OSI kicks off 75th Anniversary observance

  • Published
  • By Thomas Brading
  • OSI Public Affairs

The Office of Special Investigations is celebrating 75 years as a premiere federal law enforcement agency with a yearlong series of events.

Throughout 2023, the agency plans to commemorate the observance based on the theme, “Inspired by our past – OSI’s future starts today,” said Robert Vanderpool, OSI command historian.

Vanderpool was a guest on OSI Public Affairs' OSI Today podcast, recorded Jan. 3, to discuss what's in store for OSI during 2023.  

“Our main objective is really to just celebrate OSI and its history,” Vanderpool said. “We will celebrate OSI’s achievements over the past 75 years; it’s that simple. More importantly, we [plan] to recognize and celebrate all the people who have served and continue to serve today.”

Those achievements belong to “those who came before and those who are with the command now,” he added.

The 75th anniversary will be celebrated throughout 2023, but the official anniversary date is Aug. 1. The Monthly Observance Calendar will include region overviews, lines of operation and decades. January, for example, will commemorate the 1st Field Investigations Region, Criminal Investigations and OSI's inception during the 1940s.

“OSI touches just about every part of the Air Force and Space Force, across the Department of Defense, all of our international partners, and does so much in the interest of national security, and it all goes back to a single anonymous letter written in 1945,” Vanderpool said.

The anonymous letter, Vanderpool said, was submitted to the FBI and outlined the nefarious activities of a senior Army Air Corps officer. The officer retired in 1946, and the letter may have gone unnoticed until it was discovered in a congressional appropriations investigation.

In 1948, OSI was created at the suggestion of lawmakers to consolidate the investigative activities in the newly established Air Force. Since then, OSI Special Agents have tackled countless cases.

That is where the celebrations, more than seven-decades in the making, come in.

“As the year goes on, it’s a really cool opportunity to take a long look at an organization like OSI, and hopefully as we’re going through this, people will learn things they didn’t know or are reminded of things they do know,” Vanderpool said.

Looking ahead, digital media will take on much of the celebrations, the historian said. By publishing historical photos to larger research projects, multiple projects will accomplish this.

However, the year-long project will also be accomplished by working with various OSI regions and offices on criminal investigations, fraud, counterintelligence and cyber.

The month-by-month approach is designed to outline the evolution of the agency by highlighting multiple missions within it.

For example, in addition to highlighting the 1940s, January is also a month dedicated to the criminal investigations arena. The historian is well-equipped to lay out the 75th year via the previous decades.

“I’m the guy who looks at the old stuff,” Vanderpool said. “One month we’re going to focus on a decade, and we’re going to grab things from the past and bring it out directly to the folks. [For example,] photographs or old articles of things that were written in the words or images of the people that were serving way back when and have a direct connection to history.”

That said, “we don’t want to just focus on the history,” Vanderpool said. “We also want to focus on what’s going on today. We’ll be looking at the regions using the different lines of effort independently of each other, throughout the year.”

“OSI has such a big footprint, there’s so much we do it’s going to be hard to capture everything, but we’re going to cover as much as we can, in as meaningful a way as we can,” he added.

In addition to digital media, OSI plans to honor its past with ceremonies such as laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery and throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a minor league baseball game.

“[OSI] has grown over the years, the mission has evolved over the years; but one thing that has really remained constant has been the skill and the dedication of OSI’s people,” Vanderpool said. “History is about people, not just dates and places and things like that.”

Of course, the dates and places play a role into the pages of history but according to Vanderpool, it's the people who make an organization's history.

“[People are] the one thing that is really correlated across all seven and a half decades of OSI,” Vanderpool added.

“As we progress and others look back, that is where our theme came from; our future starts today,” Vanderpool said. “That is a reflection of our desire to celebrate our past and pay our respect to those giants that came before us [while celebrating] the giants we have in our ranks today.”

Editor’s Note: Vanderpool’s full interview, is available on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google and DVIDS. Search OSI Today for more episodes of OSI celebrating 75 years.