‘Lightbulb moment,’ passion for aircraft gives opportunity to reenergize nose art heritage of 100th BG

  • Published
  • By Karen Abeyasekere
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing

Squadrons at Royal Air Force Mildenhall will begin “adopting” 100th Air Refueling Wing KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft with heritage nose art, in an effort to reconnect with 100th Bombardment Group history. Each piece of nose art is based on World War II nose art on aircraft from the 100th BG, formerly at Thorpe Abbotts, Norfolk, England.

“During a leadership offsite in October 2020, wing leaders discussed wing strategy and priorities, including Culture,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jessica Mueller, 100th Maintenance Group Maintenance Operations Flight superintendent. “That’s when I had a ‘lightbulb moment.’ As maintenance, we love our aircraft, but do other squadrons care like we do? What’s their tie to the heritage? With 15 tails, we have an opportunity to get squadrons and units from across the wing more involved in our wing heritage.”

Hence the Adopt-a-Jet program was born, which will give squadrons the opportunity to sponsor a jet, place a plaque inside it, have squadron photos taken in front of it, and even help with aircraft washes.

“There are a lot of opportunities for Airmen to get involved, see the mission happening and learn more about the Bloody Hundredth and 100th Bomb Group,” Mueller remarked. “Squadrons will have a chance for bragging rights as well as help take care of the jet.”

Adopting an aircraft with particular nose art gives Airmen the opportunity to learn more about the specific heritage behind it and the 100th BG, and form a stronger tie with the mission.

Each aircraft will have its own nose art dedication ceremony hosted by the squadron, scheduled to take place this summer.

The first two squadrons scheduled to adopt a jet are the 100th Civil Engineer Squadron with “Boss Lady,” and the 100th Operations Support Squadron with “Wolff Pack.”

“We’re extremely fortunate to have ‘Boss Lady’ as part of the 100th CES,” said Lt. Col. Raymond Elmore, 100th CES commander. “Her nose art is the iconic ‘Rosie the Riveter’ from World War II and the image represents strength, resiliency and women’s rights. Boss Lady’s nose art represents vital craftsperson capabilities similar to the men and women of the 100th CES – our firefighters, emergency managers, environmental teams and operations flight engineers.” 

Airmen from the 100th MXG still maintain the aircraft, ensuring the vital maintenance inspections are completed.

“We own the iron and we're excited to facilitate this program,” remarked Capt. Tony Caliva, 100th MXG MOF commander. “We feel it will be as good as squadrons are willing to make it – we’re all part of the same team, whether on the north side or south side of the flightline.”

Enabling squadrons to have a stronger tie to the RAF Mildenhall mission is a way to introduce Airmen to the 100th Bomb Group and reenergize the 100th ARW’s heritage.

“From a historical perspective, it’s clear that ‘the iron’ is not just an inanimate object,” said Rob Paley, 100th ARW historian. “To these Airmen, the aircraft have their own personalities and characteristics, and by assigning a nose art from World War II, it entirely changes the way the crew – whether maintenance or flight crew – see the aircraft, because it becomes personal to them.”