Prior to enactment of the National Security Act of 26 July 1947, Mr. Arthur E. DuBois of the Military Planning Division, Office the Quartermaster General, Department of the Army, prepared a study of flags and seals for consideration by the three services.
These drawings were first reviewed by Army officials in the office of the Director of Personnel and Administration, then by Naval personnel in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air, which also arranged to have the drawings reviewed by the Secretary of Defense.
In September 1947, proposed drawings of the Air Force Seal were first exhibited in the office of the Secretary of the Air Force. Later, a conference of approximately 30 top-ranking Air Force general officers considered the preferred one. The participants evaluated an Air Force seal with a green-colored background; it featured prominently at the honor point of the shield a Wright Brothers' airplane. This Seal had been prepared by the Heraldic Section of the Office of the Quartermaster General, Department of the Army, in coordination with Mr. Robert E. Ewin, Chief of the Air Force Uniform and Insignia Section. After review, conference participants decided that the background of the Department of the Air Force Seal should be blue rather than green, and that a symbolic design should be substituted in place of the Wright Brothers' airplane. During these discussions, Mr. Dubois picked up the design and on its reverse side made a pencil sketch of Jupiter's thunderbolt as a suggested symbol. When the Air Force representatives saw the pencil sketch and understood its significance, they agreed to adopt that design as the basic symbol for the Air Force Seal instead of the Wright Brothers' airplane. The words "Department of the Air Force" that appear around the upper rim of the Seal were drawn from the words of the National Security Act.
The final drawing of the Department of the Air Force Seal was completed in the Office of the Quartermaster General, Department of the Army, and approved by Harry S. Truman, President of the United States, on 1 November 1947.
SYMBOLISM OF THE GREAT SEAL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE
The symbolism incorporated in the Great seal of the Department of the Air Force is as follows:
1. The predominant colors, ultramarine blue and gold, are the colors of the Air Force through transition from the Air Corps.
2. The 13 stars represent the Thirteen Original Colonies of the United States. The grouping of three stars at the top of the design portrays the three Departments of the National Defense Establishment, Army, Navy, and Air Force.
3. The crest includes the American Bald Eagle, which is the symbol of the United States and air striking power.
The cloud formation depicts the creation of a new firmament, and the wreath, composed of six alternate folds of silver and blue, incorporate the colors of the basic shield design.
4. The shield, divided with the nebuly line formation, representing clouds, is charged with the heraldic thunderbolt. The thunderbolt portrays striking power through the medium of air.
5. The Roman numerals beneath the shield indicate the year 1947, in which the Department of the Air Force was established.
6. On a band encircling the whole is the inscription "Department of the Air Force" and "United States of America".
The entire design used on the shield of the Air Force Seal is taken from an heraldic representation of the mythological thunderbolt, also termed Jupiter's thunderbolt,. Jupiter was the Roman mythological God of the Heavens. At the honor point of the shield is a lightning bolt or elongated projectile-like mass, conceived of as the missile cast to earth in the lightning flash. The word thunderbolt--a single discharge of lightning with the accompanying thunder--derived from the idea that lightning was a bolt thrown to earth by a god.The pair of wings and smaller lightning flashes surrounding the bolt complete the design.
The eagle's head is turned to the right and symbolizes facing the enemy--looking toward the future and not dwelling on past deeds.