The 100th Air Refueling Wing is USAFE’s only KC-135 air refueling wing composed of 15 permanently assigned aircraft, and is responsible for U.S. aerial refueling operations conducted throughout the European theater. The unit supports some 16,000 personnel, including Third Air Force, four geographically separated units, and 15 associated units.
The wing has been bestowed by the Air Force with the lineage, honors, and history of the 100th Bomb Group. One of these honors is that it is the only modern American operational wing allowed to bear the sign of a Second World War squadron.
United States Air Force
With the first day of 1943, members of the fledgling group again transferred operations to two separate bases, with the aircraft and aircrews moving to Sioux City AAB, Iowa, while the ground echelon went to Kearney Field, Nebraska. In both instances, members of the 100th BG assisted in air and ground training for other groups bound for overseas. In mid-April, the aircrew element joined its ground echelon at Kearney Field, and received new B-17s. After additional training, the group’s aircrews departed Kearney on May 25, 1943, flying the North Atlantic route to England and into the war in Europe. Prior to the departure of aircraft and aircrews from Kearney, the 100 BG’s ground echelon departed for the East Coast on May 2. On May 27, 1943, the ground personnel set sail aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth bound for Podington, England from New York. At Podington the ground crews rendezvoused with the air echelon, and together moved to Thorpe Abbotts, Norfolk, where they remained throughout World War II, operating as a strategic bombardment organization.
On June 25, 1943, the 100 BG flew its first combat mission for Eighth Air Force against the submarine yards at Bremen, Germany -- the beginning of the "Bloody Hundredth"’s legacy. The group inherited the "Bloody Hundredth" nickname from other bomb groups due to the amount of losses it took. The historian and biographer Edward Jablonski states in "Air War", his four-volume series on the air battles of the Second World War, that the Bloody 100th took such casualties because it was specifically targeted by the Luftwaffe. When a B-17 of the 100th was damaged over German territory, the pilot lowered his landing gear to signal surrender to attacking Bf 109 fighters. The fighters then took up escort positions on each side of the B-17, preparing to lead the stricken bomber to a German airfield. However, during the escort, the pilot of the B-17 changed his mind about the surrender, apparently managing to correct the fuel problem that originally prompted him to abandon the fight. Upon this correction, the bomber's landing gear were raised, and the waist gunners destroyed the unsuspecting fighter escort. Because of this incident, the Luftwaffe would thereafter search through Allied bombing formations to locate the 100th and attack it first.
Although the 100 BG’s losses were no more than any other units’ at the war’s end, the group experienced several instances where it lost a dozen or more aircraft on a single mission, whereas most units suffered losses in consistent small amounts. For the next six months, the group focused its bombing attacks against German airfields, industries, and naval facilities in France as well as Germany. Just two months after entering the war, the group received its first Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) after attacking the German aircraft factory at Regensburg on August 17, 1943, resulting in serious disruption to German fighter production.
During the period January to May 1944, the 100th BG regularly bombed airfields, industries, marshaling yards, and missile sites in Western Europe. The group participated in the Allied campaign against German aircraft factories , Operation Argument, during "Big Week" in the last week of February 1944. In March 1944, aircrews completed a succession of attacks on Berlin and received its second DUC of the war.
As the summer of 1944 approached, enemy oil installations became major targets. While supporting these missions, the group also found itself engaged in support and interdictory missions. In June, the 100 BG supported the Normandy invasion by hitting bridges and gun positions. The next month aircrews bombed enemy positions at St Lo, followed by similar campaigns at Brest in August and September. In October 1944, the 100th BG turned its attacks against enemy and ground defenses in the allied drive on the Siegfried Line. After completing its Siegfried Line support, the group took on the task of attacking marshaling yards, German occupied villages, and communication targets in the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 to January 1945. For its extraordinary efforts in attacking heavily defended German installations in Germany and dropping supplies to the French Forces of the Interior from June through December 1944, the 100 BG received the French Croix de Guerre with Palm.
The 100 BG flew its last combat mission of World War II on April 20, 1945. The following month the unit’s aircrews dropped food to the people in the west of the Netherlands, and in June transported French Allied former prisoners of war from Austria to France. In December 1945, the group returned to the U.S., where it inactivated at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, on December 21, 1945.
On 29 May 1947, Headquarters Army Air Force reactivated the 100 BG at Miami Army Air Field. From the time of its activation the group trained and operated as a reserve B-29 Superfortress unit being attached to the 49th Bombardment Wing (Later Air Division) until it was again inactivated on 27 June 1949.
After approximately five and one-half years of inactivation, the Air Force activated the 100th Bombardment Wing (Medium) on 1 January 1956, at Portsmouth Air Force Base, New Hampshire, and assigned again to Eighth Air Force. For the next ten years the wing performed global strategic bombardment training, and global air refueling.
Following a brief nonoperational period (April-June 1966), the Air Force redesignated the wing as the 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, and moved it without personnel or equipment to Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, on 25 June 1966. After its move, the wing absorbed the resources of the 4080th Strategic Wing. From 1966 until 1976, it performed strategic reconnaissance with the U-2 and drone aircraft. In mid-1976 the wing changed missions again when it transferred its drone operations to Tactical Air Command, and its U-2s to the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing (9 SRW) at Beale AFB, California.
After completing the transfer of its aircraft in September 1976, while simultaneously phasing down operations at Davis-Monthan, the Air Force redesignated the wing as the 100th Air Refueling Wing, and relocated it to Beale AFB. While at Beale, the 100 ARW assumed responsibility for providing worldwide air refueling support to the 9 SRW with its KC-135Q's from 30 September 1976 until its inactivation on 15 March 1983.
After an inactive status for over seven years, the Air Force again reactivated the 100th, but this time as the 100th Air Division at Whiteman AFB, Missouri, on 1 July 1990. However, as has been the wing’s past fate, the Air Force inactivated it once again on 1 August 1991.
100th Operations Group (100 OG)
100th Maintenance Group (100 MXG)
100th Mission Support Group (100 MSG)