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USAF Established

Stuart Symington was sworn in as the first Secretary of the Air Force by Chief Justice Fred Vinson on Sept. 18, 1947, establishing the United States Air Force as truly an independent arm of the U.S. military. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Stuart Symington was sworn in as the first Secretary of the Air Force by Chief Justice Fred Vinson on Sept. 18, 1947, establishing the United States Air Force as truly an independent arm of the U.S. military. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Copies of the National Security Act of 1947 and Executive Order 9877, along with the pen with which President Harry Truman signed the Act, are on display in the Presidential Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Copies of the National Security Act of 1947 and Executive Order 9877, along with the pen with which President Harry Truman signed the Act, are on display in the Presidential Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Douglas VC-54C "Sacred Cow" at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Douglas VC-54C "Sacred Cow" at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Copies of the National Security Act of 1947 and Executive Order 9877, along with the pen with which President Harry Truman signed the Act, are on display in the Presidential Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Copies of the National Security Act of 1947 and Executive Order 9877, along with the pen with which President Harry Truman signed the Act, are on display in the Presidential Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Copies of the National Security Act of 1947 and Executive Order 9877, along with the pen with which President Harry Truman signed the Act, are on display in the Presidential Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Copies of the National Security Act of 1947 and Executive Order 9877, along with the pen with which President Harry Truman signed the Act, are on display in the Presidential Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Copy (enlarged) of the National Security Act of 1947, which was signed by President Truman and established the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Copy (enlarged) of the National Security Act of 1947, which was signed by President Truman and established the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Copy (enlarged) of the National Security Act of 1947, which was signed by President Truman and established the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Copy (enlarged) of the National Security Act of 1947, which was signed by President Truman and established the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

An Independent Air Force

 

On July 26, 1947, President Harry S. Truman used this pen to sign the National Security Act of 1947 while aboard the Douglas VC-54C Sacred Cow, the first dedicated presidential aircraft. This act officially established the United States Air Force as a separate and co-equal branch of the United States Armed Forces.

 

The U.S. Air Force’s quest for independence was a long and often contentious struggle between air-minded officers and the entrenched Army and Navy bureaucracy. The creation of an independent air arm, crucial to national defense, had been championed for decades by a succession of Army Air Corps and Army Air Forces senior leaders. American air dominance in World War II and careful post-war organizational planning by Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold demonstrated to America’s political leaders the effectiveness of air power in the atomic age and the need for an independent Air Force.

 

President Truman, by signing this act into law, validated the hard work and sacrifice of thousands of dedicated Airmen who worked to create the most powerful air force in the world.

 

Click here to return to the Presidential Gallery.

 

Find Out More
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Related Fact Sheets
Douglas VC-54C Sacred Cow
National Security Act of 1947
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Other Resources
The Struggle for Air Force Independence, 1943-1947 (Provided by AFHSO)
Toward Independence: The Emergence of the U.S. Air Force, 1943-1947 (Provided by AFHSO)
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