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    World War II veteran takes final trip to where memories were made

    World War II veteran takes final trip to where memories were made

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Brian Stives | Tech. Sgt. Emil Dihlmann (circled) stands with a B-17 Flying Fortress crew before a...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Brian Stives 

    501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

    RAF ALCONBURY, United Kingdom – For many members of the military, there is that one base or one assignment you really enjoy or will remember for the rest of your life – for retired Tech. Sgt. Emil Dihlmann, that place was in the United Kingdom at RAF Alconbury.

    Dihlmann enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps when he was 25 years old and served as a radio operator on the B-17 Flying Fortress with the 350th Bombardment Squadron, under the VIII Bomber Command and Eighth Air Force, from 1943 to 1945. His on-plane duties included working transmitting and receiving equipment in the B-17, making minor repairs and operating the 50-caliber machine gun while in combat.

    “He didn’t really start talking about his experiences in the war until the 1990s,” said Emily Lewney, Dihlmann’s daughter, who currently lives in Cambridge, U.K. “I think probably like lots of soldiers, he must have felt it really painful for him to talk about when he came back. He wasn’t a man that communicated his feelings, but then I don’t think lots of men of that generation probably did, but then they also probably had a lot that they were carrying, as well.

    “I watched ‘Memphis Belle’ one day with my husband Richard and until then I didn’t really realize just how hard it must have been to be in a war, what military members put themselves through and the commitment they give to their country; then I realized dad had been through that.” said Lewney. “So, I finally began asking him questions and I think by then he was ready to start talking a little bit about some of the stories – not necessarily about the all of the hard ones, but he spoke with such great calmness about his time in England and at RAF Alconbury. He told lots of funny stories, like going into London and being told there was a Piccadilly Circus there and looking for the circus and having a policeman say, ‘You’re standing in it, Mate!’”

    Dihlmann, who was the fifth of seven children, passed away June 27 at the soldier’s home in Holyoke, Mass.

    “We were just so impressed with the care dad had received there and how they treated him like he was part of the family and then I started to realize that this had been such an important part of dad’s life,” said Lewney. “So, when we had the memorial service in August, I asked if I could take some of dad’s ashes back to England and bring them to RAF Alconbury where he had been based during World War II.”

    On Oct. 26, Lewney and her husband, their children, Sarah and Chris, and Chris’ wife, Emma, visited RAF Alconbury to spread some of Dihlmann’s ashes at the base that had meant so much to her father.

    “He really loved his time at RAF Alconbury,” said Lewney. “I thought it would be nice to bring back some of his ashes to the place that had been such an important part of his life and that probably helped mold a lot of whom he was and who he became in his adult life. It was also a chance for our son, who wasn’t able to attend the funeral to feel like he had, had a way to say goodbye to his grandfather as well.”

    The service was held at the base flagpoles where Capt. Tim Warf, 423rd Air Base Group chaplain, said a prayer under the flags that were flying at half-staff in honor of Dihlmann. The family then, one by one, walked to the base of the flagpoles, released some of the ashes and paused to reflect on the moment.

    “We were all so touched with the service,” said Lewney. “It really meant a lot to us to have that service with the chaplain and commander; we were really bowled over with the flags being at half-staff on behalf of our dad. We were just so touched by it all, the service, the prayers and it has meant an awful, awful lot to us. It sort of brought back dad’s memory to us in a very special way.”



    Date Taken: 10.26.2013
    Date Posted: 11.13.2013 05:03
    Story ID: 116642
    Location: RAF ALCONBURY, CAM, GB
    Hometown: CAMBRIDGE, CAM, GB
    Hometown: HOLYOKE, MA, US
    Hometown: SHUTESBURY, MA, US

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