RAF Lakenheath to perform fly past for lost airmen after pensioner’s BBC campaign
An RAF base will honour the lives of 10 American airmen with a flypast after a pensioner who witnessed their plane crash started a social media campaign after appearing on TV.
RAF Lakenheath, near Thetford, will perform a flypast over Sheffield on February 22 to honour the men who died after their B-17 Flying Fortress crashed in the city on the 75th anniversary of their death.
Tony Foulds, 82, appeared on BBC Breakfast in early January after presenter Dan Walker discovered he had been tending a memorial for the airmen for decades.
Mr Foulds was only eight-years-old in 1944 when he witnessed the plane named Mi Amigo go down into Endcliffe Park, killing everyone on board.
His appearance on TV sparked a social media campaign to #GetTonyAFlypast which he described as the “tribute that these men deserve”.
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In a surprise twist, Mr Foulds was invited back onto BBC Breakfast alongside US Ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, with no idea what was going to happen next.
In a live link from the air base, Colonel Will Marshal of the 48th Fighter Wing at Lakenheath announced the flypast.
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He said: “It gives me great pleasure to say look to the skies on February 22 for a very special fly-by.”
Visibly emotional and in tears, Mr Foulds was almost speechless and said it meant everything to him.
He said: “That is everything I wanted. They are my family.”
Mr Johnson paid tribute to the work of Mr Foulds and said the announcement was an amazing moment.
He said: “I am so happy you did this because now millions of people will know about these 10 men and all the other men that died on that day too.
“It is going to be what Tony wanted. We will commemorate this and put it on the map of world memorials and everybody is going to know about this and these men and that day.”
Aircraft will leave RAF Lakenheath on February 22, weather permitting, before travelling up to Sheffield to fly over the memorial.
They will also be supported by flying wings from RAF Mildenhall and Royal Air Force partners.
Captain Elias Small, from the US Air Force at RAF Lakenheath, said: “We’re overjoyed to announce that we will be conducting the fly-past of the “Mi Amigo” Memorial in Endcliffe Park requested by the Sheffield City Council.
“On February 22, the 48th Fighter Wing will fly alongside our wingmen from the Royal Air Force and the U.S. Air Forces’ 100th Air Refueling Wing and 352nd Special Operations Wings at RAF Mildenhall to pay tribute to the 10 US aircrew members who lost their lives 75 years ago.
“We are immensely grateful for everyone’s support and are proud to do our part honouring the legacy of our fallen heroes.”