Military aircraft fly over American Cemetery at Madingley in tribute to Second World War Mi Amigo crew
Military aircraft flew over the American Cemetery at Madingley on Friday morning (February 22) as part of a tribute to 10 Second World War heroes who died on this day 75 years ago.
Three of the crew who perished when their B-17 Flying Fortress came down in Endcliffe Park, Sheffield, are interred at the cemetery.
The headstones of Staff Sgt Harry W Estabrooks, Sgt Maurice D Robbins and Sgt Charles H Tuttle were dressed with sand from Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, for Friday’s memorial flypast.
At Endcliffe Park in Sheffield, 10,000 gathered to mark the event, which the BBC helped to organise to fulfil the lifelong dream of Tony Foulds, 82, who was eight when he saw the bomber - nicknamed Mi Amigo - crash and explode.
Tony and his friends were playing in the park that day, and he believes the pilot tried to avoid them as the plane came down.
He told the BBC: "If it hadn't been for them, I wouldn't be here with my family.
“It's more than bravery, what they did. They saved me, and I mean saved me.”
Wracked by a guilty conscience all his life, Tony has been tending to their memorial in the park for decades. But today was the first occasion he had met members of their family as he watched the planes soar past.
A chance meeting with BBC presenter Dan Walker in the park led to a successful social media campaign, which went transatlantic, calling for the flyover.
Among those taking part in today’s event were aircrews from RAF Mildenhall and Lakenheath, which hosts American operations.
Captain Benjamin Coffey, of RAF Lakenheath, which contributed F-15 Strike Eagles said on Wednesday (February 20): “We are going to take our jets out of formation and point them up towards the heavens.
“It’s a symbolic gesture, an aerial salute, to the aircrew who have fallen. It’s dear to our hearts to acknowledge the Mi Amigo aircrew, and all the aircrew leading up to D-Day.
“It is a huge honour. My family, just like many others, has World War Two veterans and a few of those never made it back home. So for me to look back and see where the heritage came from is deeply humbling. We are really blessed to be able to do it.”
RAF Mildenhall also contributed, with its KC-135 Stratotanker, MC-130J Commando II and CV-22 Osprey all being used.
A spokesman from RAF Mildenhall added: “We were proud to take the opportunity to participate in this event to honour some of the fallen.
“We want to recognise their sacrifice and demonstrate the relationship between the two countries.”
Meanwhile, Tony - who was greeted by applause from the crowd in Sheffield - says he wants his ashed by the memorial as he considers the men to be like family.
The 10 men killed in the crash:
Pilot Lt John Kriegshauser, pilot from Missouri
2nd Lt Lyle Curtis, co-pilot from Idaho
2nd Lt John Humphrey, navigator from Illinois
Melchor Hernandez, bombardier from California
Harry Estabrooks, engineer and gunner from Kansas
Charles Tuttle, gunner from Kentucky
Robert Mayfield, radio operator from Illinois
Vito Ambrosio, gunner from New York
Malcolm Williams, gunner from Oklahoma
Maurice Robbins, gunner from Texas
Planes that took part in the flypast:
F-15E Strike Eagles from RAF Lakenheath
MC-130J Commando II
CV-22 Osprey from RAF Mildenhall
Typhoon from RAF Coningsby
Dakota from RAF Coningsby