Joe Biden praises base workers at RAF Mildenhall as he makes first international trip as US President
Joe Biden spoke of pride and the ‘proud history’ of RAF Mildenhall during an address after landing at the American airbase last night.
The visit to the UK, for the G7 summit being held in Cornwall this weekend, is President of the United States' first overseas trip since taking office, and he arrived with the First Lady, his 70-year-old wife Jill, just after 7.30pm on board Air Force One.
Addressing a crowd of personnel and families from the base as well as some from RAF Lakenheath and RAF Alconbury, he said: “There is an awful lot of history at this base. A proud history for British people.
“But I also know there is an awful lot of American air force pride in this room tonight.
“I know these last 15 months added a lot of new pressure but all of you rose to the task together as one team, team Mildenhall, and you never let up on your mission, and I am so proud.”
And the 78-year-old president said base workers are bridge-builders, and are 'the essential part of what makes this special relationship between Great Britain and the United States'.
During the trip, President Biden will also meet The Queen before going on to visit other European countries.
And during his speech to servicemen and women, the Democrat started to paint a new picture of the United States on the international stage after four years of Republican Donald Trump.
"We’re going to make it clear that the United States is back and democracies of the world are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges and the issues that matter most to our future. That we’re committed to leading with strength, defending our values, and delivering for our people," he said.
"America is better positioned to advance our national security and our economic prosperity when we bring together like-minded nations to stand with us."
Many US presidents have touched down at RAF Mildenhall in the past, including Bill Clinton, Ronald Regan, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter.
In August 1969 the Newmarket Journal reported some 500 police officers standing guard as Richard Nixon met with Harold Wilson.
Then some 10,000 spectators had a viewpoint just 200 yards from the two leaders as Mr Wilson met the president after his 12-day trip around the world.
And just as it had done in the 1960s, Aviation enthusiasts flocked to RAF Mildenhall hoping to see Air Force One.
The customised Boeing 747-200B had hundreds waiting at the base’s fence just to get a picture.
Among those was professional dog photographer Nigel Wallace, of Mildenhall.
He said: “There’s two ways it can come in so it was a bit of a 50/50 chance.
“It literally comes right over the top of you and you can stand underneath it as it flies over. It isn’t a view you see every day.”
Another was Dan Sadler, of Bury St Edmunds, who said: “I was pleased I went. The picture was a lucky snap and the plane was really impressive.”
And Phil Fuller, well known in Newmarket for his drone photography and as a funeral director at Southgate of Newmarket, was also in the crowd capturing the presidents historic first visit.