Thurmond turned 100 on Dec. 5.
The 100th C-17 Globemaster III to come off the production line will be dubbed The Spirit of Strom Thurmond.
The C-17, built by Boeing, is the Air Force's largest strategic airlifter and can land on runways as short as 3,000 feet.
Thurmond is a decorated World War II army veteran who at age 41 landed a glider at Normandy on D-Day with the 82nd Airborne Division.
Thurmond ran for president in 1948 as an independent, bolting the Democratic party when President Harry Truman called on Democrats to support civil rights legislation. He carried four southern states. He was elected to the Senate in 1954 as a write-in candidate.
Thurmond was a vociferous opponent to the 1957 Civil Rights Act, personally conducting an unsuccessful 24 hour and 18 minute filibuster during the bill's debate on the floor of the Senate. In 1956, Thurmond helped write the "Southern Manifesto" urging states to defy a Supreme Court order to integrate schools.
He became a Republican in 1964.
In 1970, Thurmond became the first southern senator to hire a black staffer.
Thurmond has been a senator for one-fifth of the entire 226-year history of the United States.
The naming ceremony is being held Dec. 12 at Andrews Air Force Base just outside Washington.
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