Commissaries honor Air Force’s 72 years of service

by Tamara Eastman
DeCA

FORT LEE, Va. – Military commissaries have served the men and women of the U.S. Air Force since its creation 72 years ago, so it’s with pride that the Defense Commissary Agency joins with them in observing their birthday on Sept. 18.

“The Air Force’s mission is to ‘fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace,’” said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Tomeka N. O’Neal, senior enlisted advisor to the DeCA director. “As we celebrate their 72nd birthday, we are proud to serve active duty, reserve and retired airmen and their families by delivering the commissary benefit they’ve earned.”

The history of the Air Force traces back to the Army Air Forces, the aerial warfare service component of the U.S. Army during and immediately after World War II. On Sept. 18, 1947, the modern day Air Force was born when W. Stuart Symington, who had previously been the assistant secretary of War for Air, was sworn in as secretary of the newly created branch of the armed forces.

Upon its creation, the Air Force inherited all of the Army Air Forces facilities including their commissaries. The branch’s 181 commissaries were initially supplied by the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps until 1976, when the Air Force Commissary Service (AFCOMS) was formed. AFCOMS ran the Air Force commissaries from its headquarters at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas.

In 1990, Congress and the Defense Department decided to consolidate the individual service commissary systems. With the formation of the Defense Commissary Agency on Oct. 1, 1991, service commissaries – 411 stores in all – fell under DOD control.

Today, the commissary benefit has remained one of the key reasons for enlisting and reenlisting in the armed forces because of its potential to provide patrons savings of thousands of dollars each year compared to shopping in civilian grocery stores.

“Since 1947 the United States Air Force has established a superb record of honor, valor and sacrifice, serving honorably during and after the Cold War, during the Korean War, Vietnam War and the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” O’Neal said. “We honor their proud legacy of service as the guardians of our skies.”

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