Since the first Boeing KC-135A rolled off the Renton, Washington assembly line on 18 July 1956, the Statotanker has been the mainstay of the U.S. Air Force tanker fleet. Over the past fifty years, generations of brave Americans serving aboard this legendary aircraft have traveled to every corner of the world and back, always ready at moment’s notice to support and strengthen America’s aerial fleet.
Built to refuel Strategic Air Command’s bomber force on a nuclear strike, KC-135s have given fighters, reconnaissance aircraft, and airlifters truly global reach. Without “anytime, anywhere” air refueling by KC-135s, operations such as Arc Light and Rolling Thunder (Vietnam, 1964-1973), Desert Shield and Desert Storm (Kuwait and Iraq, 1990-1991), Allied Force/Noble Anvil (Yugoslavia, 1999), and Iraqi Freedom (Iraq, 2003-present) would not have been possible.
After a half century and 6.5 million flying hours, modernization programs such as quiet, fuel-efficient, and powerful jet engines, structural upgrades, modern flight and fuel management systems, and state-of-the-art global navigation systems keep the KC-135 flying. When “Dix” Loesch and “Tex” Johnston took 55-3118 into the air for the first KC-135 flight on 31 August 1956, they could hardly have imagined that the KC-135 would be flying more than 50 years later.
This coin commemorates the 50th anniversary of the KC-135 and salutes all those who have helped keep her flying in defense of freedom throughout the world.
Each coin measures 1 1/2 inch (39mm) in diameter.