Meet the People Behind the Bases

July 25, 2016

This issue marks the end of a long-running and much-loved monthly feature in Air Force Magazine. A new feature will rise in its place next month. The last time we made a change like this was a little more than a decade ago, in February 2006, when the “Aerospace World” (now “Air Force World”) department contained a series of news items still of interest. That month, we informed you, dear reader, that:

  • USAF changed the designation of its premier fighter from F/A-22 to F-22A. The unloved F/A-22 nomenclature had been in place for four years (before 2006 the jet was just the F-22). The temporary designation mimicked Navy F/A-18 naming and was an attempt to shore up support for the beleaguered Raptor production program by highlighting the fighter’s ground attack ability.
  • USAF declared that same F-22 was, for the first time, ready for combat. This meant the Air Force had enough Raptors, maintainers, spare parts, and pilots to take the jet to war if needed. The F-22 actually saw combat for the first time in late 2014, over Syria.
  • The Air Force added cyber operations to its mission statement, placing missions in cyberspace in the same category as those conducted in air and space. USAF’s new mission statement declared the Air Force must “fly and fight in air, space, and cyberspace.” A decade later, the mission statement has only been modestly altered.

February 2006 also brought major changes for Air Force Magazine:

  • The magazine launched its daily news column in conjunction with the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla. We quaintly announced that airpower news would now be “available online through our new web-based ‘Daily Report.’?” Perhaps you’ve heard of it. If not, you should immediately stop what you are doing, proceed to, bookmark the page, and sign up to receive the Daily Report.

Our final declaration from more than 10 years ago was that we would have a new back page feature: “Airpower Classics.”

The back page is a big deal, as magazine readers typically look to the page for something engaging, distinctive, and bite-sized. Many readers actually turn to the back page of a magazine first before proceeding to the front.

This is only the third time Air Force Magazine has launched a new back page feature in the past half-century.

The popular “There I Was …” cartoon by Bob Stevens presented humorous portrayals of Air Force life and idiosyncrasies from the airmen’s perspective. It debuted in 1965 and ran for a full 28 years.

“Pieces of History,” featuring the photography of Paul Kennedy, took over the back page in January 1994. The page used equipment and artifacts to illustrate USAF’s complex history and ran for 12 years.

“Airpower Classics” first appeared in February 2006 and was the brainchild of former Photo Editor Zaur Eylanbekov and former Editor in Chief Robert S. Dudney, with text by Walter J. Boyne. It featured a different military aircraft every month for 128 months, beginning with the B-17 and ending this month with the F-22. Each page was built around a high-quality, historically accurate artwork. Eylanbekov drew 94 percent of the aircraft featured on the page, through last December’s F-15. But no matter how popular the page was, we knew “Airpower Classics” would eventually come to an end. Which brings us to this month’s announcement.

Beginning next month, “Airpower Classics” will be succeeded by a new back-page feature we hope you will find just as interesting and informative for the years ahead.

Our new back-page feature is “Namesakes.” Every month it will profile the person or people after whom an Air Force facility was named.

Some are Air Force legends, such as Hap Arnold, Bud Day, and Frank Luke.

Some were from long ago, such as Frank Patterson, Eric Ellington, and Lachlan Stewart.

Some are much more recent, such as Bernie Schriever, Wilbur Creech, and Ellison Onizuka.

All have interesting stories and indelible connections to the Air Force of yesterday and today. In the coming years, you will have the opportunity to learn about these airmen, troops, airpower visionaries, and politicians, and about the bases named in their honor.

What airman had two different Air Force bases, in two different states, named after him

Who inspired the character of “Col. Vince Casey” in Milton Caniff’s “Terry and the Pirates” comic strip

Who was the airman killed at Fort Myer, Va., when the airplane Orville Wright was flying crashed

What airman was a Medal of Honor recipient, college football national champion, and buried six times

What Medal of Honor recipient was the last Civil War veteran to serve in the US Senate

What other Medal of Honor recipient, a Marine Corps aviator, helped start the Air National Guard

What friend of Buffalo Bill Cody and Ulysses S. Grant used camels as pack animals

The answers to all these questions and more will be found in the coming editions of “Namesakes.”

For all of its technological prowess and unmatched training, the Air Force is built upon a foundation of people.

“Namesakes” will introduce you to those who have influenced the service, especially in its formative years, and the places USAF calls home. Keep watch on the back page and you will learn about these figures—both the famous and the obscure.