News: Face to face with history — Team Mildenhall remembers fallen Airmen
Story by Airman 1st Class Preston Webb
EAST HORNDON, England - Several Team Mildenhall airmen came face-to-face with history during a remembrance ceremony Sept. 28, 2013, at the Church of All Saints, East Horndon, England, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Sept. 26, 1943, collision of two B-17 Flying Fortresses, Dorsal Queen and Raunchy Wolf.
The two aircraft, returning from World War II bombing mission, collided while in the air claiming the lives of 19 out of the 20 Americans onboard. The tail gunner, U.S. Army Air Corps Staff Sgt. John Adams, was the only survivor.
Seventy years later, Team Mildenhall Airmen attended a remembrance ceremony to lay a wreath and honor the 19 Americans who lost their lives.
“The ceremony was very professionally done,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Scott Castrovinci, noncommissioned officer in charge of Installation Security Section. “It’s wonderful to see members of a local community who still take time out of their day to honor service members who lost their lives during World War II.”
After the ceremony, U.S. Air Force Col. Nancy Bozzer, 100th Operations Group commander, traveled to the crash site of the Dorsal Queen, one of the two B-17 Flying Fortresses involved, and laid a wreath against a tree marking the location of the crash.
Pieces of the aircraft can still be found in the field near the crash site, said Fred Dunn, a chartered engineer who excavated the site in 1978. Though pieces might be tilled over time and time again, they never travel too far from where they originally landed.
Dunn, who has worked with Americans several times while excavating aircraft around the world appreciates the unique bond that the U.S. and the U.K. share.
“As a civilian here during the war, I was so pleased with the Americans who came. Without them I think we would have lost [the war],” said Dunn. “I have fond memories of the [Americans] that I met as a young person, and that has continued my love of the United States.”
The armen who attended the ceremony and traveled to the crash site were given the chance to honor those who came before them and learn about the history of the of the Army Air Corps, the Air Force’s predecessor, during World War II.
“In today’s day and age, it’s great for young airmen who are abroad for the first time in their lives to get out of the office and come face-to-face with history and see first-hand where the Air Force came from,” Castrovinci said.