The Creation of SAC
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SAC’s Memorial Chapel

From 1948 to 1992, 2,583 SAC crew members were killed in the line of duty. Early in its history, SAC decided they needed to honor and remember those who died. And so, the Strategic Air Command Memorial Chapel at Offutt Air Force Base was built in 1956. It includes a sanctuary with seating for 360 people, stained glass windows and an educational-administrative center.

SAC Chapel Window
The main stained class window in the SAC Memorial Chapel.
Courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society

The stained glass windows depict the missions of the various SAC units and were inspired by the Bible verse in Isaiah 6:8, "Whom shall I send and who will go for us? . . . Here am I! Send me." In the foreground of the window is an alert and courageous crewman who stands ready to preserve the peace through the deterrence of aggression. Behind him are a woman and two children, symbolic of all the families he is dedicated to protect. Around and above the crewman are the means to carry out his mission. To the right are isobars, indicative of weather services. Above are the planes he flies, one of which is being refueled. Streaking across the window in an upward curve is the path of power, inspired by the trail of a jet or rocket. The SAC shield, a mailed fist clutching lightning bolts and an olive branch, is prominently featured.

The stained glass window on the north wall of the narthex, or vestibule, features words from the Air Force hymn, and the seals of the Department of the Air Force and the Strategic Air Command.

Windows on the east wall depict significant events of duties associated with the Second, Eighth, Fifteenth, and Sixteenth Air Forces. A detail from the Sixteenth Air Force window shows the famous Red Telephone, symbolic of the Strategic Air Command’s global alert readiness. Small windows near the chapel’s main entrance and on the west wall represent specific air divisions and wings within the Strategic Air Command. The windows reflect the cold war missions of the 389th Strategic Missile Wing, the 72d bombardment Wing, the 451st Strategic Missile Wing, and the 99th Bombardment Wing.

The stained glass windows of SAC’s Memorial Chapel depict the duality of its mission — messages of hope and guidance are mixed with the grim imagery of global nuclear warfare.

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