On Sept. 18, the United States Air Force marks the 65th anniversary of The National Security Act of 1947, which established the service as a separate branch of the military. Prior to 1947, land-based air operations were under the command of the U.S. Army; sea-based operations were under the auspices of the U.S. Navy; and the Marine Corps controlled close air support of infantry operations. During World War II, the USAF largely operated independently from the other services, but it wasn't made an official branch of its own until 1947. Shown above are the USAF's Thunderbirds air demonstration squadron of F-16 Fighting Falcon aircrafts performing at an air show at Dover AFB in Delaware. The Thunderbirds, based at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, were established in 1974 and tour the world performing aerobatic formations and solo flying. Officers serve a two-year term with the squad while enlisted personnel serve 3-4 years.
U.S. Air Force facts:
* Its origins began in 1907 as part of the U.S. Army's Signal Corps.
* 68,000 airmen were killed in WWII, second only to the infantry.
* The Air Force is one of seven uniformed branches of the military.
* The Air Force has played an integral role in every conflict the country has entered since World War I, including WWII, the Cold War, Korean War, Vietnam, Iranian Hostage Rescue, Invasion of Grenada, Invasion of Panama, Persian Gulf War, Iraq No-Fly Zone, and Afghanistan.