Former USAF staff sergeant says returning to Suffolk base is “like coming home”
- Credit: Karen Abeyasekere
Back in June 1990, USAF staff sergeant Dan Cinelli arrived at a Suffolk air base as a maintainer of aircraft tankers.
Against the odds, he was back at RAF Mildenhall over two decades later – as a Department of Defense employee working as an eTools systems administrator.
Mr Cinelli returned to the air base again this month and was reunited with one of the KC-135 Stratotankers with which he worked during his first stint in the UK.
It was during his tours at RAF Mildenhall that he met and married his wife before his retirement in 1998.
Mr Cinelli said returning to the base was 'like coming home again'.
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'There may be different buildings and different people, but I still consider it home. I never wanted to leave – my wife is from Wisbech, but after two tours here as enlisted, I had no choice. I like to think I made a difference while I was here.'
There was one familiar face he recognized when he arrived back here – that of former senior master sergeant Bill Dukes, 100th Operations Support Squadron.
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Mr Dukes said his colleague had 'a knack' for computer technology.
'Dan was a great guy – I loved working with him. I remember he was very knowledgeable.'
After retiring from active duty, Mr Cinelli went to work in the IT department at Addenbrooke's Hospital, then moved over to RAF Lakenheath before finally returning to his former base in February this year.
As a civilian, his job now involves maintaining 298 eTool devices for the 100th Air Refuelling Wing, along with installing and reinstalling programs when required.
The veteran said he's happy to be back working in the 100th MXG and to be directly involved with the airmen who now work on the KC-135s he used to.
He said: 'It felt like I was coming home in a way. I feel like this is where I belong.'