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USAFE celebrates 65 years of airpower

U.S. Air Forces in Europe officials celebrate 65 years of service Jan. 19. Since 1942, command Airmen have maintained a presence in the European theater with the oldest, continuously active Air Force major command. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Mike Carabajal)

U.S. Air Forces in Europe officials celebrate 65 years of service Jan. 19. Since 1942, command Airmen have maintained a presence in the European theater with the oldest, continuously active Air Force major command. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Mike Carabajal)

West Berliners watch as a U.S. cargo plane delivers desperately needed supplies during the Berlin Airlift.  (File photo)

West Berliners watch as a U.S. cargo plane delivers desperately needed supplies during the Berlin Airlift. (File photo)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- U.S. Air Forces in Europe celebrates its 65th anniversary. The oldest, continuously active Air Force major command began Jan. 19, 1942, when the War Department established Headquarters Eighth Air Force.

USAFE continues its forward presence in Europe and Africa - from delivering bombs in World War II to delivering humanitarian supplies to Berlin from 1948-1949; from fighting the Cold War of the 1980s to fighting today's Global War on Terror.

The command deployed in support of Operations Desert Shield/Storm, flew missions into Sarajevo in the longest humanitarian airlift in history, then converted to combat missions over Kosovo several years later.

Since 9/11, USAFE has supported Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom with airlift, tankers, fighters and personnel -- today, 70 aircraft and 2,000 Airmen fight the war on terror. Last summer, USAFE assisted 14,000 Lebanon evacuees during the Hezbollah-Israeli conflict.

Expanding east and south, USAFE continues its proud tradition as a flexible, agile team building on the outstanding achievements of thousands of Airmen to ensure freedom's future!

"For more than half a century, USAFE airmen have taken the fight to America's and our allies' enemies. All Airmen and civilians assigned to USAFE today, like those who came before, should take pride in the fact that, every day, their service to our nation adds to this command's proud legacy," said Gen. Tom Hobbins, USAFE commander.

USAFE historical milestones:

1st wartime action: on Aug. 17, 1942 began its daylight precision bombing campaign against Axis Europe

D-Day participation: 171 fighter squadrons with 3,000 aircraft flew 8,722 combat sorties gaining air superiority and disrupted German reinforcements and ground movements.

WW II Medals of Honor: 25 aviators, 16 of them posthumously

Berlin Airlift: in a 24-hour period, 2,764 flights deliver 12,941 tons of supplies and a cargo plane landed or took off from one of Berlin's three airfields every two minutes

Operation Eldorado Canyon against Libyan terrorist: 18 RAF Lakenheath F-117 Nighthawks bombed five terrorist targets in Tripoli and Benghazi

Operations Desert Shield/Storm: USAFE deployed 15 percent of its Airmen, 55 percent of its aircraft and 33 percent of its munitions - Spangdahlem's F-4Gs destroyed 143 radar sites

Sarajevo Relief Missions: USAFE C-130s flew 12,886 relief missions, delivering more than 160,000 metric tons of supplies.

Joint Task Force Shining Hope: A mass exodus of Kosovar citizens led to the establishment of Joint Task Force to provide immediate relief to more than 450,000 refugees as USAFE airlifted food, equipment, and medical supplies to the region.

Global War on Terrorism: USAFE personnel played a key role in the humanitarian airdrops over Afghanistan, loading more than two million humanitarian rations as planes flew daily missions from Ramstein AB to Afghanistan