RAF Lakenheath F-15 pilots return from Daesh fight just in time for Christmas

An F-15 taking off at RAF Lakenheath

An F-15 taking off at RAF Lakenheath - Credit: Archant

A dozen US fighter pilots have returned home safely from Syria and Iraq to Suffolk just in time for Christmas after taking part in bombing raids against Daesh.

Six F-15Es from the 492nd Fighter Squadron and six F-15Cs from the 493rd Fighter Squadron returned to RAF Lakenheath yesterday, US European Command (EUCOM) confirmed last night.

The jets had been deployed to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey as they took part in Operation Inherent Resolve.

The mission saw jets support Turkish allies conducting counter-Daesh operations in Syria and Iraq.

USAF aircraft, including A-10s and remotely-piloted drones will remain at Incirlik to continue the mission.

Their return came days after a visit to the base by US Marine Corps General Michael A. Rocco, commanding general of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, based at Miramar Airbase, California.

Gen Rocco was visiting Lakenheath to thank the crash responders who attended the scene near Shippea Hill in October after Major Taj Sareen was killed when his F-18 crashed in fields.

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Major Sareen had been stopping off at RAF Lakenheath on his return to California having served in Operation Inherent Resolve.

Gen Rocco also visited the crash site and spoke to the local community, also thanking them for their support.

Several were also 'coined' by Gen Rocco - given a Marine Corps 'challenge coin' as a sign of appreciation.

Master Sergeant Joseph Bates, from the 48th Force Support Squadron at Lakenheath, was the search and recovery team chief during the crash.

He said of Gen Rocco's visit: 'It was extremely gracious of the general and his staff to travel so far and make the effort they did to recognise the efforts of the people and teams from Lakenheath and Mildenhall.'