September 18 marks the 68th birthday of the U.S. Air Force. After World War II demonstrated the need for air-based combat, President Truman made the Air Force an official part of the U.S. military. A far cry from jet-propelled one-man planes, the Air Force is now one of the most technologically advanced branches of U.S. defense. 

Ships from the George Washington and Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Groups and aircraft from the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps operate in formation at the conclusion of Valiant Shield 2014. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Trevor Welsh/Released))
Pararescuemen and a photojournalist wait for an HH-60G Pave Hawk to depart prior to moving toward the opening ceremony of the 2015 Air Force Wounded Warrior trials at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, February 27, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Siuta B. Ika/Released)
Members of the 7th Special Forces Group perform a high-altitude, low-opening jump from an MC-130P Combat Shadow over Hurlburt Field, Florida, May 15, 2015.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeff Parkinson/Released)
An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, participates in a training sortie with F-22 Raptors over the United Kingdom, September 9, 2015. The Air Force deployed four F-22s, one C-17 Globemaster III, and approximately 60 airmen and their associated equipment to Spangdahlem AB. The F-22s are deployed from the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jason Robertson)
Paratroopers assigned to 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment descend after jumping out of a C-130 Hercules, assigned to the 374th Wing from Yokota Air Base, Japan, over the Malemute drop zone at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, August 24, 2015. Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force and Army paratroopers conducted the practice jump using Royal Australian and U.S. Air Force aircraft as part of Pacific Airlift Rally 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo/Alejandro Pena)
An F-22 Raptor pilot from the 95th Fighter Squadron based at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, gets situated in his aircraft prior to taking off from Ämari Air Base, Estonia, September 4, 2015.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane)
Staff Sgt. Saber Barrera, with 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron firetruck and refueling maintenance, works with a co-worker to replace an engine starter in Southwest Asia, August 27, 2015. The airmen support Operation Inherent Resolve, which is intended to reflect the deep commitment of the United States and partner nations in the region and around the globe to eliminate the Islamic State terrorist group. (U.S. Air Force photo/Racheal E. Watson)
Capt. Philip Gunn participates in a flyover during the internment ceremony of Brig. Gen. Robinson Risner at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, January 23, 2014. Risner was the Air Force's 20th ace and survived more than seven years of captivity as a prisoner during the Vietnam War. Gunn is a 336th Fighter Squadron weapons system officer assigned to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds precision-flying demonstration team flies in formation during the Thunder and Lightning over Arizona event at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, April 13, 2014. The squadron has been performing aerial demonstrations for more than 60 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey/Released)
An airman with the Bagram Airfield Honor Guard participates in the 455th Expeditionary Mission Support Group change-of-command ceremony at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, August 3, 2015. The 455th MSG is composed of five squadrons responsible for communications, civil-engineer operations, force support, logistics readiness, and security forces. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford)
Airman 1st Class Natalie Powell, a 1st Combat Camera Squadron combat broadcaster, is hoisted up on a UH-60 Black Hawk medevac helicopter during a training evacuation at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, June 12, 2015. The hoist evacuation exercise was conducted as part of Patriot Warrior 2015.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrea Salazar/Released)
Members of the 437th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, conduct a multiship C-17 Globemaster III formation during Crescent Reach 15, May 21, 2015. This exercise tested and evaluated Joint Base Charleston's ability to launch a large aircraft formation in addition to processing and deploying duty passengers and cargo in response to a simulated crisis abroad. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Corey Hook/Released)
F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Wing fly an air-to-air training mission against student pilots, April 8, 2015. The 162nd Wing trains international and U.S. Air Force student pilots to employ the F-16. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jeffrey Allen/Released)
C-130J Super Hercules aircraft assigned to the 317th Airlift Group, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, help U.S. Army and British paratroopers perform a static line jump at Holland Drop Zone in preparation for Combined Joint Operational Access Exercise 15-01 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, April 11, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sean Martin/Released)
Combat controllers from the 21st Special Tactics Squadron fast-rope from a CV-22 Osprey during Emerald Warrior near Hurlburt Field, Florida, April 21, 2015. Emerald Warrior is the Defense Department's only irregular warfare exercise, allowing joint and combined partners to train together and prepare for real-world contingency operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder/Released)
U.S. and French military members prepare fuel hoses from an HC-130 Combat King as part of a forward arming and refueling procedure exercise at Grand Bara, Djibouti, March 12, 2015. Providing a FARP allowed several smaller airframes to refuel with engines still running, enabling the aircraft to fly missions almost nonstop. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kevin Iinuma/Released)
Staff Sgt. Gregory Johnson, from the 386th Expeditionary Medical Support Squadron, removes plaque from a military working-dog’s teeth during a dental cleaning in Southwest Asia, August 27, 2015. MWD Frida is with the 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron. MWDs receive routine medical care to aid their human military partners in the fight against the Islamic State. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Racheal E. Watson)
Tech. Sgt. Matthew Bingaman, a 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron explosive-ordnance-disposal technician, returns from a manual approach to an improvised-explosive-device training scenario in Southwest Asia, June 25, 2015. Even as a 16-year EOD veteran, Bingaman continually trains to safely handle live explosives. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Brittany E. Jones)
Tech. Sgt. Amber Perry monitors base activities to help facilitate the wing's mission at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, February 24, 2014. Perry is a 2nd Bomb Wing command-post controller. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder/Released)
A UH-60 Black Hawk sets down during a capstone training event at Sailor Creek Range Complex, Idaho, November 6, 2014.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Roy Lynch/Released)

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