Cape Canaveral, Florida
And it’s great to be here with all of you, the men and women of the 45th Space Wing. (Applause.) Thank you for your service. And thank you for being pioneers in a new branch of the United States military. You are setting the pace. And I assure you that we’re all proud. And we’re all proud of the standards that you’re setting in the early days of this new branch of the service.
And before I begin, allow me to bring greetings and admiration as well from your Commander-in-Chief, a great champion of the men and women of the 45th Space Wing, and all of those who serve in the uniform of the United States, and also the founder of the United States Space Force. I bring greetings from President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
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.
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.)
This spring, Secretary Barrett and I had the great privilege of attending the graduation at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado. It was an inspiring moment. Those cadets had gone through a challenging time, as every American has in this past year. But we were also there when I was told that in a typical year, roughly 20 cadets choose to go into space operations. But this year, 86 cadets stepped forward and were commissioned as officers in the first class of the United States Space Force. And it was my honor to be there — (applause) — as I know it was yours, Secretary.
And I don’t have to tell those of you in uniform our progress in space security is more important than ever. Because as you all know here on the Space Coast, the United States faces emerging competition and emerging threats in space — countries like China and Russia — and those threats are only growing each day.
Space is a vacuum, but America is not operating in a vacuum, as we exercise a leadership for our security and for our highest ideals of freedom in the outer expanse of space. The Space Race that began in the 1950s, right here on the Space Coast, continues to this very hour. We’re in the lead, but we’re not alone. The United States will never seek conflict; we will always seek peace through strength.
But as I’ve observed in tabletop exercises and in briefings with all the distinguished military leaders gathered here today,
we must recognize, as our President has, that space itself represents a warfighting domain. And we will be prepared to defend our nation and defend our freedom in space with the United States Space Force. (Applause.)
So, on behalf of your Commander-in-Chief, I just urge all of you in uniform to stay on mission and be vigilant; take care of your people; mind the unifying chain of command. And especially those of you in 45th Space Wing, remember: Everything that you are doing today is establishing the standards and the practices for tomorrow. So I encourage you to serve this nation, as you have throughout your careers, with excellence and with integrity, as I know most certainly you will.
Which brings me to the very special announcement today and the reason why I just had to stop after I got off of that airplane to have a word with each and every one of you.
At this time, I’d like to ask the Space Force Honor Guard to step forward onto the platform and be prepared for the unveiling.
So it is my great honor as your Vice President, as Chairman of the National Space Council, on behalf of President Donald Trump, to announce that Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will now become Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. (Applause.)
And just down the road, I’m also pleased to announce an Air Force base named for another pioneering general who actually founded the Army Air Corps. As of today, at the direction of the Commander-in-Chief, Patrick Air Force Base will become Patrick Space Force Base. (Applause.)
Today we make history with the first two installations in the history of the United States Space Force to bear the name of this new branch of the service. It is a great day for our military, it is a great day for Florida, and it is a great day for America. (Applause.)
So to all of you gathered here today in the uniform of the United States, and to all of you looking on from this great community, it’s been my honor to be with you for this brief moment. It’s just one more milestone in a journey that we began — we began a little bit more than a year ago with the establishment of the Space Force.
And I’m just absolutely convinced, looking out at all of your bright, shining faces, that with your continued courage and leadership, with the extraordinary leadership that joins me here for this momentous occasion, with the vision and leadership of our Commander-in Chief and support of all of those in Congress who have endorsed this vision of this branch of the service, and with what I’m confident is the prayers and the support of the American people, that we will continue to defend this nation from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Patrick Space Force Base for generations to come, and we will defend America from these places here on Earth, as well as in the vast expanse of space, so help us God.
So I thank you all for the honor of being able to join you today and the distinguished guests who you’ve also heard from. And I would just say to all of you serving here at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, at Patrick Space Force Base: Thank you for your service. Keep making America safe and secure. Keep making all of us proud. And to all the men and women of the United States Space Force, Semper Supra. (Applause.) And God bless America. (Applause.)
END 12:28 P.M. EST