ABE, UNITED KINGDOM
RAF MILDENHALL, England – Standing stiff as a board, I tried not to flinch as the RAF Mildenhall Honor Guard fired off a three-volley salute behind me. Mentally flashing back and forth between my 2008 tour of Afghanistan and where I was actually standing at the St. Edmund’s Church in Kessingland, I tried hard not to show any emotion.
After the rounds were fired, a eulogy was read.
"They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, not the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."
Again, I fought vigorously to show no emotion.
"With those words processing in my mind, I popped up my sharpest salute as two Royal Air Force standards were lowered at either side of my head, and a RAF bugler played “The Last Post,” followed by two minutes of silence, and our honor guard bugler playing "Taps."
These airmen have never been forgotten:
Those were the final elements to a very moving service of dedication and remembrance to 10 U.S. members of B-24 crew who were shot down over Suffolk 66 years prior. While returning from successfully bombing a rail yard at Hamm, Germany, Axis fighter planes pursued the “Repulser” back to the U.K. and shot it down in the swamps near Kessingland Village.
These airmen are not forgotten:
Thirteen family members of the crew were scheduled to fly over from their homes in America to attend the ceremony. However, due to the flight restrictions imposed after Iceland’s volcanic ash, only the nephew of Repulser’s pilot, 2nd Lt. Eugene V. Pulcipher, was able to make the journey. Still, RAF Mildenhall videographers (Master Sgt. Ron Flack and Staff Sgt. Thomas Trower) documented the entire ceremony so that they may send copies to those family members back in the states.
These airmen will never be forgotten:
The family will surely be moved by the first-hand account John Blowers, an 11-year old child who witnessed the Repulser shot down over his village.
To add current relevancy to the freedom and brotherhood these men forged across the free world, the Lord Bishop of Norwich, Rt. Rev. Graham James, gave a moving speech about the “iron curtain” which divided Europe in the post-World War II years and the importance America had in maintaining Britain’s sovereignty during and after the war.
The Bishop reflected on the respect Jesus Christ showed toward the enemy Roman soldiers of his time and explained that though evil is apparent in any war, sometimes nations fight for moral values and to defend what is right, and extinguish what is wrong. The extermination of the Nazi armies certainly was necessary to protect the future of Western Europe and the entire world. The sacrifices of these brave Airmen certainly will never be forgotten:
2nd Lt. Eugene V. Pulcipher, pilot
2nd Lt. Elmer P. Meier, co-pilot
2nd Lt. George S. Fahr, navigator
2nd Lt. William Carcelli, bombardier
Staff Sgt. Chester J. Romanosky, radio operator
Staff Sgt. William H. Durant, gunner
Staff Sgt. William S. Davis, gunner
Staff Sgt. James R. Hardin, gunner
Sgt. Maynard H. Young, gunner
Sgt. Carl E. Spellman, gunner
This work, Commentary: Kessingland airmen remembered, by SMSgt Kevin Wallace, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.