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A timeless gift to remember a legend

He worked with everything from horse-drawn field artillery to space satellite reconnaissance missions. Now the 26-year military career of Col. Roy H. Worthington Jr. is commemorated each year through a scholarship for Air Force ROTC cadets at Kansas State University.

The Colonel Roy H. Worthington Jr. Memorial Scholarship evolved from a quest to preserve a commemorative plaque from his bomb unit during World War II, according to his son, Roy Worthington. The plaque commemorating the service of the 99th bomb group is now on display inside General Richard B. Myers Hall, where K-State’s ROTC program is based.

"I was looking for a place to preserve this. We decided that maybe a more complete story of my dad’s career might be appropriate and the scholarship evolved from that," Worthington said.

The late colonel, a native of Arkansas City, Kan., flew 50 combat missions with the 99th bomb group, 346th squadron. After World War II, he tested jet propulsion aircraft alongside such well-known pilots as Chuck Yeager. His storied career concluded with space reconnaissance, overseeing satellite launches during the Cold War era.

Worthington earned an engineering degree from University of Oklahoma, a master’s in business administration from University of Chicago, and numerous military decorations including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, and two Legions of Merit. The National Air and Space Museum and National Reconnaissance Office have recognized him as a pioneer of space and reconnaissance.

Because the Worthington scholarship is endowed, it is a timeless gift that will continue helping ROTC cadets year after year.

"I thought it would be meaningful for the Air Force ROTC cadets to learn his story and how somebody can progress through the Air Force ranks and have a varied and interesting career," the younger Worthington said. "I thought it was appropriate to preserve my father’s story through this process."

The first scholarship award went to Tanner Lott, Lindsborg, Kan., a senior in mechanical and nuclear engineering. Currently working toward an officer’s commission, Lott eventually plans to work active duty as a pilot or engineer in the U.S. Air Force.

"It is an honor like no other to be the first recipient of a scholarship created in memory of such an amazing man and Air Force officer," Lott said. "Seeing his awards and the actions he was part of during his career inspire me during my time in ROTC and will motivate me once I become active duty as well. It’s very humbling."


Col. Roy H. Worthington Jr. is commemorated each year through a scholarship for Air Force ROTC cadets at Kansas State University.


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