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THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE

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1040 Abroad

USAF Dedicates Stratotanker Nose Art

RAF Mildenhall have dedicated the nose art on a KC-135 Stratotanker in memory of WWII crew chief
By News Team
Published on May 14, 2021

Skipper I Master Sgt. Dewey Christopher, left, poses for a photo with his ground crew and his first B-17 Flying Fortress, “Skipper” at Thorpe Abbotts, Diss, England, in 1942. PHOTO: USAF

The Air Force at RAF Mildenhall, England, has dedicated nose art on a KC-135 Stratotanker in memory of a World War II crew chief who helped the allied effort in Europe by keeping the B-17s of the 100th Bombardment Group mission-ready, the second time RAF Mildenhall has honored Master Sgt. Dewey R. Christopher.

Skipper III The Skipper III nose art on a KC-135 Stratotanker at RAF Mildenhall. KYLE ALVAREZ/STARS AND STRIPES

“We are dedicating this aircraft today to honor a legend, who in our eyes is a national treasure,” Col. S. Troy Pananon, commander of the 100th Air Refueling Wing, said at a ceremony Friday at Mildenhall, which Christopher’s son Gary watched via a virtual link.

The aircraft is one of 15 Stratotankers the wing has decorated with nose art honoring the legacy and mission of the Flying Fortress bombers flown in nearly 9,000 missions between June 25, 1943, and April 20, 1945. The 100th Bombardment Group lost 732 airmen and 177 aircraft in that time, which earned it the nickname the Bloody Hundredth.

“We are binding the history of the Bloody Hundredth both past and present through this nose art because it symbolizes that rich legacy of the predecessors and of Dewey Christopher,” Pananon said.

Christopher worked during WWII behind the scenes at RAF Thorpe Abbotts in Norfolk, England, helping to maintain the Bloody Hundredth’s B-17s.

In an interview two years ago when a building at Mildenhall was renamed in his honor, he said he never lost an aircraft and that one of the planes he worked on flew more than 60 consecutive missions without a maintenance report, “which meant there weren’t any discrepancies on my airplane.”

After his wartime service, he worked as a mechanic for American Airlines for more than four decades.

Christopher passed away in 2019, five months after the building housing the Professional Development Center at RAF Mildenhall was renamed in his honor, leaving behind a lasting legacy that people will remember for years to come.

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