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Revel in a 'walk through history' at new AFMC uniform exhibit

  • Published
  • By Kayla Prather
  • Air Force Materiel Command

A new, interactive uniform exhibit at the Air Force Materiel Command Headquarters traces the history and evolution of Air Force clothing and the command’s role in the uniform process.

This exhibit is located at the headquarters building 262 on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on the first floor, north hallway. It showcases images of uniforms from the 1940s to present day.

“The AFMC owns the uniform shop, and the uniform plays a big role in the overall Air Force image. We think it’s important for our members and guests to see and understand the history,” said Jack Waid, Director of Heritage Programs from the AFMC History Office. “AFMC is at the forefront of trying to make sure individuals are uniformed properly…it has been at the forefront of everything. It’s like the exhibit [upstairs] says, ‘we’re not the tip of the spear, we forge the spear.’ That’s where I see AFMC’s role in all of this.”

A QR code on the image links to the AFMC website with information about each of the uniforms. Each one of the uniforms on the exhibit is numbered, and individuals can choose those they want to learn more about. 

According to Waid, the Air Force has continuously tried to find its identity overtime with the mission and trends varying, but he thinks they are finally at a point where the uniforms that they have represent their identity.

“I really believe that some people may say the image of the Air Force is the Hap Arnold emblem, or an aircraft, or a general, or something to that effect…but I believe that the image of the Air Force is the uniform,” said Waid.

The inspiration and history behind the exhibit are monumental, and it starts with a very impactful member of the Air Force.

“In the display case is a flight suit that belonged to Walter Boyne. He was born in 1929 and was known as a nuclear ace…he was selected for the 4925th nuclear test group and dropped five nuclear weapons during testing,” said Waid. “There’s a connection there with his uniform and AFMC and actually our National Commands. We’ve been working on putting together legendary figures of the AFMC…Boyne is the inspiration, and we wouldn’t of known about these people if it weren’t for this [exhibit].”

The History Office team is excited for people to walk through AFMC Headquarters and be able to see the history of the uniforms.

“There are multiple people that have walked in this hallway since World War II. People who may have worn one of these uniforms since even before that time. We walk in the footsteps of greatness, whether it’s someone that is remembered in history books, or people like you and me that walk down this hall today,” said Waid. “I hope the takeaway that people realize is that they’re not alone; these people have walked with them.”