AAFES celebrates 124 years of service

The Base Exchange as it appeared at Muroc Air Force Base in October 1949. (Air Force photograph)

For 124 years, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service has gone where troops have gone to provide goods and services to warfighters and their families.

To commemorate its anniversary, AAFES held a special cake-cutting and community event July 25, at the Base Exchange on Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

“It’s been an honor for the Exchange to serve Warfighters and their families for 124 years,” said Franklin Sewell, Edwards AFB Base Exchange General Manager. “This event is a way to say ‘thank you’ to our military shoppers — the best customers in the world.”

An important part of the Exchange’s history is giving back. 100 percent of Exchange earnings are reinvested in the community, with about 60 percent of earnings going to Quality-of-Life programs such as Air Force Outdoor Recreation. Last year, Edwards AFB BX shoppers generated $493,020 for these programs.

In 1895, the War Department issued General Order 46 directing commanders to establish an exchange at every post. Since then, exchanges have faithfully served alongside military members wherever they are called to serve.

The Exchange is the Department of Defense’s oldest retailer and is the 61st-largest retailer in the U.S. Its earnings provided $2.3 billion in dividends to support military morale, welfare and recreation programs over the last 10 years. The Exchange is a non-appropriated fund entity of the DOD and is directed by a board of directors.

“The Army & Air Force Exchange Service brings convenience and savings to those serving,” Sewell said. “Whether stationed stateside, overseas or right here at Edwards Air Force Base, troops and their families know the Exchange is there for them.”