By Buddy Blouin
Each military branch has its own unique history, ceremonies, and characteristics that separate them from the other branches. A clear example of this can be found in the United States Air Force (USAF) and its Order of the Sword tradition. Although this tradition exceeds the existence of the USAF and America as a whole, it was resurrected in 1967 and now has over 300 members. It’s an unusual yet distinguished honor among the Air Force, and yes, the ceremony does involve a comically large sword. Learn more about this wonderful honor and how it continues to help Americans work toward excellence through their service in the Air Force.

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The History of the Air Force Order of the Sword

The tradition of the Order of the Sword goes back far beyond the existence of the USAF. Its history can be traced back to the Royal Order of the Sword, which was used during the American Revolutionary War before going to the wayside until being brought back in the 1960s. The USAF Order of the Sword as we know it today comes from the American Revolution; however, the Royal Order of the Sword comes from Swedish traditions involving chivalry and military ranking, which can be found back as far as the mid-1700s. Today, the Order of the Sword Air Force tradition is a great way for non-commissioned officers (NCOs) to honor commissioned officers. It’s similar to the Navy’s Honorary Chief Petty Officer.

Gen. Arnold W. Bunch, Jr. Was Inducted in 2022

General Bunch was inducted into the Order in a ceremony that presented him with the highest honor possible the enlisted force can bestow upon a military officer. Although the Order has over 300 members, Bunch is only one of ten AFMC officers to be inducted into the Order of the Sword in the command's history. The decision to nominate and eventually induct Bunch came down to his tireless efforts through service that helped improve the USAF. This was accomplished by improving the morale, development, and welfare of his fellow troops. “This honor is never given; it is earned. It is one thing to listen. It's something else altogether to actually do something about what you hear. There is no other honor that allows us to properly thank you for your servant leadership. The Order of the Sword is truly appropriate for what you have done and what you will continue to do as our general. You certainly didn't ask for it; you certainly didn't expect it. You earned it,” said Chief Master Sgt. David Flosi at the Order of the Sword USAF ceremony.

Order of the Sword Swords

The USAF using huge swords fit for He-Man and the Thundercats to honor officers is no exaggeration. While the Air Force sword may look more fitting in a comic or anime than on the battlefield, the aesthetics and ceremony that go into this unique celebration are all part of the pageantry. Still, no matter how you slice it, the Order of the Sword is a great tradition that holds an exclusive group of those who have served our country in high regard. While all who are willing to answer the call deserve honor, those who go above and beyond can receive great esteem among their peers and a pretty awesome honor with an interesting history.

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Image: U.S. Air Force photo by Darrius Parker



military traditions
Order of the Sword

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