircraft and ragin fires on his B-17; becomes Army Air Forces' first enlisted Medal of Honor Recipient.

Dec 20, 1943 - Severly wounded, TSgt Forrest Vosler defends his B-17 from Nazi fighters and assists wounded crew members after ditching; later receives Medal of Honor.

Feb 20, 1944 - Sgt Archibald Mathies dies trying to land his crew's crippled B-17; posthumously receives the Medal of Honor.

Apr 12, 1945 - SSgt Henry "Red" Erwin throws ignited flare from his B-29, saving the aircraft; later awarded the Medal of Honor.

Aug 6, 1945 - The 509th CG B-29 Enola Gay drops the first atomic bomb used in war on Hiroshima, Japan.

Aug 17, 1946 - First Sgt Lawerence Lambert becomes the first airman to test an ejection seat; receives Cheney Award.

Sep 18, 1947 - The U.S. Air Force is established as a separate service.

Jun 26, 1948 - Sep 30, 1949 - Operation Vittles, the Berlin Airlift.

Jul 8, 1948 - WAC SSgt Esther Blake becomes the first woman to enlist in the USAF.

Jul 26, 1948 - President Harry Truman orders the armed services desegregated.

Nov, 1952 - The first permanent NCO Academy opens in England, under Strategic Air Command.

May 1957 - The U.S. Air Force's last enlisted pilot, MSgt George Holmes, retires.

Dec 1, 1959 - The first promotions to the grade of Chief Master Sergeant are announced.

Jul 6, 1960 - Congress approves several Air Force specific awards, including the Air Force Cross, Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, and Airman's Medal.

Sep 20, 1965 - A1C William A. Robinson and A3C Arthur Black are captured on a rescue mission in Vietnam; become first enlisted Air Force Cross recipients.

Mar 7, 1966 - A1C William Pitsenbarger dies defending wounded ground troops in Vietnam; becomes third enlisted Air Force Cross recipient.

Apr 3, 1967 - CMSgt Paul Airey is installed as the first Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force.

Feb 24, 1969 - A1C John Levitow risks his life to save his AC-47 and fellow crewman from destruction; receives the Meal of Honor in 1970.

1970 - The Air Force establishes the first Senior Enlisted Advisors in its command.

Aug 21, 1970 - The "Total Force" concept, linking the Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve into one unit, is announced.

Dec 18, 1972 - Tail gunner SSgt Samual Turner scores the first of only two aerial kills ever from a B-52, during Operation Linebacker II in Vietnam.

Dec 24, 1972 - A1C Albert Moore scored the second and last confirmed kill by a B-52 tail gunner, during Operation Linebacker II in Vietnam.

May 12, 1975 - The U.S. merchant ship S.S. Mayaguez is seized off the Cambodian coast; SSgt Jon D. Harston is awarded the Air Force Cros for his balor during the rescue mission.

Oct 25, 1983 - USAF personnel provide tachtical airlift support to the rescue of U.S. citizens on Grenada.

Apr 15, 1986 - The U.S. Air Force launches a raid against Libya in response to Quadafi-backed terrorist bombings.

Dec 20, 1989 - Operation Just Cause launched in Panama; first operational use of the F-117A stealth fighter.

Jan 17, 1991 - Operation Desert Storm begins with a massive U.S. & allied air attach over Iraq.

Dec 9, 1992 - Operation Restore Hope begins; USAF and AFRES units participate in the humanitarian effort in Somalia.

Oct 3, 1993 - TSgt Timothy Wilkinson, MSgt Scott Fales, and SSgt Jeffery Bray display exceptional bravery during a Somali firefight; Wilkinson receives the Air Force Cross, while Fales and Bray receive the Silver Star.

Dec 5, 1995 - The first advanced U.S. troops land in Bosnia to help enforce the United Nations-negotiated peace.

Sep 18, 1997 - The U.S. Air Force observes its 50th anniversary as an independent service.