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TWINNING OF HUNSTANTON WITH
THE 67TH SPECIAL OPERATIONS SQUADRON
The Town of Hunstanton was twinned with the 67th Special Operations Squadron of the USAF on 6th May 2016 in a Ceremony held at Hunstanton Town Hall attended by 180 invited guests including 40 USAF personnel.
The USAF Squadron played a vital role during the terrible Floods of January 31st 1953, which claimed the lives of 16 Americans and 15 of their English neighbours.
Neil Quincey will never forget the four members of the 67th Air Rescue Squadron who
risked their lives when they took him in their amphibious craft in a brave attempt to rescue his wife and three children from their home in South Beach Road, which was flooded to a depth of eleven feet. This attempt failed when the vessel capsized within yards of Neil’s house, but later they were all taken to safety by Reis Leming, who was subsequently
awarded the George Medal for his single-handed rescue of 27 victims. Neil’s next-door
neighbour, USAF Staff Sergeant Freeman A Kilpatrick received the same award for saving
the lives of 18 of his neighbours.
For nearly sixty years a memorial in the esplanade gardens was the only visible sign of the
shared grief and the acts of heroism uniting Hunstanton with the 67th which was activated
at RAF Sculthorpe in November 1952. However, in 2011 the Squadron’s official historian,
RAF Flt Sgt Mark Service, invited Hunstanton Civic Society to join in commemorating the
60th anniversary of the 67th (now renamed the 67th Special Operations Squadron and
based at RAF Mildenhall) by inviting the Squadron back to the town in November 2012.
Since then the bond has strengthened, to the point where ‘Twinning’ seems the obvious
next step, following ‘Freedom’ of the town being granted to the 67th Special Operations
Squadron in October 2014.
This is the souvenir leaflet that was handed out at the end of the evening:
The Lynn News published the following article on Saturday, 7th May 2016:
Hunstanton holds twinning night with USAF squadron from Mildenhall
They had already been given the freedom of the town, and now the 67th Special Operations Squadron of the US Air Force is officially twinned with Hunstanton.
The resort owes an enduring debt of thanks following the events of January 1953, when airmen led by Reis Leming, and Freeman Kilpatrick heroically saved dozens of lives from the terrible flood that hit the East Coast.
On Friday night 200 people turned up for a twinning ceremony at the town hall at which a symbolic charter was signed by Hunstanton mayor Andrew Murray and Lt Col Brad Downs, commander of the 67th Speical Operations Squadron, which is based at Mildenhall.
Mr Murray admitted that the twinning had been subject to “air turbulence” on the way to the ceremony.
But he said: “This is a historic event .”
Lt Col Downs replied: “Mayor Murray, I know that none of this would be happening without your leadership and endeavour ... you are without a doubt among the 67th Special Operations Squadron the most popular Andy Murray in the UK!”
Apart from signing the charter, the two men also cut a symobolic cake and unveiled a small version of the new sign that will be displayed on the town limits sign, proclaiming that it is twinned with the 67th.
Lt Col Downs said: “I’ll be completely honest. I didn’t fully understand this bond when I first arrived at the 67th back in November of 2013.
“Shortly thereafter, I met a few of the gentlemen in this room tonight as they were visiting RAF Mildenhall and it started to become clear. After several of Mark Service’s history lessons, and finally meeting Mr. Neil Quincey…I understood why.
“Every day when I made the stroll to the second floor as the operations officer for my predecessor ….I walked by the cases with clippings and historical data describing the heroic acts of Reis Leming.
“I know many of you are aware of those actions back in January of 1953 but I can tell you, hearing the stories of these service members continues to inspire me, and all of those who walk the halls of the 67th.
Airmen such as Reis Leming constantly remind us that no matter how insurmountable the odds and regardless of rank or position within your organisation each of us is capable of doing extraordinary things when called to action.”
John Maiden, from the Hunstanton Civic Society, who has been one of the leading movers behind the twinning, said that this was a great night for the town.
He said: “Throughout the 1950’s approximately one quarter of the town’s population consisted of the families of United States service men based at RAF Sculthorpe, so it is very pleasing to know that a similar percentage is reflected here tonight.
“These sentiments are shared by many others in Hunstanton today, and none more so than by Neil Quincey, who, as most of you will know, was brought to safety from the 1953 Floods with his entire family, by Reis Leming.
“Then, within the last few days Tony Cassie, very kindly presented our Heritage Centre with the RAF Sculthorpe Pictorial for 1953.
“Tony was only seven years old in 1953 but clearly remembers the night of the floods and how those involved in the rescue efforts would call in at his parents café in Le Strange Terrace for cups of coffee and to get warm before going out again to face the storm.
“For 53 years Tony ran Cassie’s Restaurant overlooking The Green and every year five or six American families would call in to see if there was any connection between his restaurant and the Café of the same name run by his parents in the 1950’s. For this reason Tony is delighted that the Civic Society’s Heritage Centre is keeping those memories alive and making the special relationship even stronger now than it was 60 years ago.”
Read more: http://www.lynnnews.co.uk/news/local/latest-local-news/hunstanton-holds-twinning-night-with-usaf-squadron-from-mildenhall-1-7370909#ixzz48BLqwKvP
Some of the photos taken by Elaine Bird (Hunstanton Town and Around) during the event. (Thank you, Elaine):
FIRST TWINNING VISIT TO
THE 67TH SPECIAL OPERATIONS SQUADRON AT MILDENHALL
A group of about 24 visited the 67th SOS at R.A.F. Mildenhall on Friday, 15th July 2016.
We met up at Judes Ferry Inn at West Row, Mildenhall for an early bite of lunch before being escorted through security onto the airbase where we drove past a large number of buildings and different types of aircraft before arriving at the 67th SOS operation building. We were welcomed in their briefing room and introduced to some of the history and goings-on with the squadron by Lt Col Brad Downs, Commander of the squadron and some of his officers.
We were then escorted out to one of their MC-130J Commando 11 aircraft which was one of seven lined up on the tarmac. We were shown around this amazing airplane which we clambered all over, even sitting in the pilot and co-pilot's seats and investigating the huge cargo bay. We were all amazed at the complexity of the hydraulics, wiring and even introduced to the loo (only one of) and told that at a squash, they could transport about 250 personnel although normally they mainly carry out in-flight refueling of aircraft and helicopters.
Additional visits are planned for the future.
Some photos we took during the day:
Most of the visiting group under the tail
A space big enough for a party!
Our organiser, Charli, with Neil Quincey and John Maiden
Sheila Kent about to take us up for a spin!
TWINNING VISIT TO
THE 67TH SPECIAL OPERATIONS SQUADRON AT MILDENHALL
TO ATTEND THE CHANGE OF COMMAND CEREMONY
ON 6th January 2017
A group of 12 of us visited the 67th SOS at R.A.F. Mildenhall on Friday, 6th January 2017.
This was to attend the Change of Command Ceremony from Lt. Col. Bradley C. Downs to Lt. Col. Jason T. Wright.
This important event began with a reception in the 67th SOS base offices following which we were escorted to one of their hangers which was opened up to allow one of their MC-130J Commando 11 aircraft to act as an impressive backdrop to the ceremony.
The programme was as follows:
Some photos we took during the day:
Beat that for a stage prop (sorry about the pun!)
Lt Col Brad Downs
and quite a backdrop with the US Flag and some of our number in the foreground
We then returned to their bar ("The Parliament") for refreshments and a 'pig roast'.
L to R: Lt Col Michael Gunn, Sqdn Ldr David Jones and Lt Col Jason Wright.
In the background between Michael Gunn and David Jones, Cameron Service is in conversation
with his father, RAF Flt Sgt Mark Service (back to camera) who in 2012 was instrumental in renewing links
between Hunstanton and the USAF 67th Special Operations Squadron of which he is the Official Historian.
after which we returmed home in our minibus.
65th Anniversary of the 67th Special Operations Squadron
This was celebrated by the holding of a Dinner at the le Strange Arms Hotel on Friday, 17th November 2017.
A wonderful event during which a very special menu was on offer - see below-
We hope to be able to add some photos of the event in due course.