Before I begin and we make history — which General Raymond said is pretty much what you do in the Space Force every day — I wanted to mention — I mention an extraordinary American who has been on the hearts of people all across this country over this past week.
Monday night, America said goodbye to one of the greatest heroes in the history of American aviation, General Chuck Yeager.
General Yeager was a man with the right stuff. Came from a humble background and became a war hero. Shot down 13 times by Nazi aircraft. Was himself — oh, he shot down 13 Nazi aircraft. Thank you. Was himself shot down as well. He flew more than 150 military planes, a total of more than 10,000 hours, in two different wars. He broke the sound barrier, and he set an extraordinary standard of heroism to American aviators that would follow ever since.
We mark his passing this week, at 97 years of age, still with a sense of national loss. And as I spoke to the President this morning about the dedication of these two installations, he directed me to begin immediately to identify future Space Force bases that can be renamed in the honor of the service and character and leadership of General Chuck Yeager, and so we will do. (Applause.)
America will never forget or fail to honor the pioneering spirit and the heroism of General Chuck Yeager.
You know, from the first days of this administration, President Trump called for Americans’ renewed leadership in space. It would be in June of 2018 that our President first called for the establishment of a new military service focused solely on threats in and from space.
That idea was not a new one. For some 50 years, successive administrations and military leaders had discussed a new branch of our military dedicated to ensuring national security in space, but time and again, those efforts went by the wayside.
I submit to you, for all the kind remarks made for your Vice President from this podium today, it is a tribute to the leadership of President Donald Trump that just a year and a half after he called for the Space Force, he signed the Space Force into law, creating the first new branch of the American military in more than 70 years. (Applause.)
And as the Deputy Secretary of Defense and General Brown just reflected moments ago, since the advent of the Space Force, this new branch of our service has grown stronger each and every day. And that means America is growing more secure each and every day, thanks to those of you that are serving in the Space Force.
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In fact, I wanted to single out someone that’s made an extraordinary difference. I know the Deputy Secretary, the Secretary of the Air Force, General Hyten, and General Brown would agree with me that this nation, just one year on from the establishment of the Space Force, owes a debt of gratitude to the man that I routinely call the “Hap Arnold” of our time. Join me in thanking the Chief of Space Operations of the United States Space Force, General Jay Raymond. Thank you for your leadership, General. (Applause.)
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