October 7, 2016
One of the Air Force Historical Foundation’s highest honors – its James H. “Jimmie” Doolittle Award – was given to a very worthy recipient during the organization’s annual gathering in Arlington, Virginia, which included a special keynote address from current U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen W. Wilson.
The Foundation’s Doolittle Award recognizes a U.S. Air Force unit that has displayed bravery, determination, discipline, "esprit de corps" and superior management of joint operations in multiple conflicts – and few are as deserving as the 100th Air Refueling Wing at RAF Mildenhall, UK.
The 100th traces its roots to the 100th Bomb Group, which arrived at Thorpe Abbotts, England in June 1943. It inherited the “Bloody Hundredth” nickname from fellow bomb groups due to its severe loss rate throughout World War II, during which the 100th flew a total of 306 missions.
Reactivated as the 100th Bombardment Wing at Portsmouth (Pease) Air Force Base, New Hampshire in 1956, it performed important Cold War-era global strategic bombardment training and global air refueling activities for ten years before being re-designated at the 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing and moved to Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona in 1966.
The 100th returned to England in 1992 as the 100th Air Refueling Wing, with its new base – RAF Mildenhall – located just 23 miles west of its original home at Thorpe Abbotts.
Co-hosted by The Jimmy Doolittle Center and Jelly Belly Candy Company, the September 27 ceremony was held at the United States Air Force Memorial and Army Navy Country Club. L3 Communications and Pratt & Whitney were the event and reception partners, respectively, with Rolls-Royce North America, The Boeing Company and GE Aviation as the dinner partners. Also acknowledged for their support was the Air Force Sergeants Association.
The photo report below highlights some of the event’s key moments (click on each image for a larger version):
The Doolittle Award was accepted on behalf of the 100th Air Refueling Wing by its current Commander, Col. Thomas D. Torkelson. Speaking at the U.S. Air Force Memorial with highly-recognizable Washington, D.C. landmarks as a backdrop, he highlighted the 100th’s significant achievements over the past seven decades, and paid particular tribute to the active duty personnel that are continuing this great legacy today.
Members of the 100th Air Refueling Wing, both past and present, gathered for a “family photo” in celebration of the Doolittle Award. Fittingly, they are joined in this photo by the granddaughter of James H. “Jimmie” Doolittle, Jonna Doolittle (fourth from the left).
The Doolittle Award was formally presented to Col. Thomas D. Torkelson during the banquet, which was held at the Army Navy Country Club. Col. Torkelson and Jonna Doolittle shown are in the center, joined by the event’s keynote speaker, U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen W. Wilson (far left) and Air Force Historical Foundation President Maj. Gen. Dale Meyerrose (USAF Ret.)
A rousing keynote address by U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen W. Wilson capped off the Doolittle Award ceremony. In his comments, Gen. Wilson spoke at length about the staggering losses that earned the 100th its “Bloody Hundredth” nickname during World War II and how the Wing and its personnel persevered.