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Commissaries celebrate Air Force's 60th anniversary

In this 1967 photo, parents pour a glass of fresh milk for their daughter inside the Ankara Air Base, Turkey, commissary. This was a publicity photo for a 90-day test program for daily deliveries of 407 quarts of fresh milk. The milk was obtained from a Turkish state farm meeting U.S. standards, and was processed by a contractor following American specifications. The poster on the cooler says the finished product was “Pasteurized, Homogenized [and] Vitamin D fortified.” The program exemplifies the special concerns and needs of families living overseas at the far end of a long supply pipeline. (DeCA historical file)

In this 1967 photo, parents pour a glass of fresh milk for their daughter inside the Ankara Air Base, Turkey, commissary. This was a publicity photo for a 90-day test program for daily deliveries of 407 quarts of fresh milk. The milk was obtained from a Turkish state farm meeting U.S. standards, and was processed by a contractor following American specifications. The poster on the cooler says the finished product was “Pasteurized, Homogenized [and] Vitamin D fortified.” The program exemplifies the special concerns and needs of families living overseas at the far end of a long supply pipeline. (DeCA historical file)

In this 1958 photo, customers line up for checkout at the Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., commissary. According to the Defense Commissary Agency, commissaries have come a long way from the days of these narrow aisles. (DeCA historical file)

In this 1958 photo, customers line up for checkout at the Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., commissary. According to the Defense Commissary Agency, commissaries have come a long way from the days of these narrow aisles. (DeCA historical file)

FORT LEE, Va. - -- Editor's note: The following is a letter from Patrick B. Nixon, the Defense Commissary Agency director and chief executive officer, observing the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force. 

To the Men and Women of the United States Air Force: It is with great pleasure that the Defense Commissary Agency congratulates the men and women of the United States Air Force for 60 years of service. 

Since 1947, when it was named a new, separate military service, the Air Force has deterred potential adversaries through air and space power and superiority, and provided airlift support to American, NATO and United Nations forces when needed. 

Commissaries have been part of the Air Force heritage every step of the way - from the Berlin Airlift of 1948-49 to conflicts in Korea, Vietnam and Iraq, as well as crises in Bosnia and Somalia. 

When the Air Force inherited Army air bases, Airmen also inherited the proud tradition of base commissaries. Each base commissary operated locally until 1976, when the Air Force Commissary Service assumed worldwide control of Air Force commissary operations and established career fields for military and civilian commissary personnel, professionalized store staffs and modernized its stores. 

In 1991, AFCOMS transferred its 150 commissaries to the newly established Defense Commissary Agency. 

Today, DeCA is proud to operate commissaries at 87 Air Force bases around the world - 69 in the United States and 18 overseas - providing grocery items to Airmen and their families at cost with savings of 30 percent or more annually. 

On behalf of the 18,000 employees of DeCA, I commend our Airmen for 60 years of honor, integrity and service before self. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for our nation.