123 Years and Counting—Happy Anniversary, Exchange!

Associates around the world are celebrating the 123rd anniversary of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service. As the Department of Defense’s largest retailer, the Exchange mission of “we go where you go” is rooted in taking care Soldiers, Airmen, military families, retirees and honorably discharged Veterans.

From world wars to the tip of the spear, the Exchange has provided one-of-a-kind support for our Nation’s heroes.

“Two of the qualities that Exchange associates show are humility and self-sacrifice,” said Director/CEO Tom Shull during an anniversary celebration at the Dallas headquarters. “The work you do each day is inspiring. It is a privilege to serve alongside you.

“Because of you, the Exchange is stronger than it’s ever been.”

At the 123rd anniversary celebration at headquarters, Director/CEO Tom Shull leads applause for the Exchange’s achievements at serving those who serve.

A list of stellar accomplishments

Just this past year, the Exchange:

  • Boosted revenue by more than $300 million, despite a rocky retail climate.
  • Provided $219 million in dividends to Quality-of -Life programs, such as child care centers, youth programs and fitness centers.
  • Welcomed home 18.5 million eligible Veterans with a lifelong online shopping benefit—the first expansion of Exchange benefits in nearly 30 years.
  • Expanded acceptance of the MILITARY STAR card to all commissaries worldwide.
  • Supported troops and first responders after three devastating hurricanes.
  • Served troops at the tip of the spear the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the Pacific.
  • Intensified BE FIT initiatives to bring better-for-you options to Soldiers, Airmen and their families.

We’ve come a long way

The Exchange has come a long way since July 25, 1895, when the then-War Department ordered all post commanders to open post exchanges. These rudimentary PXs are the ancestors of today’s worldwide Army & Air Force Exchange Service – the Nation’s 61st largest retailer.

Send us your best 123rd birthday pictures!

To celebrate this momentous day, Exchanges throughout the world are holding celebrations to commemorate the 123rd anniversary.

Send your best pictures to the Exchange Post for posting on Flickr! Show associates throughout the world how your store celebrated the special anniversary. Be sure to check back because we’ll be updating the Flickr album as we get more pictures.


Director/CEO Tom Shull, Air Force Major Wai President, associates Chris McGee and Lorraine Arthurs, and Army Col. Collin Fortier slice the ceremonial cake. Arthurs, a merchandising assistant, has been with the Exchange for more than 40 years, while McGee just joined the IT Department on the help desk.

View more than 700 photos in Exchange History Flickr Album. Pictures date from the Civil War to today.

Check out the Exchange history page, complete with timeline on ShopMyExchange.com.


In the comment box below, share your memories of working at the Exchange, of Family Serving Family, of Serving Those Who Serve!

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  1. Richard/Cresilia Mancinelli on July 25, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    What has happened to the monthly exchange newsletter with info on stores,pictures, retirements,transfers?Please advise.

    • Steve Smith on July 25, 2018 at 6:07 pm

      Mr. Mancinelli:

      Thank you for writing to your Exchange Post! We decided to change from a monthly Exchange Post to at least once a week to keep valued readers like you up to date on Exchange news in near-real time rather than forcing them to wait a month to get the news. The same stories, pictures, retirements and transfers are there. On the home page, http://www.theexchangepost.com, go all the way to the bottom of the page, where you’ll see the link to Obituaries, Retirements and Transfers. You’ll also find links to Associate awards, the Exchange Post Flickr album.

      So, you’re getting the same news as you got before, just quicker. All the stories, pictures, etc., are still there.

      If I can be of further assistance, don’t hesitate to contact me, smithstev@aafes.com.

      Again, thanks for writing to your Exchange Post.

      Steve Smith
      Editor, The Exchange Post

      • Richard/Cresilia Mancinelli on July 25, 2018 at 6:13 pm

        Thank you.

        • Steve Smith on July 25, 2018 at 6:19 pm

          You’re welcome! I forgot to tell you in the previous message that we’ve gone all digital with the Exchange Post; we’re no longer printing the magazine.

          Steve Smith
          Editor, The Exchange Post

  2. Mike Bixby on July 25, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    A couple of AAFES associates who served in Just Cause have asked why this operation is never included like Vietnam, Korea, Balkans etc .. it was one of the few really successful operations in recent military history . I told them to send this question to you as I have no idea why..

    • Steve Smith on July 25, 2018 at 7:33 pm

      Mr. Bixby:

      Thank you for writing to your Exchange Post. As Exchange historian (and Exchange Post editor), I believe you raise an interesting point. I’m not sure why Panama and other skirmishes like Grenada are left out. As for me, I’ve basically have just hit the highlights, like world wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. But you got me to thinking that going forward, I should mention Panama and the others because Exchange associates did miraculous things during those endeavors, too.

      Again, thanks for writing.

      Steve Smith
      Editor, The Exchange Post
      Exchange Historian

  3. Walter Copeland on July 25, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    I think maybe one of the reasons the actions on Operation Just Cause have not been mentioned is that in the beginning of those were classified as Secret by DOD. A good friend that was in the 101st Airborne Dvisiion, made a good number of jumps in Panama and Granada. He injured knees and hips during those actions. In later years he had to have both hips replaced as well as both knees. He and private insurace had to pay as the VA could not find recordes of his injuries to become service connected injuries. Finally a few years ago with the help if the American Legion Service Officer DOD released records from that era. He is now classified as a 75% disabled Veteran.

    • Steve Smith on July 26, 2018 at 12:01 pm

      Mr. Copeland:

      Thanks for writing to your Exchange Post. Thanks for the clarification.

      Steve Smith
      Editor, The Exchange Post

  4. P Bollman on July 26, 2018 at 11:22 am

    Hello Folks….Know you updated the “Post”…but when i see a title or “the front page” not sure if this is just one story or the Whole Post Exchange format..?I seem to have to click more to get where i need to go..?Kinda like a Mc Donalds menu board….way too busy….

    • Steve Smith on July 26, 2018 at 12:04 pm

      Hi! Thank you for writing to your Exchange Post. Our home page for the Exchange Post is http://www.theexchangepost.com. You’ll find all the info you want there.

      Steve Smith
      Editor, The Exchange Post

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