American serviceman's legacy remembered through new war-inspired nose art
- Credit: 100th Air Refuelling Wing/Karen Abeyasekere
The legacy of an American Second World War veteran has been remembered after nostalgic nose art was adorned on a Suffolk-based aircraft.
A KC-135 Stratotanker at RAF Mildenhall – now named Skipper III – was given the new look earlier this month in tribute to master sergeant Dewey Christopher, a veteran of the 100th Bombardment Group who served over the border in Norfolk.
The plane gets its name from two previous B-17 bombers M. Sgt Christopher worked on as a crew chief, Skipper I and Skipper II.
It had previously been given temporary nose art at a special ceremony in 2019, when the professional development centre on site was also named in honour of the serviceman who joined the military after Pearl Harbour.
M. Sgt Christopher died later that year aged 96, having earned a Bronze Star medal for having more than 80 missions without any discrepancies on his beloved Skipper II. The nose art will now be a permanent addition to Skipper III.
His son, Gary Christopher – who watched the renaming ceremony remotely – said his family are "over the moon" by the wonderful tribute by the 100th Air Refuelling Wing (ARW).
“My family and I are so honoured, touched, and honestly, over the moon with the wonderful tribute of the ‘Skipper III’ nose art as developed and presented by the 100th ARW,” he said.
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“Now that the nose art is a permanent, and prominent, tribute on a KC-135 that will be actively helping fulfil the 100th ARW’s missions, there couldn’t be a better way to carry on the legacy of my father and his beloved ‘Skipper.’
"I hope that both the ground crews and flight crews feel his presence as they maintain and fly ‘Skipper III.’”
The event on May 7 was attended by Team Mildenhall airmen and civilians, along with guests from the 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum.
Gary added: “Had dad been able to witness the presentation ceremony, he would have been greatly humbled and so very appreciative of this great honour.
"He would have been so thankful for all the thought, effort, and artistic skill that went into refining and producing it.
"I think he would have also said that he didn’t have adequate words to express all the gratitude he felt.”
Colonel Troy Pananon, 100th ARW commander, added: “Dewey’s main concern was doing everything possible to ensure his crew and airplane returned home safely.
"We honour him today because it’s the proud heritage of his generation that will help inspire RAF Mildenhall airmen for years to come.”