JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --
The 75th Anniversary of Far East Air Forces, also known as Pacific Air Forces, was celebrated during a ceremony in the historic Courtyard of Heroes at Headquarters PACAF Aug. 2.
On Aug. 3, 1944, the FEAF was activated at Brisbane, Australia, under the command of Lt. Gen. George C. Kenney. Over the next 18 months, FEAF moved from Brisbane to New Guinea, the Philippines and then to Japan.
FEAF moved from Fuchu Air station, Japan, to Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, on July 1, 1957, and was redesignated Pacific Air Forces under the command of Gen. Laurence S. Kuter.
“Since that move this historic building has served as our home,” said Donald Fenton, PACAF command historian. “More than four million men and women have served in FEAF and PACAF over the last three quarters of a century. More than 10,000 have sacrificed their lives defending our nation and 31 have received the Medal of Honor in the Pacific.”
Airmen in FEAF and PACAF have fought in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, and have deployed in support of Operations Desert Storm, and Enduring Freedom, to include Inherent Resolve.
“PACAF has also been a major force for peace, supporting more than 275 humanitarian and disaster relief operations across the theater and beyond,” Fenton said. “Operations with names such as New Life, Babylift, Fiery Vigil, Unified Assistance, and Tomodachi. As inheritors of this proud 75-year legacy, today’s PACAF Airmen stand ready to support stability and security in the Indo-Pacific, a region so vast that it encompasses half the globe and two thirds of the world’s population.”
Following Fenton’s opening remarks, Kahu Kordell Kekoa, a local pastor, delivered a Hawaiian blessing.
“The gentle rain that falls upon us is really a reminder for us that we’re doing good things,” Kekoa said. “So the rain that I have inside this bowl was actually rainfall from 25 years ago, 50 years after PACAF began its life.”
As part of the ceremony, Kekoa placed some of the rain water in the courtyard as well as on the hands of Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., PACAF commander, and his wife, Sharene.
“Seventy five years of anything doesn’t just happen by some miracle or accident,” Brown said. “It takes effort, it needs a purpose, and it requires adaptation.”
The 75th anniversary is traditionally known as the diamond anniversary.
“A diamond is a fitting metaphor for what the FEAF and now PACAF was, is, and will be,” Brown said. “A diamond is the hardest naturally occurring stone. It is a precious mineral formed through time, temperature, and pressure. Similarly, PACAF has developed into a polished command through time and immense pressure.”
PACAF has three lines of effort to vector the command; strengthen alliances and recruit new partners, enhance lethality and interoperability, and operational concepts for great power competition.
“Studying the history of the FEAF and PACAF, however, I can see that the three lines of effort that vector the command today played a major part in the growth of the Air Forces’ role in the Indo-Pacific,” Brown said. “Looking to the future, I envision those three lines of effort continuing to hone effort, deliver purpose, and refine adaptation.”
Brown emphasized that strengthening alliances and recruiting new partners has been critical from the start.
“In both conflict and cooperation, we aren’t alone – we work with our allies and partners by uniting over mutual values, interests, and security to preserve peace and stability in the region,” Brown said. “When the FEAF was stood up by General Kenney, it was headquartered in Australia. The early alliance between the U.S. and Australia has developed over 100 years into an unbreakable friendship. That bond is not only the foundation of our command, it is the mold we aspire to replicate with every international interaction.”
Brown closed out his speech by thanking everyone for coming out to celebrate PACAF’s diamond anniversary.
“I am humbled to lead our command, proud to serve with each of you, and honored to build upon our legacy as we remain ready, resilient, and postured for the future,” Brown concluded.