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Fightin’ Fifty-Fifth marks 55 years at Offutt

Graphic with blue background showing the shapes of the states of Kansas and Nebraska and one of our aircraft to show the wing's history.

Graphic to commemorate the Fightin' Fifty-Fifth's 55 years at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Josh Plueger)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

The 55th Wing will commemorate a unique anniversary as it marks 55 years at Offutt Air Force Base on Aug. 16, 2021.

The wing arrived at Offutt in 1966 as the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing after spending 14 years at Forbes Air Force Base, Kansas.

“This is a really unique opportunity to showcase the 55th Wing and our history here at Offutt,” said Col. Kristen Thompson, 55th Wing commander. “The wing has such an impressive history dating back to World War II, but for the past half century our Airmen have been making history right here and we want to celebrate that.”

The wing’s first official change of command ceremony at Offutt took place just 12 days after their arrival on Aug. 28, 1966. Col. Marion Mixson handed the guidon to Col. William E. Riggs, who would serve as commander until July 17, 1970, which remains the longest tenure in wing history.

“It’s only fitting our new headquarters building is dedicated to Col. Riggs,” said John McQueney, 55th Wing historian. “He left an incredible mark on the wing, which is still felt to this day.”

In addition to adjusting to its new facilities at Offutt, the Fightin’ Fifty-Fifth also had to acclimate to new aircraft. In January 1967, the 55th SRW received their first RC-135 aircraft and spent the following year transitioning from the RB-47 to both the RC-135 and EC-135.

“It’s just incredible to think about the history of our 135 fleet here at Offutt,” McQueney said. “It’s a testament to the incredibly talented maintainers and their attention to detail that we’re still flying those aircraft nearly 55 years later.”

Since moving to Offutt 55 years ago, the wing has planted roots not only on the installation, but also within the local community. It’s those ties that help enable the wing to accomplish its mission.

“I just arrived here in June and it became apparent very early on just how special Offutt and the 55th Wing is because of our teammates and partners in the local community,” Thompson said. “They just wrap their arms around us and take incredibly good care of our base and families.”

Thompson also added that this significant milestone is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of all the leadership teams who have served in the wing over the past 55 years.

“They’ve set the foundation for success and in continuing our proud history, including those not here on station,” she said. “It’s a true team effort.”

The 55th Wing plans to celebrate their 55 years on station throughout the next 12 months.