The U.S. Air Force Sword: A Brief History

Posted by Bryan on 12/12/2012 to U.S. Military Swords
Swords of various types have had a long martial history, a history which spans almost as many centuries as warfare itself. First weapons, swords are now primarily a ceremonial accoutrement, what with the advent of more "hands-off" methods of combat. Each branch of the United States military has its own unique regulations, traditions, and history attached to the sword worn by its members, and the Air Force is no exception.

Owing to the Air Force's birth out of the United States Army, their sword was the same as the one worn by Army NCOs for quite some time - students at the U.S. Air Force Academy still uses a saber, in fact. However, in keeping with the Air Force's proud, if relatively young, individual history, they now carry their own unique style of ceremonial armament.

The ceremonial sword used by the United States Air Force is, in many ways, a nod to the Army, being, in fact, a saber. Straight and tapering, the edges are dulled, so as not to cause injury during the occasions it might be worn. Care should be taken in the purchase, gifting, or use of the U.S. Air Force's sword, as regulations surrounding it are tenuous, unlike those in the Army or Marine Corps. Specific attention should be paid in order to make sure that the handle says "U.S. Air Force". You don't want to buy an Academy student's saber by mistake!

It should be noted that the saber-type sword is worn by enlisted men only, and that even they do not often wear it unless they are part of a specific ceremonial detail (funerals, honor guards, and so on). Officers, by contrast, if they wear one at all, wear the M1902 Army Officer's Saber.

Hopefully this short history of the U.S. Air Force's sword and its use and wear is sufficient to answer your questions. As always, when in doubt regarding military specifics, ask a service member!