RAF Mildenhall and Lakenheath play part in Sheffield tribute
Aircrews from RAF Mildenhall and Lakenheath played a part in a flyover tribute to ten Second World War heroes.
Planes soared above Suffolk enroute to Endcliffe Park in Sheffield this morning (Friday, February 22), where 10,000 gathered for the event to mark 75 years since an American bomber crashed during conflict.
The BBC helped organise the flypast to fulfil the lifelong dream of Tony Foulds, 82, who was eight when he witnessed the B-17 Flying Fortress, nicknamed Mi Amigo, fall from the sky in 1944.
The pensioner said the pilots managed to avoid him and his friends before plunging into a fireball crash - killing all ten on board.
He reportedly now tends a memorial to them six days a week, and for the first time today met members of the crew’s family.
RAF Lakenheath, which hosts American units, contributed F-15 Strike Eagles to the flyover.
Captain Benjamin Coffey, of RAF Lakenheath, said on Wednesday: “We are going to take our jets out of formation and point them up towards the heavens.
“It’s a symbolic gesture, an aerial salute, to the aircrew who have fallen. It’s dear to our hearts to acknowledge the Mi Amigo aircrew, and all the aircrew leading up to D Day.
“It is a huge honour, my family, just like many others, has World War Two veterans and a few of those never made it back home. So for me to look back and see where the heritage came from is deeply humbling. We are really blessed to be able to do it.”
RAF Mildenhall also contributed, with their KC-135 Stratotanker, MC-130J Commando II and CV-22 Osprey all being used. The base also supports American operations.
A spokesman from RAF Mildenhall added: “We were proud to take the opportunity to participate in this event to honour some of the fallen.
“We want to recognise their sacrifice and demonstrate the relationship between the two countries.”