September 21 2014 Latest news:
Friday, August 15, 2014
It has an illustrious past as one of the region’s foremost military airbases which has served both British and American forces during the Second World War and the Cold War.
Yet despite fears for its future in a current review of US defence spending, airmen invited their friends and family to RAF Mildenhall to celebrate the base’s 80th anniversary.
A series of activities was put on at the Suffolk base to mark the special occasion, including a military working dog demonstration and a firefighter demonstration, as well as stalls and games.
Visitors also got a chance to climb onboard and look around the hi-tech aircraft based at Mildenhall, including the CV-22 Osprey helicopter.
Historian Mark Howell gave talks on the base over the past eight decades, including how nearly 28,000 tonnes of bombs were dropped on Germany by its crews during the Second World War. He also told of how B-29 bombers from the base were sent to fight the Korean War shortly after US Air Force presence began at Mildenhall in 1950.
Technical Sergeant David Orway, one of the organisers for yesterday’s event, said: “It is very important to remember our heritage, to pay respect to where we started and to where we are now.”
Although it acts as a critical air refuelling ‘bridge’ and stop off point for expeditionary air forces as they fly to missions around the world, Tech Sgt Orway said its wider significance was the US “projection of partnership” with its host nation.
He also said servicemen “try to give back as much as we take” from the neighbouring community by volunteering and helping projects in and around the area.
RAF Mildenhall’s future was called into question earlier this year after the RAND Corporation recommended it for closure.
It survived cuts outlined in the US Department of Defense’s European Infrastructure Consolidation (EIC) review but an RAF Mildenhall spokesman warned there still could be cuts as the review continues.
What contribution do you think RAF Mildenhall makes to the wider community? Write to EDPLetters@archant.co.uk