History

The Exchange at 125: D.B. Cooper and the Exchange

By Loyd Brumfield / July 31, 2020 /

On March 22, 1972, Northwest Area Exchange associates operated mobile field exchanges for Soldiers searching for “D.B. Cooper,” an unidentified man who hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft between Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash. He extorted a $200,000 ransom (or $1.2 million in today’s dollars). He—and the money—were never found.  

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The Exchange at 125: Real-Time Help Via Call Centers

By Loyd Brumfield / July 30, 2020 /

In 1992, four people sat around a card table answering phones at headquarters— the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s first call center, which handled inquiries about the Deferred Payment Plan, the forerunner of today’s MILITARY STAR® card A year later, the call center moved to the first floor of HQ with about 120 associates.…

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The Exchange at 125: From Earthquakes to Hurricanes, Exchange Associates Have Been There

By Steve Smith / July 29, 2020 /

Dating as far back as 1964 when a killer earthquake struck Alaska, Exchange associates have deployed to the destructive scenes left in Mother Nature’s wake to serve those who served with recovery efforts. The disasters include raging forest fires in the Pacific Northwest; floods and volcanic eruptions around the world; 2005’s Hurricane Katrina; 2012’s Superstorm…

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The Exchange at 125: Blasts from the Past

By Loyd Brumfield / July 29, 2020 /

Some exchanges around the world are now just fond memories. Many of them started in the early days of World War II to train Army pilots, but then closed after combat ended. In Texas alone, air bases were once located in Amarillo; Austin; Fort Worth; Laredo; and Army posts in Galveston and Mineral Wells, among…

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The Exchange at 125: At One Time, the Exchange Couldn’t Sell TVs or Computers

By Steve Smith / July 28, 2020 /

Once upon a time, shoppers couldn’t find televisions or computers for sale anywhere in the Exchanges. Since 1949, the House Armed Services Committee and Department of Defense have regulated what the Exchange can sell. In 1986, the committee gave the Exchange permission to sell computers in 130 computer shops worldwide, which became known as “PowerZones”…

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The Exchange at 125: Welcoming Hostages Freed from Iran

By Loyd Brumfield / July 28, 2020 /

On Nov. 4, 1979, Iranian college students, who supported the Iranian Revolution, took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held 52 American staff members who worked there hostage. The hostages were freed on Jan. 20, 1981, after 444 days of captivity. Three days later, associates at Germany’s Hainerberg shopping center greeted them as they…

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The Exchange at 125: A Pachyderm at the PX

By Loyd Brumfield / July 27, 2020 /

Did an elephant once work at a post exchange? Well, yes. And he got paid in bananas and bread. In 1944, the PX officer of the Southeast Asia Command headquarters during World War II moved a 2,600-pound electric refrigerator into a PX in India with the help of some Soldiers and an elephant named Karunavathi.…

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The Exchange at 125: Who Remembers the ‘AAFES Burger?’

By Steve Smith / July 24, 2020 /

The Exchange’s foray into name-brand restaurants came in 1977 when Baskin-Robbins opened its famous ice-cream shop at Edwards AFB, Calif. In 1984, Burger King became the first name-brand burger restaurant to join the AAFES family, opening 185 BKs throughout the world on Army and Air Force installations. The first one was at Ansbach, Germany. Other…

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The Exchange at 125: For 65 Years, We Have Provided Nutritious School Lunches

By Steve Smith / July 24, 2020 /

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service dished up its first school lunches back in 1955 when school cafeterias opened on military installations in the United Kingdom. In 1980, the Exchange was designated the sole school feeding authority for the Army and Air Force. In 2019, the Exchange served 2.6 million meals in 76 Department…

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The Exchange at 125: The Exchange in Vietnam

By Steve Smith / July 23, 2020 /

In 1965, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service took over a handful of PXs from the Navy in Vietnam the day after Christmas. At the height of the war in the late 1960s, the Exchange served American Warfighters with 50 major stores, 1,800 concessions and 180 food facilities, from cafeterias to snack wagons. On…

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