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Fightin’ Fifty-Fifth earns Doolittle Award

Col. Gavin Marks, 55th Wing commander, Chief Master Sgt. Brian Thomas, 55th Wing command chief, and five other wing members accept the award from Jonna Doolittle, granddaughter of James Doolittle, at the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Virginia Oct. 9, 2019.

The 55th Wing was recently named the Air Force Historical Foundation’s Doolittle Award recipient for 2019. Col. Gavin Marks, 55th Wing commander, Chief Master Sgt. Brian Thomas, 55th Wing command chief, and five other wing members accept the award from Jonna Doolittle, granddaughter of James Doolittle, at the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Virginia Oct. 9, 2019. (Courtesy photo)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- The 55th Wing was recently named the Air Force Historical Foundation’s Doolittle Award recipient for 2019.

The award was established by the AFHF as a way to recognize a unit that has displayed bravery, determination, discipline, esprit de corps and superior management of joint operations while accomplishing its mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions in multiple conflicts.

“It was a humbling experience to say the least,” said Col. Gavin Marks, 55th Wing commander, who accepted the award along with Chief Master Sgt. Brian Thomas, 55th Wing command chief, and five other 55th Wing Airmen at the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Virginia Oct. 9, 2019.

The honor is named after aviation pioneer Lt. Gen. James H. Doolittle, who served in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. Doolittle earned the Medal of Honor for valor and leadership as commander of the famous Doolittle Raiders.

“I am overwhelmed and overtaken with joy at the caliber of the team I’ve joined just four months ago,” Marks said.

In attendance at the AFHF awards banquet directly following the award presentation was the current Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, Gen. David Goldfein, two former chiefs of staff, as well as Jonna Doolittle, granddaughter of James Doolittle.

“Humbled, honored and grateful,” Thomas said. “It’s not very often you find yourself at an event with the Chief of Staff of the Air Force…and his wife. I’m so grateful our Airmen…had one on one time with them.”

The 55th Wing traces its lineage to the 55th Pursuit Group, constituted on Nov. 20, 1940 and activated on Jan. 15, 1941. Today the Fightin’ Fifty-Fifth is the largest wing in Air Combat Command and the second largest in the Air Force with units spread across the world.

“For nearly 80 years, our wing has built an illustrious legacy,” Marks said. “It continues to be the honor of my life to serve on this team.”

The Fightin’ Fifty-Fifth is just the seventh unit to earn the award, which was established by the AFHF in 2011.