THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
The 2020 Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Trophy for best performing air refueling squadron in the U.S. Air Force was been awarded to the 351st Air Refueling Squadron, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, May 7 2021.
Since the award’s inception, it has only been won by an overseas squadron twice; the 351st ARS made history in 2014 as the first overseas unit to be named the most outstanding air refueling squadron in the Air Force.
“In the midst of a global pandemic and strict U.K. lockdown, the men and women of the 351st ARS stepped up and answered the nation’s call, conducting operations at a record pace,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Ferdinandsen, 351st ARS commander. “We flew the most high priority Joint Chiefs of Staff missions of any other tanker unit in the Air Force.”
During 2020, the squadron supported and refueled more than 3,600 U.S. and NATO aircraft during approximately 1,500 flights. The squadron also continued their support of operation Juniper Micron, leading more than 150 missions in support of French combat operations in Africa. The ongoing support provided to the French’s anti-insurgent and counterterrorism operations is vital to the security and stability of the region.
The 351st ARS surpassed 59 other active duty, Guard and Reserve air refueling squadrons across the Air Force for the honor.
The 100th Maintenance Group also played an invaluable support role in securing the win for the 351st.
“We would not be here without the amazing support of our Bloody Hundredth maintainers who ensure we keep the oldest KC-135 Stratotanker fleet in the inventory up and flying,” said Ferdinandsen.
The squadron is grateful for the operations, maintenance and support relationship that ensures the safety and success of the 100th Air Refueling Wing’s mission of providing a ready force and strategic forward base, projecting airpower through unrivaled air refueling across Europe and Africa.
“What makes me most proud about this win is the nod to our amazing heritage and culture,” concluded Ferdinandsen. “The greatest generation of Airmen who started the Bloody Hundredth legacy during World War II, about an hour away at Thorpe Abbots, would be proud of our Airmen who continue to carry the torch forward. The legacy lives on!”
To read our article on the Bloody Hundredth and their nose art dedication, click here.