British, American military personnel share a bond in honoring fallen troops
Stars and Stripes May 28, 2008
MADINGLEY — As if it had been perfectly timed, the blistery weather cleared for a moment Monday while four F-15s carried out the "missing man" formation during the Memorial Day ceremony at Madingley American Cemetery.
During that brief pause in the rain, the RAF Lakenheath-based jets — flying in a formation in which one aircraft breaks away, leaving a hole to represent fallen servicemembers — and the remainder of the flyover, including a KC-135 Stratotanker from RAF Mildenhall and a B-25 bomber from the Netherlands, streaked across the skies to mark the solemn occasion.
"It was perfect," said Maj. Gen. Jack Egginton, 3rd Air Force vice commander. "It’s an emotional ceremony as we remember with great admiration and respect those gave their lives for the sake of all of us."
Hundreds of American and British military personnel, veterans and government officials braved the wet and windy day to attend the late-morning ceremony.
"There’s definitely a kinship and brotherhood we feel with our British allies," Egginton said. "They’re our gracious host that allows us to have this cemetery."
Madingley American Cemetery is the final resting place for 3,812 Americans who died during World War II, many of who served in the Army Air Corps in East Anglia. Dedicated in 1956, the 30.5-acre site in rural Cambridgeshire is also home to a 472-foot-long wall etched with the names of another 5,125 Americans who perished in the war but whose remains were never found. Five pylons on the north side of the memorial commemorate the years the U.S. participated in the war.
The pristinely kept site draws thousands to its hallowed grounds throughout the year.
On Memorial Day and Veterans Day, the American and British militaries collaborate to host ceremonies that draw hundreds. The Air Force also participates in the British Remembrance Day in November when the country honors its veterans.
"There’s a close bond there, a definite camaraderie," Egginton said.