RAF Mildenhall celebrates 25 years of the 100th Air Refueling Wing
PUBLISHED: 16:25 06 February 2017 | UPDATED: 16:34 06 February 2017
The distinctive sight and sound of the US Air Force's (USAF) tankers roaring above East Anglia has been a regular feature for 25 years.
Airmen at RAF Mildenhall’s 100th Air Refueling Wing celebreate the 25th anniversary of the group this month, with 2017 marking the first time the KC-135 Stratotankers were assigned to the Suffolk air base.
The wing has a rich heritage.
It is the only one in the USAF to carry Second World War markings on its aircraft, due to its origins in the 100th Bombardment Group.
The 100th came to Mildenhall after the 513th Air Command and Control Wing, responsible for the E-3 Sentry – with its unusual radar dome – deactivated on January 31, 1992.
The following day the 100th was formed, while also becoming the first headquarters of the European Tanker Task Force.
Dr Robert Mackey, the wing’s official historian said: “In the 1990s, a lot of money was poured into the base when the 100th ARW took over, and there was a lot of rebuilding.
“At that time, 3rd Air Force was still here, and they were the senior organisation in the UK for the USAF.”
The 3rd Air Force departed in 2006, when the 100th became the senior organisation.
Colonel Thomas Torkelson is the current and 67th base commander since 1942 and the 15th under the 100th’s tenure.
His tour comes at an uncertain time for the wing, which has become the backbone of US and NATO operations in the Middle East and north Africa.
The USAF’s relationship with Mildenhall will come to an end by 2023, as the refuelling wing is moved to Germany.
Col Torkeleson said: “I’d wager almost the entirety of the USAF tanker community as well as a large majority of our receiver aircraft wings are aware of RAF Mildenhall, the Bloody Hundredth, and the Square D that greets them.”
Col Torkelson previously served at RAF Mildenhall as a squadron commander from 2010 to 2012, and said he was proud to return as wing commander.
He also added that “The Bloody Hundredth and its Square D have changed me forever” and that his relationship “with the veterans of the 100th will continue far beyond my tour”.
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