95th Reconnaissance Squadron celebrates centenary

Painting standing in front of an aircraft.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Matthew Cottrill, 95th Reconnaissance Squadron commander, speaks about a painting commissioned for the squadron’s 100th birthday Aug. 19, 2017, on RAF Mildenhall, England. The painting contains notable aircraft flown by the 95th over the years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke Milano)

Airmen reveal nose art on aircraft at centenary event

U.S. Air Force Col. Clayton Seale, left, 55th Maintenance Group commander, and U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Travis Wagner, center, 95th Reconnaissance Squadron maintenance superintendent, unveil new nose art for a RC-135 Rivet Joint from the 95th RS Aug. 19, 2017, on RAF Mildenhall, England. The “kickin’ mule” is the original emblem that flew on the squadron’s bi-planes during World War I. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke Milano)

Airmen attend centenary event for 95th Reconnaissance Squadron

U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 95th Reconnaissance Squadron celebrate the squadron’s centenary anniversary Aug. 19, 2017, on RAF Mildenhall, England. The 95th RS was first organized Aug. 20, 1917, as the 95th Aero Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke Milano)

ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England --

Walking into the dome-shaped building with a canopy parachute hanging from the convex ceiling, it’s impossible to miss the vast array of photos spanning a period of 100 years which adorn the walls of the 95th Reconnaissance Squadron’s heritage room.

Airmen from the squadron celebrated their century of heritage with a dining-out event here Aug. 19, 2017.

The event, held inside a historic anti-aircraft artillery training building known as “Jake’s,”. included an unveiling of new nose art for one of the squadron’s RC-135 Rivet Joints, the presentation of a painting commissioned for the occasion, squadron history briefings and a toast with deployed Airmen via video teleconference.

The 95th RS’s history began Aug. 20, 1917, when it was the 95th Aero Squadron at Kelly Field, Texas, making it one of the oldest squadrons in the Air Force.

One of the speakers at the dining-out was David Kantenberger, grandson of Col. Rodney “Hoss” Wilder, co-pilot of one of the planes during the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo April 18, 1942.

During the Doolittle Raid, six of the 16 aircraft and crew were from the 95th Bombardment Squadron.

“The Air Force is young, but it’s important to remember its history, and the sacrifices made throughout that history,” Kantenberger said.

Kantenberger presented the 95th RS with his grandfather’s second lieutenant rank that he wore as a member of the squadron, and a replica of the Congressional Gold Medal presented to the Doolittle Raiders by former president Barack Obama in 2015.

The squadron has a long and rich lineage of involvement in every war since World War I, with the exception of the Vietnam War.

“We were the first American squadron to fly combat missions over the front, during World War I,” said Maj. Cary McCreary, 95th RS assistant director of operations, and squadron historian.

The 95th RS is unique because it has been reorganized many times over the years. Starting out as an aero squadron, flying biplane fighter aircraft during World War I, it later encompassed a pursuit, attack and bombardment missions, McCreary added.

As the squadron transitioned into a reconnaissance squadron, they continued to excel.

“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,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Cottrill, 95th RS commander. “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 squadron’s long list of achievements is proof of its never-ending pursuit to complete the mission, no matter the adversities along the way.

“The 95th RS has shown an uncanny ability to evolve and meet our nation’s security needs across these 100 years without fail,” Cottrill said.

With such a rich and diverse history, the 95th RS plans to build on its already deep foundations and continue to go from strength to strength.