By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Oct. 14, 2006) -- As the Air Force recognized its own history with the dedication of a new memorial here, dozens of young men and women also marked the beginning of their own history with the Air Force.
As part of activities surrounding the dedication of the Air Force's new memorial, some 90 young men and women rose their right hand and were sworn in to the United States Air Force.
With the new Air Force Memorial and the Pentagon nearby, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. T. Michael Moseley, along with the Director of the Air National Guard, Lt. Gen. Craig R. McKinley, and Chief of Air Force Reserve, Lt. Gen. John A. Bradley, administered the oath of enlistment.
Later, General Moseley thanked both the enlistees and their families for the sacrifice they were making.
"You've joined the worlds finest Air Force," he said. "Thank you, thank your families, thank you for what you just committed to do, and thank you for joining this Air Force."
General Moseley promised the parents of the new Airmen that their children would be taken care of.
"We will take care of these people," he said. "We know they are national treasures and we know they are treasures to you. They just joined the world's finest Air Force. Our job in this Air Force is to fly and fight, we will take care of them, teach them how to do that, and take them to unlimited horizons. They will be limited only by their own creativity."
Gervais Jeffrie, a new Air Force recruit, will be a security forces specialist in the Air Force, but said she hopes to eventually be a drill sergeant. When considering a career in the Air Force, however, she did consider other possibilities
"I was kind of like, I want to jump out of planes," she said. "Then I wanted to yell at people."
Ms. Jeffrie said she was impressed with the events surrounding her swearing in.
"I think this is pretty tight, actually," she said. She was also impressed the Chief of Staff of the Air Force had administered the oath of enlistment to her and fellow recruits.
Despite the pomp and circumstance surrounding the event, Ms. Jeffrie said she knew service to the Air Force would be tough, but she was ready for the challenge.
"I'm going to do my best," she said. "I'm gonna work hard and do my best, that's all I can do."
For the Air Force, the new recruits inducted into the service during the Air Force Memorial Dedication events likely mark the beginning of yet another successful year of meeting its recruiting goals. In Fiscal 2006, the Air Force exceeded its recruiting goal by some 130 Airmen. This is the seventh year the Air Force has met or exceeded that goal.
According to Air Force officials, the Air Force is now focusing its recruiting goals on hiring individuals who exhibit exceptional academic and physical prowess, as well as strong aptitudes for science, engineering, math and linguistics.
The service's new memorial, dedicated Oct.14, 2006, comes at the beginning of a year-long series of commemoratory events leading up to the Air Force's 60th anniversary, Sept. 18, 2007.
The memorial is meant to honor the millions of men and women who have served in the Air Force since it was created, Sept. 18, 1947. The memorial is also meant to commemorate the contributions of those who served in the many predecessor organizations that were combined to create the Air Force. Those organizations include the aeronautical division and aviation section of the U.S. Signal Corps; the Secretary of War's division of military aeronautics; the Army Air Service; the U.S. Army Air Corps; and the U.S. Army Air Forces.
In all, more than 54,000 individuals have died in combat while serving in the Air Force and the organizations that were combined to create it. The Memorial honors the memory of those individuals, the service of Airmen today, and the service of Airmen in the future.
The Air Force Memorial, while not inside the District of Columbia, is within walking distance of both the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery. From the Memorial site, visitors can see the Pentagon, the Washington Monument, and the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building. The Memorial's spires can be seen on the horizon from miles away.
The predominate feature of the Air Force Memorial is a set of three stainless steel spires that jut from the ground, the tallest of which reaches some 270 feet into the air. The spires are meant to represent the Air Force's three core values as well as the "total force," which include members of the active duty Air Force, the Air National Guard, and the Air Force Reserve. Visually, the three spires remind visitors of the smoke trails left by aircraft of the Air Force Thunderbird Demonstration Team when they perform the "bomb burst" maneuver.
The Memorial also includes a bronze statue that features four Air Force Honor Guard members, two granite inscription walls, a parade ground area, and a glass wall with engravings illustrating the "missing man" aircraft formation.
The Air Force Memorial was designed by the late architect, James Ingo Freed. Inside Washington, D.C., his designs include the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, the Washington Opera House, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.