Armed Forces Day is a joint celebration of the six branches of the U.S. military to pay special tribute to the men and women for their patriotic service in support of the United States of America. Falling during Military Appreciation Month, the day honors the men and women who have served or are serving in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard, including the National Guard and Reserve components.
In 1949, Defense Secretary Louis Johnson announced the single-day celebration after uniting the separate armed forces under one agency – the Department of Defense. It wasn’t until 1961 that John F. Kennedy declared Armed Forces Day a national holiday and now is recognized the third Saturday in May.
The first Armed Forces Day played an essential part in educating society and expanding public knowledge of the military’s integral role in the community by showcasing the state-of-the-art equipment and abilities to protect our country. Armed Forces Day is now celebrated in American communities and on military bases throughout the world with parades, picnics, shopping discounts, festivals, and backyard barbecues.
Learn more about the military bases guarding the South Puget Sound:
McChord Air Force Base, Tacoma, WA
- Originally named Tacoma Field in 1927, after the U.S. government purchased the field, it was renamed in honor of Colonel William McChord, who died in an aircraft accident in Virginia.
- McChord Field served as a critical piece of defense infrastructure during World War II, training bomber aircraft pilots who would participate in the allied invasion of Italy, southern France, and the Doolittle Raid.
- McChord Field became McChord Air Force Base in 1948 with the formation of the United States Air Force.
Murray Army Base in Tacoma, WA
- In 1855 Camp Murray opened with Fort Steilacoom for military training during the Indian War.
- The site was commissioned as a National Guard Base in 1889, almost ten years before Fort Lewis.
- Camp Murray officially became the National Guard’s state headquarters location in 1992.
Fort Lewis Army Base in Pierce, WA
- Fort Lewis began as Camp Lewis in 1917, named after Meriweather Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition.
- Fort Lewis merged with the United States Air Force’s McChord Air Force Base on February 1, 2010, into Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
- The base consists of 87,000 acres of prairie land cut from the glacier-flattened Nisqually Plain.
It is considered the premier military installation in the Northwest.
Kitsap Navy Base, Silverdale, WA
- In 2004, Naval Base Kitsap merged with the former Naval Station Bremerton with Naval Submarine Base Bangor.
- It is the home base for the Navy’s fleet throughout West Puget Sound, providing base operating services, support for both surface ships, fleet ballistic missiles, and other nuclear submarines.
- It is one of the U.S. Navy’s four nuclear shipyards, one of two strategic nuclear weapons facilities, the Navy’s largest fuel depots, and the only West Coast dry dock capable of handling a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.
- Naval Base Kitsap is the third-largest Navy base in the U.S.
- It received the 2005 and 2017 Commander in Chief’s Award for Installation Excellence – the Best Base in the U.S. Navy.