The U.S. Air Force was involved in both world wars and helped to maintain American and European defense against the Soviet bloc in the Cold War since its creation. Its recent work has included further combat and humanitarian missions.
The Air Force began as the Aeronautical Division of the Army Signal Corps in 1907. The division was split with the formation of the Aviation Division in 1913 to handle air defenses. American aviators joined fliers from the Allied Powers when the United States entered World War I.
The Army Air Forces was created in June 1941 and quickly developed after America entered World War II. Army airmen entered combat in Europe, North Africa, South Pacific and Asia, effectively ended World War II with the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan.
World War II also was known for the development of African-American fliers known as the Tuskegee Airmen. After training in Tuskegee, Alabama, the airmen showed they were equals to white fliers during a period of racial discrimination. The 99th Pursuit Squadron was the first group activated in March 1941.
The Army Air Forces became the Air Force and became an equal to the Army and Navy in the War Department. Its contribution to limiting communism from the Soviet Union and its allies began in 1948 by breaking the blockade of Berlin by the Soviets. The Korean War, against Soviet-backed soldiers from northern Korea, allowed the Air Force to develop jet fighters.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Air Force developed into a worldwide defensive force. Airmen participated in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield in the early 1990's and humanitarian missions in Africa, Haiti and the Balkans later in the decade.