News: RAF Mildenhall honors World War II veterans during 100th Bomb Group reunion
RAF MILDENHALL, England -- On the 67th anniversary of V-E Day May 8, veterans from the 100th Bombardment Group, formerly stationed at RAF Thorpe Abbots, Norfolk, during World War II, visited RAF Mildenhall and met the men and women of the 100th Air Refueling Wing.
The 100th Bomb Group - ancestor to the 100th ARW - celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. In celebration of this, and to remember those who lost their lives between 1943 and 1945, four U.S. Air Force veterans, one widow and 18 family members of former veterans visited the base as part of a special trip to England.
To honor the veterans, three rooms - two within the 100th Operations Group building, and one in the 100th Maintenance Group building - have been renamed.
The 100th OG auditorium was renamed the Rosenthal Auditorium, after retired Lt. Col. Robert "Rosie" Rosenthal. The 100th OG conference room was named the Jeffrey Room, after retired Maj. Gen. Thomas S. Jeffrey Jr. The 100th MXG conference room was renamed the Rovegno Conference Room after retired Col. Eugene "Butch" Rovegno.
The names of these former military members were selected by the Bomb Group Foundation based on their accomplishments, which can be read about on the framed picture by each room.
Family members of the three men were in attendance to witness the honor and dedication to their loved ones from World War II.
Dan Rosenthal, son of 'Rosie' Rosenthal, assisted Lt. Col. Thomas Torkelson, 351st Air Refueling Squadron commander, in the unveiling of the newly-renamed auditorium.
"Rosie was always extremely proud to have been part of the 100th BG," he said of his father. "He enlisted right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and was discharged after Japan surrendered. He fought for his country and against oppression.
"[My father] knew that luck played a part in his survival while so many others died; he also knew that it took an all-out effort by America, Britain and their other allies to defeat the Axis powers - and that his contribution to the war effort was only one out of many."
Dan added that his father was delighted to have toured RAF Mildenhall in May 2002, after revisiting Thorpe Abbotts, his air base during World War II.
One of the visiting veterans, Joe Urice, was the guest speaker as part of the Century Lecture series, and he talked to Airmen about various aspects of leadership, including what makes a good leader, and what he's personally learned about leadership over the years.
In honor of one of the 100th BG veterans, who was unable to make the visit here, one of RAF Mildenhall's KC-135 Stratotankers - the 100th OG commander's aircraft, tail number 0001 - recently received new nose art. It was dedicated to retired Capt. Robert Wolff, former 100th BG prisoner of war, and was unveiled for the visiting veterans and their families, along with members of the 100th ARW.
"Wolff was originally supposed to have this nose art on his aircraft back in World War II, but his plane was shot down before that could happen," said Capt. Adam Dalson, 351st ARS.
"You can't know who you are without knowing where you came from," he said, as he explained why he felt the visit was important.
"What these [veterans] went through is something we'll never probably experience in our lifetime, but the stories and the lessons learned are timeless," Dalson said.
Col. Bill DeMarco, 100th OG commander, said he is in awe of the history of the 100th ARW.
He said when he looks at the young Airmen who could possibly come back here as leaders, it's because of events like this that they'll know all the lineage and all the connections between the veterans and the 100th ARW.
"Having the 100th Bomb Group members come to visit solidifies that history and lineage between the original members and those of us today," DeMarco said.
"Unveiling the Wolff-pack nose art for a member who never had nose art on his airplane - that means a lot to me," the 100th OG commander said.
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