CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom – Members of the 501st Combat Support Wing, Mission Partners and local English towns, villages and cities gathered at Cambridge American Cemetery, in Cambridge, United Kingdom, Nov. 11 to honor past and present veterans from the United States and United Kingdom.
Standing in front of the Portland stone tablets and their 5,126 names of the missing, Capt.Timothy Warf, 423rd Air Base Group chaplain, set the tone for the ceremony when he quoted Winston Churchill in his invocation, "Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many, to so few."
“Today on this Veterans Day, we gather to honor the men and women who have worn and continue to wear our nations’ uniform and more importantly we join to thank them for their service, sacrifice and devotion to duty,” said Col. Angela Cadwell, 501st Combat Support Wing commander.
“The tradition of giving thanks to veterans is not something we have adopted in the United Kingdom,” said Royal Air Force Air Commodore Steve Shell, assistant chief of staff operations, Headquarters Air Command. “We use the Remembrance Weekend to commemorate our fallen and in recent years we have shown our support for current serving personnel on Armed Forces Day. So the opportunity to be able to stand here and thank all veterans, both British and American, especially those represented here today, is a welcome one.”
Calling on the memories of the Eighth Air Force and Ninth Air Force, Cadwell spoke of how members of the Eighth Air Force led the strategic bombing and escort duties for the American war effort while the Ninth Air Force led efforts to support the landings in Normandy.
“Today we give thanks to more than 20 million Americans that have served in uniform through the years,” said Cadwell.” These men and women came from varied backgrounds to serve their nation and their examples of service and sacrifice has contributed to the character and greatness of America’s belief in freedom. Today we have a new generation of dedicated individuals that has answered the call to service. As with World War II, this generation of military service members is once again made up of many friends, allies and partners who share the cause of freedom.
To all those who have served and are serving, we say thank you,” said Cadwell. “Thank you for your sacrifices, your sense of duty and your service. Our nation salutes you on this Veterans Day.”
Following the guest speakers, British and American civic and military leaders laid nearly 50 wreaths at the base of the Tablets of the Missing in remembrance of all who served. After the laying of the wreaths, the 423rd Air Base Group Honor Guard fired three volleys of seven guns, followed by the playing of "Taps." At the last note of "Taps," retired Royal Air Force Piper Warrant Officer Gary Kernaghan began playing the lament "Flowers of the Forest," and the mournful tune echoed from the tablets out over the grave markers and across the English Countryside.