Air Force Reserve takes 75th anniversary celebration to Talladega

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Robert Pilch
  • 367th Recruiting Group, Air Force Reserve Command

Engines roared and the crowd cheered as more than 170,000 spectators helped celebrate 75 years of airpower and horsepower at NASCAR’s Talladega Superspeedway, April 22.

“This is a special day not only for the 70,000-plus Citizen Airmen of the Air Force Reserve, but also for NASCAR, as we’re both celebrating our 75th anniversary this year,” said Lt. Gen. John Healy, chief of the Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command. “The men and women of NASCAR have a great deal in common with the United States Air Force and the Air Force Reserve. They both celebrate dedication and they’re both looking for perseverance and most importantly, patriotism.” 

The Air Force Reserve was officially established on April 14, 1948, by President Harry S. Truman. NASCAR got its start on December 14, 1947, when 35 influential leaders within the burgeoning sport met to consolidate and coordinate stock car racing under a single and unified banner. 
Prior to the start of the race, more than a dozen Delayed Entry Program recruits stood on the main stage in front of the large, energized crowed to pledge their oath of enlistment, which was administered by Healy. 
“As we celebrate 75 years of heritage between the two of us, I want to give a shout-out to all those who have served in uniform before us and to those who are serving today, inspiring young men and women like these to raise their right hand and take the oath,” Healy said. “The oath of enlistment is significant. It’s a promise made to the country that you will defend the Constitution of the United States and the freedoms that we enjoy every day.” 

Not only was this a significant day for the young men and women becoming Airmen, race fans at the track and millions of viewers at home got the opportunity to see a specialized Air Force Thunderbirds paint scheme on the No. 3 car driven by Erik Jones, driver of the Air Force-sponsored Legacy Motor Club team. 
“It’s been an honor to represent the U.S. Air Force the last few years,” Jones said before the race. “My grandfather served, so I have a personal connection to them. To have Lt. Gen. Healy at the track with us this weekend is really special. We were so close to a win at Talladega in the fall, I would really like a chance to be there at the end and score a win for them to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Air Force Reserve.” 
Jones placed sixth in the race that was eventually won by Kyle Busch.