The first American squadron to see action in World War One has celebrated its centenary at RAF Mildenhall.
The 95th Reconnaissance Squadron began in Texas in August 1971 as the 95th Aero Squadron, it made the daring Doolittle Raid in World War Two and remains one of the USAF’s oldest squadrons.
Today’s squadron members celebration included unveiling new nose art for one of their electronics-loaded RC-135s, the presentation of a painting commissioned for the occasion and a toast with deployed airmen by video link.
The Doolittle Raid in April 1942 saw the 95th, led by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle fly 16 twin-engined Douglas B-25 Mitchell bombers, designed to be land-based, off the USS Hornet to raid Tokyo. One of the dinner speakers was David Kantenberger, grandson of Col Rodney Wilder, co-pilot of a Doolittle plane.
He said: “The Air Force is young, but it’s important to remember its history, and the sacrifices made throughout that history.”
He presented the 95th RS with his grandfather’s second lieutenant rank worn as a squadron member, and a replica of the Congressional Gold Medal presented to the Doolittle Raiders by Barack Obama in 2015.
Lt Col Matthew Cottrill, 95th RS commander, said: “In the last 100 years, the 95th RS has belonged to four different groups or wings, flown 25 different aircraft, and earned 23 Campaign Streamers, eight Meritorious Unit Awards, eight Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards, three Distinguished Unit Citations, three French Croix de Guerre with Palm and the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.
“In each of the last three years, the 95th RS has conducted an average of 227 operational sorties a year, supporting three combatant commands and numerous other national agencies.
“The 95th RS has shown an uncanny ability to evolve and meet our nation’s security needs across these 100 years without fail.”