USAF host community outreach day at RAF Sculthorpe: John Maiden
Key leaders from the USAF 352nd Special Operations Wing, stationed at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, recently hosted a capabilities briefing and a live flying demonstration at RAF Sculthorpe. Inside a military tent, and outside on the windswept airfield itself, the Americans interacted with invited civic leaders to discuss the importance of military training in the Sculthorpe area. The delegation from Hunstanton included Neil Quincey, a survivor of the 1953 Floods that devastated the South Beach area of the resort, claiming the lives of 31 victims, of whom 16 were Americans living off the Sculthorpe base.
Neil says he will be forever grateful to members of the USAF, based at RAF Sculthorpe throughout the 1950's, for their prompt response to the disaster on the night of January 31 1953. Close links between the USAF and Hunstanton, once known as 'Little America', have actually strengthened in recent years. This is because the 1953 rescue operation was led the 67th Air Rescue Squadron, since renamed the 67th Special Operations Squadron, which is one of several Squadrons comprising the 352nd Special Operations Wing.
The close proximity of Mildenhall has made it relatively easy to arrange reciprocal visits between current members of the 67th SOS and the local community.
The Community Outreach Day was made even more memorable, when the Commando II aircraft that had been involved in demonstrations with an Osprey helicopter from the 7th SOS, landed on the runway. Those on board included the Commander of the 67th, Lt Col Martin Weeks and SM Sgt Steve Pressler. As luck would have it, USAF photographer, Senior Airman Benjamin Cooper, who had taken pictures of aircraft in flight, was on hand to take a group picture of the Hunstanton contingent in front of the Commando II.