US Air Force dog tag found near RAF Knettishall site to be returned to its 92-year-old owner
- Credit: Archant
For former USAF serviceman Raymond Odam, the memories of his brief stint on a Norfolk airbase during the Second World War are far behind him.
However, the past came back to life this month as a military dog tag belonging to the ex-private, which was discovered near the former site of RAF Knettishall, began its 4,000 mile journey back to him.
Mr Odam, 92, was based at the airfield near Thetford with the 388th Heavy Bombardment Squadron of the Eighth Army Air Force, which occupied the base from 1943 to 1945.
The dog tag was discovered by Andy Fuller, a groundsman from RAF Honington, while he was out metal detecting on farmland on what was once the bomber airfield
Cpl Ed Stanley, an armourer at RAF Honington, researched Mr Fuller's find and discovered the tag's owner was alive and well, living in Louisiana. He got in touch with Mr Odam's daughter Debbie, who was thrilled with the news.
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'It is only in the past couple of years that my father had started to talk about his time in the war. It was still difficult for him to talk about his crew mates leaving for missions and never coming back,' she said.
In order to get Mr Odam's dog tag across the pond, another USAF air base in Suffolk, RAF Mildenhall, offered to help.
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During a ceremony at the memorial to 388th Bomber Squadron in Knettishall, Wing Commander Matt Cornish from RAF Honington, Cpl Stanley and Mr Fuller met Col Derek Salmi, operations group commander at RAF Mildenhall, and USAF historian Dr Bob Mackay to officially hand over the now framed dog tag for its onward journey.
Wg Cdr Cornish said: 'It is the forethought of Cpl Stanley and his passion for history that has allowed us all to be part of this special occasion.'
The tags will now be sent on to the Eighth Air Force headquarters at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana to be presented to Mr Odam at a later date.